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Heal Thy Self - Fixing the MMO Healer

Posted by Ozzallos Monday March 26 2012 at 4:09PM
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While most MMOs on the market are content with the status quo, there is a diverging population amongst developers and players looking to break the holy trinity of healers, tankers and dps with a special focus on the healer. In a nutshell, your user experience as a priest-like class boils down to what is essential digital whack-a-mole as HP pop up and down for your amusement. I was recently in a beta chat with people making light of being a priest in Warcraft's Molten Core to the affect of  "Content? What content? All I remember was health bars and a red haze."

And really, that pretty much sums it up; you end up forgoing content just to do your job.

As alluded to in a previous blog entry, it's not just play mechanics that are the problem, but developer imposed class scarcity. Many MMOs have a single priest class, ensuring you'll be waiting a lengthy amount of time for that person that wants to watch your HP bar bounce around. If your MMO has more than one priest class, it's usually a main priest class and 'that other priest class that doesn't heal quite so well,' with the very same waiting bottleneck as before. Likewise, that marginalized secondary class is the one you'll choose only if you have no other choice. So how do we fix the healer class? How do you allow your players to have a rich gaming experience that is more than just raid whack-a-mole when grouped? How do you ensure other players aren't always waiting on a Priest to get up and go? Hell, how do you balance it all?

I've got a feeling...

A few brave developers have tried to break the healer monopoly and so far I've seen only limited success. I say limited because their attempts at reinventing the wheel usually create other new problems that end up souring the experience. To keep you from chasing HP bars, some franchises rely heavily on cone and AoE healing, usually watering down the skill it takes to play the class in the process. Warhammer has you fight for the energy to heal. Other devs- like Arenanet -are trying to break the trinity coimpletely by delegating healing to self responsibility, not a central class/role. I've never been a fan of reducing player options and feel this fundementally changes what an RPG is in the first place, but what are the options?

Let's take a step back, first. Back before Warcraft. Yes, Jimmy, there was an RPG before Warcraft. Back before Everquest and back to pen and paper. You know, old skool Dungeons and Dragons. They faced the very same problems as today: It had one main healing class, the cleric. If you had a pally you could pull very limited secondary healing. Beyond that you had your pots and that was it, and yet somehow it worked. Healers were balanced and fun to play. HP bar spanking heppened, but was usually kept to a minimum. What happened?

The modern MMORPG happened.

The Clerics of old couldn't spam healing, for one. You had a certain number of pre-memorized spells and once you were out, you were out until you rested again. The game was far more tactical in nature. Today, your heals are on a three second cast time with a one second cooldown until you ran out of mana to cast them. The modern MMORPG has serialized healbotting by design. That's all you do because you can. Your other players know it and expect it the heals to flow without cessure.

 

...That Tonight's Going to be a Good Wipe.

I would submit that you don't need to break the trinity. You don't need to dumb things down to AoE and cone healing (a spell here and there won't hurt, obviously) You don't need to build up healing rage. The very first thing these games need to do is to eliminate heal spam. How? Easy. D&D had a memory system worked out. You can either replicate this in real time MMO combat and/or just utilize a really long cooldowns on all major heals for the same effect. The healer can no longer healbot due to the innate scarcity of resources, creating a more tactics driven game and one in which the healer is freed up to do other things...

...Like play the game with people, not HP.

The second thing I would consider is reducing the demand for the healer. Most MMOs have instance content that cannot be completed without at least one priest class present by design. Why? This, in my opinion, is a mistake. If the average MMORPG has a single major problem attributed to its name, it is that you have two scarce, must have classes paired against a plethora of DPS options. The tanks and healers will always have a group. The DPS might have to wait (a while) because of class population bloat. Even looking at more cutting edge games like TERA you can see this problem already looming on the horizon-- A single primary healer, a marginalized secondary healer and more DPS than you can shake a stick at.

It doesn't have to be this way and you shouldn't have to have a healer to complete every instance. Sure, it may be a tad more difficult without, but hardly impossible. It would go a long way toward allowing the priest to play the content while allowing the DPS lovers a way to enjoy it as well and not about their slot in a 5-man so much.

No class should be that indispensiable, and yet they are made that way by design.

In fact, the constrast between most instance play and PVP battlegrounds is huge when you thnk about it. In an environment where people die in seconds, nobody rightly expects timely heals. Some rounds won't even see a priest. Players are left to their own survival and tactics, and if you recieve healing support while you're wailing on somebody, hallualuah. It also allows priests to play a game other than the pidgeonhole of hunting for hitpoints. They PvP like everybody else and if they can, they throw out heals without the pressure of expectation.

The above only works, however, with a priest unable to spam healing all day long. Without the spam, a 5m instance now has the same expectations as they do in a PvP battleground-- Heals are great, but you can't expect them 24/7. Priests do what they can, when they can and actually get to play the game. Bonus.

Hoepfully that makes some sort of sense, and without the silliness attatched to the current methods of crippling clerics content under the guise of improving their gaming experience.

Next, a look at tanks.

Calling It: Female Pandaren

Posted by Ozzallos Wednesday March 21 2012 at 7:07PM
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Reskinned dwarf.

Just sayin'. That, and they look like dogs as depicted here on MMO Champion. Just... Horrible.

 

Pets, Pandas and now even worse:

"The Tillers faction will let you run your own farm! The farmer's market will provide daily quest to improve your farm every day, you will be able to clear plots of land and plant things like cooking ingredients, herbalism nodes, gifts for NPCs to build your reputation... etc."

Seriously?

TERA and Guild Wars 2 can't come soon enough, I'm telling you.
Thanks for the heads up DD.

 

 

The Ugly Truth About Old Republic

Posted by Ozzallos Wednesday March 21 2012 at 12:58PM
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I stumbled upon a fairly bland article on Arstechnica entitled, "Blizzard producer attributes drop in WoW subscriptions to Star Wars: Old Republic." Your first reaction to that article was probably quite a bit like mine; that being, "Duh?". It's not quite as simplistic as that, but as another member put it "In other news, water is wet."

The real story is not, however, the overly obvious headline. It's what you'll find in the reader commentary.

Now I'll readily admit bias when it comes to the topic of Old Republic, namely filed under the header of "300 million dollars and this is the best they can do?". Because let's be honest, it doesn't look particularly impressive and the gameplay is pretty one-dimentional. Its only real selling point is the hours upon hours of voice acted dialogue and the name "Star Wars!" behind it.

Or let's put it another way:

If this game were named some generic name like, say, 'Blue Cloud Odyssey' featuring everything but the lightsabers, I doubt so many would be so willing to play it, let alone rush to its defense because Old Republic is truely mediocre in execution. Sure, that's my opinion, but it's also apparently a truth that's starting to set in.

The reader commentary for this article is particularly enlightening as to why people are even playing Old Republic and potentially its future as a franchise. In fact, if one went by this cross section of independent opinion, you'd almost think people were playing Rift all over again; that is to say they were playing it because they were tired of World of Warcraft and little more. Frankly, it doesn't say anything good about your game when the only attributes to its popularity are "people tired of warcraft" and starwars fanboys. When you can't sell a game on its own merits, there's a problem and that seems to be a truth bearing out in the arstechnica commentary.

Even more telling is the focus of those comment. The story is about Warcraft losing ground to Old Republic and that is certainly reflected in the conversation as Blizzard's MMO management sins are brought to light. But in almost every other posting you see a general disatisfaction with Old Republic commented upon in the same breath. "We're tired of Warcraft dumbing down its gameplay/pets/pandas... And Starwars isn't that exciting either."

That's the last direction you would expect a warcraft fail piece to go, but there it is and it 's perhaps a snapshot into the future of Old Republic if Bioware can't get its act together.

Mass Effect 3 Ending Kills Puppies

Posted by Ozzallos Tuesday March 13 2012 at 10:47PM
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So you've sank your life and possibly hundreds of hours of play time into the Mass Effect saga, only to stare at the end of ME3 mouthing the words "What. The. Fuck." as the entire universe is blown back into the dark ages regardless of just how well or badly you played the game.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert.

Now the internet is alive with fan vitriol at just how badly the ending was executed, reminding this reviewer of the scorn and ridicule that met the ending of the original Evangelion serial. By the way, if anybody can actually tell you what they think the plot was in that series, they're lying their ass off. Anyway, back to ME3, people are apparently pissed and are banding together to let Bioware know just how pissed they are, but I have to tell you your rage is misplaced. Most people seem to be upset that no matter what they did, you still got the same overarching theme with only minor details changing through it.

Frankly, Bioware failed on two levels here. First, when people play this sort of game, they want to make a difference. They want to be that line in the sand and dammit, you shall not pass. People play these sort of role playing games because they want their actions to matter. Take Halo for example. The Master Chief was that line in the sand. He was that only thing throughout the Halo series that kept the barbarians from the gates time and time again, and gamers ate it up. In Mass Effect, the opposite is true. No matter what you did, it's lights out for the universe. The only possible difference you could make in your gameplay was locally and just how badly you fucked up. Everything else was beyond your heroes' control whether you liked it or not.

Let's take a second here and pause because believe it or not, I actually didn't mind the ending too much. I say ending in singular because they're all merely variations on the same theme. If taken in and of itself, it was suitable epic for my tastes and Shepard did save the universe, if not in the way fans were hoping. Still, if you're going to give somebody a choose your own adventure ending, you had better do it right. Bioware didn't and that leads me to their second, bigger failure.

Incompetence.

From the moment you were beamed up to the Crucible, the ending was a trainwreck of suck and fail from a technical standpoint. Somehow Shepard is only able to summon the willpower to shoot the Illusive Man after he offs the other guy. That's not so bad, but even in success, he still fails in his mission; unable to activate the final sequence as he lies bleeding on the floor. Thankfully, the Crucible AI helpfully brings him up to the command deck in order to be defeated.

What? You mean you didn't know there's an almighty intelligence guiding the war against all life in the universe and after three games you're just learning about it in the last ten minutes? That's plot gold right there.

Where was I? Oh yeah. This here-to-unknown AI conviently levitates Shepard to the only place in the ship where it can be defeated and proceeds to convientenly explain why it has been killing off the universe for countless millenia, but now it won't work because Shepard has proven the plan for naught by actually being there to defeat it. If you're a creative author at any level, this is the part where you start pulling your hair out because the man was bleeding out on the lower level. Instead of leaving him there, the AI brings Shepard up to recite his 'why I became an evil genius' story and present the man with the keys to his defeat.

If only all of humanities' mortal enemies were so helpful.

For some reason completely lacking of forshadowing and background plot, the AI has been changed by the Crucible and two overly amiguious "options" are put forth to our hero in order to resolve the endless circle of death and rebirth between synthetics and organic life forms. The various endings from here don't really matter since apparently this AI of universal power can only think of two and both represent either its destruction and and/or its loss of freedom at Shepard's hands. It comes across as a crowbar forcfully wedged into an already flimsy plot in order to present the player with a choice-- A choice that reeks of contrivance and laziness on the part of the developers.

Realistically, the story fell apart the moment he was levitated onto the command deck, but why did this suddenly and spontaneously appearing AI save Shepard in the first place?  If he would have just left the guy to bleed to death, he wouldn't have needed the final two options in the first place. The AI would have won, thus validating his logic in scouring the universe of all suffieciently evolved organic life. Instead, he lifts Shepard up and invalidates three full games of Mass Effect plot and presents Shepard with choices he can't and won't make for himself, choices that doom the AI regardless. Why even these two choices? There was no other option availible to the AI but death or slavery? Really? And why couldn't it make the choice itself again?

In other words what we have here is a screwed up pyramid of non-stop plot failure from beginning to end that leaves the gamer a gibbering mass of WTF, and not in a good way. Leaving some wondering mystery in the plot can be a good thing as the reader (or viewer in this case) is allowed to use his or her imagination as to why something took place the way it did. That's not the case here. Critical details are missing. Plot points glossed over. Story made up on the spot without regard to continuity.

Fans of the series have every right to be upset. The ending of their series is mired into sloth and fail. In fact, I would go so far as to say that whoever signed off on the final ending at Bioware ought to be fired; Not for the content because you can't please everybody all the time. They should get the axe for allowing this quality control disaster to take place to begin with and Bioware deserves every flame getting sent their way for it.

 

No Tanks, No Healers, No Problem?

Posted by Ozzallos Monday March 12 2012 at 10:31PM
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Next on my list of highly anticipated games that doesn't feature a lightsaber is Guild Wars 2. Like TERA, GW2 is another rich looking game that somehow manages to look lightyears better than Old Republic without the 300 million dollars of bloat. In fact, it's subscription and cash shop free if you can wrap your head around it, making it all but impossible not to at least display a modicum of interest in the upcoming MMO.

There have been a few changes since the last iteration of Guild Wars; most of them being good. There is the enhanced focus on a persistent MMO world instead of fully instanced gameplay, for example. There have also been a couple of controversial changes that prevent me from dropping the pre-order dollars outright, and those are mainly the decision to de-emphasies the healer and tank roles.

This is how we Role. Or not.
 

The rationale is simple, according to Arenanet. De-emphasising these two traditionally critical roles does two primary things for Guild Wars gameplay: First, it eliminates the Looking For Group bottleneck centered around these two classes. I personally can't count haow many times I've waited hours for a PUG healer to come along just to play through a critical instance, let alone a competent tank who knows what a shield is.

"I can tanka with mah 2h!"

Dumbass. The second thing Arenanet is hoping to accomplish is teamwork through damage prevention. Instead of a central tank being healed up by a specialist as damage is taken, the focus is on mob control and damage supression. Effectively there are only two professions in Guild Wars 2 according to this setup: DPS and Control, regardless of the flavor. Like every company with a gimmick Arenanet is insisting theirs is "the game changer", but is it really?

Classless.
 
It's easy to conceed that eliminating the two classes in question would undoubtably remove the quinticential instancing bottleneck that most MMOs invariably face with dedicated healers and tanks. The question then revolves around the entire concept of damage prevention and whether it's as feasible as Guild Wars would like you to believe. When it comes down to it, removing those two classes puts everybody on an equal footing in terms of need. If anything, it's probably the biggest flaw in most every other MMO out there: Twenty flavors of DPS and barely a handful of mission critical roles, meaning that if you're, say, a rogue in WoW, you have a snowflakes chance in hell of getting an instance slot unless you're part of a guild.
 
With the GW2 setup, there's no reason to exclude anybody based on the need for a critical slot and this is perhaps the greatest argument in favor of the de-emphasis of healers and tanks. On the other hand, you're not special and I think that fact gets largely ignored in the push for party equality.
 
You are not a unique snowflake.
 
On the surface it seems like a solid move that streamlines gameplay and enhances the gaming experience, but I'm of the opinion that it neglects the base desire to be needed. Implicit in the role playing game is the desire to play a role, not just a variation on a theme. In the new Guild Wars, everybody is either doing control to prevent party damage or dps to eliminate the threat. Sure, you can do it close up or from a-far and call them different names, but you just eliminated a lot of player identity in the process. RPG players like to feel special. They like to fill a niche. Guild Wars 2 seems to inadvertantly takes the position that feeling special is not only unnessisary, but that its for your own good.
 
My second concern is that it creates an 'every man for himself' environment. With a tank and healer, you have two classes with vested interest in keeping the party alive while the other classes are doing the same for them because the only thing that seperates them from wipe and death is a tank and a healer. It creates a unity of its own and clearly defines who is doing what. In GW2, once you strip away the control aspect, everybody is responisble for his or her own survival. When things turn to crap, you're left with your own abilities and own heals and own pots. For GW2 to work, there will probably need a clearly defined hiarchy of who does what, as opposed to it being implicit based on a diverse class structure ala every other mmo out there.
 
Role out.
 
Personally, I can't help but to think there are other, better solutions to the tank/priest bottleneck that GW2 was seeking to relieve. Certainly the focus on preventing damage is a laudable goal, but eliminating player choice to do so I have to question. If I were to roll with my logic, I would increase the choices availible to a gamer, perhaps allowing every class access to the healing, tanking and control attributes instead of stripping them away or renaming them to statisfy a gimmick.
 
Then again, this is pure speculation as readily admit I haven't played the game yet. When I get a chance I assure you this will be the first isse I tackle. Just as mouselook combat will make or break TERA, I sense this will be the defining challenge GW2 will face. If it can surmount it and their play mechanics work, Arenanet will almost assuredly have a killer ap on their hands.

TERA Closed Beta Pt 1.5 + pics!

Posted by Ozzallos Sunday March 11 2012 at 11:16PM
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There's not really enough time left on the clock of Closed Beta 3 left to do anything meaningful but finish out the newb zone, so I did and thought I'd spam you with some screens and observations.


 

The inital questing zone pretty much encompassing levels 1-10 is fairly expansive, not to mention comprehensive in its introduction to the TERA's interface. The game does a good job handwalking you through the various aspects of the mehanics while slowly ratcheting up the difficulty. Graphically, it was 100% win but you knew that going in.

 

 

Mob encounters seemed to rely heavily on, well, mobs. Literally. These normally consisted of a central leader type flanked by trash minions. By themselves, they are easily killed. Get pinned down and the damage can rack up quickly making the movment aspect of TERA absolutely critical. In away, it reminds me of Vindictus, but with more depth. That said, there's a faint sense that these group engagements are placed to artifically create the movement TERA needs to hang its action hat on.

 

 

Some of the concerns from the first part did seem founded, however, specifically in the caster and buff catagories. While some of them are handled via cone effects and AoE effects, some spells feature 'lock-on' mechanics-- Press the hotkey once, lock. Press it a second time, release heal/buff on target. Uhg. I'll be honests and admit it's not the most elegant solution I was hoping for, but realistically one of the few you can institute in a perma-mouselook environment. Still, it feels like a crowbar thrown into an otherwise smooth system; all but promising to be a pain in the ass in high intensity environments. This is probably my biggest reservation concerning gameplay, which seems to inadvertantly punish caster classes through play mechanics.

 

 

I was continually surprised at just how large the beginners zone was, taking serveral hours to complete. Questing was nothing to write home about, however, leaning on a vast majority of 'kill x of y' missions and back and forth running. The story was at least compelling, making it somewhat more bareable in nature. Mobs were quite likeable and creative in design, also helping to offset the slitting of my own wrist in boredome.

 

 

I'm still on the fence, quite frankly. It has all the hallmarks of a potential winner, but is hardly without its pitfalls. The hardware cost of entry is going to hold some people back and TERA simply hasnt seen enough saturation advertisement to make it an immeditely recognizable name, let alone having a previous iteration like Starwars or Warcraft 3 to build name brand recognition off of. When paired with the 'action' MMO element of its gameplay, it may be a tougher sell than it has to be.

 

 

Regardless of the quirky combat or lack of pedigree, time and effort went into building TERA up and that alone at least deserves consideration. I'm nto quite convinced to go all in as an early adopter yet with the pre order, but I'm definitely interested. And watching.

TERA Closed Beta Pt 1

Posted by Ozzallos Saturday March 10 2012 at 11:13PM
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The handful of you that drop by this blog regularly know that I don't pull any punches concerning any game unfortunate enough to fall into my clutches. If it's bad, I'll have no reservation in telling you just how bad it is and am quite blunt in doing so. My point of view is if we're all expected to spend money on a subscription or cash shop, the title in question had better be just as solid and complete as any you would buy for a console or manestream franchise. I don't have advertisers to coddle. I'm not going to sugar coat a review for the fanboys. I'm especially not going to waste your time and mine on fail, so hopefully my generally caustic and jaded attitude towards MMOs counts for soemthing in that.

Oh, and before we go any further, lets get this out of the way for some of the more overzealous mods out there. Per Enmass/Tera: "Are beta tests under NDA? No, beta tests are not under NDA. Share your excitement of TERA with your friends!"

Awesomesauce.

 

  • First Impressions
I'll be honest; watching TERA load up for the first time left me stunned like few MMOs before. The hardware requirements are steeper than its predecessors, but damned if Enmass/Bluehole doesn't serve up a visual feast. We're talking exquisitly detailed characters posing against animated backdrops that all but demand your attention. In fact, I had to tour each and every race and class before I could settle on one, and even that was hard, because the attention to detail was so thorough. They all screamed "PICK ME!".
 
It's just that good, but it also forces me to ask a very uncomfortable question: What the fuck happened, Bioware? This is a company with a budget of three hundred MILLION sank into Old Republic and the best they came up with was something that looked trailing edge five years ago. And don't even tell me it helps with the hardware requirements, because both games insist on a dual core minimum. When looking at TERA and then back to Old Republic, its hard to express just how utterly disappointed I am in the starwars MMO franchise, because TERA simply annihilates it in every visual catagory; from graphics to idle character animations. Of course the tradeoff was hours and hours of voiceovers, but was it worth it? Was it worth 300 million and such a visually inferior game?
 
I have my doubts.
 
Back to TERA, there are elves and humans. While that fact may elicit a wailing and gnashing of teeth, they're beautifully rendered, as are the other races of TERA; from demons to golem like humanoids. There's even a race of lolies that give you the distinct impression Dateline NBC will bust down your door with "To Catch a Predator" filming live should you roll one up. The classes themselves run the usual gamut of tank, heal, dps and buff, which means if you've played any MMO in the last five years, you'll know how this goes even if the weapon sets aren't entirely standard. Notably, there is no stealth class or daggers to be found in TERA. Boo or cheer this decision at your leisure.
 
TERA once again takes Old Republic (and nearly every other MMO with it) out for a curb stomping in character generation. Customization options are beautifully rendered and plentiful with something for everybody...  Well, that is unless your something is feminine modesty. There's really no such thing in this MMO, so be expecting copious amounts of NC-17 rated female breasts and skin. Don't worry though. Male toons aren't left by the wayside featuring plenty of pretty boy muscle realestate. At very least, TERA is an equal oppotunity employer.
 
  • In Game
The visual feast thankfully continues in-game, the most notable aspect of that feast being the backdrops and horizons. TERA went above and beyond, animating the skyline with birds, cascading waterfalls and shimmering rainbows. Even the sun isn't just 'the sun', but a glyphed jewel hanging in the sky. There is no shortage of attention to detail in this regard, so spend a few minutes and look around. It's a sight to behold. If I had to draw any immediete paralell it would be to NCSoft. This is the game Aion wished it was and without the need for a wings gimmick.
 
Visual pretties are fine and all, but if the gameplay fails, we're done. I'll tell you straight out that combat mechanics are going to be the most contensous aspect of TERA, since the franchise has billed itself as an Action Oriented MMORPG. What does that mean for you? Mouselook. Lots and lots of perma-enabled mouselook. Flashbacks of DC Universe came to mind, but this is fortunately not that. TERA doesn't foresake your keyboard like DC Universe did, nor does it turn combat exclusively into an A+B mash-fest. TERA's combat mechanics strive to achieve a middle ground, allowing techs to be mapped into the keyboard while retaining mouse-look as the primary means of movement.
 
I struggled with this at first and still do, though that's primarily because most MMOs we're used to run contrary to this setup. Still, it does facilitate the mission statement of rapid movement and combat. You'll need it too, because damage and techs can easily be avoided by those with the mind to simply move out of the way of an incoming attack. Its a dimention above and beyond most of the current crop of MMOs that have you set the parking brake next to a mob to spam techniques. Now that I think about it, playing melee reminds me of my Soul Caliber tourny days and that's not such a bad thing, though I always cringe a bit bringing that setup to caster classes. It inevitably favors anything that can deliver instant DPS as opposed to slow moving, slow casting spells. Buff and healing were of particular concern and those seem primarily handled by cone or area of effect mechanics, as well as some interesting beam on target (ala healgun) mechanics.
 
Only more time than a weekend's worth of play will determine how that bares out, but it's certainly workable from what I've seen and hardly the mouse destroying button masher DC Online turned out to be. I'll try and hit crafting, PvP and instancing in part two once I achieve higher levels, but so far this particular MMO looks promising; certainly displaying more demostrated promise than games with ten times the hype and 100x the budget.
 
If you're looking for the next generation MMO that so many have promised and utterly failed to deliver on, this very well might be your stop. It's one I'm seriously considering myself.
 
 
 

Life after F2P?

Posted by Ozzallos Wednesday March 7 2012 at 11:57AM
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Aside from the medocrity represented in Lime Odyssey, Aeria has highlighted another aspect in the life cycle of free to play game with its most recent email-- "Mega Ten Transitioning to ATLUS".

Wut? Really?

We all know the normal life cycle of a F2P MMO by now. It normally represents a franchise that harbors critical deficiencies that make it unsuitable for marketing under a subscription based retail model. In other words, they can't get their money up front because gamers won't touch their game, so they revert to free to play in order to get as many eyeballs as possible to look at it. No, it doesn't guarantee a stable, consistent income, but quantity is a quality all its own. Or if you're lucky, your failing franchise is bought out by somebody else and converted to F2P from there.

But what happens when you're even failing at free to play? What happens when you suck so bad at getting people to play a free game that you just don't make money off of it at all? Well, there is of course the obvious: You get your just deserts and go under. You did something so wrong that gamers still won't play your game even when its free to try out. Broken play mechanics. Blah graphics. Insufficent marketing. Pick one or several because they'll all kill your title in the right doseages. There is of course, the other option.

Maybe, just maybe you can get some other sucker to buy your franchise.

That will apparently be the fate of MegaTen as Aeria sells out to ATLUS, an MMO syndicate with an already bad track F2P track record. It also underscores just what becomes of MMOs that consitently don't make the grade. If insolvency doesn't claim them they may just be destined to be bought and sold like trading cards until somebody actually does right by the name... or people finally wise up and let the franchise go back down the toilet bowl of suck with the rest of the turds.

As far as MegaTen goes, was it really a bad enough game to deserve this? No, it was more niche and perhaps survived  longer than it should have on its Japanese otaku credentials. But to sentence it to a company like ATLUS can't be anything but salt in an already festering wound.

Another Lame Odyssey

Posted by Ozzallos Tuesday March 6 2012 at 1:51PM
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With games such as Shayla, Eden Eternal and Grand Fantasia, you would think Aeria Games would be content to take a break from the f2p rat race; That is to say take a break from spamming the genre with yet more worthless flotsam. Not so! I'm happy to report that Aeria has been hard at work with their nose to the grindstone of mediocrity featuring their newest imported title: Lime Odyssey - The Chronicals of ORTA.

Not so fresh from the shores of  Korea, Lime is undergoing localization and load testing as we speak, but the implications for you the gamer are not good. Virtually nothing in LO stands out as notable against Aeria's other anime themed MMOs, and indeed looks to be a generation behind its contemporaries in tems of graphics. Think Vanilla Warcraft without all the graphical patches or the creative art direction to go with it and you have the world of Lime Odyssey in all its splendor.

Yes, that was sarcasm in case you missed the HTML markup.

So what does Lime Odyssey have to offer? Well, not much to be honest. First, no elves make their appearance, which may be a hit or a miss depending on your point of view. Aside from the human contingent, your choices boil down to cat furries or mouse furries featuring the mage/thief/warrior/cleric archtypes you've come to know and wretch over, with options to branch out into specialization ala every Asian MMO along these lines. Professions are locked in from the outset, though there will presumably be some cash shop item allowing you to change it up later.

Combat is standard fare with the notable exception of WASD battle movement (thank God!), though point and click is still availible if you would prefer to make the game even more boring. Other than that, it's your average, 'mash the buttons once cooldown is up' scheme not worth any more mention beyond the fifty or so words in this paragraph.

Surprising- and like Warcraft incidentally - Lime offers its players large, continous world zones unlike so many of its brethern. Does it balance out  the remarkably bland content offered up by the game? Of course not, but it is a plesant feature none the less. Crafting is the usual sinkhole of suck and fail that usually accompanies the free to play profit scheme-- Gather mats, refine them, make parts and enjoy the chances to fail all along the way... Or buy those convienent cash shop items to help that along. Of note, LO also allows the player to augment their profession stats through profession XP that in turn alters how fast you can farm mats, chances to succeed, bonuses and other inate skills that maquerade as content.

If it looks like I'm struggling to find nice things to say about Lime Odyssey, that's because you're right and I am. With the other billion or so anime themed MMOs on the market, there's nothing here worth your time or bandwidth to even sample, let alone invest hard cash into. It's not Fantasy Earth Zero or Faxion bad, but there are too many other MMOs that are better looking, better playing and far more creative in execution. Unless you're hardcore into anything Aeria has to offer and will be purposely ignoring all of the suprior games like Old Republic, TERA and GW2, there's literally no reason participate in this particular Odyssey of Failure.

Skip it. Like Ebola Herpes.

 

 

TERA Beta Keys

Posted by Ozzallos Thursday March 1 2012 at 7:32PM
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One of the few games I've been looking forward to launches sometime this June, but MMORPG.com seems to be on a beta key drought as of late. Fortunately there's Curse.com for the pinch hit with some beta keys just in time for phase three testing next weekend (that's 3/9, folks). No guarantees on duration, quantities or the freshness of this link, so hit it up while you can. Oh, the download is a tad large, so best start now :)

Just in case, here's the offical website beta signup, though i haven't had much luck with that yet.