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A Trend.

Posted by Vexe Monday September 7 2009 at 11:25PM
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My friend was talking to me the other day about how boring WoW was getting for him. He just got back into raiding and the repetitive-ness of it was killing him a little on the inside. I could understand that; I hate doing repetitive things too. That's why my highest level is a 63. Anyway, he was telling me about how bored he was and the topic drifted to the Aion open beta and how he said that a lot of the top PvPers in WoW said that it wasn't that great and he wasn't sure if he would try it because of it.

Now, the first thought that came to mind was: "Of course they're not going to like it. The Combat isn't exactly like wow. More chains and flying combat and the like." I then remember how my friend reacted to all the other MMOs that came out that I was excited about. I mean these were things like AoC which most people will agree were very fun at the very least for the first 20 levels. He just didn't seem very happy with it. Always saying how it wasn't fast enough or how there was no defined path or stat path (the way stats increase as you level. In AoC you can manually increase some stats), basically complaining that it wasn't WoW.

But at the same time he was tired of the game.

After seeing a few forum threads on the same AION topic, it dawned on me that A LOT of people who are currently playing WoW feel this way. Where a lot of people want something new, but not something different. I really think what people want is essentially WoW re-skinned/relocated, or at least that's what the reactions I'm seeing are leading me to believe.

At the very least people just don't want to have to re-adjust *or* only like that kind of game. Now I have actually seen a very few literal WoW Clones, but I know of at least one that exists. I can't remember the name of it off the top of my head. I'll post it later if I remember or gain some motivation to look it up. The reason this is not as popular though is because they feel almost exactly the same.

I really am not sure if there's recovering from WoW.

Now, these are just things I've noticed. I hope to God that the industry doesn't come to the same conclusion.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

This makes me kinda nervous.

Posted by Vexe Sunday September 6 2009 at 12:10AM
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With all these supposedly (because I have not really played any of them) innovative games coming out, I am actually starting to prepare myself for defeat. The last time this many huge revolutionary titles were announced it was back with WAR and AoC in I think 07.

That year was so disappointing for the MMO genre in general. I'm not saying either of them are really bad games in general, but that they set themselves up so high only to knocked off their high horses by themselves. What really got me peeved was some of the higher-ups of WAR came onto G4 talking about how innovative and frekkin' incredible their game was going to be and how different it was than anything else in the world. They of course didn't say that exactly, but that's the just of it.

The fact that the game was not terribly different and seemed a little uninspired only made me weep in anger at all my lost hype. I really just want to go over to NCsoft, Bioware and all those other studios and scream at them for an hour about what they are setting themselves up for.

They had better be ready for this.

I'm preparing for the worst.

Don't get your hopes up.

But what about the story?

Posted by Vexe Wednesday August 26 2009 at 12:38AM
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Story has been one of the most compelling things in human history; shaping societies, pushing forward social changes and telling (slightly exaggerated) tales of the greatest heroes. This of course turned into things like movies and the like, which certainly are a good chunk camerawork, but the story and script is always what makes or breaks the over-all concept, let alone the enjoyment of the film itself.  Even in video games, in the start, most of the deeper and most addicting games were derived first from story genres. Like the fantasy tale of the warrior trying to save a princess from an evil boar-king who is attempting to take over the kingdom. Or even things like the sci-fi tale of aliens slowly moving into earth, and you, the hero, having to take them out with your ship one at a time as they zig-zag slowly towards you.

Story is something that moves us forward and compels us to look deeper into the lives of these characters we are introduced to.  I can't say that it started with online games for sure, but as soon as the ability to create your own hero came into play, everything changed. The story was now yours to shape. "The power is yours!" so to speak. But the ultimate back-lash is that many people don't choose to make their own story. Or at least one that is not compelling or deep. Their story is to be better than that guy they just saw walking by in full teir 8 armor; or better than the girl who just killed everything with one spell. They want to be awesome and kill things and kill those things while being awesome. They strive for that above all else. They don't care about the story. They don't care about why we have to kill all those boars, they just want to kill them so they can fill up that bar at the bottom of the screen. There are no epic story lines, or those that are are very short lived and can be played hundreds of times by the same person who doesn't even care about the story after the first two times to begin with. That boss drops something. He needs that something.

I am by no means saying that people do not care about story. Not by any means. What I am saying is that a majority of people grow tired of the story because it is constantly changing and there is no main adversary that is staring you down the whole time. You always need to level to this point to beat this dude and then once you beat him, it's off to the next tough bad-guy. Story exists, but the problem is that for some reason the industry thinks our attention span is so low that we wouldn't be able to focus on it for the whole time so they break it into chunks. Or maybe it's because it's set in our mind that a story must have an ending.

TOR (the old republic) has peaked interest in many by having that added touch of both a script and voice acting to evoke some emotion from the player. You want to see your character succeed. You want to beat the crap out of those smugglers cause they stole a part from your ship that you need to flee the planet. Now, I am not praising this game. Not yet. What I'm trying to say is that It will be interesting to see what they do with this new thing they have come up with and if it will really work. Right now the closest games I've seen to getting near this level of determination are: The first 20 levels in AoC, WoW, and EVE.

Now, after reading that little (ha) rant of mine I have 3 questions to ask you. I want to see what people think and might elaborate on how most people feel in a later blog:

 

1.) Do you think story has a huge impact on games? If so, how big is that impact; and if not, will it ever?

 

2.) How often do you pay attention to the story if it all? Does this effect your gameplay or interest in the game?

 

3.) Do you think that new steps forward like full voice-acting will do a better job of immersing the player?

 

 

Your economy and you.

Posted by Vexe Thursday September 25 2008 at 8:08AM
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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month, you know that the American economy is sinking; and fast. This effects every market and even shows in the world economy as major nations start to lose money. With no possible solution in sight, everyone is being effected. People are losing money and things that they used to love.

This will inevitably effect the MMO market if not now, but at some point. Games that were just hanging on by their small fanbase will probably fall off the edge as people have to unsubscribe or not buy their game because they are saving up money. People won't be able to pay with credit cards anymore because of the lack of credit. American companies will have to cut down on staff. Games will take longer to make and employees might quit. These are some issues that need to be looked at.

For those of you who think that the MMO market is safe cause it has yet to be hit in a major way, I'm sorry to say, but this market will be crippled if the economy keeps going down this quickly. The market relies on a lot of people who have money and free time to use to play their game. If people no longer have enough money and have to work longer to get what little money they need to live, then the market will crash. And it will burn.

European players comprise a nice bit of the gamer population, but this number is not enough to keep MMOs alive if they are spread across the entire population of games. Foreign games will be more abundant than not and most American games will go out of business. small games will no longer havea a chance to live. Free to play games would really be the only franchise left, and they would even struggle from the lack of people being able to afford to advertise with them and lack of players willing to pay for things.

This is the grim picture I paint for you if the economy continues in this downward spiral. I'm not saying it will happen. I'm just saying that this will most likely occur if the situation gets bad enough. No one else is touching on this issue. I thought I might dabble a little in the discussion.

 

PAYMENT:

With the credit like it is, most people wouldn't be able to use credit cards. How would we overcome this? One option would be phone payments. You would call a number and the charge you selected (1 month, 3 month, etc.) would be charged to your phone bill. Another option is to but some pre-paid cards or use debit cards. Although I'm not so sure everyone will be able to switch.

A snail mail option would most likely be accepted for some games, where you have to mail them your money. Of course if it doesn't get to them, you're out of luck. Also, it's not too great to send money through the mail. Of course, they would have to keep accounts for two weeks after the payment expires because of the time it takes for mail to get to them.

 

STAFF:

Game companies will have to cut down on employees, limiting how vast a game will be or how long it will take to make it. Content will have to be cut. No one would be happy abot that. Althought there are a bunch of ways this can be worked around.

Player Content has huge potential for taking away the burden of a lot of burden from the staff of the games. With players making a lot of the content, then that's less work for the staff to have to do. Also, the idea of players makign their own quests are already being implemented in some games and will probably become more popular after a while.

 

THE PLAYERS:

With the players losing their money, all of the games will have to lower their subscription (or other) prices, bringing in less profit. They will have to mave their prices closer and closer to the cost of production. I'm not sure how this can be avoided. We just need to pray that the economy won't get too much worse.

 

These are the problems and maybe a few solutions. Althought I doubt much can be done, hopefully the industry won't take a fall. I pray it doesn't.

Ok, look. (about WAR)

Posted by Vexe Tuesday September 23 2008 at 8:07AM
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I have been waiting for this game for a very long time (ever since it was first announced) and I DID buy it launch day, not having enough time beforehand to play the beta and such. Now this is my first impression/rant on the topic of WAR, so if you don't like individual opinions on this topic, I suggest you leave promptly as to not get angry.

This game honestly feels like WoW with the pace ("gameplay speed") and graphics of LOTRO. That's what it feels like to me. I honestly feel like I'm playing some kind of WoW mod with mildly enhanced graphics every time I play the game. I've been playing for a few days (not the whole week, but at least a good deal of it) now, and it still feels like this. I've basically quit at this point, because although it is fun, I really don't want to play a game that feels like a less polished version of another game.

 

UI:

The UI in WAR is nearly identical to that of WoW. Even the windows look the same, but with different colors and textures. All the buttons do the same thing that the WoW ones do when you start out. In fact, the only original thing I have actually noticed in the UI is that it's customizable. I know I can change the interface and everything, but when I'm trying to get a feel for the game, I want to actally have to get a feel for the game. I want to feel like I'm learning something new and different. I don't want to repeat what I was doing on another game.

Although I will say that it's saving grace IS the customizability, and it is very nice, but it's not enough to make me feel good about this part of the game.

 

GRAPHICS:

The graphics in WAR are somewhat disiappointing. The greenskins have some nice models and shading, I can't really say much for it other than that. It looks to me like a grittier and darker version of LOTRO; but the grittiness is taking away from the game and making it bland with greys browns and very dark greens. I like war-strewn landscapes as much as the next guy but when I'm starting a game I don't want this many dull colors. I want vibrance. I want a landscape that can make me feel like I'm immersed in a living world that isn't monotinous.

On that topic:

 

COMBAT:

The combat in WAR feels like WoW combat, except it seems a little slower and less active. By this I mean that the animations are slower and abilities take longer to cast/activate and that it's more standing in one spot and loking at these animations as you kill stuff. Not only that, but the skills you earn are few and far between. I might get two on rank 6 (there are ranks instead of levels) but only one on rank 7. One that isn't even useful.  The spells I did get weren't too exciting. There wasn't anything I could really get pumped at.

Back to the combat:

To me it seemed boring and repetetive in a bland landscape. A less polished and less exciting verson of the WoW combat system.

 

EVEYTHING ELSE:

I will honestly say that I was so turned off by the game that I didn't level my character past rank 8.  I just completely lost interest. You quest in one zone until you finish allll the quests and then you move onto the next zone which is more of the same, except that the setting is in a dark forest instead of a dark town. I found nothing to look forward to and propel me forward and nothing that was really redeeming about the game, save for a few things. I will list those things at the end if I have enough time.

 

FINAL OPINION:

Everone has their own opinions, and this is mine. This game honestly feels like a mod of WoW that has less races and classes. It's too slow for me, and there isn't enough variation. To me it is a major disappointment and I make this entry with a really bad feeling in my sotmach.

Don't say that I'm only comparing it to WoW cause it's the only game I know. I really don't like WoW and I never really played it too much at all. I'm saying this because it's how I actually feel.

Here are the game's features that almost made it interesting.

 

Saving Graces:

Realm v.s. Realm

Public quests

Customizable interface

The fact that the magus class is always on disks.

 

(in response to comments)

Steuss made the point clear. The point is that this game can't hold me past rank 8. I don't want to play the RvR and all that other stuff if I have to grind quests (public or not) alllll day. It's not worth it. And half of you didn't even read the whole thing before you commented. Or if you did, then I guess I did a poor job getting my point accross. This is my personal opinion and I specifically said that to try and get you people to accept a point of view instead of bashing your own in everyone's face. I don't care if you like the game. Go ahead and play it. I won't.

Generations

Posted by Vexe Thursday June 12 2008 at 9:48PM
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    I guess it kinda sucks, to be born in 1991. I was 6 when UO came out and would not be even remotely interested in computer games until 7 years later when City of Heroes came out. Which means, my experience in practically anything historical in games in minimal because of my ignorance in looking up information about anything before that time in 2004. I don't know about UO. I have never played UO. All I know is that I was 6, it was 2-D, and now; it was seemless. I've never played everquest. I just know that they made a kinda OK effort at making realistic-looking people for the time and created a 3-D environment for socialization. Oh, and there were dragons. And dungeons, apparently.

    Pretty much everything I could write about persists to the present and near future. I have no knowledge of the past. So I am researching now, and I would love anything that you have to add. Stories, incidents, or whatever. I think I'll become an MMO scholar of sorts. Or a Guru, solving problems for others or something like that. But my ultimate goal is to make my posts more accurate, cause I just kinda realized my ignorance on the topic in which I'm trying to write about.

    I can't make a general article, essay or blog if I don't have the general information. Not to mention, I've discovered having my ideas curb-stomped is not fun.

    So, feel free to tell me what you will.

Age of Conan and it's...good side?

Posted by Vexe Wednesday June 11 2008 at 2:32AM
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    Yes. I said it. Age of Conan has a positive side.

    While sifting through my various study papers and letting my mind wander once again, I started to think about all the negative vibes out there about the AoC and how many people were upset with the final product. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no level 80 anything yet so I don't know every detail, but I have noticed a lot of positive things coming from Funcom through this pretty centerpiece.

 

Leveling:

    Zomjesus, did I just mention leveling as a positive to this game?! Yes. Yes I did. Although the leveling system is a bit slower in the 40's and needs to be worked on there, I have found it to be much MUCH smoother than in any other MMO I have ever played. The "brick walls" (so to speak) are left to a minimum compared to other titles, and from the sounds of it Funcom is trying to iron out those little tidbits.

    Leveling is suprisingly fun when you're on a long string of quests and those usually last until near the end of your progress in the area. AKA: your next 5-10 levels (except for the 40's. I know.). This is a very VERY nice breath of fresh air for me, who would constantly be turned off to MMOs when I would get hit with walls every few levels. Even grinding can sometimes be fun. I, personally gained 2 levels looking for some of the more rare equippable armor sets with my friends...er...people I had met minutes before-hand and felt like talking to.

    "But, vex! You're not on a PVP server! You can't possibly know how much ganking hinders your leveling experience!" OH, HO, MY FRIENDS! I *AM* on a PVP server, and still have all of these positive things to say. But this ganking issue brings me to my next (kinda) positive.

 

FFA PVP:

    I know you all have been hearing nothing but dread about this system ever since launch, but there are some benefits to the system they have set up (and are getting rid of soon)! This system gives you FRIENDS. I made 4 friends in less than half an hour because we all decided to travel in a pack to protect ourselves. Needless to say, we kicked butt until someone 10 levels above us came along; but my point still stands! Not only are these friends you make incredibly useful and sometimes fun, but your friendships can be long-lasting! You can form guilds with these people, join guilds with these people, pillage, plunder, all that good stuff. It's like one giant corny montage of friendship.

    Not to mention this system also supports...well, support. In guilds and otherwise. Need someone to cover your back? Sure! I can finish those missions later anyway. Good guilds are formed around helpful members and this system supports that kind of helpful...ness. Why worry about other people killing you when you have cover? Even if you do die, you can strategize revenge or laugh about it together. That's more important than leveling, anyway. Having fun with it.

 

Fun:

    I cannot stress enough about how important fun is in an MMO. It's why we play it in the first place! We want to be able to escape from our world in an enjoyable manner. Just about all the basic gameplay (except for gathering of any sort...that's never fun) is designed around the fun-factor of the title. The combat system is really engaging and gets me into the middle of the action, making sure that my adrenaline is pumping if a fight gets close. I can remember tensing up quite a few times when I just barely beat a few people after they jumped me.

    The bottom line is that the game is fun (again, except for that 40's gap...I hope they fix that.) and FUNcom really lives up to it's name in this aspect. Everything doesn't feel that repetative as you go through it because every fight is different from the last, no matter how you approach it.

 

The Launch:

    For me and a few others, the launch itself was frustrating and disappointing, filled with errors, bug and the like; but as a whole I must say that I'm impressed with how they preformed. For the first 3 weeks of AoC actually being out, it's doing remarkably well in almost all aspects. Sure a few things need tweaking, but they're fixing most of the problems in upcoming patches. I think this launch was so smooth because they do actually listen to the community. Although they almost seem embarassed about it and try to keep it "hush-hush", they actually read the forums and listen to what people have to say. I never said they were the quickest executioners, though.

 

 

    All and all, I'm happy with how it came out. This first month is the hardest for them, and it can only get better from here.

Immersion

Posted by Vexe Sunday June 8 2008 at 2:33PM
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    We all know that "wonderful" game called WoW that thrust the MMO market upon the unsupecting public for a while. Even some businesses started holding meetings on WoW (supposedly...I have yet to see an actual case of this). The phenomenon was so big, that WoW quickly gained MILLIONS of subscribers; the biggest number ever achieved by any online game ever. To keep up with this powerhouse of an MMO companies are coming up with new things that will boost their game's past it. The newest of these ideas has come from none other than the SCI-FI channel.

    The SCI-FI channel has come up with the idea of a new show. Then, with this new show they will create an MMO for the masses based on the program. Now, normally I would look over such an article as stupid idea for the promotion of their show; but one thing caught  my eye that made me really look into this. They plan on having in-game events that actually determine the outcome of the show. If there was an epic battle in the game, the epic battle (or at least the aftermath/effects of it) would appear in the show as well and direct where the series went. Even this sounds a little iffy on the "if it will work" scale, but the idea is new and brings up a few questions about how MMOs are immersed into our lives.

 

Immersion

    MMOs are already very immersed in our everyday life. They eat away at our monthly income (or your parent's monthly income) and take away bits (or all) of our lives to be played upon. But none of these games really immerses the game into our lives by giving us control over not one, but two media options that take up most of our free time. TV shows are very popular, but usually tend to crash and burn around season 4 or so. This project is so ambitious as to say that they can stay on the air forever; or at least for as long as the MMO is in business. Now, this in itself is a near impossible task, because SCI-FI would need to make both the show AND the game superb. People will have continue to play and watch for as long as they feel like putting in the effort for. That means that both the show and the game will need to be good enough to survive on their own without the other if need be so that if a viewer loses interest in the show, they can still play the game and vice-versa.

    The reason I chose to talk about this topic, though, is not because of the game itself but how the idea could effect how we play games in the future. Will there be games that determine the script and happenings of a movie? Will there be a game that will have a real life event that will determine the outcome of something in the game? This immersion is all well and good and I completely support it by itself, but the only problem is that anything like this is almost planting a big target on it's chest that reads "Advertise Here". Advertisements are fine in my opinion, as long as they keep to the beginning of movies and commercials. If my raid experience seems unrealistic of lack-luster because there's an ad for Verizon or Red Bull at every loading screen, I would not be too happy. To impede on my brain-cell killing TV time is ok (if it's only for 5 minutes), but to place your self-promoting crap on something like an in-game billboard that will always be there is too much for me and is something that needs to be prevented. The corporate world is big enough as it is. We don't need to inject it with any more steroids.

    Now, you may be thinking that it's a stretch to assume that advertisements would find their way into this game. But it is only inevitable if these immersion games will be filled with them. They will most likely be produced by TV companies. TV stations only make their money through commercials. They have no other source of income other than maybe a donation. If they were to produce a game, even starting it would be incredibly expensive. I don't know if you've watched the SCI-FI channel recently, but they're "original movies" aren't exactly top notch. Now if they have trouble making good movies, they are going to definately need a little help finding the money for producing a multi-million dollar game and a show while still upholding their station. The only way they can get this money is through advertsiements, which makes me worried for the integrity of the game.


    As much as I think the idea of immersion is great, it is not absolutely necessary to enjoy a game. And because of this non-necessity I think it's almost better to avoid it to keep from advertisements from making our game-play unrealistic.

The Idea Barrier.

Posted by Vexe Thursday June 5 2008 at 2:18AM
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   Concepts. They start out in the mind of the creator, little baby ideas blossoming quickly as he/she scribbles down their thoughts, adding onto their creation. Little does this creator know that what he/she has just created is a God among the development process. This God can make or break even the most ambitious of MMOs like nothing. This God decides how you will make your game. This God looks hella cool when you write it out on paper.

    Because these concepts hold the make-up of the game itself, these ideas are the pillars that every MMO sits on. Concepts include things like setting, how combat plays out, etc., etc. along with some major theme. These ideas can be great, sure, but more often than not they spell defeat for an MMO; no matter how ambitious it is. Let me sift through my pile of discarded MMO boxes for an example of this. Ah! Perfect! Auto Assault.

The Problem With Concepts


    Auto Assault was a game that I was extremely excited about when it launched. I even went out of my way to get the collectors edition (which came with a headset, by the way) and happily created an account. This game was going to be awesome. I mean it had some awesome things going for it. Who doesn't want to play a game where you drive around in kick-ass car while shooting things in a post-apocalyptic setting with tens of thousands of other people? Unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. The controls were lacking at best, the PVP was non-existent, the battle system was weird, and the directions in everything from quests to directions were so vague that they were impossible to figure out. Because of this, those tens of thousands of players I mentioned before turned out to be about a couple of thousand, max. In fact, the only thing that this game got right was the world you roamed in. This is because the team focused primarily on this part of the game.

    The team working for NCsoft wanted so hard to get the game world right and make everything look so pretty that they left everything else for after they finished with that. The major theme in this project took control and made sure that it got first dibs with everything. Unfortunately, this is true for a lot of games. Because of this major flaw with the game, so many other little ones occurred. The game servers shut down...I think...8 months after launch, or something similar to that. Auto Assault is no more, but we can still learn from it.

    Concepts are meant to be flexible by nature. You need to be willing to change an idea in order to better the game. Ideas sometimes have to be discarded because they simply won't work with the title. Most of the time though, only a simple bending in the idea you created is required to take your game above and beyond. A game is not a cool idea or something that makes sense, but rather a group effeort of all these ideas to cooperate with one another and make a game that's different AND fun.

 

Bottom Line:

    All developers and anyone working on an MMO just needs to take as much time as they can and focus on all aspects of the game instead of ensuring it's defeat with marketing the game on the cool idea they thought of. Concepts are vital to making games and should be treated with more respect.