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What if..

My MMO thoughts and desires for all to enjoy (or flame). Sometimes it may be worthless, others may be a diamond in the rough. I hope to spark, tickle or cause thoughtful conversation.

Author: Hathi

A Lantern Playable character - DCUO

Posted by Hathi Friday November 12 2010 at 9:06AM
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So the official word from SOE is that players using Green lantern like powers are not going to be available at launch. That "light" powers are not generic enough
Really?
Reason I doubt this is because GL is one of the few superheros that have entire corps dedicated to light powers. DC has expanded the lanterns into many different color spectrums of light. How many Wonder Woman varieties are there? Superman has a couple of relatives and a dog. 
I think it is design spin to give a chance for more income opportunities like expansions The Corps Wars or something.  
Another idea may be DCUO is trying to time its Green Lantern Corps with the highly anticipated Green Lantern Movie in June 2011. Get the public excited enough to play computer games with a GL. 
 
Is it possible to design a system where players can use green lantern like powers? As many fans of the comics already know, Green Lantern and those like him use a ring which projects light constructs to do the wielders bidding. Whether it is a constructed giant weapon, a wall, a force field or raw laser like blast, GL usually gets the job done one way or another. The constructs a GL  can make are limited only by their imaginations.
 
And that is where a gaming designer can be frustrated. How can you make a character balanced and enjoyable to play when there are no limits on what constructs they can create?
 
Limit your Constructs/ Power sets
 
MK vs. DC Universe - Green Lantern had a few limited constructs, more of his attacks were martial arts. IHO a person who wants to take on a green lantern like power set should expect to be a ranged type of gameplay. 
 
In the upcoming Green Lantern game that will be released based on the movie, news reports that this GL will have 12 constructs  - I am not sure what the constructs will be or their role, but I am hoping DCUO will give us more than 12 constructs to choose from.
 
 Traits for a Lantern
It is known players will customize their heroes with traits. For a Lantern like player these could be broken down .
 
Constructs as instant attack forms - It is the past design pattern for a lantern wielder. Constructs deliver instant damage to a target. That target can mitigate damage based on its stats. The lantern player clicks and a ranged animation occurs of a weapon. DCUO needs to break the mold!
 
Constructs as pets - a lantern should be able to create a light construct of a pet. The game design should let the lantern choose what type of pet he wants to wield. The art team just uses existing mobs and make  light shell constructs. The strategy for the lantern is determine which construct works best against which enemy.  Larger and more advanced constructs consume more energy to create and maintain. Stronger lanterns might be able to let the constructs act as true pets for awhile and follow the lantern around and as long as the lantern has enough power, the pet can attack others in melee while the lantern barrages from afar. Pet constructs can have system stats dependent on the lanterns level. A lvl 30 bear construct tears a lvl 10 wall construct down quickly.
 
Support / buff/ Debuff-  The iconic power of a Bubbler - the construct is like a force field, absorbs a certain amount of dmg before shattering. Perhaps like in past MMO games the FF is most efficient early on the fight and wanes as the battle ages. A lantern can also mend bones, heal and regenerate other lanterns in some instances. Like wise some lanterns can drain others.
 
Crowd Controller - A construct pet can be an energy cage, a suffocating sphere or gigantic chain on the victim. The victim would have to "kill" the pet to be able to freely move again. 
 
Hopefully SOE will take these all into consideration and really let players branch out and specialize!
 
Other thoughts considering a GL player type:
PhysX - can a construct be frozen? and be subsequently thrown? 
Performance - if 6 lanterns on a map throwing constructs everywhere will it lag the game? What about 15 lanterns?
 
Will there be a pvp resistance meter against direct effects of a GL player? Or can they be caged up every second?

The Open Ended Gaming experience

Posted by Hathi Thursday August 12 2010 at 4:42PM
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My first experience with the idea of a Public Quest (PQ) was with Warhammer Online. Mythic hailed it as innovative and new. The idea was interesting. An area where players can visit, jump in an event, contribute as much or as else as they wish and be rewarded accordingly.

To Mythic's credit, the concept has taken off. Champions Online has Open Missions. DC Universe coined their PQ areas as Live Events. Guild Wars 2 is featuring a Dynamic quest.

What all these have in common is easy. A location where an event is occurring. Players are usually notified what stage the event is at, what the objective is and a timer is counting down.

On the plus side, these are relatively new to the MMO formula. Up until recent years, most of MMO content was guided by tasks/ missions/ instances/ raids and PvP. It is a fresh change to just do something without the inherent "work" of finding a group, organizing a raid, repeating the same action over and over again. It promoted relationships that MMOs yearn for. A common goal for players to coalasce around. It also did not demand hours and hours of commitment for players. You only had 15 minutes for lunch, you can pop in and help out.

From what we learned in WAR, a lot of things had to be ironed out. Contribution to an event is a relative term. Does a healer contribute more to the event than a dps based toon? What about someone who spams abilities just to generate high contribution scores for the best loot? What about the tank player who is a master at keeping the end bosses attention, but because of poor dps skills had little to contribute up until the end boss? And what about the random rolling involved? Someone who comes for 5 minutes, but rolls a great loot roll gets the rare gear while someone there from minute one gets nothing?

How will these upcoming games address these issues?

How will upcoming MMOs who really like the idea of a dynamic area keep that area interesting? Is it still a grind if the same event resets and runs every hour? Will beginning areas become ghost towns because there is better loot to be had in another area or simple repeatable mission reward- essentially making the PQ a waste of time?

To me, it would be a step in right direction if :

- PQs had a reason for all levels to participate. Keep the stages of the PQ intact. Low levels bear the burden of overcoming beginning phases (and their respective "end boss/ challenges"), the mid range players have their stage to deal with and veterans have to deal with the final event objectives. This keeps an area interesting and often gives an opportunity for veterans to meet newer players and form relationships, give buffs, and recruit. 

- Mix up the threats. instead of the same threat being cycled over and over perhaps have a comparable threat randomly generated in the event. So instead of cycle of centaurs raiding a village, the threat overcome. Next have a raid of hobgoblins give it a whirl. Maybe followed after some recovery time a raid of orks, lizard men, and finally an undead mix of all the previous fallen. THEN go back to Centaurs. Keep the rewards on random loot table as well.

- City of Heroes/ Villians had Booty Bay and similar pvp zones where the game alerted everyone of Hot spots of activity. What a game can determine if a big pvp fight is going on (say 1-2 full groups flagged for pvp are engaged) and execute a dynamic mission in that area? 

- Another aspect of open missions occurs if the level of the open mission becomes too difficult for the players involved. in WAR, if we started a PQ, but could not finish it, we would have to wait til the mission failed and it reset to grind for the influence reward. What if the game offers an alternate set of objectives for those situations. Lets say the PQ area detects you have gotten involved in the PQ, but your contribution is stuck at a certain value for 10 minutes. The game then offers you an alternative objective. It may be constructing a war machine, or supporting an NPC, or thwarting an enemy alternate objective. The idea here is while the main event cannot be overcome, the event can still be completed with you assisting the NPCs complete the objective for you.

- As a former facebook junkie, I played a lot of those mindless games. One game was Castle Age. What intrigued me about this game was that epic bosses could either be taken down by brute force of player power, or a set of objectives could be met (set up a mega ballista, summon angels, summon a spell, etc). Sometimes all you needed was to ask someone to contribute one click for your objective to advance to the next stage. This could be a means to do these alternative objectives.  If a group has been whittled down to a few players to get to a final stage. Maybe there could be a mechanism where friends can contribute a consumable item from a marketplace or donate energy to bolster the group in need. The "favors" would enable to small team to complete big objectives to take down difficult challenges.

What else could Open missions have to make them better?

Death in gaming ideas

Posted by Hathi Monday March 15 2010 at 9:29AM
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 Its been a long time since I watched the movie Ghost, but a rerun made me think about death penalties in games. 

What if the death state had a similar element of risk? Suppose your avatar dies in an unfortunate event. Ok, do you respawn fully geared and some debuff like most games today? Rinse and repeat?

As many discussed already, this makes death an incoveinence at best.  How many of us zerged a target to finally accomplish your mission. You didn't zerg it because it was fun. It was a means to an end and it gets old quickly.

Many games used a spirit concept when you die. WoW being the most glaring example. However, it was a means to an end. Get to your corpse.

What if your afterlife meant more? Would be more interesting if there was entities of the afterlife that wants your spirit? If you were of naughty persuasion you have to evade demons from hell from grabbing your spirit and drag it down to oblivion. If you were a good guy - the pull of everlasting bliss would be calling you from above - leaving your unfinished business behind.

Imagine your toon doesn't get to his body in time. You are a foul person, and the denziens of hell grab you and you are hurled into "gamers hell". You are carried via a mosh pit of vile demons to some Taskmaster Demon. He assigns you tedious tasks to buy your freedom. (Or enter in a Cash shop to buy your freedom lol). you cannot resurrect by yourself (others can rez you of course).

The thought process here is a sense of urgency. Evade captors!

Now on the good side of things, you may want to go to heaven, but the game will then let your corpse be lootable by others. After all, you don't  need all that stuff in heaven, yes? So what you are evading is the game ending for the player. If the player succumbs to the call of God, the game offers the player a second chance (either via cash shop) or if someone does a Deity Sacrifice/ prayer/ ritual. This should be something no one wants to do routinely because it should take up time, money and teamwork. 

 

OR you can to the idea of Legend of the Seeker TV series and get assigned a task you must complete daily or die again (The Keeper's deal - kill one person a day).

Ok, the aged question how do you deal with internet connection loss? If the game can detect inactivity or a loss of activity in a given fight, maybe a GM can be privy to these things too. So , GM could be petitioned and decide if the player can be rezzed where he/she was last known to be located.

make death interesting!

 

MMO F2P transition - Rebates?

Posted by Hathi Monday July 13 2009 at 11:40AM
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 Given al lthe interest in F2P models recently I thought perhaps a big company who has invested a lot of money in making an AAA title may transition or at least provide incentive to attract the F2P players with game rebates.

The benefits of a rebate are (and I am sure there are more to this because I am no MMO businessman):

- The game can be marketed as free to play. You give me money now, and a few weeks (read : months) of processing will go by and I will send you a rebate for the box. 

- Loyalty builder (sort of) - If you have my money I am more likely to get my money's worth. Therefore the game exposure to the player is improved. It may be harder to shelve the game after three days because the player didn't like the tutorial levels/ experience.

- Cash Flow. Many businesses have a money market account of similar where cash can be moved in and out  yet generates some interest. Inflate that account with initial payments may build some interest which the company can keep. 

- Compliance : It is a fact of life. Some people are just not driven enough to fill out or send in a rebate coupon. 

- Flexible in terms. A rebate on the game? A rebate in subscriptions? A rebate in the MMO Shop Credit? Lots of angles are open to make a game "free to play".

 

Insect Online - can it be done?

Posted by Hathi Tuesday February 17 2009 at 9:38AM
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 Deadly Creatures – the first step to a interesting world - Insect Online

 

Ever see those movies like “Honey, I shrank the Kids”?, “Bee Movie”, “Antz”, “Bully”?

These movies did spark interest. Numerous single player games about playing a bug are also out there. Maybe they were not blockbusters but this game stimulated some neurons.

 

http://www.ebgames.com/Catalog/ProductDetails.aspx?product_id=69538&affid=2500&WT.mc_id=021709eb

 

Deadly Creatures appears to be a game where we can enjoy an environment where your world is not in a far away place, but in our backyard. Its scenery is not of mountains, lakes, river and vistas. The points of interest include a closet, a soda can or giant shovel. The hazards of insect life are challenging. Survive other insects, predatory reptiles, and a human shoe or (insert rolled up hand held tool here).

 

Insect Online would be a interesting reach into our MMO genre. You can put a twist on things so the game is not too foreign to us. Change is scary.

 

Insects have interesting “skills”. They have ranged weaponry, regeneration, armor, poison, flight, webs, light, etc and some even have professions. Insects have soldiers, hunters, assassins, queens, crafters (workers), etc.

 

So there is plenty of room to work with in an MMO game. Now how can a game go from Spiders vs Scorpions into a vast MMO system?

 

This is where we pull a little fantasy from the Pixar movies. We personalize our bugs with the option of humanizing our faces. We can throw in a small face like in Charlotte’s Web can’t we? Or if we don’t like a face, keep the natural look. Customization is a key to an MMO success, right?

 

But insects don’t have gear. This is MMO blasphemy! City of Heroes did not launch with permanent gear either, the game used enhancements. Electronic Arts hit game Spore offers evolutionary pieces to the creatures that can also act as gear.

Gear fanatics do not despair. Who says you have to look the same all the time? Why can’t that Praying Mantis avatar pick up a piece of bark and don it for additional protection? Why can’t a Wasp avatar snack on a meal laced with radiation for a freakish result?  A clever Soldier ant comes across a bleb of Elmers glue and a sharp toothpick and voila! A weapon. Our avatars won’t be wielding Frostmourne, but they can have potent attacks with pincers, horns, venomous tails, dazzling light, bites, stingers, and so on. Loot would be enhancements to ones skills. Legendary items would be evolutionary breakthroughs.

Evolutinary breakthroughs are shape modifying, functional enhancements that are applicable to ones progeny.

Progeny is important is this game. Life is too difficult and too short. It is how the game handles death penalties. If you die, one of your offspring takes your place. An insect is immortal only through its offspring. You would be assigned a mate (and find better ones as you travel) and given your own lair (housing) from which your kids can emerge and prosper.

 

Our enemies are mighty and vast. Giants named Bobby and Jenny are always threatening with their feet, they wield foreign mauls of death marked with an arcane inscription by a wizard known as Playschool. Hazards like the Bladed Reaper that cleaves the forests must be avoided (Lawnmowers) and the Gas Lords from Orkin always mean certain genocide.

 

If that weren’t enough, PvP is on. Drop your enemy for enhancements or body parts. Be careful not to mess with those insects associated with a Hive, Colony or Collective (guilds).

 

Insect Online has potential. 

Yet another Age of Conan Review

Posted by Hathi Wednesday June 18 2008 at 9:57AM
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My Honest Review – Great Potential, but still Potential

 
Ok, yet another review of Age of Conan. I have played open beta, early access and currently own a Collector’s edition of the game. I signed up on a RP/PvP server.
 
What is great about this game?
The combat system is at least different, at best innovative for melee classes. The directional attacks are responsive and offer some strategy in addition to the hot button abilities we have seen in past MMOs. Combat also provides a chance for fatalities, which provide a bonus to the character and his/her party for a short period of time as well as an interesting animation. Critics argue that mashing 1-2-3 offers nothing more as far as strategy, but there is a difference when a player is trying to “break through an opening” of an enemies “shields” (more on this later). It does behoove you to pay attention to an enemies ‘shields” so you can inflict the most damage you can.
There are strafes, charges, evasions which all can play a role in combat. You can get off a stun, maybe evade an attack with quick successive directional move before attacking. This will undoubtedly cater more to the Xbox console gaming, but it works for the PC.
Combinations allow characters to chain special maneuvers for strategic effects, so instead of a hot button is mashed for an effect, a player needs to hit a directional attack to set the effect off. If you forget to hit the required button, it will stay up for a few seconds, allowing you to set it off for the next opponent.
Combat 9 out of 10
Reason I do not give it a 10 is because of the shield system. In PvE, the shield system offers a strategic method for physical characters. Suppose the enemy loads its protection to one side of its body. Your attacks are heavily mitigated and blunted in damage output. Players have to change the direction of their attacks for best effect. This is good for gamers. What falls apart is while they give the shield option for players, It is cumbersome to use. Holding down the control key and hitting 1-2-3 is what you need to do to adjust shield strength for your character. Unless FunCom makes this easier to use, I doubt anyone will use their protective shields for their avatar.
 
Visual 9 out of 10
If you were contemplating a new computer, this game may convince you to invest in a new gaming computer. It is visually stunning. Animations and detail to environment is a treat to behold. Even if the game doesn’t appeal to you in the long run, a computer that can run this game well should be able to run other games in the near future. Unfortunately, its boon is also its bane, because less than moderate systems can’t handle AoC performance well and as a result you have to put its settings on low and turn off a lot of goodies to endure the game demands.
 
Sound 10 out of 10
            I cannot say enough about the backround music, combat grunts and yells, environmental sounds, and the voice overs in early levels. It is immersive and enjoyable. The log on screen is left on just to get me in the mood for a Conan world.
Content 7 out of 10
            On the plus side, the gaming world is huge. You can fill your journal log quickly with things to do at up to about lvl 45. If you want to solo, you won’t find yourself competing for quest objectives too much. If you want to take on group objectives, you will start seeing calls for groups around the late twenties.
You can climb walls and swim underwater for some quest objectives. Have not seen underwater combat.
Drawbacks are that Quests are standard in nature, kill X number of enemies. Pick up/ delivery quests. One escort quest so far (in the White Sands instance). A few timed quests. Objects that you can interact with are only quest objectives.
As of this blog, higher end content is not as bountiful. A few high end dungeons. As most claim, we wish we had more.. They promise more..
 
Design 3 out of 10 (so far)
Age of Conan promised so much and seemed to deliver so little. The first twenty levels are immersive and gets you locked into the game - If you do not mind instancing. You get good storylines, but no variations. The interactions with NPCs offer a few choices. One inevitably terminating the conversation (Goodbye) and two more choices. Good news you can rifle through them without worrying about any wrong decision because they all end up being the same. Bad news is, well, see the last sentence.
AoC offers skills, abilities and feats. The abilities you get every 5 levels are the signature powers of your character after level 10. Feat points are awarded one per level and skills are generic things like hp regeneration, mana , hiding, perception, running. I feel like it was a City of Heroes common pool of powers for players to choose. So nothing really ground breaking until you hit every 5th level. And it is usually power upgrades instead of a new strategic ability. (example: Wave of Life: rank 1, rank 2 etc.)
AoC offers PvP. It promised blood money as loot from fallen players. This blood coin was the currency to purchase PvP gear. As of this blog, there is nothing. PvP is simply a diversion with no purpose. Thus, the only reason to kill other players other than mini games is … Ganking, Griefing, Spawn Camping are complaints in the game. I wonder why…Unless FunCom does something soon, Sieges – supposedly one of the end game content concepts, will be a diversionary exercise of guild pride only. Unlike WAR, which does promise rewards for players for participating in PvP activity, AoC has little to offer other than personal PvP thrill at this time.
Loot has been mediocre so far in AoC. Green items are common, and blue items are rare, purple items are raid only (except a final reward in the Arena). The best items are received from quests thus far. When starting out I thought I was going to be impressed by cosmetic variations of loot with similar stats. Do I want a pirate boots or sandals? Do I want a pirate chest top or robe? Sadly this does not seem to persist in later levels. Given there is no fashion vendor I thought AoC was going to solve that cosmetic problem with a variety of loot drops with similar stats.
For all the problems with Vanguard, I must say travel was painless given the vastness of it. Age of Conan gives my feet blisters until mid game. If you didn’t preorder, well I suppose you will be walking more until you get enough cash for a horse. You are often trekking a ways to get to quest destinations. Then the irritating quest flaw design, after you return for your reward the NPC tells you to go back to the area again for more chores. WAR promises this quest curse will be curtailed by allowing players that have already killed x bears not to do it again because now the NPC wants their claws instead of their teeth. At least AoC should offer a draft horse as a destiny quest reward or a summon party member spell to assist in group activities.
 
Crafting 5 out of 10
Crafting is different. Unfortunately it is one of those changes that is for the worse not better. You are not stuck in front of a table grinding recipes or losing materials for failures. You are running around looking for resource nodes to gather materials to instantly create an object. If you want to improve your gear via crafting, it seems the gem slots have lots of problems right now, so don’t bother. Purpose of crafting right now appears to be building your guild keep structures. At least the monotony is broken up with an occasional prospector that spawns to dispute your claim to your node and tries to kill you for it. So forget about the temptation of creating a bot character to do this menial work.
 
Other broken promises?
The game offered drinking and drunken brawls in taverns. Not in yet. Sex buffs from prostitutes? Nope.
AoC at one time offered a nice variety of professions for players to choose. I looked forward to playing the difference between a Lich and Necromancer. What does a Waylayer do? A Lotus character implies some monk like martial artist; sadly there are no hand to hand combatants in Conan. The interesting professions got pared down quickly and now I can understand why. FunCom was so focused on the combat mechanics and beauty of the game, that the other aspects of the game were an afterthought. How in the name of Crom can they give “different” classes a chance?
 
 
The interface is the weakest part in AoC. The user interface is big and begs for a mod. How do I know where my group members are located? How do I change chat fonts? How do I set up channels? Why can’t it all be on one channel and I filter out what I don’t want on my screen? My mini map is fubar again and everything is greyed out, AHHHH!
 
 
Overall Performance 6 out of 10
            As stated before, if you don’t have a good gaming rig, you will find yourself with problems. Slow loading instances, NPCs taking awhile to materialize before you, latency, group combat hitches. My XP computer limps through the game, while my Vista rig does very well.
            The game does have potential to be an enriching experience. The game did need a few more months to make it a great game. For now, FunCom is capitalizing on the fact that it is new, it has a M rating so players can see blood, boobs and four letter blasphemies. As for role playing, it aint there. This is an interesting observation because I am on a RP server and see so many guilds recruiting claiming to be role playing oriented. Yet I don’t see much of it in game. This tells me players want to experience new powers then see the effects of those powers first. After they “mastered” combat they may turn to role playing.
            I suspect FunCom either had a deadline because funds were running low or they didn’t want to compete with Wrath of the Lich King or WAR. They gambled and won. Launching early with reduced features, they will get a few months of subscriptions as long as the excuses are well written.

MMO Marketing - what is acceptable hype?

Posted by Hathi Friday May 16 2008 at 11:14AM
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Sometimes I wonder how much a MMO developer can promise to the masses before it all blows up in their faces.

Marketing via Interviews of developers

We do have some examples of companies which incurred massive damage from interviews. Star Trek Online is a fair example. While they did not advertise it as "This game is not for Trekkies", the phrase from the interview got out quickly. It stung the fans more than any highly paid advertising campaign could deflect. So does this tell companies careful of who they put out for the public?

Vanguard is a similar example in using lots of interviews with online gaming sites to promote their game. Unfortunately it fell under the catergory "Overpromise and underdeliver".  SoE has wisely picked up the pieces and patched it back together, but they did not have to incur the expense or accountability of its former owners marketing. 

Darkfall may be the holy grail of MMOs someday, but what if it is a massive marketing test? What if it is to test us, as consumers of MMO games, to see how far we will tolerate promises? How long will we follow a game, click through its website and engage in its forums? How often does one need to create a video to keep people going to your website? How often should an employee put a blog out there so you can get comments from the community, which in turn can link to other gaming sites and generate more interest (more importantly, investors)?

While the only ad I see in Darkfall is a comic ad, how many ads on a website will a gamer tolerate?

Video marketing

I would have to say Paul Barnett is arguably one of the more famous faces in the MMO circles given the multi- year campaign of Warhammer Online. His humourous, yet informative videos have always been anticipated by fans and skeptics alike. I do not know the expense involved to utilize this method of game promotion, but Warhammer is a pretty well known game now, and it has no forums of its own. EA/ Mythic has to be one of the best PR companies in this category. The beauty of this method is that it is all scripted. It is hard to miscommunicate or misspeak. You can put forth your best face every time. Notice FunCom started their developer narrated videos a few weeks before launch... Bottom line is that needs to be budgeted, but it appears to be well worth the expense.

Employee profiles

I don't know about you all, but I am tired of seeing gaming company profiles on their employees. Who cares if one of the artists likes comics of the 1930's? I am not going to buy your game based on the composer of your music either.  Maybe it is a human resources tactic - be proud of your staff and they will work harder for you and not want a raise every month. Maybe HR people say instead of "Employee of the Month" with a premium parking spot, give em a dedicated web Spotlight.  ::Shrugs:: I want information about your game, not so much from your staff. If you are proud of your staff, keep it on your website. You never know, it may backfire someday. What if someone falls in love with your company codemaster and steals him/her away for their project??

Conferences - this is a no brainer. Get your team out there and let players test your game. The people that go to conferences are your die hard gamers. They take the time out of their lives to learn more about the games coming down the pike. Ignoring conferences delays your recognition.

Game videos

Easy to produce, but also easy to criticize. WAR tries to quell critics with the Pre-Alpha/Beta footage disclaimer on many of its videos. Is that all you need to do?

The PreOrder

Yes, the time of this blog comes to the all important marketing tool. The Preorder. I will go over the ugly before what I like about it.

The Ugly - Gods and Heroes (Perpetual Entertainment), The Chronicle (MMO Center?)

Examples of abuse. Examples of companies which took your money and almost ran. This alone should always caution people when pre order offers are available. Make sure you know how to get your money back. Do companies make it easy to cancel or is it an act of congress? Think twice if a company does not make it simple for your to cancel a preorder. You are giving money away in return for a promise of a game sometimes a long, long time.

The irritating - Age of Conan

As these forums demonstrated. When a company makes its preorder offer vague, alter it promises in features, makes you spend more money to enjoy the preorder privledges, restrict the numbers of availabilty, etc. you are not doing your customers any favors. You would think you want more money asap so why not entice people to buy your product before you launch it? 

Maps/Books/ artistry - eh. i can live without them. For avid fans I suppose. Collectors edition. Fine. Pre-Order standard edition? Nah

The Beta Lust

Grab player information data and computer data from gamers interested and what do you have? A buttload  of information. Emails of gamers? Check. Personal demographics of gamers? Check. How many gamers have x amount of these types of video cards? How many have vista systems? How many have 2 or more gig of RAM? How many use cable/dsl/dial up? All this data is important to developers because they do not want their game to overload players systems, but they do not want their game to look dated either. So how do you know what gamers have? Offer them a chance to be in your Beta!  Don't promise them a spot, just offer them a chance.  If the player has what you want in regards to system to test your game, let them play it - beta testing is important of course. So offering a spot to beta testing in return for my preorder money? I'm on the fence.

Yay for Pre orders that deliver!

What works so far is not so much an item that becomes useless in the first few days of actual play.

Mounts - everyone loves them because they do stand out. I give FunCom hats off because they won't make them available until you have played the game ( lvl 40). That deters people who want to sell their mounts or cancel their pre order. Also props for FunCom for making the mounts more than just a speed buff. You can fight with them. I am hoping they cost a lot for those that did not preorder so at least I feel a little special for giving my money up earlier than they did. :)

Unique avatars - Props of Warhammer for doing this. This really makes me feel special. If I have access for a toolset of customizable characters that no one else does when the game goes live, that entices me a lot. MMOs need all the customization as possible, and this is a great start.  I see this as a win/ win for future MMOs. Set aside some portraits or even a website of tools (that need to be unlocked via password) where players can create their portait to be saved before the game goes live. People can advertise your game with their avatar they made as well.  Champions Online would do well to offer this.

Mega Download/Torrents vs. mailing CD - what if instead of an empty box for $10 at retail stores, you get a basic framework cd of the game? This way players are not downloading for days and do not have to buy subscriptions for the opportunity to try your beta test? If players don't want to go to the retail store then offer direct download as well with fileplanet, but if you have to spend $$ to put an empty box on a store shelf why not save the gamer some headache by putting a basic dvd in it? Make it clear that this is only the beta version and patching will be frequent before launch, but at least its patching.

Enough for now.. I hope I didn;t bore you all..

The WAR Movie basics

Posted by Hathi Friday August 31 2007 at 3:05PM
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Wouldn’t be interesting to have a Warhammer Movie buttress near the release or the Age of Reckoning game? Now that we know a book is to be published, at least we havea chance for an investor to try to make a movie. Heck we had movies made on similar genres including Dungeons and Dragons.
Lots of IP to draw from of course. This Warhammer film can also be tied into contemporary issues as well. The Empire can be loosely tied to the countries trying to beat back the wave of destructive forces (terrorism). The Destructive side can have their point of view told as well and portray themselves and defenders against Empire “imperialism” or stopping its blasphemous influence from spreading.
Now I realize this is not the true, die hard theme of the Warhammer backround. Nor it is exactly fitting for the Warhammer Online game. Warhammer is all about strife and a never ending struggle. To those not familiar with Warhammer at all, you may get a shrug response with “Just another fantasy based war film” and the most likely comparison with “Lord of the Rings”. So, I think for a Warhammer film to have success, there has to be a believable reason for these races to fight. We don’t have to end the war in 2 hours, not even in a trilogy series. But there has to be a sign of progress in our protagonists agenda. There has to be a villain as well. Although the villain can be adored like Darth Vader. 
 
So just to play around a bit, what actors would you consider for what types of roles?
I can’t imagine having a major character role for each of the WAR careers in a film setting. Even in Lord of the Rings, we have only a few of the fellowship which we follow closely. Figure we only have 2 hours to make a picture, so I would focus time on order heroes and destruction generals. The iconic types.
Picture each of these actors narrating the movie from their point of view. The warrior priest on the brink of desperation against a soulless foe who numbers seem to be legion. The Chaos Magus loyal the Chaos cause and campaigning against the blasphemers of the Empire. The Dwarven Captain trying to rally his comrades from the loss of his home a few years ago by alien invaders that seek nothing but blood. A Druchii making her case against the usupers of the glorious elven kingdom. She is driven by hate because of this apparent political upheaval. The archmage is part of the nobility, almost living in fear of the terrorist like tactics of the “insurgents”. The elven kingdom falls from peace into a police like state in the hopes to end insurgent incursions which seem relentless and more and more difficult to stop.
 
Main characters
Warrior Priest – Jason Statham would be great
Witchhunter – Hugh Jackman looks good especially since he played in Van Helsing
Knight of Blazing Sun - Gerard Depardieu seems to fit for me
Bright Wizard – Vincent Cassel
 
Dwarf main character – John Rhys Davies (of course!)
 
 
High Elven Archmage – Kate Blanchett seems perfect for this noble beauty.
 
 
Destruction
Orcs – just use WWF or similar wrestlers and use computer graphics
Chosen - Vin Diesel would work for me
Marauder – Clancy Brown is always a safe choice. Can also be Chosen too.
Chaos Magus – Colm Feore – A perfect leader of the twisted arts, as he was playing Lord Marshal in Chronicles of Riddick
 
 
Witch Elf – Alexa Davalos was a natural match with Vin Diesel. I have no reason not to put her in dark elven gear
 
 

Kristanna Loken would look sweet as well either as a Witch Elf or Sorceress

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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