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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Why Do You Play MMOGs?

Posted by MikeB Thursday February 25 2010 at 5:56PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “Why do you play MMORPGs?” by user Snakes. Snakes offers a simple, but important question:

“Why do you play MMORPGS or simply MMOs in general?
Let me explain - this is very open ended and its bound to have a large amount of responses to it. I'm not choosing a specific game here, its just in general - why do you choose to play the MMOs that you play? What brings you back to them and what keeps your attention?

Like I said, there's hundreds of answers based on this - choose any game or just speak in general.

Here's a couple of examples. Some people play mmorpgs for the community, others for the pvp, others for other things. Personally a lot of the time I would go back to an MMORPG because I met a number of awesome people, and being an Role-player at heart, I loved anything based around Role-playing. To be something else for example but that wouldn't base everything on my gaming experience, of course content was very important to me to but it was the community that brought me back.”

User metalhead980 kicks things off with his response:

“…today I play Eve because in my mind it feels like the only game that truely is a Sci-fi life simulation.
Communities are what MMOs are about to me, not instances and queues. If a community doesn't play a role in my MMO it isnt one.

In short, Communities that effect the game world is the reason I started and try to continue playing MMOs.”

Azareal offers an enumerated list of all the reasons he plays MMOGs:

“I play mmorpg's because :

1. I'm simply too lazy to keep going out once a month to pick up another stand-alone game;

2. The community and my friends from all parts of the world; It's kinda hard to meet up for drinks and catch up once a week if you live in Australia and they live in Kansas, or somewhere like that. Unless of course you all have way too much money and too much time, much like a certain lady who's named after a french city.

3. Content; It's always incredibly fun for me to see what some creative people are able to do with a few lines of code and turn something in a book or comic, or their imagination into virtual life.

4. Alternative; Like a previous poster, yeah, I'm a little sick and tired of the crap we get on tv these days. E.g. like I 'Really' need to know how jon and kate are doing in rl. Or some really dumb idiots go "yeah, like, uhmm..yeah", "really, like about tonight...", "like uh huh, ", "and then, they like, y'know.."; There's no need for waterboarding, just force the criminals to watch some of these "movies/series" and I swear they will tell you everything within 5 minutes.

5. Escapism; After a hard day/week at work, I will do just about anything to avoid thinking about work and mmorpg's are the most cost effective way to go.”

Sanguinelust outlines the joys of grouping, as well as the pitfalls of grouping:

“For me the attraction to MMO's I have is because I find they have a lot of meat and potatoes to them. Theres more than just some linear map to explore for 10 minutes or so then on the the next one, there's a whole world to explore and in the case of SWG worlds. Then theres the whole thing of building your character up. Choose a class and go master it. All the teamwork was awesome. You could kill something and find something you, or your buddies could use on the corpse, which led to go kill another to see what it has. Which led to go kill another wait, what was that, I leveled?!?! Awesome!!! Now go kill hundreds more to level again and again.

Somewhere along the line playing in groups kinda fell by the wayside though. Especially when you have to work and when you got home your leveling buddies didn't wait for you and went ahead and did the tough missions while you weren't there and now are on to the next tough ones while you struggle to find someone else who has to do that mission to try to complete it with. So now I look for MMO's that are solo friendly but also have enough group content that you need to have friends to be able to play with. I love being in a guild, even if I don't use them to their potential I know there's someone there to chat with, ask for help from or I can help out. “

I’m not sure if acidworm is serious or not, but we couldn’t have a spotlight like this without one of the following posts:

“The inevitable emo drama. It beats any soap or reality show by a landslide.
Also, I like pwning noobz. It makes me feel better about myself.”

Abyss610 offers a slightly more economical take on why he plays MMOGs:

“honestly its the cheapest form of entertainment around by far. i deffinitly don't have the fun playing mmos like i use to, but still an enjoyable way to pass the time when i'm bored. got into mmos years ago when i played PSO noticed i got ALOT more for my money from them. prior to that i would buy a new game have it beat within a week tops, trade it in and buy a new one. was getting expensive buying a new game every week only getting like maybe $14 back from the trade-ins. so even if i buy one of these new mmos that turn out to suck they do usually last long enough to be cheaper than me buying new console game every week.”

And pauldriver, well, pauldriver plays MMOGs for the chicks:
“I play it for the chicks.”
Good luck, Paul!

I have to play favorites here and highlight one of our moderators (before she was a moderator here with us) who, like Paul, plays MMOGs for the chicks. I kid, I kid! Here is why our very own Chirugai plays MMOGs:

“I'm kidding. I play MMOs because it's live. Things change, update, etc. I get to somewhat customise my avatar instead of playing a pre-made one. I get to play with other human beings who aren't as predictable as AI is. It's the over all experience of live interaction.”

Finally, the always insightful Teala shares her views on why she plays MMOGs, and what she’s hoping to see come from the genre going forward:

“Well what drove me to this was the stories and the ability to create my own stories as my character went on adventures in these virtual worlds. Sorta like reading a book and following the character. In an MMORPG my character is the main character and she allows me to play out a book in virtual form. Nowadays thoughm the stories are all pre-written and you must follow them in order to get any where. I mean it is cool and all, but it has lost something. In the older games I would just travel and adventure and make up my story as I went along. Sure their were quest I could do now and then if I so desired, but it wasn't required. Just exploring and looking for treasure was good enough. I now it was kinda archaic and there is so much more that can be done with these games now, it is just so said that their all going the way of theme parks.

It is sad that even a lot of the indie games are just not cutting it. They are half-arsed done and are sold on promises that they cannot deliver and you end up getting a game that has 1/4 of the features that they promised and then a lot that the game has is broken and does not work. ::cough:: MO - DF ::cough::
Some day a group of people will come together with like minds and make a good MMORPG again...the way the old Turbine crew created Asheron's Call. That was truly a good MMORPG for it's time. We need that kind of team to come together and make a new game for this day that was as innovative and massive as that game was during it's time.”

Snake's thread offered a pretty simple question to the community, whose responses have turned out to be quite revealing. I have come to observe that the reason we play MMORPGs appear to really vary from person to person, which is definitely in contrast to the reasons most people play traditional games. If you asked a bunch of people why they played Pac-Man or Tetris, you probably wouldn’t get too many different responses, but gamers seem to get all sorts of different things from, and in turn, look for different things, in their MMOGs.

However, the recurring theme in Snakes’ thread seemed to be community. While this isn’t important to everyone, it seems to be an important reason for many of our users, and I must admit, important to myself as well. I know. What a surprise! The Community Manager is interested in community! D’uh.

Communities do exist surrounding other games, but there is nothing is like a tight-knit MMOG community. There have been tons of good (and bad) examples over the years of what can come out of MMOG communities, but suffice it to say, people can make connections and friendships that last the test of time and span many games through these little things called MMORPGs and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the most, if not the most important reasons I play these games.

Why do you play MMOGs? Let us know in the comments below!

The Rise (and potential fall) of F2P

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday February 23 2010 at 5:45PM
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I’ve been playing a lot of the recently “soft-launched” Allods Online this week, as I assume a lot of folks have. Sure enough it’s very much like most games that came before it, and sure enough the proposed prices for items in the game’s Item Shop are ludicrous to the point of launching a tirade of epic proportions across the blogosphere, but at the heart of it all lies a very engaging game that I can’t seem to stop playing even while Mass Effect 2 beckons me from my desktop. Allods is a quality game judging by my first hours spent in Astrum Nival’s world, and it’s just the latest title to come along and challenge the notion of “free = crap”.

Of course the argument could be made that with an item shop in place, the game’s not actually free, but the game itself is free to download and enjoy and that’s good enough for me. So let’s put the revenue models and the price-points of F2P games on the backburner for now and instead talk about how what was once a trend reserved for barely passable Asian imports is now a movement belonging to a slew of particularly enjoyable titles.

Runes of Magic came out of left field last year to surprise gamers with a highly playable theme-park experience akin to Blizzard’s World of Wacraft. Dismissed by skeptics initially, the quality of play eventually earned Frogster’s game a space right alongside some of the more regaled titles in the industry today. Sony’s FreeRealms is a similar case of a developer really crafting an engaging and unique experience for minimal initial cost. Not really a traditional MMO experience, players can do everything from race go-karts to deliver mail while still saving room for grander combat centric quests. The argument could be made that for the price of “free’ you get more game from FreeRealms than you do most retail offerings.

Alongside FreeRealms, SOE’s even toying with the idea of making their spy-centric MMO “The Agency” free to play when it finally launches later this year. A hybrid shooter/MMORPG, The Agency is decidedly more hardcore than FreeRealms, and will likely make use of RMT to drive revenue for the developer. As long as said micro-transactions don’t too heavily influence the game’s PvP I can’t imagine many gamers will complain of being able to play James Bond or Jason Bourne for cheap.

Wizard101 also came out last year to low expectations and proceeded to win over parents and kids alike with an engaging (and family-friendly) story, an addictive card-based battle system, and plenty of content and mini-games to boot. Of course with W101, players must eventually pay a subscription to access all the game’s content, but at ten bucks a month, it’s also decidedly cheaper than other games in the genre.

And need we forget about Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online? Here was a game on the brink of extinction that has seen new life by changing their revenue model from subscription to F2P. More importantly, Turbine did F2P right. Prices are reasonable, you get a good amount of content for your money, and if you want some real perks you can even subscribe monthly for additional benefits.

And while we see a rise in quality for these free offerings on the market, there has to be money made somewhere, right? And that’s where the problems set in, as we’ve seen this week with Allods PR struggles. What’s strange about Allods is that it’s such a quality game players have been stating left and right that they’d gladly offer up a subscription to enjoy it. And then the initial “Open Beta” prices for the gPotato store were released and all hell broke loose. Fans started doing the math and finding that with their gaming habits they’d wind up spending over a hundred dollars a month to enjoy the raiding and other features of Allods. Something’s most definitely afoot, and the company is clearly reading feedback to hopefully readjust their pricing to something more palatable.

It’s obvious from the buzz around the internet that people are enjoying the game, and that they want to pay something for it, but they’d also like to afford food and shelter (though maybe not healthcare as it’s become far too costly anyway). As the F2P model rises in the West, the real trick for developers and publishers is to find that sweet spot of what the player sees as a good deal, and what actually means sustainable and profitable to the company.

It’s fantastic that the quality of free games has gotten to the point where I can think of Allods and Runes of Magic right alongside some of the industry’s heavy-hitters. After years of subpar imports, I never thought I’d see the day. But I’ll just as soon go back to games that allow me unlimited access for a low monthly fee if you’re going to make me apply for a second mortgage to enjoy my “free” game.
 

Upcoming Coverage here at MMORPG

Posted by garrett Tuesday February 23 2010 at 10:28AM
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Jon Wood is traveling alone in two weeks to a place called GDC. If you have not heard of GDC it stands for Game Developers Conference and it takes place in San Fran every March.

The show is a fun place where game developers get together to argue, discuss, sign contracts, and show off their latest developments to the media.

What is great about Jon going is that he will see all kinds of stuff and we will try our best to get everything onto the site for you to see as well.

It is my opinion that when we are at a show, you are at the show. We always try our hardest to give you guys the best coverage we can. Sadly Jon is by himself. I really should be there.

Jon can handle anything, he is a hardened veteran of many MMO wars. He hosted the MMO panel at GDC 3 years ago when Jack Emmert attacked everyone on stage with his rants about microtransactions. Jon has seen it all and done it all so don't worry our coverage is in good hands.

So what will we be seeing at GDC this year. Well after an incredibly quiet conference last year which had entire studios looking for work instead of single developers, it appears that gams have bounced back a bit much like the economy.

We booked the first availabel appointment with Star Wars: The Old Republic and will see them bright and early on Wednesday morning. The Secret World and Age of Conan are also on the menu as Jon meets up with the Viking of Norway to check out the latest from Funcom. If those vikings weren't enough the Icelandic powerhouse of CCP will also be showing us the latest on EVE. Mytheon, Dragon Age, and many other games round out our visit to GDC this year.

So March will kick off with a bang and Jon will be battling his way through crowds of game designers to get you the top stories. If that is not enough...PAX East ends out the month :)

PAX East is up in Boston. If you don't have tickets hurry, they are almost sold out. If you do great we'll see you at the show! We have some surprises for folks who will be there. If you cannot make it to the snow covered North East in March, fear not, we will do our best to bring everything onto the site right here at MMORPG.com.

For now, be brave Jon. The reinforcements come in for PAX...and the future...E3...we will be in full force!

Why RPG Isn't a Rigid Term

Posted by Stradden Friday February 19 2010 at 11:47AM
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Hello again all. Is it Friday already?

So, last week I went on a little tirade about why we weren’t going to de-list Star Trek Online. I talked about the first M in MMORPG, and I guess I made the mistake of offering to give my similar rant on the RPG part of the acronym this week. Little did I expect a bunch of you to call me out on it this week… You know who you are *shakes fist*.

So, we all know what the acronym RPG is supposed to stand for: Role Playing Game. Those three little words have caused me more personal grief than many of you might find reasonable, and there’s a good reason for that… It’s because no one can really seem to agree on what exactly it means.

There are some who believe that (for an MMO) it means getting into character and staying in character throughout your gaming experience. There should be tools provided by the developers for this purpose. Anything that hints at a linear experience isn’t an RPG.

Then, there are those who believe that RPG should be a rigid adherence to the games that have always fallen into that category: from Dragon Warrior to Baldur’s Gate. RPG is a gaming category definition that must be rigidly adhered to. It should be third person, use a map and an action bar. I should talk to NPCs and get quests.

Let’s not forget the folks that fall into the category of: If you play a character of any kind in the game, you’re playing a role so it’s a role playing game. These folks are fewer and further between because this argument breaks down most easily when you consider the fact that almost every game available on the market today would be an RPG under this definition. If you look like an FPS, don’t call yourself and MMORPG.

So, where do I personally come down on this topic? After much soul searching and thought, I’d decided that I’m going to sit firmly on the fence and say that everyone is a little bit right.

I consider RPG to be a loose term that shouldn’t be rigidly defined. I believe that, over time, that term has evolved to encompass a lot of different perspectives. As an avid pen and paper DnD player, I see the value in getting in to character. As an old school RPG fan, I can see the validity in wanting to see more games with the RPG moniker sticking to the old formula, and I see the point to be made in the argument that it’s really just about immersing yourself in a character experience.

The thing is, the term has evolved so much and means so many things to so many different people, that one single set of rules can’t really govern it. So, the way I see it, it really comes down to something that’s going to tick off the people who want a firm definition so that they can tell me how stupid I am for listing game X or game Y: it’s about the spirit of an RPG. Things like: does your character progress? Do they change, Do they follow a story? Is the game world persistent? Is your character?
Answers to these questions and more help me to decide if a game should be listed at MMORPG.com. Like it or not, our little genre is growing up and we have to be willing to accept it in its many different shapes and sizes… Even if we don’t necessarily like the results.
 

Community Spotlight: Would You Play a Fully PvE MMOG?

Posted by MikeB Thursday February 18 2010 at 3:37PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “Would you play a 100% PVE MMO, No PVP at all?” by user Aguitha. In the original post, Aguitha wonders how viable a fully PvE MMOG would be, and polls the community on whether or not they would play a fully PvE MMOG with no PvP offering whatsoever:

“And please give the reasons for your answers. Personally PVP has never been my cup of tea. It's not that i never tried, i just dont feel any sense of accomplishement fighting others peoples for what really ? Bragging rights ? There is already TONS of pvp game out there, mostly shooters, why does every MMO that comes out MUST have some sort of PVP in it ? Do you think we could have a succesful MMO without the PVP aspect ?”

Shamarou says he would definitely play a fully PvE MMOG, adding that while PvP does encourage some positive behavior, it brings out lots of negative behavior as well:

“For sure i would play PvE only. I don't neccessarily like the attitude that is getting round that pvp is be all and end all of an mmo. While it does encourage interaction of players which is great. It also encourages such things as griefing. The problem i see with some of the games today is that they try to do both and dont really succeed at either. If a game came out that was purely PvE but you need the help of others to complete certain tasks such as healing or even trading it would be better than trying to do both and failing at both. Also the probs with pure PvE is the storyline that runs through a game, they would need to get that right to keep interest as well as reasons for going to raid dungeon X.”

Talthanys presents a very principled stance against fully PvE MMOGs:

“No, I wouldn't.

I was, at first, a very PvE person. My first MMORPG was UO, and I shied from PvP and embraced the PvE. As a roleplayer, I mistakenly believed PvP and RP could not exist together. The formation of Trammel seemed to bear this out, but I was wrong. RP is drama, it is conflict, it is overcoming obstacles. So, I've come to believe that you cannot have true, meaningful RP without the possibility to PvP. Especially in mideval settings/games where very often might indeed make right. Essentially, the two playstyles are married as ideals, though we can all admit that there is no existing ideal.

But, RP philosophies aside, not having PvP in any form (open or instanced, FFA or restricted) seems artifical to me. A little bit of the world dies without competition on that level, without that style of freedom and choice and opportunity. I like pitting my ability against another thinking, breathing person as much as I love hoisting a tankard of ale with clanmates in a RP tavern.

Yes, PvP is a playstyle that attracts a certain type of crowd that are there to do nothing other than grief.

They aren't RPing villains or murderers, not really. They are simply there to grief. But the wonderful part is, it attracts other types as well. Honorable and empathic people (at least in-game). Having a game that is completely PvE denies potential nobility among the refuse, it buries that diamond in the rough, and stifles the world in which the game is set. To some, these pros do not outweigh the cons.

To me, they do.”

Greenie offers some insight on the pitfalls of a fully PvE MMO, at least from the perspective of what MMO PvE resembles today:

“I would not enjoy an MMO that was pve only. At least I don't think I would. PvE just does not bring a huge rush of excitement, although for it's social aspects I do love it. After a while though, it becomes very easy to go into "farm" mode.

When it comes to pve and playing with friends, I think I'll have more fun on a console game with a storyline going and me and a friend trying to work our way through the game, similar to when the Playstation first came out and Resident Evil 1 was released.

When it comes to an MMO I want pvp that feels like I am affecting the environment/world if even only temporarily. My love for DaoC's RvR in it's glory days has not been surpassed yet. Currently I am playing EvE but have not ventured into low sec and started pvp'n yet. When I find a good corp then I'll attempt that avenue. Very much looking forward to Earthrise though.

Basically, without pvp I just don't feel like a game can be entertaining long enough that I can justify paying for it. The storyline/movie footage from a console game is much more entertaining and loot grinds do not interest me.”

Greenie’s comments remind me of the many players who figure out WoW’s content and then put it “on farm.” It eventually simply becomes a matter of going through the motions. Does this discount PvE from being able to stand on its own? No. But I would agree that there would definitely need to be some innovations made to make it interesting and compelling longterm if it were the only thing players could participate in. I don’t think the raid to gear, gear to raid cycle would quite cut it.

Of course, how could we have this discussion without mention of FFXI? Bloodaxes showers Square Enix’s MMOG with praises for its PvE offerings:

“Yes I would because I love games were I don't have to see whinings and kids spaming in chats how hardcore or l33t are they.

FFXI was a great example of a pve mmo with a rich storyline were some of the endgame was getting to know some of the lore of the game with cutscenes it was great imo but I know some wouldn't like them because you don't get fat loots..

Hopefully FFXIV will be a better game then XI. “

FFXI does certainly stand out as an MMOG that has pretty much stood on its own with really only PvE on offer, and given the game’s success, I would say many players would definitely play a fully PvE MMOG. In fact, Square Enix is counting on it! With Final Fantasy XIV set to release this year, the developers at Square have not been shy to admit that like FFXI, FFXIV will focus almost if not completely entirely on PvE. So if you fall into this crowd, keep your ears perked for developments on FFXIV!

Personally, I’m not sure I could play a fully PvE MMOG, as I feel I need a purpose for all my progression whether it be skills or gear etc. That purpose, at least for me, is often using it to triumph against other players, so I admit I am a bit of a PvP junkie. I won’t completely dismiss the possibility, however, as I intend to check out Final Fantasy XIV as well.

Could you see yourself playing a fully PvE MMOG? Let us know in the comments below!

Would you pay for a serial MMO?

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday February 16 2010 at 5:59PM
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I’m sitting at my day job today, running reports on different billing operations, tracking data for revenue collections, and in general making sure that our staff has work to do and that money is coming into our hospital. So naturally I’m watching episodes of Frasier, Scrubs, and The Simpsons on my iPod. And as I drown my boredom in the warm comforting glow of 20-minute solvable problems and corny sentiment, I can’t help but still drift even further off to a hobby I’d rather be partaking in back at home: gaming.

More specifically I’ve got an itch to dive into one of a half-dozen worlds that are sitting on my PC. I could go for a little adventuring in Champions, dive into the Allods Online beta, see what my guild’s up to in WoW, slice up some Gobbos in WAR, do some crafting in A Tale in the Desert, or even get all nautical in Pirates of the Burning Sea.

But I know me. I know I’d sit down and feel that where most of my characters are in each game would mean that I have to devote an hour or more to each title to accomplish much of anything. Sure I could run a quest in a few minutes in just about any of the abovementioned titles, but that would move my character’s progress bar all of a sliver. Plus most of these games’ subscriptions have lapsed, and I’d have to re-sub with the knowledge that one night might be all I get to play each week. I’ve got a fiancée, two dogs, two jobs, packing to do for a move to a new house… and suddenly, I feel grateful that I’m stuck at work where I can run some reports while watching sitcoms. It’s a good day.

And while watching Frasier help his father solve a crime that’s plagued his memory for years in a comical fashion, I start to wonder. Star Trek Online recently released with what they call “Episodes” serving as the main story-driven content. Each of these episodes I believe is intended to play out in about an hour’s time, just like the show used to. What if more online worlds delved into a similar line of thought, and catered directly to that?

Imagine a game that’s one part Sam & Max, and one part World of Warcraft, where the content was doled out in small doses from week to week and you only had to pay for each episode, or subscribe for the entire “season” as it were. You could play and replay any previously purchased content, but there would be no need to pay additional funds or a monthly subscription unless you wanted to buy into the newly released episodes.

Content would of course need to be scalable for parties of different sizes and level ranges, and I assume the world itself would be built on a smaller scale like Global Agenda as opposed to the wide-open reaches of Azeroth. And then there’s the problem of developing content at such a brisk pace as to satisfy a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. You’d better have some pretty hefty tools at your disposal to undertake such an endeavor. Still, despite how unfeasible such a game might be, I can’t help but want to see it happen one day.

It could be the perfect secondary MMO, or primary game for those like me who only get an hour here or there at most times during the workweek. I’d gladly pay a few bucks a week, or buy different episodes at my leisure which I could play and replay as much or as little as I’d like. The game’s marketplace for such a thing could have an iTunes like interface where players could rate their favorites, make playlists of certain bits of content, and share their opinions with the community. Storylines could carry out over several episodes, or be one-shot affairs, or even stretch over the course of an entire season.

But would you pay for something like that? Would a whole new subscription model attached to a whole different kind of game that’s based entirely on episodic content interest you? What would you need to see in place to make it enticing? How much would the episodes and seasons have to cost? I mean, who knows how progression and item systems would work, but I would assume they could remain largely similar to what we see in most games now. The main thing that would differentiate the game would be its way of content delivery.

And if you think I’m just a little insane or demented for even bringing up such a silly notion… then I’ll just go back to being blissfully unaware of my surroundings as I watch JD and Turk try to convince the patrons of Sacred Heart that they’re not gay.
 

Burnout...an MMO Tale

Posted by garrett Monday February 15 2010 at 8:01PM
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OK I have officially reached burnout on MMOs.

So I thought to retrace my steps a little and find out where things got to this point.

So looking back on 2007 I was playing World of Warcraft full speed. By that time I had been working here at MMORPG for nearly two years as a writer and news editor. There were two monster games on the menu. Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, both of these games were going to challenge the elephant for rights to rule the jungle.

Keep in mind something very important, I am a HUGE Conan fan (so big we'll be doing interviews in the coming months about the new Conan movie). I also have played Warhammer Fantasy, 40K and Fantasy Role Play from the time I was about 13 years old (before that it was only D&D).

In 2008 I quickly left WoW to join up with Conan in the world of Hyboria. AoC carried me through the summer and Warcraft became an after-thought. In a convention heavy 2008 I saw everything. NYCC was great, but more importantly Leipzig was the place to see Warhammer Online. The trailer was insane, the hype was high, and I had spent many hours writing and covering the game.

In September with the launch of W.A.R. I jumped in full speed, leaving Hyboria behind to play my all time favorite race Orcs! However, with Warhammer I only had one option as an Orc and was unhappy with the choice. So I played a Gobbo Shaman. I pushed and pushed and got to level 30.

Then, I was at the Lich King Launch in NYC and happen to head home that night with a copy of WotLK (thanks Joe). After chatting with the WoW guys they kept saying to give the new expansion a try. So I did, I started a Death Knight. The single best MMO starting experience I have ever had was the opening zone of the Death Knight class. Sure it was pure evil, but it was fun...a lot of fun. Isn't that the point of games, to be fun?

Lich King hooked me in and bam a year of WoW has followed. I took stints into DDO again but still went back to WoW. Over the last few months I was part of a hardcore raid guild that grew very quickly and did really well in terms of the new patches. However, the demands of raiding got to be a lot with work and the family so I slowed down.

This slow down though has led to a dead stop. Now I find it hard to even log into WoW or any other game due to shear burn out. Was it too much to keep up with WoW raids? Was it the short falls of AoC or W.A.R. that started to get to me? 

None of the above, I think I have found out the answer. It is the daunting idea that if I log into an MMO I have to work to get somewhere. Even if it is a ten minute instance run in WoW, there is still this idea that you have to progress...progress...progress....

It rings in my ears like a bell of doom. Would it be revolutionary to ask MMOs to tone down the progression, and add more fun short term elements to games? Looking back on DAOC, one of my all time favorite MMOs, I remember logging into the end game at level 50 to go out and hunt around the frontiers for a while and get in some fights. If no one was on, I'd log out and jump back in later on, but the feeling of progression or work was not there. Sure there were Realms Ranks and all that, but it was fun and there was no obligation.

I think the entire concept of progression in MMOs needs to be re-thought, re-defined, and re-worked so that the games we play do not feel like part time jobs.

Just one MMO player's opinion.

Why We Won't De-List STO

Posted by Stradden Friday February 12 2010 at 1:45PM
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Ok, I guess it’s time to pull out this old chestnut again. Have you ever noticed that every single time a new game launches on this site, one of our staff members has to come out and write some kind of post or article defending the way that we categorize MMOs, or how to determine if something is indeed an MMORPG?

Well, it’s that time of year again and I suppose this time around the duty falls to me, so I’m going to get into it… Yet again.

First of all, no, we will not be de-listing Star Trek Online because a group of readers feel that it isn’t an MMORPG, and so shouldn’t be listed here on the site. We heard this same argument about Age of Conan when it launched due to its extreme use of instancing. We didn’t de-list Conan, and we’re not de-listing Star Trek.

Yes, I am aware that in his recent column, our own Scott Jennings said the following: “Guild Wars doesn’t call itself an MMO. It may be that Star Trek Online shouldn’t, either.” And I think that he has a point. Star Trek Online (and Age of Conan for that matter) does indeed have far more in common with Guild Wars than, say, EVE Online.

So, why do we list it here at MMORPG.com? Why do we list a number of games that maybe don’t quite fit the exact and rigid definition brought on by what the acronym stands for: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game?

We don’t do that because it isn’t a hard and fast, rigid definition that we’re looking for. The games that we cover are constantly evolving and developers are always trying new approaches and new ways of doing things. We don’t want this site to impose restrictions and instead shoot for rules that embrace the spirit of what an MMORPG is rather than trying to directly define it.

Still, I know some of you would like a better explanation than that, so here goes:

Generally speaking, there are two stumbling points that we come across in the name of our genre, and our site. The first, is Massively and the second is Role Playing. We’re going to discuss the massive part of things today and if people want to hear my rant on the role playing aspect, that can be a topic for next week.

The word Massively or Massive would seem to mean different things to different people. To some, it means nothing less than a world where every single player can interact with every single other player any time and any place. To others, it means a large shared space world that houses thousands upon thousands of players, even if they can’t always interact with one another.

So how do we, at MMORPG.com, actually make our decision? We’ve placed the requirement on “500 congruent users on a single server.” We left it there and didn’t include a requirement about the number of players who might happen to accidentally run into each other all in the same place at the same time because that is a stylistic choice left up to the developers. We just want to know if that massive number of players can play together on the same server or not. This discounts games like, for example, Battlefield 2142 because even though the game supports large scale battles, it does so on different individual servers (that’s to say nothing of the fact that we discount non-graphical lobbies, the lack of any over-arcing story tying to all together, etc. etc. etc.).

Star Trek Online and Age of Conan both offer servers that carry more than 500 congruent users and even though the games compartmentalize their players into smaller instances that allow more players to be in a single area at a time without causing the unnecessary headaches associated with too many characters being on the same screen in an MMO. Players can still communicate with others outside of their instance and can move between instances freely.

So, are they Massive on the scale that some people would like? No, they’re not. They don’t pretend to be, but neither are they the same as a multiple small server game like Battlefield. They are still in tune with what, at heart, makes an MMO an MMO by today’s standards and so will stay.

Will that explanation make people happy? No, probably not, but in the end we want to be a site that grows and evolves along with the genre that it represents and that includes being open to new ideas.

With all of that said, I fully respect and endorse each and every player’s right to not like these games, or any of the games on our list. Contrary to the beliefs of some, a listing on MMORPG.com isn’t an endorsement of the product, merely a recognition that the title fits within an intentionally broad definition laid out for listing. So, hate Star Trek Online if you want, but telling us to remove it from the site just isn’t going to happen.

Community Spotlight: Fifteen Bucks

Posted by MikeB Thursday February 11 2010 at 4:44PM
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This weeks Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “The 15 bucks…” by Pelu. In the thread, Pelu takes a look at the history of the $15/month model that is now an industry standard in the MMOG genre, and why we shouldn’t be complaining as much as we sometimes do about it:

“Sup all.. I was reading some thread about the bussiness model of Cryptic... and the only thing i notice was tons of complains and other fans praising the cryptic model of sub and cash shop...
There is a bunch of people who find it unpleasant to pay for stuff in games, but let me tell you something if u are the one that start making faces when someone say: U need to pay for this...
When u get Free Servers, Development Teams, Net Bandwidth, and so on, for FREE!!!!! then ask for that stuff for free, or little cost...

There is a rumor around that some mmos, are going to sell the content update patches..... but here is where my 33mhz brains gets in...
Ultima online = almost 15 bucks (13) ----- 1997
Lineage = 15 bucks ----- 1998
Everquest = 15 bucks (14.99) ----- 1999
Anarchy Online = bucks ----- 2001
Galaxies = 15 bucks ----- 2003
WoW = 15 bucks ----- 2004
War = 15 bucks ----- 2008
AION = 15 bucks ----- 2009
STO = 15 bucks ----- 2010

there is more mmos around, but i can remember at least 13 years of mmos... and the price of subscription have been 15 dollars for years!!!!...

Now go and check the inflation rate since 1997... I dont think it have been stuck...
My point is... with all the inflation and raising costs, the 15 bucks per month is falling short.. way short.. one day there is going to be one developer that will charge a 20 bucks or 25 bucks (24.99) sub per month, and everyone else will follow... but since raising the sub cost will cause too much scandal, they are adding cash shops...

Lets face it people, 15 bucks per month is not enough for what u do with the game services... bandwidth usage, database, and so on...”

Community Spotlight alumnus Goronian responds to Pelu with his own thoughts on the matter:

“Actually, for the longest time, people have been complaining, that 15 bucks/months is overdoing it and that the price needs to be lowered. They've stopped just recently, in the face of inflation. Maybe it's because the true value has caught up with it only recently, and the pricing was "with a reserve"?
Or maybe it's because devs expect much higher numbers, which would cover the expenses.
And in reality, bandwidth and server maintenance doesn't cost THAT much.”

Malcanis adds a short but sweet response:

“MMOs are a hilariously cheap hobby.”

I have to totally agree with this. I apologize, I know we are in a recession, I know times are tough, but even before the recession I always found the whole $15/month bit being too much a bit ludicrous. There are plenty other hobbies out there that require way much more of an investment. Warhammer table top anyone? Photography? I can spend $50+ easy just going out to dinner and a movie. 15 bucks for a whole months worth of playtime isn’t a big deal to me.

However, my absolute favorite response in the thread would have to go to another Community Spotlight alumnus, Ihmotepp, who likes to use the cost of Big Macs to equate how much $15 is in other countries:

“You can measure in Big Macs.

http://www.oanda.com/currency/big-mac-index

A Big Mac in the US cost 3.57.

That means an MMORPG in the US costs 4.2 Big Macs per month.

How many Big Macs per month does an MMORPG cost in your country? If ti's roughly 4.2 Big MAcs it's the same. “

So, basically, if we cut down to 4.2 Big Macs a month, we should be able to afford our MMOG hobby, at least here in the US!

Magnum2103 takes some issue with Pelu’s research numbers, and offers his own take on the situation:

“OP you should do a bit more research before posting. Everquest was not $15 in 1999. I believe it was $10. It was raised a few years later and a few years after that had it's price raised once again to the current norm of $15.

Same with UO. I'm pretty sure it started out at or around $10 a month and had it's price raised eventually.

Still, it's unusual that after I'm guessing closer to 8-9 years than the OP's 15+ year estimate that we haven't seen an increase in MMO's pricing. I think a lot of this is due to the competition never nearing the success of WoW (and they wouldn't want to raise their price higher than the competition's, since players aren't likely to pay more when their primary competitor offers it for less) and WoW making comfortable profit that they wouldn't risk raising the price of their monthly fee.

One other thing of note is the actual retail price of video games has increased by about $10 over the last few years. I believe it mostly was a push by EA and it effects console games more than PC. The average price of video games use to be about $40-50 for a new triple A game, now it can cost $50-60.

Cryptic is getting a lot of backlash over their lifetime sub and cash shop business model. Most players aren't fooled, and when your top competitor (WoW) is offering $15 a month for a superior (in my opinion) quality game then why pay the same subscription fee and have to purchase items/content from the cash shop on top of that? That's just bad business.

The only way you'll see a change in subscription rates is if Blizzard raises their subscription rate. If they do every other MMO will likely follow suit (unless they want to try to offer a competitive rate). The same happened years ago when Everquest was the top MMO and they raised their subscription rate. “

So what do you think of the state of subscription prices today? Do you think they are too much? Would you take issue with an increase in subscription rates? Let us know in the comments below!

Sex in Games – What’s the Big Deal?

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday February 9 2010 at 5:54PM
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There has been a whole lot of talk lately about sex in video games, spurred on by yet another BioWare release that features a little romantic interaction between consenting adult animated characters. Now it’s been a few years since BioWare first showed us the blue side-boob in the original Mass Effect, and Dragon Age even had homosexual rendezvous available as a possible outcome for players. We’ve seen it before from the developer, we know they like to craft compelling almost movie-like aspects in their games, and yet the internet is abuzz every time they release a new game that allows the player to get all up in the business of an NPC.

Parents get into a tizzy, the ESRB reviews what it can and cannot deem as passable, and people like me are suddenly wondering just what Achievements they can add to their gamerscore if they manage to get down with all possible participants. The wheel does turn. I have to wonder how big of a deal nudity and sex was when they were first introduced to movies intended for the general viewing public. Then I remember that a certain Harrison Ford film where the faces melt off of Nazis was rated PG. The prequel was later given the very first PG-13 rating, due to Mola Ram’s rather unconventional method of open-heart surgery.

I would say that if people were too overly offended at the idea of sex in story-driven videogames, that we should just devise a new rating to stamp on them and let parents know that a certain game is meant for older audiences. Oh… that’s right, we already have that. Part of the ESRB rating system since 1994, both M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only) cover the bases of games whose content is seriously intended for more mature players. And yet when games under said ratings release, and parents blindly buy whatever title they’re asked of by their children, is it right for them to become so vehement in their attack of the publishers, developers, and even the ESRB?

Maybe it’s an American thing. When my mom bought my family our first decent PC she bought Doom along with it for us kids. She didn’t care about the ridiculous amount of violence in the game, the way the BFG melted enemies into goopy piles of anatomy, or the fact that my brother and I would squeal with glee at the gory mayhem. And yet when she caught us playing a friend’s copy of the soft-core “Sextris” (take a guess at what that entailed) we were grounded for weeks. If we take a look over at Europe or Australia, often games with gratuitous violence are banned outright, while the general feelings towards sexuality are quite a bit more lax.

Mass Effect 2 doesn’t show anything graphic or out of line with what one might see on an episode of primetime broadcast television and yet I don’t read too much these days about people protesting the passion-level of TV’s dramas. Though I do remember a big deal being made about Dennis Franz’s naked butt being flaunted on NYPD Blue several years back. But come on… no one wanted to see that.

I guess what I’m getting at is what’s the big deal when it comes to sex in videogames? The ratings system is there for those that actually pay attention to it. In the case of BioWare’s recently released romantic segments there’s nothing exactly pornographic about the material. Does anyone care anymore when a movie comes out with similar situations taking place? But maybe that’s the key… movies are “entertainment” and games are still seen as merely “toys”.
 

Warhammer 40K Good News

Posted by garrett Tuesday February 9 2010 at 8:16AM
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So a few weeks back I wrote about the 40K MMO and how hopeful I was. Now it seems that THQ will be showing the game at E3 this year.

We got in touch with THQ and are very excited to check out the game at the show. Still that is a long way off. So what do we do until then? 

Well, I continue painting my Khorne minis and have mmy zerker and terminator squads done. Now its time for regular Chaos marines, then on to the big stuff. Rhinos, a defiler, yes even a land raider. Sorry but the Terminators and Lord have to get across the board somehow.

What I find in my army building phase is how truly rich the 40K universe can be. A 40K MMO that is limited by two factions would be a huge let down. This takes me back to the Warhammer Fantasy MMO by Mythic. While there were definitely great parts to the game, some of the lore decisions were really a bummer. Having only one chaos god in the game was the biggest let down. Tzeentch is cool and all, but my favorites have always been Nurgle and Khorne, and I had a game where I could only see their deamons wandering around, I could never serve them. Frustrating to say the least.

The other big issue with the Fantasy game was only having two factions. The game had good character options for each of the races, but only fighting against one side all the time got old quickly. From the company that gave us DAOC, you would think a multiple faction system would be a given, sadly it was not.

I stil play W.A.R. because I love my orc choppa. However, these two major points in lore are things that I felt took away from the full Warhammer experience. 40k has the opportunity to change this idea by adding multiple factions with multiple agendas. Perhaps certain battle grounds or instance fights you can have different allies, but then back in the real larger game you are bitter enemies.

Just some food for thought, I for one am looking very forward to E3 now. Rest assured we'll do our best to give you all the coverage and interviews on the game that we can.

For now it is back to painting.

The Endgame Myth

Posted by Stradden Friday February 5 2010 at 12:33PM
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There is a disconnect between some people who play MMORPGs and the people who develop them. Actually, there are a lot of disconnects in that area, but this is the one I’ve decided to focus on for today.

It seems that there are a large number of players out there who believe that end-game is where the real game begins in terms of MMORPGs. As a result, they rush as quickly as possible toward whatever the level cap of the game happens to be, and then are inevitably disappointed once they get there. Today, I actually read a post from someone who implied that the rest of the game is there simply as a tutorial for the superawesomefuntimeohmygodIneedanewpairofpants that is and must be the endgame.

In every single recent MMORPG launch, I’ve read about players who feel that the game has let them down because two days after launch, they’ve hit the level cap and find that a) it’s not populated and B) that the developers haven’t really put much there for them to do. I mean, if the “real game” starts at level cap, then why isn’t there anything to do?

The answer to that question is that the developers don’t intend for the game to start at endgame. They don’t spend millions and millions of dollars on that part of the game right out of the gate because to them, and to the vast majority of people who don’t post on forums, the whole part from level one to the cap IS the game, endgame is about retention, sure, and every MMO needs to have something for players to do at cap, otherwise they’re going to get bored and leave.

That’s where the disconnect happens, I think. Developers, rightly or wrongly, believe that they’ve (theoretically) put all of the time and effort into constructing a certain number of levels into their game. They’ve created content, interweaving stories, NPCs, points of interest and other aspects of the game and so that should probably entertain folks at least until the free month that comes with the damned game is over.

Time and energy won’t (and probably shouldn’t) be spent on endgame until such time as a significant portion of the player base is actually there. Put another way: They’re not going to spend a whole bunch of time and cash to make sure that a portion of the game is juicy and robust for the very small number of people who rush to get there. They’re going to divert energy and resources where the most people are going to get the most benefit out of them.

Why is WoW’s endgame so robust? Because the game is old enough that a very large percentage of their player base is at cap. Why don’t new MMOs launch with 100% end game content intact? Because most people are still playing “the game.”

Here’s my rule of thumb: When you buy a subscription based MMO, your box purchase is going toward the development of the game from tutorial to cap. In essence, if this was a single player game, once you hit cap you’ve “beaten it.” Your subscription dollars are what goes toward continued and robust endgame content, so don’t expect a lot of time to be spent on endgame before everyone’s paid their first subscription fee.

But that’s just my opinion. I’m more of a “take your time and enjoy the content” kind of gamer myself.

Community Spotlight: The Future of MMOGs

Posted by MikeB Thursday February 4 2010 at 4:55PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thought-provoking thread, “MMORPG’s of the Future. 2030,” by user ImmortalBird. In the thread, ImmortalBird wonders what MMOG’s will be like in the future, specifically, as far out as 2030:

“What kind of major changes do you think we will see?
I think gaming will become even more popular and thus more players for MMORPG's as the years go by and people get wealthier and wealthier and end up having more leisure time with nothing to do.

I think there will be new concepts for how an MMORPG is designed and how it's gameplay is handled, something quite drastically different than the basis of Everquest and games like World of Warcrafts gameplay. Also the action-element based MMORPG's of recent will take some unusual changes too I think.

Me personally, I'll keep a little bit of an eye out on how things are going, but I won't try out any games unless something just miraculousy captures me like how I felt about games when I was a young boy. Which are slim chances heh.”

ImmortalBird’s topic sparked some interesting responses, with generally something for everyone. The thread is replete with conspiracy theories involving the end of the world in 2012 (thus making MMOG’s in 2030 impossible, duh!), plain ol’ funny responses, and of course a few somewhat serious ones.

Let’s start with a conspiracy theory by Lansid. We won’t have any MMOG’s in 2030, we’ll all be dead come December 21st, 2012:

“Trick question.There will be no MMORPG's in 2030. Dec. 21st, 2012 we will all be dead.
However in the unlikely event that we all live... I highly doubt the term MMORPG will be used 20 years from now, either by political correctness of evolution of the genre.

10 years ago, the majority of MMO pioneer people were playing Everquest, Asheron's Call, Ultima Online, or Meridian 59... on their 56k modems, PII cores, 256 Megs of ram and 16 Meg vid cards.

10 years ago, the first Silent HIll on the Playstation came out, Nsync, Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin and Britney Spears ruled the airwaves... The Force was revealed as a parasitic infection in The Phantom Menace, the term "Bullet-Time" was coined from the Matrix, and there was a movie about a witch with three kids running around in the forest and a chicks runny nose that went on to be the most successful indie movie to date.

That's just TEN years ago... and you're projecting TWENTY?

What exists now will be a laughable shadow of what "once was" idealism followed by teens saying "Oh my god, why the hell did you SIT at your computer for hours, days, weeks, years... on end? Talk about archaic!"

Mark my words and archive them.”

In all seriousness, Lansid does still make a good point. If we do manage to survive 2012, we’ll be mocked by the youngins come 2030 for ever sitting in our computer chairs and playing these games the way we do, perhaps implying that virtual reality or a holodeck style MMOG would be possible by then.

How about another conspiracy theory? This time let’s go with the tried and true monolithic Microsoft concept. NinjaNerf explains how Microsoft will rule the MMOG world:

“Before 2030 Microsoft will buy up the majority of the social networks (facebook, twitter and such) and develop them into a giant social mmo network similiar to Second Life but only 100x bigger.
Indie mmorpg developers will be bought into the Microsoft Online Social Network. These will include a list of popular indie games (e.g runescape) and some defunct games by then (e.g. WAR and AoC), and of course Microsoft will also buy Club Penguins from Disney for an outregeous price to promote their kiddy products.

By 2030, we will have major breakthrough in space technologies or may even discover lifeforms from outerspace. So a lot of mmorpg will be sci-fi instead of fantasy.

Since microsoft will turn mmorpg into a social/marketing tool, in game visual advertisement system will be in desire so dying mmo such as Anarchy may still squeeze out a few bucks from microsoft.

We will also see gambling and porn mmorpg.

And of course, Bill Gates will be the president of the United States.”

There are some positives to NinjaNerf’s future. For example, since we’ll apparently discover lifeforms from outer space, most people will tire of fantasy MMOG’s, and we’ll mostly see sci-fi one’s instead. Here’s hoping!

Disownation is ahead of all of us. He knows what the future is, because, well, he’s developing it:

“In 2030, the term MMO will be a thing of the past.

It will be replaced by VRSRPG (Virtual Reality Simulation Role Playing Game). I know this, because I am developing it.”

Vaske1984 offers a brief description of MMOG’s in the future:

“1.Sit in the chair.
2.Plug-in device in your brain (matrix thing)
3.And your online :D”

I’m surprised we got more conspiracy theories and humorous responses than a huge discussion debating the possibility of The Matrix like virtual reality.

I obviously don’t know what the future holds, but having seen the movie the 13th Floor, I would hope that some day that is essentially what we end up with. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it is similar to The Matrix, but it fits this discussion better than the Matrix would, as the worlds are created entirely for the purposes of entertainment. Users can, like the Matrix jack into these worlds and assume an identity, with all the worlds living beings essentially being programs or AI.

I won’t spoil the movie for any of you out there looking to check it out, but there is a pretty mind bending twist in there, and I highly recommend it!

With that said, what do you think the far away future holds for MMOGs? Do you believe in a more practical future where the games evolve from where we are currently at? Or do you subscribe to the theory that things will be radically different, and virtual reality, a’la the Matrix, is a very real possibility?

Let us know in the comments below!

Facebook Gaming - The Gateway Drug?

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday February 2 2010 at 3:11PM
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As passionate gamers, I know we love to bash the fad that is Facebook gaming. Farmville, Mafia Wars, and all of Zynga's other offerings to most gamers are nothing more than shallow time-wasters for folks addicted to the e-stalking tool that is Mark Zuckerberg's college project. I would even be inclined to agree, except I'm also brave enough to admit that I'm a level 27 farmer with a huge plot of land in Farmville, thanks to the urgings of my fiancée to hop on the tractor. I would say “wield the hoe”, but then people might think I'm talking about her and I'd like to keep the woman as my future bride.

But what if these pointless little browser-based doodads are more than annoyances filling up your Facebook newsfeed? What if instead they are acting as the perfect gateway drug for future gamers? My fiancée, let’s call her Megoski in order to find out if she reads this (you’ll be able to tell by the welts on my torso tomorrow) was talking to a regular client about Facebook, when the topic of Farmville came up. The customer in question was espousing the virtues of tilling virtual soil while my Megoski simply shrugged and said, “Come on, really?” A born gamer, she is not.

And yet, her client’s constant stream of laudation for Farmville hit a curious nerve in Megoski. One night during her own stalking rituals on the Book of Face, I watched as she cautiously clicked on one of her client’s Farmville posts… the fall into madness had begun. Next thing I knew, upon her arrival home each day there was no more hanging out on the couch to talk about her day. Not right away, anyway.

Rather, when the front door opens these days, I watch as she says hello to the dogs, pecks me on the cheek and runs upstairs to her laptop to harvest about 200 bunches of grapes in order to save enough coins to upgrade her farm to plantation size. This from a woman who calls me a nerd (lovingly) for having a map of Mordor over my PC… okay, so maybe I am a nerd, but at least now I’m not alone.

I am beginning to see Facebook games not as some hindrance on the advancement of the industry, but instead as a wonderful new phenomenon that is going to bring more people into the wonderful world of online gaming. A few weeks back Megoski asked to make her own Xbox Live avatar. I took this opportunity to show her the demo for A Kingdom of Keflings, figuring she’d at the very least get a kick out of seeing her creation stomp around on screen and picking up villagers. Then it was two hours later, and I was grabbing my credit card to buy enough Microsoft Points to purchase the full game.

Does it matter that Facebook games are so simplistic, and relatively cheap and shameless in their ploys for money? Not if it helps bridge the gap between a hobby that was previously only my own and make it also my future wife’s. What started with Farmville moved slowly into Fishville, and onto the Xbox 360. I dare not show her what the Sims is all about; I would like to have her attention once in a while.

A former coworker of Megoski’s once nearly convinced her to try out Everquest 2. Had said coworker not turned out to be a dud and get herself fired, I suspect eventually that my betrothed would have caved in to the looming presence of the EQ2 box sitting in my office and asked to see what it was all about. But alas, maybe I’m just a dreamer. For now I’ll be perfectly content to use Farmville in arguments over whether or not I should be playing so much Global Agenda.

So next time you log into your own Facebook account find yourself affronted by a slew of updates concerning lost penguins, golden mystery eggs, or even whacked mobsters just take a deep breath. One day those vesting so much interest in their farms and mafias might wind up being your guildmates, or a competing soldier gunning you down from a nearby bell tower. Or more shockingly, you may wind up like me… intricately arranging your white fencing to keep your livestock in order and make your farm look presentable to the viewing public. That reminds me, I think I have a few mystery gifts to open. I hope they’re not a bunch of worthless white chickens.

 

MMO...The Final Frontier

Posted by garrett Monday February 1 2010 at 3:10PM
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Welcome to launch week everyone.

Global Agenda goes live today! Get in there and start shooting.

and if you have been under an MMO-rock for the past month Star Trek Online goes live tomorrow.

The STO head start is already alive and kicking.

Many developers say that eventually all games will become MMOs. Or at least all games will be online. That future is very close to a reality with consoles and PCs providing the online environments for players to meet up and play together all the time. This brings up my questions about ... the final gaming frontier, what is it? 

Star Trek's holodeck is the ideal example of where gaming could take us in the future. Being that STO launches this week I thought the idea fit the daily news.

So here is my question to all of you...which Futuristic Gaming Set-Up would you rather have? 

1. The Star Trek Holodeck, where situations are around all around you, but you are essentially limited by your own abilities. In other words, no super powers, no spells or magic blasting from your hands, just you in a virtual environment that borders on VERY real. So this is option A...hmmm....what about the blue pill....

2. Jack your brain into a system and lay there on a table. The Matrix gave us that image and movies like AVATAR and Surrogates took it to a new level. So you go home from work...or whatever we'll be doing in 20 years. Lay down on your couch and plug your brain into a network and wooosh. Your brain does all the work. Here you can have super powers, fly, cast spells, but still wake up the next morning as a total vegetable. Yes vegetable, back when they said, TV melts your brain...they had no idea what was coming.

So what will it be? Putting yourself in an alternate reality, or alternating your own reality? This is a tough choice for me. On one hand I would love to see how it would feel to be in a holodeck situation fighting in a simulated battle. How long could I survive in a certain program based on my wits and skills? It might be fun to push yourself in these environments.

On the other hand who would not want to lay down for a "nap" and jump into a world where you can play a bad ass mage and fry people with the blink of your brain. The super powers would be endless. Sadly you would wake up to a very boring reality once you have experienced that situation.

So what do we do? What is the limit? I can say this with some level of certainty, game companies and hardware companies will be trying to sell both of these ideas to us at some point in the distant future.

Until then, I will settle for a normal log in screen.