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My 2 Copper's Worth

Well we're on a website dedicated to MMO's so I'll give you one guess as to what I'll write about. And no it's not mustard.

Author: ivan50265

The Chronicles of Spellborn: First Impressions.

Posted by ivan50265 Sunday March 29 2009 at 10:43PM
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    As many of you may or may not know I am currently in between games. While in between games I have two things I like to do which is revisit old games to see if I can remember why I left it and try to find new ones to play.  The latter reason of course led me to "The Chronicles of Spellborn."  I decided to give this new game a little test drive to see if it might be a nice time sink until the mmo's that I'm waiting on launch.  Below are my first impression of the game.

First Impressions

 

   So let me start off by saying I wasn't ever really excited about this game for two reasons.  First was Spellborn International's attempt to wow me with the GDC 2008 music video/trailer  "Within Temptation." Watch at your own peril here www.gametrailers.com/player/31296.html

   The second would be finding out the Acclaim would be the US publisher for the game.  For those of you who are not familiar with Acclaim presently I'll give you a quick run down their games are generally Free 2 Play Asian inspired grind fests that if they ever do offer you a story attempt to kill you with boredom and monotany in an attempt to get to it. 

   But I never try to condemn a game that I have never tried whether or not it's got a lame publisher and a music video.  But I do like to know what I'm getting into so I just click on over to the handy dandy MMORPG.com game page and look to see what's in store for me while I download the client.  So here's what the game page tells me:

 

"What differentiates ‘The Chronicles of Spellborn’ from other MMORPG's?

Having your own virtual identity from the start and to grow this identity meaningful by:

Dress to impress: From day 1 you will be able to look cool by choosing and changing clothes, armors, weapons, skills.
Influencing the world with your actions: This ranges from lifelike statues of your character in Quarterstone to unlocking and owning new parts of the worlds through questing, politics and conquest.
‘Join and play’, you don’t have to walk whole marathons before the fun starts.
‘The Chronicles of Spellborn’ combat system based on skill decks. You will be able to create your own individual fighting style."

  Ok for fariness sake let's just use this criteia for my first impressions. 

Dress to impress: From day 1 you will be able to look cool by choosing and changing clothes, armors, weapons, skills:
  

TCoS does have a robust character creation system where you can pretty much look like whatever you choose within the choices given no matter which of the three initial classes (fighter, theif, mage) you decide to go with.  I should also mention that you also get the choice of two races the humans or daevi. All in all there is no lie when they tell you that you will look like a bad ass rather than a peasent from the outset.  And I will add I was impressed by the amount of customization options for weapons and armor I did not even come close to meeting myself while I was playing the game. 

‘Join and play’, you don’t have to walk whole marathons before the fun starts.:
   There is definitely no walking marathons before the fun begins as you do start on a floating rock that looks like a ship in space.  This serves as your tutorial whic of course teaches you the basics and is really well done.  You beat up some straw dummies and boxes to learn the combat system and then get tested when your ship is attacked by somthing reminiscent of an obese mynock that spits out little baddies for you to kill. So needless to say I was pumped to get into the game world and start out this awesome action packe adventure.  When I got to the beginning part what did I find but fucking fetch quests.  You have got to be kidding me.  One minute I'm fighting off weird space insects the next I'm asked to quell the local bear population and thus begins the down hill slide.

Influencing the world with your actions: This ranges from lifelike statues of your character in Quarterstone to unlocking and owning new parts of the worlds through questing, politics and conquest.
Well if you're looking to make an instant impact on the world other than being a homicidal park ranger in a land filled with homicidal park rangers you will not.  It never ceases to amaze me how developers will dangle some great feature of their game in front of you only to make you earn the privelage of actually doing the one thing you started playing the game in hope of doing by having you wade through fucking fetch quests to get to that feature.  Now I'm not saying I want a statue of my toon at level 10 or even impact the world in some profound manner, but it would be nice to somehow be given the opportunity since I already look like a bad ass to do something other than kill x number of wildlife or deliver kegs of beer to the local inn.  At least throw me some sort of bone here an intriguing quest line, or some little taste of the bigger questing, politics, conquest picutre. 

The Chronicles of Spellborn’ combat system based on skill decks. You will be able to create your own individual fighting style."

Ok so here's the game mehcanics in a nutshell for ya.  Skill decks is pretty much a catch phrase for spinning hotbar. If you look at the piture above you'll see what I'm talking about, Now the trick is where you position your moves depends how efective you are in combat.  Eventually if you place moves right you'll be able to fire off some serious combos but don't get ahead of yourself.  Before that though be prepared to have more skills than spaces in the rolling hotbar soem will call this tactical other may call it annoying for the purpose of this post I'll go tactical.  each column has a correspondning number from lfet to right 1-5 to be exact, but each time you hit an ability on one row you go to the next.  Add on the target reticule that must be kept on your target at all times in order to attack and mix that with trying to get thr right nuber pressd to execute the right move in the right row and you have a pretty clunky combat system.  At best it takes some serous getting used to.  I give kudos for trying something new but in my opinion it deters from the game experience as opposed to enhancing it. 

Random thoughts:


  The game is graphically very good looking and ran on my laptop lag free on the highest graphics setting.  

   The community is friendly and helpful not unlike alot of games at launch or open beta. 

   The whole sigil idea as a way of customizing your equipment is interesting but honestly I found myself wishing I could have found some equipment as the loots tend to be worhless.  As well they did a very good job on the beginning armor pieces and weapons I would have like to found some more to add to my toon. 

   The game is a freemium which means you can play to a certain level before you have to pay a membership to go further.  Which leads me to my biggest gripe about this game. Nothing about the early levels of this game to make me want to pay to go any further.  The stroyline failed to reveal itself although it offers hints to itself at times.  If you want me to play further give me a taste of the overall storyline as well as affecting the land. Now before you start the "you have to play the game longer" bit I will say no I don't and I shouldn't have to.  If you want to grab a player base right off the bat do it through good strorytelling and interesting quests not the promise of it later when you're paying. 

TCoS looks like and interesting world on paper it failed to grab this player's  interest.  Grat graphics mixed with mediocre gameplay and absolutely lame ass fetxh quests which can be found anywhere leave me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I will not condemn this game hell I'll actually reccomend you give it a shot since it's free for the first 7 levels, but the next time I see an mmo with a music video for a trailer and a publisher that is known for uninteresting grind fests for games I might just leave it alone.

 

And that's my 2 copper.

Have a good week all.

Ivan

Rebooting MMO's vs Making a sequel.

Posted by ivan50265 Saturday March 21 2009 at 11:20PM
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   I was watching the 10 year anniversary video for Everquest today which brought back some of my fondest memories of mmo gaming.  I remember thinking back leaving EQ for SWG and then moving on  to EQ2 which I didn't play long.  I remember one thought that kept going through my mind while playing EQ2 "Why in the hell did they think they needed to remake Everquest?"  It is that simple question that inspires this blog. Enjoy.

 

Why make a sequel to a MMO?

  So let's go back to my original example.  Why did SOE think they needed to make a sequel to a succesful game?  In single player games it makes complete sense to do it. You have a successful IP and people want to see what happens next.  So you make a sequel to the game continuing the storyline adding some new features, and make more money and hopefully garner some new fans to the franchise.  One would think that was the resoning behind SOE's desicion to make a sequel to a successful MMO.  Set it in a different time, add some features, make it look prettier, and get some new fans right? Well maybe. 

   For me the problems sequels cause in the case of an mmo far outweigh the benefits.  The most obvious to me is that you will have two games out on the market that essentially offer the same experience. Sure one may be newer but they are in the same setting whether you chnage the timeline or not and by making a sequel one assumes you intend to keep the original on the market and thus will end up competing against yourself for subscribers.  As a business model it just doesn't make any sense to me.  Obviously not to the intdustry either as EQ2 and Lineage 2 are about the only sequels I can recall off hand that still exist.

   So that got me thinking there's got to be a better way.  And there is.

Reboot is the answer

   So maybe your asking yourself whatever is a reboot? Well my friends I shall educate you. For those who know just read along it'll still be fun.  Now the reboot can be used for two completely different purposes, but I believe both apply here. 

   First the reboot is done to erase a past mistake, and start over fresh.  You reboot and move along like the other has ever happened.  Here's an example to better illustrate my point.  Back in 2003 Marvel got director Ang Lee to make "The Hulk" along with that they had ILM do the special effects. The result was a miserable failure of a movie that did zero justice to the original IP. 

2003 Hulk

  Marvel of course realized this and in 2008 released the reboot of The Hulk to wipe away the past mistake made in 2003 and start again fresh.  The result was a successful revitalization of the IP, happy fans, and money for Marvel.

2008 Hulk

  The second reason for the reboot is to take something that is already good and merely update it as opposed to changing the experience or attempting to sweep the original under the rug.  Staying with the movie genre a good example of this would be War of the Worlds. The fist movie version of this is a classic and an excellent story. 

   Granted the special effects arent the greatest they were the best for the time. Now Speilberg didn't want to really change the expereince as much as he wanted to update it thusly the reboot.  Better special effects same general story and experience, and again happy fans and more money. 

  Now let's take it into the mmo space.  Jumpgate Evolution is an example of a reboot. The developer have taken the core experience of the original Jumpgate and are rebooting it upgrading graphics and gameplay and thus replacing the orgiginal game rather than making a sequel to compete with the orgiinal. 

Jumpgate

 

 The big plus to this is we get an updated version of the original experience and NetDevil will most likely attract new players to this updated version.  So in then end happy fans and more money. I would have liked to have seen EQ get a reboot as opposed to a sequel other notable reboots that would be nice to see would be Asheron's Call, Planetside, and Shadowbane.  There's a ton more I'm sure I would agree with but this puppy is getting s little long. 

   Now what about the other type of reboot the sweep it under the rug kind.  I can think of some IP's that could really benefit from this as well.  Some games that were such abysmal failures with good IP's that could benefit froma reboot.  Wouldn't it be nice to see a different take on the Matrix Online? Or how about a version of SWG without a NGE and with an actual Civil War now that would be nice. 

   In the end I hope NetDevil's attempt is followed by others in the industry.  Rather than reinvent the wheel why not just get a new set of tires. By rebooting mmo's rather than trying to make a sequel will help keep the market from getting over saturated and allow good games to reatain their audience and expand upon it as well as allow games that didn't get i right the first time another chance at life.  In the end the only issue I can see with rebooting would be trnaferring player accounts which I'm sure could either be done or give existing players the chance to start at their level and repec, or ahh heck they'd figure it out wouldn't they?

   Well that's all for me tonight and as always feedback is welcome below.

Until Next Time

Ivan

Three reasons why I can't hate WoW.

Posted by ivan50265 Sunday March 8 2009 at 9:52PM
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   Hello again friends.  Recently my wife and I were discussing the MMO genre, and I started getting on my high horse as uaual, and I started in on one of my favorite targets The World of Warcraft.  It was right before I got on soem random diatribe about the negatives of being equiment dependent when my wife offered me some food for thought of which will be the subject of this blog.  Enjoy. 

 

Three Reasons I Can't Hate WoW

 

   Its been about two years since I have logged into the world of Azeroth.  I stopped playing simply because I wasn't really having fun anymore, and  for me the Blizzard formula had runs its course.  I could spend paragraphs pontificating on the game's shortcomings, but instead I will spend a few brief moments explaining why I will never be able to hate the 11 million pound mmo gorilla known as WoW.

    First and most obvious is that once upon a time I actually had fun playing the game.  Now before you say anything think back to when you first loaded up the game you had fun at least a little didn't you? I thought the original levels 1-60 were well done at least the first time around as well as the raids they were fun the first couple of times through.  I also have to admit they have one of the best music scores I have ever heard in a game.   

   Second through this game's accessability they have exposed a population of people to this genre if not gaming altogether.  I have this intern at work, and he wanted to find a hobby.  When he asked me what I thought I offered my favorite hobby which just happend to be gaming.  My intern was interested in this idea, and after he did some research came back to me and told me he really woul dlike to get into gaming, but he only had a computer which wasn't that good, and couldn't afford a new system of one of the new consoles.  I jokingly suggested WoW mentioning that the game could run on just about any machine.  I didn't hear anything more about it for about a week until I saw my intern coem in late one morning and he looked like he'd had a long night.  When I asked him what had happened he answered with the simple phrase " I started playing WoW at like 8pm and the next time I looked at the clock it was 3 am."  I laughed my ass off.  How many times has that happened to sme poor soul let alone me. 

  Lastly and most important I can never hate WoW because it made my wife a gamer.  Four years ago my wife and I were a new couple that had decided to move in togather.  Usually there's and adjustment process where she and I had to get used to each other.  Instead of hearing complaints about me leaving my socks on thr floor she had an issue with my gaming.  After countless arguments and hearing "those games are so stupid."  I gave her the disks to WoW and asked her to load it on her computer and give it 20 minutes of her life and if she didn't like it at least she could tell me she tried it.  She did as I asked and four hours later I was begging her to log off and go to bed so she could get up for work in the morning.  From that moment on my wife and I have been the consumate team in MMO's. She still somtimes is lured by WoW whic is fine by me even though I don't play anymore. Gaming has become a mutual hobby of ours and my married friends are jealous as hell.

   Like many others who have left the WoW scene behind for their various reasons I have to give some props. This game is truly a phenomenon for better or worse.  Although I have no intention of ever logging back into WoW I have to give it some thanks for being fun for a moment, allowing me to introduce others to gaming, and giving me and my wfe our comon hobby that we both love. 

That's all I have.

Until Next  Time

Ivan

P.S. Feedback always welcome below.

Star Trek Online vs The Old Republic Online: Can't we all just get along?

Posted by ivan50265 Sunday March 1 2009 at 5:08PM
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   With both the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises producing mmo's presently it was only a matter of time until the age old Star Trek vs Star Wars debate was going to show itself in comparisons of game quality and of course the obligatory forum post or two.  Personally I am eagerly anticipating both games, and wish them the best in their success, but after reading a pair of forum posts from  members on both sites I'd thought I'd offer a little food for thought. Now in no way do I think either community would engage in flame wars on each others respective forums.  I do believe there are some of a more mischevious nature which may try to foster a little rivalry.

 

Communites Unite

   So I thought it would be interesting if we looked at what these two communities have in common rather than their differences.  Fans of the frnachises have more in common than you think when you step back and look at them. 

   The first and foremost being that both franchises are classics in the science fiction realm.  Star Wars and Star Trek are the two most recognizable scinece fiction frnchises anywhere, and both communitites are obviously passionate about their franchises as well.

   The second is that both franchises when it comes to mmo's have been screwed over royally.

   First off you have the Star Wars fans.  Now at least they've had an mmo, but a failure of an mmo at that.  SWG failed in all areas to deliver a true Star Wars experience although many will argue at the greatness of the original version of the game it was still a buggy at best, and the developers through all of its iterations (pre-CU, CU, and NGE) rather than giving the player a galactic civil war have delivered a game full of Jedi in a time period where they are supposed to be extinct. Now I could go further into the NGE debacle and how that screwed the community, but we all know by now what's going on there.  Needless to say when the announcement of ST:TOR finally arrived it was welcomed news, and offered the community a new hope. Pun intended.

   Now poor Star Trek fans have been getting run over the coals for the better part of 5 years now with no game to show for it as if yet.  From the anouncement in 2004 from fromer Perpetual Entertainment fans were rewarded with nothing more than spotty information, few screenshots, and no oficial game site to speak of.  Then fans were rewarded with the company chnaging names to P2, stopping work on the game,and then finally selling the license to an undisclosed developer.  Finally the mmo emerges in the hands of Cryptic Studios who from all appearences have been working dilligently on trying to get a product out to the public.  The game finally has a website and a teady flow of information. 

   Lastly the most important thing both communities have in common is that we are fans of science fiction.  In the coming year or two if you are a fan of sci-fi like I am you'll feel like a kid in a candy store when it comes to the sheer amount of mmo's launching in this genre.  The better all of the games are the better it is for the genre as a whole.  Let alone the more quality mmo's we se on the market the better for the mmo genre as well.  

   In the end we will see the merits and flaws of both games when they launch, but until then let's hope the best for these games and all mmo's currently in development.  Their continued success will allow us to enjoy watching this genre of gaming whic I eprsonally belive is one of the best to continue to thrive and innovate for our enjoyment in the future.

Until Next Time,

Ivan