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the Lonely Alter

I don't play "games", I play MMORPGs! This is where I talk about them!

Author: Tierless

#88 Sandbox vs Themepark; Memories

Posted by Tierless Monday February 24 2014 at 9:39AM
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People often ask me why I only play MMOs. I tell them I'm drawn to the pursuit of the unknown and the thrill of the unpredictable that regular games just don’t give me. For a long time this concept has been foreign to the genre. We have a whole generation of MMOers that never got to experience the power of the sandbox. Now I look to the horizon and I see a phalanx of upcoming sandboxy MMOs. Camelot Unchained, the EQ Sisters, the SWG spiritual successor, Gloria Victus, The Repopulation, KEIPR Online, TUG and many more! (wipes a tear from his eye)

I was fortunate to start playing MMOs during a time when they were designed to be worlds to live in. You never knew what logging in might bring. We had dull days but when a sandbox is good it’s not good, it’s great, and the adventures that you experience aren’t just “entertainment” they can create genuine memories.

Other players are real, the jokes are real, the feeling of achievement, and more importantly the feeling of victory is all real but what I’m always pursuing is those rare occasions when the stars align, everything comes together, and you become so engrossed in the game hours seem like minutes. You get transported to another place and when you are done you’ve achieved a moment you won’t forget.

I know those moments are rare and I don’t expect them to happen often. If they did they wouldn’t be that memorable would they? The doorway to a game becoming a memory lies in the developer creating an environment that allows for it. My humble opinion is YOU CAN NOT do this in a themepark. Might you have some memories? Sure, I guess.

The first time you downed Ragnaros in MC? The first time you dinged max level in EQ? The first time you completed the story in SWTOR? Those might have created some memories but don’t kid yourself. Those aren’t really YOURS. They are the exact same memory that thousands of other people share. Some people might think that sharing an experience like that makes it more relatable...maybe I’m selfish but that doesn’t do it for me. I enjoy it, but I don’t retain it. They are more like scenes from a popular movie to reference than an experience worth remembering.

The first time you rode a bike by yourself, the first time you went hiking off the trail, the first time you hunted, those are the kinds of memories that a sandbox can provide. Unscripted, unpredictable, and unique to you. Rag died the same for everyone, only his drops were unpredictable, and they were the exciting part weren't’ they? My guildhall art gallery, the profession I created, the time my guild lured some bad members to a meeting and turned on them leaving them in a heap then kicking them, those are the kinds of memories I have of the sandboxes of old. Those experiences are unique to me.

I’m not telling YOU which one is better, to each their own, I’m telling you which one I prefer. Some people like to be an actor in a play, some people like to be the creator of the story the play is based on. Some people want to be Anakin, some want to be Lars, I’ve always wanted to be Jabba. He got all the hot chicks after all.

Time for a bit O’ Tierless Tropes. Another one of my adoring fans wrote in! I appreciate constructive feedback like this so so much. “Your writing is amatuer at best, I make it a point to downvote your blogs.” I guess that is because I’m (wait for it) an amateur!... I’m a guy with a computer that kept seeing “TLDR” on his forum posts so I decided this format might work better for me. If you enjoy downvoting me, then by all means carry on, I’m glad you found something you love. Me, I’ll be writing blogs. Turns out it’s fun to blog so I keep doing it. The day it isn’t, I’m done. Thank you for downvoting me, it motivates me to to keep trying to overcome the negativity and keep trying to improve.

#87 Darkness Has Fallen to New Depths with Giant Consequences.

Posted by Tierless Sunday February 16 2014 at 2:55PM
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So, the Depths huh? Well, this is pretty exciting now isn’t it!

“Actually Tierless, I have no idea what the Depths is I was trying to read Teala's blog and I miss clicked yours...”

No problem, fate has been cruel to you on this day but while you're here you might as well stay a bit. I often forget not everyone is an MMO news fiend like myself so I’ll do my best to fill you in without inducing a headache (it’s happened before). The Depths was the 2.5mill Kickstarter stretch goal for Camelot Unchained. It’s a 3 way PVP dungeon that is designed to be full of traps (both player made and NPC), nasty NPCs, and player controlled NPCs! (Can I still call those ones NPCs?...)

Your goal is to get to the leet forge to make uber weapons, unfortunately the forge itself sounds like you have to kill it first! After that (basing everything on the Nuada story http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/926/view/features) you can make a leet weapon!...But it will probably start to drain your life-force to feed the Depths so you probably don’t want to use it for too long, in fact, controlling the Depths might just drain your entire faction’s life force...with great power comes great consequences!

An instance that isn’t scripted but rather feels like some good old school open world dungeon play with a PVP base and a ton of stuff trying to kill you, sounds like bliss to this old school pvper! The nice thing about the Depths is your entire realm is on your side, you are only competing with the opposing realm that you can kill! Perfect! Regretfully I never got to experience Darkness Falls but I’ve heard the legends. This Depths sounds like it will be everything DF had and more! I know thats a big statement but I have faith in CSE.

Speaking of big our next goal isn’t that large (2.6m) and once we get to it we get GIANTs! IMO they will not be the “kinda big humans” that I’ve seen most MMOs use because;CU. It was said in the beginning, but it has become reality, things in CU are a bit more extreme, a bit more consequential, a bit more chaotic and a lot braver than your run of the mill mainstream “AAA” MMO can afford to be. CU is niche. It exists outside the “make everyone happy” that the developers of “AAA” titles are confined to. CU can take chances, make some people angry, and give us a Giant race to look up to. That is the benefit of the KS game. CU has already been paid for, it already has 14k subscribers just waiting to drop their $$$ for a monthly, it doesn’t have to worry (ok, not as much) about turning away a few subscribers because it’s not a prisoner of it’s budget. It’s a nice system that puts the power back in the developers hands and removes a lot of the risk involved with such a beastly game type.

“Uh, Giants?”

Oh yeah, sorry...The unofficial motto of CU is “choice matters” and it’s not just a catchy slogan, choices in CU WILL have some enormous consequences. It is this blogger's opinion that being giant should have some pretty big advantages, I mean, you’re a giant! But with the choice to play a powerful race should come some large consequences. Consequences the likes of which we aren’t accostomed too because we’ve been babysat for soo long. We expect our class pick to come with some expectations; it’s time our race choice comes with some serious boons, banes, consequences, and expectations as well. I know such a system is a tall order but “choice matters”. You want to be big enough to smash in a wall? Ok, but you will have to because you’ll probably have trouble fitting into numerous structures. You want to be large enough to one shot a lupor? Ok, but you might be expected to lift heavy stuff for us small folk. You want to live up a ginormous beanstalk, ok...well, actually that might be a whole new kind of content expansion...I’ll have to think about that...

Now if you’ll excuse me I will be working on a mammoth ice wall to keep any smelly giants out...oh and what Giant post would be complete without one mighty HODOR! Hope that didn’t cause any headaches, unless they are idea headaches ;)

#86 A Random Drop; 8 MMOs I'm excited about

Posted by Tierless Friday February 14 2014 at 1:32PM
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1. Camelot Unchained - CU has been a game of it’s word so far, and as an old school kinda guy, I put a lotta stake in someones word. Things are on schedule. Things have been on par with what was said. That is all I ask of CU at this point. When the gameplay begins to take shape I’m sure we will have some ups and downs. Until then, as I always say, it’s been an incredibly fun ride.


2. Everquest Landmark - This one isn’t as gameplay deep as N BUT it has one HUGE advantage, 100% creative freedom! Exploration galore! I was skeptical but the more info I sponged the more SOE won me over. I once called it EQLandamark and while I still don’t like the paid alpha stuff I consider myself a mark! That Alpha drop on day two, legendary.


3. Everquest Next - What do I need to say? If you don’t know by now you don’t read things like MMO blogs. It sounds like GW2+Minecraft. FUN!


4. Gloria Victus - For some weird reason we never got UO2 but this might be close, do I need more reasons to be interested? How about the pre-alpha footage that reeked of old school MMO awesome? BAM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hICRzBgx6SI


5. The Repopulation - I’ve been following this game FOREVER. At first it seemed like the spiritual successor to SWG, but it’s really come into it’s own. IMO this is the MMO that never gave up and keeps on progressing slowly but surely. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOvmzd6bGHU


6. KEIPR Online - Goon Studios (the name scares me too). Shout out to Teala for turning me onto this one. http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/Teala LOVE the graphics, LOVE the concept, can’t wait to hear more. Reminds me of cell shaded Star Wars of the Rings in a very good way!


7. TUG - It creeps me out in a Lord of the Flies kind of way...but it’s SO ambitious and SO crazy it has my attention because it’s too interesting not to look!


8. SWG 2 (or whatever that SWGish MMO SOE is doing is) I don’t care, he had me at “home”. Soe 2.0 has been making waves, sandboxxy waves, and impressing me. Cautiously skeptical but man oh man I want SOE to restore my faith and make this happen! Words can’t describe!


On the Radar:

Pantheon - I hope it does well but I’m more of a PVP guy /shrug.

The Elder Scrolls Online - LOVE Skyrim so I hope it’s similar but with MMO awesome and good PVP.

Wildstar - I liked WOW and think this game will snag a niche chunk of former WOWers that will love it. The housing and PVP have me interested.


Intrigued by:

WOW - always fun to watch WOW and see how it evolves (or fights evolution)

GW2 - Had some good times in GW2, always open for a return, if they give me a reason

EVE - This is THE MMO for spectating. LOVE reading EVE news. I tried to play it but I got stuck in the tutorial, I couldn’t figure out how to unlock door...

#85 Emergent Contention; From UO to DayZ to RUST

Posted by Tierless Tuesday February 11 2014 at 11:15AM
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First DayZ now over a million fans have purchased RUST since sales started in mid-December. DO YOU HEAR US NOW MMO INC!!! FPSs are making a killing by doing what UO did 20 years ago meanwhile you keep giving us hand holding garbage! Imagine if you would have had the guts to challenge us instead of baby us. Imagine if you didn’t sacrifice backbone for perceived easy dollars. Instead you tried to clone WOW, failed, and became even more spinless. The genre became reactive instead of proactive. You react to trends, WOW clone, Minecraft, Free to Play, Paid Alpha, Kickstart, LOL.


Never underestimate the power of not giving a ****. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and be unafraid to piss a few people off. Its called making art. But instead you make an average product designed to appeal to EVERYONE in effect watering it down to bore EVERYONE then rely on BS marketing to get the buys. Hype, release, rack up cash, stop really supporting game after a few downloadable patches. That is the console non MMO strategy, and I’m sure its a good short term cash grab, but there is no reason, other than corporate perception, that MMOs can’t MAINTAIN long term again. IMO the trick is, gasp, making a world to live in!


It’s so weird...I...I mean...I guess the thousands of MMO players on hundreds of sites across the vast ocean of the interwebs all asking of the same thing...actually want that thing! CRAZY! Companies need to realize that between the smartphone and social media the “niche internet fans” became EVERYONE. Sure we still have niches among us but several common denominators have emerged and trying to brush it off as the “hardcore niche e-crowd” is silly, especially when your industry is based on the E!


I hate have to do this kind of blog. I have more fun with the happy stuff. I’d love to wear a rainbow every day, and tell the world that everythings ok. I’d love to wake up tomorrow, see the times have changed, and never have to do another Emergent Contention blog again! I don’t want to be frustrated with my favorite hobby. You can make that happen MMO Inc. All you have to do is find that backbone that gave us crazy things like 4 hour raids, XP loss on death, consequences and a chaotic world to fail in, utilize modern technology, and (and this is the hard one) put risky ahead of profit again! If you aren’t willing I understand. Investors be crazy! Fortunately thanks to crowdfunding small studios have the means to do what you aren’t willing and I am more than happy to invest in a game I can live in for a few years rather than one I can beat in a few days.


Time for another round of Tierless Tropes; What's with “xobdnas” in your blog address? That is sandbox spelled backward which at the time I thought was clever, but it turns out is just really hard to remember, or spell or, say...When you make an MMORPG blog it takes your name and slaps it into the address. The day I made mine my forum name was Xobdnas. I made the vow not to change it until the industry started producing sandboxy games again. Well, thanks to several factors it looked like it was finally happening so I changed my name (literally like a day after I started the blog). End result is, most peoples blog address has their name in it, mine has Xobdnas (which after years of using I can still never just spell out). I should probably msg someone about getting that updated somehow...

#84 The Elder Scrolls Online is an ok game...

Posted by Tierless Monday February 10 2014 at 3:49PM
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A bit, a snip, a dip, a pinch, a peck, a speck, and a press NDA drop have helped fill in the picture that is The Elder Scrolls Online. From what I have read it sounds like an ok game. The things it does as an Elder Scrolls game it does pretty well. If you play it solo you will have a decent gaming experience.


Unfortunately it sounds like it fails at being an MMORPG, at least the kind the majority of oldschool MMOers like me want. It falls more toward the SWTOR and GW2 end of the MMO spectrum. Both of those were good at being games, and bad at being MMORPGs.


The endgame still intrigues me. I LOVE me some PVP and it’s something that is really hard to nail down at this point. The early third of the game, that probably isn’t going to change much. The last third, that is where you retain or lose me and as far as I can tell I can’t find solid info on it yet. I certainly hope it gives us some high quality pvp.


I’ve said this several times, as long as TESO gives us a big chaotic dangerous world to explore, which IMO is the hallmark of the series, I would have no problem leveling to get to the PVP...from what I’m seeing it feels a lot more like A to instanced B then choose your own adventure...That is probably my greatest disappointment. I’ve been longing for a true MMO WORLD since SWG closed it’s doors. I wish TESO could have given me one.


Had it been a bunch of forum trolls posting TES hate I wouldn’t be as ready to put out the torch, but I frequent the MMO newsOsphere and I see previews from writers I trust, and they all sort of say the same thing. I had fun, it’s a good game... Game, game! Oh how I long for that good ole’ MMO feel the way they used to (pre WOW). You know, the “OMG I feel tiny in a big scary world of stuff I have to learn and do-overwhelmingly scary awesome feeling” of old. Then again I don’t think one has felt like that since November 23rd, 2004. WOW (no pun intended). It’s been a loooooooooooooooooooooong wait for a world to live in again, but if you are like me, and you have managed to cling to the faintest vapor of hope for all these years then I beg you, hang on just a little bit longer. I truly believe we are about to turn the corner and head into a new gen of MMO worlds to live in again. Until then you might find me in The Elder Scrolls Online, I hear it’s a good game. ;)


Time for a little something I call FAN mail! That’s right, I have fans and sometimes they msg me kind words of inspiration. I’ve decided to share some of those words with all of you. For the first time ever, I give you a little segment I like to call Tierless Tropes:


“Your blog’s name has nothing to do with what you write about...you should change it.” Such fandom! Cynicism aside I agree (to a degree). I’m a big fan of Camelot Unchained and I do have a large number of blogs about it, but I tend to cover all manner of MMO news so my name should reflect that. I thought about taking suggestions but I assumed all I would get was an inbox full of “stop blogging” so I went ahead and thunk wun up maself! In case you didn’t notice I call it, the Lonely Alter. A name with many meanings for a fella like me. Thanks for the support, keep those questions coming, and as always, beard strong!

#83 A Splash in the Pond: It takes a village, to raise an MMO.

Posted by Tierless Saturday February 8 2014 at 9:24PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esCvMOMAFf0

YES! YES! YES! Oh yes, the times they HAVE CHANGED! Now maybe more than ever before a community can gather enough e-power to make, or break a game. (cough monoclegate cough) Ironically EVE is both the worst and best example of what a community can do for a game. The metagame, emergent content, the mods, the apps, the add-ons, podcasts, the community sites, the social gatherings, the CSM, the cons! I can’t recall another time in MMO history where the community could contribute to the enhancement of the game beyond the game in so many ways. Just thinking about it I get so excited that I...I...I!!! SWORD OF MMORPGS GIVE ME GAME BEYOND GAME! Hooooooooo! sry...

Camelot Unchained has the beginnings of what this blogger thinks could end up being one heck of an MMORPG community. We have already achieved an e-miracle. After all these months I can say the CU community has managed to maintain being one of the few bright spots in the long black cloak that is the internet. Yes in 2014 simply being a constructive place on the internet is an achievement.

Like all things we might stumble, we might fall, but eventually we will join CU in the sun...whatever that means. I’m not really sure, I just loved that quote from Man of Steel so I forced it in /shrug. I’d like to drop a couple names that have been shining examples of everything that is righteous with the outermost sphere of MMO content (the outer one being the fan made sphere). First up, he rocks a robe but don’t mistake him for a Jedi (it’s a well known fact the jedi wear t-shirts with his picture on them), call him what you want but don’t you dare call him a TDD or a Viking, the one, the only, Friar Jon!

What makes Friar-J so special? Other than possibly being Xenophobic the good Friar has the inn without sin, the Friar’s Boon http://friarsboon.com/. What is TFB? As is usually the case Friar Jon says it far better than I ever could. “Welcome to The Friar’s Boon, a place of calm respite and restoration in a world torn asunder by the cataclysmic Piercing of the Veil. May this stop in your journey give you pause and peace. The proprietor of The Boon, Friar Jon, works here to fulfill his vows in service of the travelers and adventurers who wander through the doors.” But wait, there’s more! “This site is a player created fan site for Camelot Unchained. The Friar’s Boon is a dream, based on what is possible with the development of the game and what the gaming community can bring to the game as player created content. Welcome!” What more can I say? I don’t plan to play an Arthurian, but a guy like Friar Jon makes me wanna. One man, one mission, one heck of a chunk of content made to enhance the Camelot Unchained experience for Arthurians! (TDD, Vikings, and Droids are not welcome).

Next up, when they aren’t milking dragons (don’t ask), drinking a few brews, and rockin out with CSE staff on their podcast these two cats are putting their free time into gaming...when they aren’t doing that Xirrin and Gondram are working on the The Opposition http://oppositionunchained.com/. What is The Opposition? Glad you asked! I, or at least someone in a mask claiming to be me, has a bit of inside info on this one...From what I can muster The Opposition is the “common ground” of Camelot Unchained. We may fight all day, but at 5pm when we punch out and put (most of) our realm pide behind us we can head to The Opposition for all things CU. The Opposition site is a fantastic resource for a wide array of Camelot Unchained goodness. Xirrin and Gondram have done a heckuva job gathering and CREATING as much content as their time allows. Emphasis on CREATING. IMO most people think it, they do it.

Not too long ago the three MMOers above were regular fans just like you and I. Then one day they decided to take a step back and assess their skill set and how they could utilize it to create content for an MMO they loved. They might not have had money. But upon self reflection they realized what they did have were a very particular set of skills; skills they had acquired over very long MMO careers. Skills that make them a beacon of light for people in their MMO communities. What skills do you have?

#82 SOE 2.0?

Posted by Tierless Sunday February 2 2014 at 5:38PM
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I made a poll about this then I thought, “this is blogworthy”! Poll here:

http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/404233/SOE-20.html

So, how about this SOE? SOE 2.0 or is it 2.O? Even the biggest of SOE fans can admit they have a very love hate relationship with the company. Much of it stems from things that happened ages ago (the internet never forgets!) some of it comes from modern decisions (that Lion looks like WOW!) love them or hate them they are doing things...lots of things, and we all know, people like things...

So what “things” did they do? They delivered Landmark alpha on time! When they first announced EQL and said they wanted to be in Alpha around this time many fans were skeptical. Then they did the “pay for Alpha” things and many fans, including this blogger, were disgusted...but at the same time couldn’t blame them, I mean, why not right? It was smart. Then we see Alpha and it’s a very impressive one. Back in MY day alphas weren’t much more than trying to log in...repeatedly. That was it, end, nothing more. Nice work on delivering the goods SOE! BUT!!!

BUT!!! Some fools that don’t know what ALPHA is complained about it. What does SOE do? Smed himself offers full refunds for people that want them! GUTS! It also shows he is confident about his game. Best of all it allows people like me to post things like “learn to ALPHA and if you don’t like it, quit and stop complaining”. ;)

As the interwebs are if you looked in the right places you could find what you wanted...so whats does SOE do? Once again Smed himself drops a bomb by dropping the NDA after 24 hours! Again GUTS and confidence! SOE feels good about this one, and from what I’ve read so do the testers. I’ve always said it was like pretty Minecraft, and word is it is, and it’s fun, and it’s still EARLY TESTING!

Now lets go back a few days. Smed does the AMA. He admits mistakes! GASP! That isn’t the corporate way! Deny deny deny! But he doesn’t and in doing so instantly earns respect points from...this guy! I’m sure that means a lot to him!

What next? Admits mistakes with SWG, and promises a secret new MMO is SWG inspired and will give us Galaxies refugees a “home”!!! OMG what more could I ask for? How about some screen shots of this beast! DONE! OMFG are you kidding me! This SOE! This Smedley! The screens give me a zombie vibe but I have hope that the pretty star filled sky in the one screen means we get visited by an advanced alien race that helps us take to the stars! Frankly it could literally be ANY theme, as long as the mechanics are based off of SWG’s I would play it, yes even if it was the long awaited and oft forgotten Hello Kitty Online 2; the Return of Hep Cat!

Did anyone notice the sceens were NOT WOWish, nor Diensyish, nor cute, they were realistic and they looked very good IMO. I am EXTREMELY excited they already have screens!

http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/6/view/news/read/29900/Star-Wars-Galaxies-Spiritual-Successor-in-a-Modern-Setting.html

So, is this a new SOE? IMO it’s too soon to tell, but if they continue down this path it’s only a matter of time before they win over the crowd, even the old bitter NGE vets like me. You have me interested and excited SOE, all you have to do is keep on a rollin.