Trending Games | Pirate101 | ArcheAge | Wasteland 2 | Destiny

  Network:  FPSguru RTSguru
Login:  Password:   Remember?  
Show Quick Gamelist Jump to Random Game
Members:2,858,656 Users Online:0
Games:742  Posts:6,243,888

Show Blog

Link to this blogs RSS feed

Gaming Extravaganza!

Glimpse, Reviews, Impressions and previews of the highest quality possible. My goal is to share information and open discussion with the gamers.

Author: Ponico

Darkfall - A Solid Glimpse Part II

Posted by Ponico Tuesday September 8 2009 at 1:52PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

My first post scratched the surface of what Darkfall is. It left a bunch of questions open and made clear that it was from a new player perspective. This is a follow-up and a more in-depth view of the game itself.


It's been one months, where do I stand now?

Well, I still love the game and I do think that it has a huge potential. However, the past few weeks have grown a few concerns. Not enough to make me quit before the end of my first month but enough to make me wonder if I shouldn’t go try Aion or Champions online... Who knows, I might actually fall in love with the more mainstream genre.

Then again, the next game I'm going to will be CITY XL.

 

DarkFall: A Solid Glimpse
Part II

It’s been four weeks since I arrived in Agon. Life has been ruff but exciting for the most part. My character is getting stronger and stronger but compared to the more hardcore players, I’m still fairly weak. I’ve concentrated my skills into Archery, Polearms, armorsmith and bower. Fighting Gnolls, Skeletons and goblins for countless hours and then taking a break on a tree or a mineral node. Zag has been doing his best to minimize his downtimes in assuring a constant flow of skillpoints. Meanwhile, he got promoted to lieutenant and is in charge of leading PVE and PVP operations for the clan.

Since my first post and this one, I’ve got the chance to lead hunting several hunting expeditions, visit a bunch of dungeon, fight against various players and explore the world a bit. You have to be a very bored person to find Darkfall boring. Sure, like any other games, you’ll hit a few downtime moments but generaly, there’s always something to do.

Hunting expeditions in Darkfall are for me a lot of fun. They feel like the old school Everquests or SWG hunting parties. You camp spawns for a few hours and gather all the loots and then split it among everyone. Since spawns are static, you always have a red or two roaming around, hunting for a prey. So you have to watch your back at all times and that’s keep things pretty exciting. However, life in the npc towns is harsh and very often discouraging. Because the game allows everyone to be everything, you’re group is not dependant on key players. Instead, it’s dependant on tactical positioning and good communication. In my book, that’s a lot more fun and since it’s much harder, it’s more intense then let’s say, ahem… World of Warcraft. =P

However, life in a clan can also be very harsh and frustrating at times. Trust me, you’ll die a lot and unless you have a city on a remote island, you’ll die on a daily basis. You see, in Darkfall, joining a clan opens the door to a lot more griefing then you could ever imagine. In this game, clans can declare war to each other without any restrictions or cooldown. All you need to do is open clan tab, search and select the clan you wish to declare war against and voila, you’re now capable of killing them in the middle of the town.

Most wars are declared in that fashion:

Small clan player is crafting at a station, ganker clan goes behind the crafter and waits for a few minutes to make sure that the small clan player is really crafting something in bulk. Small clan player doesn’t notice the roaming player and suddenly, he dies while the war declaration appears on screen. From that point on, the Small clan gets decimated and griefed anywhere in the game. The newer players are unable to skill up, craft or even move around. Eventually they quit their clan or the game for that matter. A few days later, the small clan is unable to fight back and simply vanishes from Darkfall. I’m sure a probably don’t even make it through their first month. I understand why and it’s not because they’re carebears. The logic behind Darkfall is well, not really present at all times.

I am not joking when I say that each time I see a wardec, it’s usually a ganker killing a crafter. 4 clans have declared war against ours and they all started with a crafter gank. With luck, the one that ganked me only found about 300 pair of pants in my inventory and I was actually happy about it. It saved me the trouble of dragging 300 freaking pants from my inventory to the vendor.

I don’t think AV took much time to think about their war system. At the current moment, it’s probably the most imbecile system I’ve ever seen in an mmo. You can create a clan with only 1 member and you can declare war to anyone you like without any consequences or cooldown. I’m not asking for a system like EVE where the corp that declares must pay a certain fee and wait 24 hours before the war officially starts. I’m not asking for towers to still defend me while we’re in a war. All I’m asking is for a minor 10 minute cooldown with a certain limit or fee on the wardecs. At the current moment it lacks meaning and it’s simply used as a ganking tool. Not to forget that most ganking clans that wardec someone always have neutral players acting as a shield in hopes that we hit them and get blown up by the towers. A valiant effort indeed…

Fortunately, the clan I’ve joined is large and strong enough to fight back and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since it’s creation. Most wars are in our favour and there’s not much our enemies can do when we decide to seriously fight back. We do not employ zerg tactics but we have sufficient numbers to always match the enemies force. It’s a fun experience but also a very frustrating one and it is not always an easy one. Actually, the first week it was not even fun, my arrows were barely scratching someone and my melee skills were even worse. Since most gankers have blood walled, exploited or even hacked at some point, it’s pretty hard to fight on equal grounds. Actually, I don’t even think I’ve ever fought someone that was remotely close to my skill level. I’ve done a few kills but most were either 1 day old noobs, taking a random jump on me or I was in a group and my mediocre arrows got a nice back shot. Yes, Archery and Melee skills are mediocre pvp skills compared to magic. Melee requires you to be close and usually, good luck hitting someone. Archery skills has an arching in the shots and your arrows can sometimes go through the arms and legs, plus let’s not forget that the damage is low against certain type of armors. Magic on the other hand, doesn’t require any severe aim, the projectile goes into a straight line, because it’s a big ball of fire or ice, it’s not to hard to hit a target, you can also use area attacks to make it even easier and finally, the damage potential is at least two or three times superior to melee and archery. It’s not that Melee and Archery sucks, it’s the fact that for a medieval game, it’s rather silly that these two combat styles are very situational while magic is good in practically any situation. Let’s not forget that since the last patch, you can level up magic 6 times faster then any other skills in the game.

I fear that eventually, I’ll have no choice but to grind magic skills as well. First, it’s because I want the elemental buffs for Archery and second well, it appears to be the only viable option for PVP. Now before I start hearing “I own with Melee skills and bla blabla…” understand that I am aware of that possibility and that you need to remember that this is glimpse about the game, not an encyclopedia of all the little tricks in the available. Of course, the underdog can and will win against the odds, of course you can be David against Goliath. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do myself. However, there’s no point in hiding the flaws of the game. Magic does win the crown in general situation.

The other neat thing I discovered is that hacks do exist on this game and do not be fooled by anyone saying otherwise. In less then 30 seconds of searching on google, you’ll find Radar hacks, Speed Hacks, Teleport Hacks and so on. Not to mention that you can exploit the game in various easy way. I’m sure these issues will be ironed out in the future patches but right now, all you can do is wait. Oh, I’m not sure if you can even get banned from the game. After all, it’s money and the more AV can make, the better. It’s a small company and I’m sure they’re still struggling financially. Let’s just hope that they fix these issues quickly enough before it gets worse.

(Edit: You can find some hacks on pretty much any mmo but the difference in Darkfall is that it's twitch based. This means an aimbot or speed hack will really make you unstoppable. You can bot all you want in WOW but if someone has the gear, he'll destroy you. If not, then it's extremely easy to know that something is wrong.)


Now, at this point, you guys must be wondering; “Why are you still playing?”

I actually like the Darkfall, it’s not my favorite game of all and when I do want some real hardcore PVP, I go play EVE or Quake Live but in Darkfall, if you don’t exploit or hack, whenever you achieve something, you’ll be pretty proud about it. I haven’t killed many players one on one but when I did, I was pretty satisfied of my kills. I’m near level 75 in logging, mining, tailoring, archery, polearms, alchemy, herbalist, bower and near level 100 in most defensive skills. I have this strange feeling that I’ll become quite powerful very soon.

Because of the harsh environment, It’s very natural to instantly group with your clan the second you log on. The latest patch brought in good fixes and tweaks to the game, while there was a little unhappy 5% players, I think that AV is doing a fairly good job. I can only hope that their October Expansion will be as good as promised. If not then I’ll probably leave and find another indie company. I think the biggest thing that plays against me is the time I have to spend on the game. I have my 10 year old clan playing fps games, my band, a crap load of work and a girlfriend. Playing 3 or 4 hours a week and maybe 2 or 3 hours on the weekend is the maximum time I can put and well, considering that it takes about hundreds plus hours to master archery alone, I’m likely not going to be a top dog anytime soon.

Ok someone was asking me about the sound and wondering why I haven’t really talked about it in my first glimpse. Actually, the whole truth behind is simple, it’s crap and this means, I have never really paid attention to it. There’s a lot of details and it serves it’s purpose but compared to triple A titles, Darkfall looks like it was made in the 90s. Another very silly aspect of the game is why can’t I just turn off the music and keep the sound effects? I’m getting tired of hearing the same music, over and over. If I turn off the ambiance sound, then I also lose all my surrounding sounds. Since sound is the only source of tactical intel on the field, I wouldn’t recommend playing without it. Perhaps there’s a way but if there is, then I shouldn’t have to look for it. It should just be available in the option under: Music on/off

(EDIT: I stand corrected, sorry for this miss information. If you do turn ambiant sound down, you will shutdown the music but not the ambiant FX. The issue was my computer. I am using an M-audio Delta 44 soundcard for pro-tools... it conflicted with my onboard PC card)

Did you opinion on the community changed?

My opinion on the community is the exact same. On the forums, it’s retarded and I don’t think it will ever get better. However, in-game, people are actually really nice and I’m surprise at the amount of girls that actually play this game. Now, I only had the chance to meet 3 or 4 on ventrilo but I must have met at least 15 in-game. For now, I’ll take their word for it. Girls usually attract more girls and this means, it usually adds a bit of contrast to the community and that’s a good thing to have. In my point of view, it’s important that both gender coexist in games, they complete each other and generally forms a much stronger community. Anyone that played SWG pre-cu would probably understand what I’m trying to say here. Obviously, every girl I’ve met were Elves. =P

To conclude this log, I’m still enjoying this game and despite it’s flaws and difficulties, I am still here and playing it. I’m currently exploring the Elf lands and I got to say, I love their cities. Actually, as a human, I’m very jealous at their cities, they look great. In-game, the graphics are  stillquite nice and while not on pare with Crysis, Aion or EVE, I think it’s a solid balance between details, quality, depth and performance. My clan and alliance are about to take over a city and that in my opinion is going to be a fun first time experience. I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on our progress.

I think that this should be the last "technical" post for a while. I'll try to find other interesting things to talk about in the futur, I promise. 

Catch you in-game!

 

 


 

DARKFALL - A solid glimpse on the game!

Posted by Ponico Wednesday August 26 2009 at 3:57PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

After playing Darkfall for two weeks, I think it’s time to share my first impressions about the game. I’ve actually received quite a few emails about it and instead of replying short response to each of them, I’ll just write an entire resumer of my two weeks.

Before I start, it’s important to know that I love games where not everything is easy. I’m an avid EVE-Online player and have played games such as Mankind Online, SWG, EQ2, Vanguard, Ryzom, Neocron and the list goes on. I’ve played games like WOW and other linear MMOs but in the end, they are not my cup of tea. Community driven games are in my opinion the best, specially when the economie is player driven and that everything in the game is crafted by players. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at Darkfall, shall we?

When you glimpse at Darkfall from the outside, it actually looks like crap. The videos are terrible, the screenshots are borderline bad and their website wasn’t really that appealing for a long time. To top it off, Darkfall has attracted some of the most retarded people in the MMO community so the forums are pretty stained with kids. However, when you do take the time to filter out all the crap, you’ll find some interesting posts and begin to have a good feel of how the game really is. It’s a little bit like EVE, where it looks like an extremely boring game at first and then picks up to epic proportions in the long run. No matter what you think, 500 versus 500 battles will always be impressive. Hopefully, Aventurine will mature and polish their outside image in order to attract more players in the long run. Hummm… maybe I should send them my resumer in design and marketing.

It’s also very important to understand that AV is an indie company, it’s not SOE, Blizzard or EA. This means, you cannot expect the same level of polish that is expected from a triple A title. However, for AV, this actually works a lot in their favor. The game rivals and stands tall over most MMORPGs on the market.

The launch pad is pretty much like any MMO around. A simple box with some HTML, auto patcher and a few options to play with. When you launch the game, there’s a 10% chance that your client won’t connect to the server, which can bother a few customer but it only takes a few seconds to retry and get a connection, so it’s really not a big issue in my opinion.

Character creation is very simple and unfortunately, I was expecting more from it. You get to pick your race and change a few things on your character, such as the haircut, scars, decorations, skin color and such. You can’t make your character smaller or taller nor can you even decide the body type. If character customization is what you like, then I suggest games like Champions Online or Aion.

First time loading into the game…

Just before the loading screen ends, I heard a big “squishy/juicy/grotesque” sound effect. A bit like when you slash a sword into flesh. It’s very akward and doesn’t seem to serve any actual purpose except telling that your game is now loaded. Just be ready to jump the first time you hear that sound. If you have a high end kit like mine, then you’re in for quite a surprise because the first thing you notice, is how beautiful the game is. The entire environment feels alive with a dense vegetation all around contrasted by a little road decorated with trees slowly following the flow of wind, volumetric clouds sailing to the east and a very huge moon or planet slowly falling in the horizon. In the distant background, I could see tall mountains with roads, towers, little camps and very old trees. The viewing distance is excellent in Darkfall, people do not vanish in thin air here. There was a bunch of players running around me, going about their own lives. The graphics are obviously not on pare with Crysis, Huxley or Earthrise but the game really does fell alive and I was pretty eager to explore this strange new world. However, before doing that, I had to learn the basics.

Now, if you’re an EVE player, you’ll like the interface of Darkfall but you will also smirk at it’s simplicity and often wonder about AV’s motive behind it’s actual functionality. The UI really takes a long time to master and even after two weeks, I still have a hard time with it. The entire UI is fully customizable but it’s also very awkward to use and when you’re in the middle of the wood cutting down trees, if someone jumps you, you’ll be dancing on your keyboard, opening your inventory, closing the wrong windows, pulling out your fishing rod instead of your sword and then dying with your skinning knife equiped instead of your sword. However, once you’ve properly binded your keys, placed your windows in convenient spots and have everything customized to your needs, it’s a pretty good interface! If I had to compare it with other past MMOs, I would say it’s a cross between today’s modern interfaces such as WOW (Hotbars), Planetside (combat mode/Interaction Mode) and a tiny little glimpse of EVE (Chat system and HTML browser?!?).

After taking a good 30 minutes configuring the interface to my needs, it was time to pull out my sword and take on a starter quest.

Well, if you’re a big avid fan of questing, Darkfall is not the game for you. The starter quests are basically an elaborated tutorial that glimpse you through various features of the game. The rewards are actually good but don’t expect a big storyline here or any epic plot about a golden dragon terrorizing the lands of Agon. Most quests resolve around killing X amount of mobs while others will require you to craft a certain item. While some might find them boring, I actually enjoyed doing them and I’ve been slowly working my way up through various outposts and cities. There is a story but I guess, at the point I am at, I’m only scratching it’s surface. In the capitals, I’ve found some quests where you can gain titles but in order to accomplish them, you need to kill 200 or more monsters and some even require you to PVP a little. Unfortunately, even after two weeks of playing, I’m only half way through some of them. However, I think they are well worth it as some will give you a title and stat upgrades such as +2 strength. The quests also allows you to explore various parts of the world and as I said earlier, the world is really nice and alive. TIP: get a mount as early as possible!

Speaking of the world, the more I explore, the more I love Agon. As mentionned by the developers of the game, the entire world was created by hand and it really shows. The entire landscape is believable and the land is filled with trees, rocks, debris, ruins, random chests and the occasional monster spawn. If there’s one thing missing in Agon is the actual random creature spawns. While not really necessary, it’s a bit weird to explore a land where all you see are butterflies and birds flying around. You won’t find a deer randomly walking around here, instead when you find monsters or npcs to kill, they will either be around a village, cave or a hut. For some, that might be a turn off but for many, it means that exploring Agon is not something exclusively reserved for the high end players. Obviously, you might want to be careful for the larger creatures such as gigantic dragons and dark knights. I didn’t have the chance to explore every single regions of the game but so far, I’ve been on high mountains with snow, in swamps, deserts, around various lakes, rivers and some jungles. Each environment has it’s own unique features and dangers. I haven’t visited a dungeon yet and at the moment, I have no idea if they are worth it or not but I know that there’s plenty to visit.

The core of the game is based on skills and that in my book, rocks! Darkfall allows you to play the game the way you want and doesn’t actively force you to do something you do not like. (gatheing quests) The more you run, the more skill points you get, eventually enabling you to run faster. This example applies to every single action you take in the game. This system is very similar to Runescape, Ultima Online and SWG. While it is a great system, it is also very easy to exploit and gain abnormal amount of skill points. While frowned upon by many, AV doesn’t seem to care about the issue all that much. Instead, they are introducing a higher gain of skill point in PVE which means, the higher the risk, the bigger the rewards. If you decide to beat up your friend for 5 hours in a row, you’ll get a decent amount of points towards the weapon you have used but after the next patch, if you decide to do it the hard way and simply grind your skills on creatures, you’ll gain 3 times the amount of points per kill. Beating up a sandbag is safer, therefore slower. Beating a bunch of zombies is much more dangerous and you’ll probably die a lot but each kill, will reward you with decent loot and skill points. It’s a sandbox, so you decide how to play this game.

The combat is pretty cool, although a bit repetitive at times, it’s a lot better then most MMOs out there. In Darkfall, combat requires a lot of practice and attention. There is no auto attack, auto aim or any other auto crap that can be found in pretty much every single games in our era. When you want you to hit something, you have to press the left mouse button. If an arrow flies your way, then you need to dodge it or press your bind to block the incoming projectile. To top it off, npcs are intelligent and will also block, dodge, attempt to attack you from the sides, flank, lure you into a trap, call for backup and zig zag around your projectiles. Hitting your target from the back or sides will greatly improve your damage. These rules also apply in PVP so, when you’re fighting a group of goblins alone, watch your back.

Despite the awesome melee combat, every top PVPers appears to specialize in magic and quite frankly, compared to any other weapons in the game, magic is probably the most powerful skill to train. So, don’t be surprise if you run into a bunch of fireballs and mana missiles during a fight. Until AV fixes the issue, you’ll see a lot of mages in this game and they will probably completely destroy you within a few seconds. Magic is probably the most discussed subject on the forums at the very moment, some people think it’s ok, other think it’s not. Don’t let it bother you, AV is aware of the situation and the devs are actively trying to balance it. However, this will require some patience as it will take a long time before everything is balanced out properly. As for me, well I fell in love with bows and arrows. They’re fast and with enough practice, you can snipe people from a ridiculously long range. As for my backup weapon, the great sword and daggers are what I want to specialize in. While in my experience, combat is fun and intense, my ping is within acceptable range. This means, I’m always around 80 to 100ms. However, if you live further from the server, your experience might not be as smooth as mine. If you have a 300+ms ping, I think you’re in for a very harsh game play experience, so be ready for this possibility.

If you lack general patience or cannot stand being ganked, then seriously, don’t play this game. I’ve been ganked twice within the first 10 minutes of play. Then again, I’ve also spent entire nights next to enemy cities mining ore without anyone bothering me, so it aint that bad. EVE is a lot more hardcore then little Darkfall here. The only difference is that in EVE, you can actually escape from gate camps. In Darkfall, if a big high skilled red comes at you, you’re pretty much dead. However, if you’re social bird like me, you’ll make a bunch of friends fairly early in the game, helping you keep the noob spawn clear of silly gankers. As a result, saving those newbies from total death will generate more friends and before you’ve known it, you’ll be stuck sorting out 20 chat boxes per night.

Now one of the aspect I like about Darkfall is the actual crafting system. It’s not as complicated as Vanguard or SWG but it’s not as stupid as WOW. In Darkfall, pretty much everything you see can be crafted and that seriously rocks! You have players gathering and selling resources, others buying, crafting and selling items, merchants and the maniacs like me that harvest, craft and sell everything on their own. Again, because this is a skilled based game, you can become a pure crafter and craft everything you want. Right now, I’m an armor smith, tailor and bower. So whenever I don’t feel like killing things, I just go out and gather some materials for a few hours, then come back and craft like a madman. As time went by, I’ve come to realize that even if anyone can craft, most don’t and instead, they send me a tell and ask for a specific item. In return, I’m actually starting to make a small profit out of crafting. It’s not really easy to have a market and you’ll meet a lot of competition but AV just announced that in the next expansion (October), we will get vendors! That should make things a lot more interesting.

Darkfall also has a system that allows you to control villages, cities and I guess, entire regions. I haven’t visited any of those and I don’t really know how it all works for now but from my understanding, you can have your own house along with it’s own crafting station and npcs, such as an npc merchant. Though, I don’t even think half of the population on the game will ever get a house. It seems to be reserved for the larger guilds and alliances. I could be wrong and I hope I am.

Which brings me to talk about what I like a bit less. The game constantly pushes you to be in a large guild and large alliance. Zergs seems to be what works best in Darkfall and in the long run, that might hurt the game. Not everyone wants to be in a large guild or even in a big alliances but if you’re not, life in Darkfall is somewhat hard, meaning that you will die a lot. If you’re a solo player, you’re open to all sorts of ganking and griefing by other players. If you’re in a small guild, be ready to constantly be wardec for nothing and griefed by a bunch of super high levels, if you own a small hamlet, get ready to be pillaged and completely destroyed by overwhelming forces and if you’re in a big alliance, get ready to be griefed by your own people. Darkfall does that, it brings out the worse of a lot of people. There is no logical reason to go kill a 2 hour old player in his starter town, there is no reason to go and destroy the village of a small guild on the other side of your continent, there is no reason to use neutrals as shields to fight a war and worse of all, using exploits to win a battle is game breaking. There’s a lot of things used by the “hardcore” players that are just downright abusive. Now who am I to judge you’ll say… Again, if you cannot stand the stupidity of mankind, then don’t play Darkfall, because people here are not nice people. The community itself is not a nice and mature bunch like EVE or Ryzom. It’s the exact opposite, it’s pretty retarded at times and if you do play Darkfall, then do yourself a favor; avoid forums like a plague and simply use the search function when you need specific information. Of course, there’s a bunch of awesome players and when you need some help, it’s really easy to find someone that is willing to give a hand so it’s a mixed bag but the retards are beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It’s the old CS community times 50. Keep in mind that one rotten orange will out smell 20 fresh ones.

Conclusion…

In my opinion, Darkfall is not for everyone but if you’re into that type of games, it’s a pretty good one. I’m gona probably stick around the game for a few months and see how it goes. A few days ago, I’ve joined a little guild and we’ve been fighting random wars left and right. A pretty fun experience if you want my opinion. I’ve made a lot of friends and I feel somewhat pretty important to my guild as I bring in some ranged weapons and crafting assistance. Next week, I’m planning on building my first boat and sailing the vast oceans for a few nights in hope to discover a mysterious island or treasure! I think this game deserves a lot more praises then it received and that in the long run, Darkfall will have so many features that it’s gona take months and years to explore them all. Darkfall is the most complete MMO to come out since EVE-Online. If you compare EVE 2003/2009 to Darkfall 2009, well imagine how the game will look in 2015.

Well, that’s it for now and I hope you enjoyed this review!


If you wish to say hi in-game, I’m the human known as Zag Stratos.

 

MMO Addiction - How bad is it?

Posted by Ponico Tuesday May 5 2009 at 3:36PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

Addiction does not only occur in games. It’s in everything, everywhere and comes in various forms. For some, it’s TV but for others it’s sky diving and mountain climbing without safeties. While a sport is usually regarded as something healthy, hip and cool, if you were to play tennis for 3 days in a row without taking sufficient breaks, you would probably hurt yourself, collapse or die. If you go in a bar to drink a few beers and leave your baby in your car, he’ll probably suffer and could die. It doesn’t matter what you’re in too, if you neglect your own life, you’ll soon or later suffer the consequences.

Of course, physical effort can only go so far that you’ll probably be too exhausted to continue until you’re well rested. Drinking at a bar and leaving your baby in your car is likely going to attract odd attention. However, playing your favorite MMO doesn’t really require much more then your right and left hand plus a little bit of brain activity. It’s easy to wake up, open the computer, log in a game and then just slip through time until you’re tired. This is actually a very common behavior in most MMOs. People will stay that extra 2 hour late to finish a dungeon, some will skip a meal or a shower in order to maximize their time online. Others will simply take a day off on expansion day or take a special week off for their new MMO. Which in my book are all questionable behaviors but are they actually bad?

That depends of the life the person has. Maybe his week off is taken with his love one? I’m talking real physical love one, not an E-lover here. This means, the couple gets to spend time together while playing their favorite game. Maybe taking a day off on expansion day is also due to the fact that the person has been working insane hours for the past 3 months. A little break in virtual reality land is not a bad idea. So how do you know if you’re destroying your life or not?

It’s hard really because some don’t need more then 5 hours sleep… others are balanced individual that happens to love spending it’s free time on an MMO. However, not everyone is like that and sometimes without even knowing it, a few are slowly sinking.

“Wow that guy is asking a lot… taking care of another human being.. humm”

Well, I’m not a doctor or expert but here’s a few things that I learned through the years. I guess you could call them reflections. It’s a constant reminder that I give myself… So I’m sharing this story with you and I hope that for some, it will help.

I’m originally not an MMO player. I’m a competitive FPS player or at least I used to be and I a pretty good one as well. I’ve been part of the same clan and community since 1999. During a Quake III season, I was drafted to a team and since then, we all became close friends. Back then I was 17 years old and aside from high school, drugs, beer, music and gaming, life was smooth sailing in my little flat downtown. We used to play Quake III 3 times a week from 7pm to 11pm. That was usually enough time to prepare our strategies for our weekly match and iron out little details. At the time our team captain was my age today and every hour or so, he would simply say “Alright folks, take 5”. That 5 minutes usually meant 10 to 15 minutes but it was enough to take a leak, get some water, make a sandwich and close your computer screen for a while until people would start talking on Roger Wilco again. Since we would take a break between each scrim or practice session, I had the time to clean my 4 ½ flat, make dinner, laundry and other simply tasks. If you think about it, 15 minutes time 4 means, I had one hour of house work done everyday. That was enough to keep the place clean and healthy. Besides, no matter what people think, when you competively play an intense game like Quake, you need to take breaks once in a while. When our Quake days were over, we all started to play an MMO known as Mankind. Then around 2001, we started to lose a few members to Everquest. One by one had stopped to connect on Teamspeak. When we wanted to play a Quake game, they would refuse with a silly reason such as “na, I have a dungeon tonight”. Eventually, we lost touch with a few and never saw them again. The rest on Mankind and Quake were still together since both games could be played casually… Quake eventually became RTCW and Mankind soon became SWG.

SWG was a great game and we were good at it. Our clan, became a guild and within a few months in, we had hundreds of members, 2 cities and 12 faction HQ. Our FPS teamwork really shined during PVP sessions and our guildhall was decorated with some of the most amazing items in the game. Then for the first time, my girlfriend got mad for neglecting her 4 nights in a row. My garbage had a worm infestation (it was a hot week) and the dishes were pilling up. As the weeks went by, all I really wanted to do was to be online with my guild and do stuff with them. I started to lose track of time and some friends vanished except my friends online. That’s when our old team captain snapped and went on a long rant about how SWG was a big waste of time and that he missed competition and being famous for real skills over stupid levels and better gear. During that time, our 200+ guild was beginning to break apart in sub factions with all those wacky political wars. Eventually, I got tired of it and pulled the plug, closely followed by the core clan, we went from 200+ members and 2 cities to nothing within a few days. We closed our Ventral servers and re-opened our original one. For a while we went on WOW but when one of our member had a nervous breakdown due to the game, all decided to quit and go back to our old ways.

Since then, we’ve been happy again, my house and life found it’s right balance and I even made a band with a few friends. Our album is coming out soon and each month, we get more offers and more shows. My gaming time is slowly going under the 15 hours per week instead of 40+. I’m ten years older, I bought a house, many in my clan are now married with a few kids. Some of them even call me Uncle Nico when they see me. I’m still looking forward for the next big MMO but now our clan monitors each other. We encounrage each other to remain as casual as possible. We still have around 20 to 30 constant people online every night so it never really gets lonely. All in all, we’re one of the luckiest group of friends on the internet.

However, we did see some tragedies and we did lose some friends in the long run. For a while I went from mister popular with the awesome super hot GF to mister gaming hermit. One of my best friend left his wife because she was so addicted to her MMOs that she fell in love with a random sir and had several affairs with her guildies, not to mention that she was also neglecting her kids… As I mentioned earlier, WOW triggered a depression on one of my friend and she had to quit her job, quit playing games and take some medications for almost 6 months. We saw other issues but the main big ones are the ones that terrified us.

We don’t care about the loots, we don’t care about the 8 hour raids 5 times a week, we don’t care about being popular on our server and we definitely don’t care about playing 12 hours in a row. Trust me, we will have those occasional marathons…

Are we still gamers?
Heck yeah!

Is there a lot of hot chicks hanging out on our ventrilo?
Heck yeah and they pwn face on FPS games. Hey, it’s a highlight :P

Are we happy now? Yes we are!

Are we going to play another MMO?
Yep, of course but we will never fall like we did in the past, we will simply play for fun.

 

The past years will always be a reminder of how life, was once bad. During that time, it was simply an illusion, an illusion of accomplishing something epic. Sadly, that accomplishement is nothing more then a few cool images put together and a bunch of people cheering at you on a forum. It’s not me playing on a stage, sweating like a madman and making a crowd jump just by lifting a finger. It’s not my friends with their awesome family, playing hockey with their kids and planning out a picnic out. Doing a raid or drinking an awesome perfect chilled beer on a terrace with your friends… Effortless and yet so much fun with the right people at the right place. Your reward? Good time!

Be a gamer but remember, time doesn’t stop around you. So each second you spend on a virtual world is a second you don’t spend in your reality. I know it’s not always pretty but that’s how you’ll make it better; by not running away in a fantasy land and getting your act together. It’s hard but everyone can make it. If not, ask for help.

If you see someone slowly eating himself in an MMO, then perhap you should talk to him. Don’t let your love ones sink until it’s too late. You don’t have to directly tell them they have a problem, you can simply help them find other means of entertainement and escape. Of course, in the end it’s his or her decision but at least you tried. Us, we monitor each other but as I said earlier, our captain did and later on it was me and other leaders in our core group.

 

 

Evolution of Regression? - MMO games and their future.

Posted by Ponico Sunday February 10 2008 at 2:07PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

In order to see where I'm going, let's take a quick dive in the history of cinema...

17th century ... Magic Lanterns becomes a new form of entertainment.

1827 ... First picture ever taken using a glass plate.

1832 ... The Phenakistoscope appears and for the first time, we can see a very brief animation. (aka a horse running)

1834 ... The Zoetrope is invented

1839 ... first modern technique of photography is invented.

---- ok let's skip a few dates here... :)

1894 ... The cinema Era truly begins.


Basically, from that point on, Cinema never really stopped to evolve. At first, the evolution was a jump from 16 frames per second to 24... later on, color, linear editing to none linear editing, sound... From westerns to dramas, to dramas to musicals, to musicals to Sci-fi and fantasy worlds that were made to look realistic for their time. Each time, we thought cinema couldn't go further, a movie like Star Wars, The matrix, Lord of the Ring, Blade Runner, Le violon Rouge, Run Lola Run, 300 and The Godfather came out. Each  of them pushing the limit one step higher and breaking new rules. Why did I say The Godfather and Le Violon rouge? Because these movies brought a new dimension of film making that wasn't only based on special effects but more on style and cinematography as a core.

Cinema has also influenced the lives of many and today, we all have a little movie theme in us. I remember back in the 90s when The Crow came out, I said to my girlfriend; "Check it out honey, you're a now witnessing the birth of a new Era of goths and one day, long trench coats with killer boots will become a standard in everything."  1999; The Matrix comes out and let's just say it was quite an interesting year. The first thing that came in mind was, The Crow is part of everyone's culture.

Alright, so let's compare this to gaming.

From Pong to Pac-Man, from Pac-man to Donkey Kong, Kong to Mario, they were all a small step on a smaller scale. Obviously, it took cinema almost 2 centuries to become what it is today while gaming, it only took around 40 years.

Slowly, video games made an important evolution in technology thanks to companies such as ID software incredible Doom engine that eventually mutated into the amazing Quake engine. Meanwhile, you had the Unreal engine coming in hard and offering a completely different set of tools for your imagination. Like in Cinema, all these new tools offered more options and freedom for your imagination. When I look at final fantasy 1, then FF7 and today's FF13, the word evolution comes in mind.


So let's open this discussion and take a look at the MMO industry.


The first MMOs were MUDS. Simple features, lots of people and good gameplay. MUDs eventually evolved to games like Neverwinter Nights. Not quite an MMO but a huge step beyond in the early 90s. Then one day, Ultima Online came out and everything changed. A new vision, unlimited freedom and alot of unique features. Not too long after, a game known as Mankind came out and I while not that popular in America, it still had around 50K subscribers. What made MK so unique is that the gameworld itself had over 9 billion planets all on one mega server. (MMORTS)

Everquest later came with some incredible lore, roleplay elements and a whole new level of complexity. Meanwhile, DAOC arrived and brought in a whole new element of gameplay known as RVR. Each of these games had a very unique feature that no other games could have. SWG had the sandbox, ENB had a true player driven storyline, EQ had the raids, DAOC the RVR and the list goes on. The tools to make these games became better and easier to use, eventually the powerful Unreal technology was even able to make MMOs such as RF.

Just when we thought that the next generation was going to be even more amazing, we started to see some toned down MMOs with less features, linear gameplay, less class, less freedom, virtually no long term community. The graphics, the sound are better but the core gameplay?

I compare World of Warcraft with runescape and I wonder at times. How come runescape which is really a low grade production has at least 5 times the amount of features?

Runescape:

Terrible Graphics
Terrible Sound
Incredible crafting system
Farming!
Played owned houses
Fun PVP
interesting dungeons and zones
lots of quests
skill based game that allows everyone to play how they want too. Some people are just cooks.
Alot of players considering the game.
A player driven economie
sandbox gameplay

World of Warcraft

Beautiful arts
Good sound
Solid quests and dungeons
Crafting is a joke
No player houses
no farming
PVP is fun
no player driven economie
no sandbox gameplay
lots of quests
well designed dungeons (except MC)
Linear gameplay


Now I could have choose any other games to compared Runescape with... (Which is sad!)


Where are we going? Are all MMOs taking this step backwards? INstead of pushing the limits and making a sandbox with some good storyline and a true persistent world, they are all making new clones out of each other. Is it because of the money? Is it because of WOW itself or the lack of imagination?

Am I wrong to think that we are now regressing instead of moving forward?


Then again, is it just me and a few others that are too nostalgic to open our eyes? I don't consider myself a game designer but I sure have a lot of ideas to make an MMO unique and I bet I'm not the only one. Then again, maybe it's not the designers and it's simply that people prefer simplicity?

What do you think?

 

 

Special Offers