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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

Episode #5- Remebering the virtual peasent or an ode to the crafting classes.

Posted by ivan50265 Saturday July 21 2007 at 12:11AM
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   Well hello again friends. I just got done with a test today, and I have to say summer school sucks.  I should've just sucked it up and taken the extra credits last spring, but I digress.  Today I'm going to take us back a little bit and talk about the virtual peasent. Enjoy and as always comments are welcome below.

  

The Virtual Peasent

   I was driving home from school today, and I started thinking about the new mmo's coming out as well as the bigger name mmo's currently in existence and a thought came into my head. I miss the virtual peasent or more commonly called the crafting classes in mmo's.  Back in the day these people were the backbone of a player run economy, the blue collar class of adventurers, and I wish they were included in todays games.  These classes would for go the fame and fortune of killing major baddies for the simpler life. That of gathering resources and making them into gear that heroes from all around the land would buy.  These chracters were the heroes behind the heroes. 

    Upon thinking about this subject I have to say there has got to be room for crafting classes in todays mmo's. And I'm not talking about crafting professions either. I personally think that it detracts from the building of a community when your warrior can make his own armor or the wizard is sewing his own robes together.  I'm talking about picking a blacksmithing class or tailor or whatever.  My first mmo experience was Ultima Online when it came time to pick what area I wanted to go into for my first mmo I chose to be a blacksmith and a miner.  I'm not sure why I chose it, for some reason it just appealed to me.  In the begining it was rather dull, I would sell a piece of crappy armor or a shoddy sword to a low level fighter, but eventually I got better and had my own shop and was able to start making some really good items and then the players started rolling in. The sense of community I had in that game was one of the best ever.  There's a certain satisfaction of being a virtual small business owner. Granted it's not as glamorous as adventuring, but in that world as well as SWG in the beginning, it was a neccesary role that needed to be filled.

   I guess what I'm trying to say is that in todays mmo's with all the loot coming from questing coupled with the fact that there are no crafting classes kinda dampens the whole sense of community that we found in the mmo's that had crafting classes and had player run stores. And I don't think it's an outdated concept I think it could be incorporated into todays games with some small updates. 

First thing I would do was incorporate a workers look into the character cutomization.  SWG actually did this well you could make an alien with a pot belly and other such features that gave you les of a heroic look and made you seem more from the private sector.  Also clothing and equipment could be used to further enhance the look of these characters.  As well let the player shops actually be located in the larger populated NPC cities.

Second you could change some of the drops to recipes or patterns for the good weapons and armor and limit to it being made once or twice. This gives the adventurer the chance to still get the "phat lewt", but also creates a need for the crafting class.  These classes could be used for repair as well.

Lastly crafters will always need increasingly exotic materials, and I think it would be great if some game created a system where crafters could create quests that players could take and go get these materials for the crafter for some experience as well as a reward that the crafter could select whether it be money or an item of some sort. This last element I think would add a great layer for the building of a strong community. That or you could simply layer in the abiltiy of a party to add one crafter after the party fills so they could gather materials in the more dangerous zones as well as buy loot off of players. This would be a great way for an adventurer to make money.

   In the end maybe I'm way off the mark. Myabe crafting classes are of the past and never to return, but I hope not. I think the further we get away from this concept the closer we get to mmo's becoming less of a community experience and more of a self serving simulation.

  In conclusion to those of you who are still grinding it out as a crafting class my hats off to you. Keep up the good work your communtiy appreciates you. To the rest of you what do you think? Is there still room for this concept? I'm curious to know what you think. Personally I think developers are ignoring it.

And that's my 2 Copper.

Thanx again.

Always,

Ivan

Episode #4- WoW Clones: The Myth, and the Reality

Posted by ivan50265 Tuesday July 17 2007 at 11:08PM
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   Hello once again friends. Sorry I've been away for awhile school and marriage will do that to you from time to time.  I thought for my little homecoming I'd hit on a subject that is of great annoyance to me and a little meatier than my previous two posts. Enjoy.

 

WoW Clones

   The term "WoW Clone" is a provincial four letter word on todays game development forums for up and coming games. It is considered a stigma, but in my opinion it is nothing more than a flawed and empty argument used by those who lack the intelligence to constructively criticize or just like to troll a forum or two and generally piss people off.  In short in my opinion there is no such thing as a WoW Clone,yet!  Well now that felt good to get off my chest.  Now for those of you who might disagree with that statement read on and at least entertain my argument and then feel free to attack it any way you wish. For now though let's go ahead and dissect the WoW Clone argument piece by piece. 

 

The Myth

    I usually find the WoW Clone advocates arguing the point of game play so I thought I'd just dive right on in and attack that real quick. Here are some popular arguments.

It's a WoW Clone because of it's fantasy theme.

Wrong. Actually the fantasy setting for many of the fantasy mmo's as well as pen and paper games came from or were heavily inspired by Tolkien's books.  So I guess that makes most fantasy mmo's retroactively LOTRO clones.

It's a WoW Clone because the UI is the same.

Strike two.  The UI that WoW employs was originally used in UO and then tweaked and used in Everquest. Just about every mmo uses a similar interface because simply it works. Think of a car like a Ford Taurus. The brake petal is on the left and the gas is on the right. You can find the ignition on the steering column and it sits on four wheels. Well so do many other cars on the market as well; Does this make them all Ford clones?  No it doesn't they're just using what works. Can it be tweaked? Of course, but the basic concept is still the same.

It's a WoW clone because they have the same stupid quests. 

Hey you got me on that one. Just kidding.  If you think the minds at Blizzard developed that great idea well friend you should play some of the older games out there. Quests of the mundane have been around for the entire ten years of mmo's existence. And why not let's face it in a fantasy world peasants and the like are needy people. I will say that WoW did perfect these quests for maximum frustration making sure that only one out of five wolves actually had fur, and that one out of eight boars would actually be made of boar meat.

It's a WoW Clone because it's all centered around equipment and items.

That's getting a little weak me thinks. Now I agree that mmo's of past have been a little too centered on the whole gear idea, but in the end what's the whole point of doing this stuff anyway. To level up get some sweet newer abilities and show off that fancy new robe, sword, shield, or what have you to you friends and community alike. I can tel you this I didn't sit in a basement playing D&D in my youth because I thought it would get me laid. I did it for the chance to level up and get some new gear, and maybe some money on the side.

It's a WoW Clone because it looks like WoW.

Yeah that's a touchy one there.  You see there is a game called Warhammer and about twenty years ago they kinda made the art style that Blizzard's developers kinda liked.  I'm not saying they stole it just that they were inspired by it. Which in the end again would retroactively make WoW a WAR clone.

I'm sure there are many more examples, but I think I've made my point well enough.

The Reality

The reality in all of this is that mmo's are businesses, and they follow a business model.  McDonald's is the most successful burger joint out there, and many of their competitors have copied their business model in hope of achieving a similar success. That doesn't make every fast food burger joint out there a McDonald's clone. Because they take that business model and twist it a little to make it thier own. Our entire soceity is full of competing bussinesses that operate under tha same business model, so it's just silly to try and put down an mmo because they're mimicing a successful way of doing things. Hell that's pretty smart if you ask me. Some of you may be wondering about the yet I had put into my statement earlier as if to imply that you could make a WoW Clone, and I believe you can.

 To do it you simply have to do what WoW did when thay made their game.  You look at the best mmo's currently on the market and you take what they did right and use it, and find out what they are doing wrong or what didn't work out and find a workable solution or leave it, and throw a few of your own ideas in a presto! You did it. You have made a WoW clone. Congratulations.

   In the end I find this phenomenon a little funny because you really don't see it alot in other genres. You don't see FPS or RTS fans going on about how one game is the clone of the other in their forums, and I guess maybe it's because we spend more on mmo's than we do single player games so our expectations are high. I can't wait with all the new games coming out in the next 2 years to see if one of them will become the next great game to be given the esteemed honor of being "Cloned" by alot of the mmo's being developed in that time.

And that's my 2 Copper.

Until next time.

Ivan

 

Episode #3- Intellectual Properties

Posted by ivan50265 Friday July 6 2007 at 10:54PM
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  Heelo again friends, and welcome back to my overly opinionated blog.  First off thanks for your support I do appreciate it and will keep on churning these out as long as you will read them.  Since last column we talked about genres I thought we'd just close out the idea today and talk about Intellectual Properties or IP's as they are commonly called.  Enjoy.

  In my experience nothing gets the forums rolling like the anouncemnt of an IP getting developed for an MMO. Well ok maybe an SOE debacle, but I digress.  When I hear of an IP I like getting developed I get excited and worried all at the same time.  Excited because it's an IP I love like Star Wars or LOTOR, and then come the worry that the company developing it is going to screw it up.  So to make sure they don't I like many other fans go to the website and start posting on those dev forums my ideas of what would make this particular IP a great mmo.  Now of course there wil always be an elemant that will say you've ruined it and that it sucks and devs can't please everybody now can they.  The great thing for dev about IP's is that they come with their own pre-fabbed fan-base, and that translates into hype which is free advertising.

   So the question that invariably enters the old noodle is what makes an IP a good canidate for an MMO? Well now that's not a bad question. So let's take a peek at that. briefly, and then I'll share a few IP's I think would make a good mmo.

 

1. The most important thing ,to me at least ,is that there is a conflict in the general background of the IP. A great example of this is Star Wars.  The rebels vs. the Empire.  Conflict opens up a great motivation in a game and if the company can make you feel a part of the strugle half the battle is won if not well there's trouble in the not to distant future. Or atleast give a a looming threat. It doesn't always have to be about war.  Looming threats of evil or what have you are just as effective just not as in your face.

 

2.  The second for me is that the world the IP is set in needs to be an interesting one for me to explore. LOTOR is a great example of this. That's what really attracts me is the opportunity to be a part of a universe if you will that I loved seeing in film or reading about in a book. The trick is making you feel like you are a part of that world.  If I feel like I'm in a shoddy or lack lustre vision of the world I tend to get a little upset quickly and not want to play in it anymore. Any of you ever felt like that?

 

3.   The third for me is can you add to explore,or further the main stroy or idea of the IP.  Now most of the time this is an easy one to accomplish, but if you pick the wrong timeline to set your game in you can run into a world of hurt finding yourself stuck to the perameters of the exisitng storyline.

 

4.  The last for me is can you express the original feel of the IP in the game.  Probably the most important of all of these is the ability of the developer to stay true to the lisence and create the same feel of the IP for the player  in game as we saw or read or played elsewhere.  There are soem great examples out there of how not to do it, but I wion't name any names I'm sure you can guess.

 

And that about does it for my thoughts on what makes a good IP for a mmo.  It's general and simple, and I'm sure we can go into great detail on this, but as this is a hobby and not a profession I like to keep it simple. To close out this episode of my blog I will share with you soem of my favorite unused IP's to date. So without further adieu here's the list.

 

 

For those of you who haven't read these books and are between games get to reading. This IP is ripe for an mmo in my opinion.  You could set this game in the future after the books or during the Butlerian Jihad and you could walk away with an intrigueing world with some awesome factions who all have their own little perks.  The storylines for this game can be deep and mystrious or just flat out policital intrigue. This IP has it all, from space battles to robot invasions, to assainations to land wars over a single planet. Tell me fighting over a desert planet with giant worms that could come up and kill you at a moments notice wouldn't be fun because we al know "he who controls the spice controld the universe."

 

 

 

 

 

Here's another untouched gem of an IP.  You could set this monster in the future where man wages war against the machines for survival. SHould you be able to play both sides? Hell yes you should. The missions could be down right disturbing from machines infiltrating human bunkers and wiping them out to humans rescuing enslaved family memebers, and what about time traveling instances where you couldn't bring any equipment. Now there's a challenge.  And the pvp...don't even get me started. 

 

 

 

 

Yes I know Sony is going to come out ith a game called "The Agency", but what's wrong with a little competition.  This IP is the ultimate team based espionage setting.  You always hav four or five people who specialize in different areas infiltrating, kidnapping, or blowing up stuff.  Give us the option to be bad guys as well and then give us an opposing mission goal or two and it's on.  It would be hilarious fun to infiltrate a player run agency and try not to get discovered the parinoia would be awesome.  Let alone the strategy involved in the PvE protions of the game.

 

 

 

 

Yep I dared to do it friends.  Harry Potter I think would make a great mmo.  The magical world that is Harry Potter's is absolutely fascinating to me at least, and I think it would be a blast to run around in.  Now I'm not saying put the whole thing in Hogwart's maybe the front third of the game and then let us explore the world as an adult after we have graduated school. Give us the opportunity to dabble in the dark arts and we get some good v evil going real fast. The greatest part is you wouldn't even need the main charcters in it if you didn't want them just the instructors at the school and some mainstays in the grown-up world.  You could even get the side game of quidditch which would be a blast in it's own right. 

 

 

Well that's my short list as well as my 2 copper on the whole deal. I'd love to know what you think of some of my choices, but more importantly what IP's would you like to see made into mmo's?  Feel free to comment below or send me a pm on the subject and perhaps we'll revisit this subject with your ideas as the subject. Until next time.

Thanx,

Ivan

 

Newsbreak #1- A Farewell to Auto Assault

Posted by ivan50265 Tuesday July 3 2007 at 12:01AM
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    When an mmo anounces that it will be shutting down shop it always gives me a bittersweet feeling whether I liked the game or not.  To be honest with you friends I played Auto Assault and really couldn't get into it, and obviously alot of you couldn't either.  I don't want to spend the space mulling over what went wrong, and why as there are people out there who get paid to do that , but suffice it to say the game just never found a playerbase large enough to build upon.  I have to say my heart goes out to the loyal players of the game as well as the dedicated team of peoplethat gave it their best to make it work.  In the end I think it was a case of good idea poor presentation. 

   This makes me curious though as to how many more mmo's will suffer the same fate.  In this increasingly competitive market will developers be scared away of trying something different?  Or better yet will it make them step back and really evaluate the quality of the product they want you to buy.  I hope the latter personally.

  I take my hat off to the hard work that the team at Net Devil did, and wish them thebest in their future endeavors.  The true test in life is not whether or not you get knocked down, but more impotantly that when you do you get back up. So now Auto Assault joins the mmo graveyard along with other notable games such as Earth andBeyond, Asheron's Call 2, Motor City Online, and any others I forgot about on Aug31st.  And with that I bid Auto Assault farewell. 

Until Next Time,

Ivan

P.S. If you read MMOWTF Dan Fortier hit the nail on the head with his prediction of which mmo would  close shop.

(Hey Dan you didn't have any insider info did ya? :) )