It’s been a while since I updated my blog. It’s not for any nefarious reason, just that I’ve been pretty busy with work and haven’t had time to write. I know that sounds silly given that this is my job, but we’ll not get into too much detail.
I decided to write this week, because I saw some issues in the news that I thought might be fun to address. I’ll start with a publisher announcement.
The Chronicles of Spellborn
Yesterday, Spellborn International, the company behind (guess what?) The Chronicles of Spellborn, announced that they had signed a letter of intent with a US-based publisher.
Why is this important? Well, for the longest time, we kept hearing that while they were ok for a European publisher (and areas beyond that), Spellborn just hadn’t found a publisher for the US market. This caused a number of people to begin to ask a lot of questions about the game. The number one thing that I heard was “The game must be in trouble if they can’t find a US publisher”.
Honestly, I’m not sure that one is an indication of the other. One thing for us North Americans to remember is that not all of the upcoming MMOs that we’re looking forward to are actually being made here in North America. In fact, if you look at it, just off the top of my head you’ve got EVE Online, which was and is developed in Iceland. Age of Conan is being made in Norway. Earthrise, another highly anticipated game, is being made in Bulgaria. The Chronicles of Spellborn calls The Netherlands its home.
Of all of these games, I would say that Spellborn probably has the most intentionally European feel to it (just check out the art style), departing a great deal from what we think of as “American-Style” MMOs like EverQuest and World of Warcraft both in terms of cosmetic look and even functional design.
My personal feeling is that the head honchos over at Spellborn wanted a US publisher, but probably not bad enough to a) give up control over certain aspects of the game or b) settle for something less than they are looking for.
Ok, I’m pretty much done waxing poetic about Spellborn. I will say this though: It’s an interesting and innovative game being made by an indie company that takes MMO conventions and turns them on their ears. If you’re one of the people who has been complaining about “WoW clones”, there is no reason you shouldn’t at least try this game when it launches in the Fall. I’m not necessarily saying you’re going to like it, everyone has different tastes, but I am saying that if you don’t at least take a look, you lose your right to complain about WoW clones.
Lord of the Rings
LotRO has been my MMO of choice lately (although I pledge my undying video game fealty to Battlefield 2142). I had played a while back with an elf character. I moved on after I reached about level 17. Not because I wasn’t enjoying the game, but because work meant that I had to go on and play something else for a while. When the time came to jump into the game again, I decided against playing my elf character. One of the things that I had really been enjoying about LotRO was the sense of story that I got. I stand by the fact that LotRO has some of the best written quests and story arcs in MMOs today (I’m not saying they’re all to my taste, but for the most part, they get a thumbs up). Unfortuantely, I had forgotten what my elf was up to in my time away (memory like a goldfish, I swear) and decided, along with my News Manager, to roll up a new Dwarf. Well, let me say congrats to whichever Turbine employees are responsible for the Dwarves and their early quests. I’ve been having a blast with Abrawlin (get it… a’brawlin… it’s hilarious to me).
I know I’m not your average MMO player. I know that most people don’t really pay a lot of attention to the quests and the quality of writing and dialogue, but for me, it’s a make or break. If a game doesn’t have these things, I can still look at it objectively and talk about its features, but it’s not going to be a personal favorite. When I first heard that Turbine was developing LotRO, I assumed that there was no way they would be able to both capture the feeling of Middle Earth and write engaging storylines and dialogue, but in the end they surprised me and I just wanted to take a minute to say that. Well done Turbine story team!
Ok, that’s enough of my babble for today, but I’m hoping to get this going weekly again so I can offer commentary on and maybe even the occasional insight about the week’s news.