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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,

WildStar's Adventuring Stream Event

Posted by MikeB Friday February 28 2014 at 5:22PM
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Carbine Studios has done a really great job giving insight into WildStar's various features and classes via their developer live stream events. The latest stream event, which goes live tomorrow, focuses on the game's recently unveiled 'Adventures' feature.

Adventure's are instanced areas of the existing game world with unique branching stories and events that change based on the decisions made by the team going through them. I think one of the best ways to describe them would be SWTOR's Flashpoints on steroids. You go in with a couple of buddies and periodically you make decisions (using a vote based system) that alter the path of the adventure.

Personally, I'm both excited and cynical about WildStar's Adventures. The sort of variety the Adventure system provides makes for some great replay value. From watching videos in the past, it looks like there are a whole lot of branches players can choose. But then I come back to earth and realize this is an MMO.

Unless you're playing with your friends, I imagine most PUGs will have figured out which choices and the order they're selected that lead to fastest and most efficient gains and this is all you'll see players do. In SWTOR, three of your four party members can select to kill the captain, but if you decide to spare him and your roll wins, well, the captain lives and the party has to deal with the consequences. Since Adventures, at least at this time, are a pure majority vote, I feel like once they're fully figured out, everyone going into them is already going to know what choices to make and this will override anyone who wants to try a different path.

I can see how it would get crazy trying to have four people vote on something like 3-5 different choices (SWTOR's Flashpoints only featured decisions between two outcomes), but it might be better to just allow players to vote on what path they want and then let RNG determine which path wins, with weight provided for choices selected by multiple players, but not guaranteed.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

PAX East: The Future of Online Games

Posted by Grakulen Thursday February 27 2014 at 8:36PM
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Earlier today we announced our 5th Annual "Future of Online Games Panel" held at PAX East.

The Panel is scheduled for Saturday, April 12th at 6:00pm EST in the Albatross theater.

This year's panel will be hosted by MMORPG.com's managing editor Bill Murphy and who ever thought we would be returning to topics such as sandbox games or subscription models? How much does Free-to-Play rule the market? What will your game experience be like going into the second half of the decade? All this and more will be answered.

Guests on the Panel will include:

 
I'm more excited for this years panel than any in the past. With the number of truly innovative games a few of these developers are working on we could see a not so subtle shift away from the standard theme parks many of us have grown tired of. Emergent AI? Yes please! Meaningful crafting? Thank you. Player driven economies that actually serve a purpose? More.
 

You can see the past years videos at http://www.mmorpg.com/newsroom.cfm/read/30219/The-Future-of-Online-Games-PAX-East-Panel-.html#ZwgmZw3U5rjB8WoE.99

What are you most looking forward to hearing about from these group of developers? Let me know in the comments below.

Diablo III Patch 2.0.1: The Game Changer

Posted by SBFord Wednesday February 26 2014 at 8:58PM
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The Diablo 3 patch leading up to the release of the Reaper of Souls expansion in March was released in North America yesterday and in the EU today. With the update, Diablo III becomes something completely new and is, for all intents and purposes, a true game changer.

The patch brings so many new features and game-altering experiences to D3 that it's difficult to synthesize them all into a relatively short post but here are the highlights:

  • Loot 2.0: Players may now find less loot but will find better, more class appropriate loot. From the short time I've been in the game since the patch released, all I can tell you is that my level 60 Barbarian is completely re-geared, including a brand new Legendary.
  • Paragon 2.0: All Paragon points can now be distributed account-wide and can be used to enhance Offensive, Defensive, Core and Utility skills
  • Monsters that scale with your level
  • Normal, Hard, Expert, Master and Torment modes
  • Cursed events that come in the form of cursed chests and even the return of Monster Shrines
  • Items as rewards for quest completion in addition to gold and XP
  • A complete reworking of all character skills and abilities. It's going to take players time to figure out better and more powerful combinations and break away from the monotony of "cookie cutter" builds
  • New and powerful aura effects around elite monsters that don't just hurt, they kill...and fast
  • The ability to resurrect on your body, at the last checkpoint or in town after dying
  • Guilds and Communities
This is only a partial list too. As the next few days go by, exploring this patch will take time and effort on behalf of the D3 player community.
 
While it's popular to stack hatred on D3, much of it warranted, I give you, it is worth former players coming back to try out the new systems and features that have arrived with the 2.0.1 patch. After all, if the game is already owned, it costs nothing and people might just be surprised, pleasantly so, I might add.
 
Have you checked out the new patch? If so, what did you think? Let us know! 

Rocket Leaving DayZ to Make a More Perfect Game

Posted by BillMurphy Monday February 24 2014 at 2:12PM
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In his own words, Dean Hall's presence on DayZ is like "a grenade." So much so, that once the game's out there he'll be transitioning out of Bohemia and all DayZ development to start his own studio in New Zealand. 

"I am a grenade," he begun, this time sat in the DayZ office in central Prague. "I have a specific use. I'm really good at risk-taking and making other people take risks, I've always been good at that in my life. Like you say, maybe I've got the gift of the gab, so I can talk, I can explain something, I can talk people up to the ledge and get them to jump off it.

"That's what I did with DayZ; I've done it twice now [once with the mod, again with the standalone] - two new code teams have separately done it.

"But eventually, that's the bad person to have. Eventually, you don't want the guy telling you to go over the top and get through. So at some point I'll be a disaster for the project, at least in a leadership role."

 
Now those are some serious words, coming from a man many idolize in this industry. Heck, we've met Dean on several occasions, and have nothing but praise for the guy. He's passionate, smart as a whip, and absolutely filled with vision for his project.  But I'm of the mind that he's also not keen to keep riding the same horse through the desert for the rest of his career.  
 
Some might think this is because he "couldn't handle the pressure" of developing a game that grew into something so monstrous so quickly, and indeed Dean stated multiple times that a lot of the pressure and ire of the gaming community was getting to him. But I look at his departure in a different light.
 
We've all been at jobs that we love, and we think we could do them forever. At one point in my life, I was a Medical Biller. I loved the idea I was helping folks get their insurance to cover their healthcare in a roundabout way, and I loved that I was able to "lone wolf" a 9-5 job and go home with little stress.  But eventually the repetition got to me and I realized my heart wasn't in it.
 
Now, you might wonder why Dean would want to leave a dream job. Bohemia had the ARMA series before Rocket, but it grew into a mighty company with the addition of DayZ. He's a very important part of the company, even if it's only as a figurehead.  But just because something "made his career" like DayZ did, doesn't mean he wants to be known only as "that guy who made that zombie game" for the rest of his life.
 
So for me, the biggest news about Dean Hall's eventual departure from DayZ isn't that he's leaving.  It's not about what's good for DayZ (this probably will be, if Dean's own words are to be believed).  What I'm excited to learn more about is what he'll do next. Dean's a designer at heart, eager to take risks on new projects.  Perhaps he became stagnant and fearful trying to make the standalone survival game live up to its potential.  
 
But maybe, just maybe... Rocket's got a few more tricks up his sleeve and wants to do it all his own way.  I can get behind that.

Community Spotlight: MMO Intros

Posted by MikeB Sunday February 23 2014 at 9:46PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "My advice to future MMO developers: Throw out the intro narrative and just put me in the damn game!" by sludgebeard.

Im so sick of seeing these MMO's where you have to go through 10 fetch quests, and kill a bunch of pointless mobs just to get into the core game world. Watching the Angry Joe review of Wildstar where he spends the first 20 minutes of the game picking up books and talking to floating cambots, I just thought "enoughs enough", these are pointless narrative building quests that only slow down he intro to a hopeless crawl.

Just do it like WoW did, have a 15sec intro cinematic that also sprawls through the opener zone, and then bam! Release the character into the opener zone and let them travel openly to anywhere the player likes. 

Does anyone else find these modern MMO starter zones to be boring and shallow?

Does the MMORPG.com community agree? Read on for some highlights from the thread!

Velocinox makes the case for intro experiences:

I think kindergarten is no longer needed, I mean who needs to learn how to share or their colors or basic counting? I don't know anyone that can't do that already. Just get rid of kindergarten and let us move straight to first grade.

My point being; there are new players coming along all the time. You assume everyone is a skilled MMO player, but the most important customer to an MMO is the player that is trying MMOs for the first time. And they are joining the genre everyday. If the devs turn those people off, they don't get a second chance.

Torvaldr doesn't feel intros should be removed completely:

Intros shouldn't go, but they've gone overboard. The original intent of the starter areas was to give players an opportunity to get a feel for the game before ramping up difficulty and throwing you out into the cold cruel world.

Lineage - This game had a great starter area. You could stay and level a bit, learn the ropes, and even get some great starter gear. Remember when you got great starter gear from the starter area and not the pre-order bonus? The key thing here is that you could skip it if you wanted, but people didn't because the xp bonus was sweet and it was a neat area.

Starter areas need to get back to their roots and be optional. Although I'll remind people that in the less brutal worlds we live in today this allows even easier fast tracking of new characters for gold spammers. Just a thought.

@Loktofeit - It does seem like devs create their games in a vacuum sometimes.

emperorwings feels starter zones are a waste of time:

Game doesn't need end game just infinite leveling. Starter zones are a waste of time I think unless it just puts you in the middle of it and expects you to figure it out for yourself which it doesn't. You could go anywhere in WoW since I remember on my human I somehow ended up in the night elf zone and followed the quests there instead of the human zone back before they made SW / Org the main hangout places and FPs bugged out.

Personally, I don't think we need to toss out the baby with the bathwater. As a number of other users explained, starter zones or experiences are important in helping to acclimate MMO newbies to what is often a fairly complicated genre of games. Overwhelming a newbie with a bunch of things to figure out can be as much of a turnoff for them as a plodding starter experience is for us MMO vets. I think the key is to allow people to skip the starter experience if they choose. Someone brought up City of Heroes, which had a great tutorial, but you could skip it entirely if you wanted to.

What's your take? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Story of the Day 2/21/14 - ESO Item Sets & Combat Improvements

Posted by MikeB Friday February 21 2014 at 6:40PM
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With all the things to consider and discuss about ESO, it seems many (including myself) were blindsided by Zenimax's emphasis on crafting in the game. Crafting has sort of fallen by the wayside over the years, but ZOS is looking to bring it back in force with Elder Scrolls Online and so far their implementation has been received quite well.

I don't know if this is something they expected to resonate so strongly with MMO fans or were equally caught by surprise, but ZOS recently jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of interest in the game's suite of crafting features by highlighting one of the more interesting but not readily apparent things they are doing with crafting in ESO in a new developer video. In addition to all the interesting elements of the game's crafting system, ESO will also feature item sets, and these item sets can only be crafted at unique crafting tables found scattered throughout the game world.

I first discovered this in a recent beta event and found myself incredibly excited about the possibilities. Making crafting rewarding and also giving those interested in crafting a reason to explore the world instead of just sitting at the forge in town all day are both encouraging to see in a new MMO. The most dedicated crafters will undoubtedly know all the item set table locations and set themselves apart in the market by providing players with fine tuned item set pieces to purchase. I expected something out of ESO's crafting, but I don't think I was expecting the team to put this much emphasis on it.

Even if you don't care about crafting, you'll still want to take a look at the video. Why? Well, ZOS heard players loud and clear about the lack of 'feedback' in combat and it looks like at least some of their efforts to improve feedback have made it into the build used for the video. If you pause the video around the two minute mark and watch the developers fight the tigers, you'll notice the improved melee combat (especially in third person). For example, note the subtle pauses when the player connects his blade with the tiger. This is a common technique used in many action games to deliver a sense of impact and it looks like ZOS is also making use of this technique to amp things up a bit.

What do you think of the latest dev video? Share your thoughts with us below!

Story of the Day 2/20/2014 Pathfinder Online Q4 Milestone Video

Posted by Grakulen Thursday February 20 2014 at 7:42PM
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Today's story of the day focuses on a small MMO with big potential. Pathfinder Online released their Q4 milestone video and generated more buzz about the game than they have in a long time. While not everyone's impressions were positive about the looks of the game it got our community talking. I'm not going to sit here and defend Pathfinder Online if the game releases and looks like something straight out of 1999 but keep in mind that this is still pre alpha footage. Also the main attraction to this game is the systems, not the aesthetics. 

 

"For the latest backer update video we wanted to capture the state of the game as we finalize the Q4 Milestone that was delivered in January. The two major areas we focused on were the combat system: the UI, animations, role features for multiple roles, plus the next iteration of the combat system itself; and the conversion of the world terrain from the fully manual small scale process to a more large scale terrain development method using the Grome tool pipeline. This allows us to create a wider variety of world area types, do it on a much larger scale, and include all of the road networks, encounter areas and settlement foundations.

The footage you are going to see was captured in game while our staff adventured in the River Kingdoms. Nothing you are seeing was altered in post-production, and everything you see is in the game working exactly as you see it. While capturing the video, our camera character wasn't necessarily being played to maximum efficiency or ability! So you won't necessarily be seeing the most effective use of feats, weapons, tactics, etc.

We will be releasing some more detailed info on the UI and combat updates in the near future, but for the moment, we wanted to give you a sneak peak. We have done a lot to customize the UI to be more in line with our specific combat system needs and to improve its usability. There are size and position issues with the target health indicator, which will be addressed soon.

You will also see brief shots of the skeletons and goblin dogs, which were both great new additions for Q4. We will show them in more detail soon. Some initial spell effects are in, but will get adjusted heavily before Alpha, and have some minor visual issues currently. We still just have the placeholder faces in, and will be working on updating that before Alpha as well. We will also be focusing on adding more variation, decoration and points of interest to the world.

We are also including a few additional screenshots to give you an idea of the color, lighting and detail of the world when not being painfully compressed for online video. Have a look at them if you would like a better idea of how it would look on your screen!"

 

You can see the video right here from our earlier news story. 

 

Also if you if are interested in Pathfinder Online and haven't had a chance to see it yet I recently interviewed the CEO of Goblin Works Ryan Dancey and he had a lot of interesting things to say about the game and if what they are working on makes its way into the finished product this cold be a very interesting game. 

Neverwinter's Console Conversion

Posted by SBFord Wednesday February 19 2014 at 8:11PM
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A big piece of Neverwinter news floated across my desk today, one that will leave an interesting mark on Cryptic Studios' now nearly one year old title.

The first is technically 'old' news in that it was revealed in China over a month ago. Perfect World Entertainment CEO Xiao Hong confirmed that Neverwinter will be arriving for both the PlayStation 4 and the XBox 1 consoles, though the timing is as yet unclear. You may remember that PWE launched a console-only division late in 2013.

Neverwinter's console version will join other heavy-hitting MMOs including Final Fantasy XIV, DC Universe Online, Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade, War Thunder, Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny and many others. 

A cursory glance at the comments in that particular thread reveals that a lot of players are very interested in seeing Neverwinter ported to consoles and that, in fact, to some it seems much more like a typical "console" title than a PC one. Whether or not our readers will play the console version will remain to be seen. The far more interesting issue is the fact that yet another game is making the plunge into the fledgling console MMO market.

There's no question that consoles are going to have a huge impact on game development, a trend we have seen as AAA titles have been announced, many with simultaneous development for consoles and PC gaming rigs. It's a huge untapped market right now and one that developers simply cannot ignore. That said, the tangential concern is that consoles are fixed hardware without much, if any, ability to be upgraded in the same way that a PC can see years of improvement by simply replacing components to improve performance. Given that, game development is limited in what it can accomplish so that the specifications of the consoles it is being created for are met. 

It's not to say that developing simultaneous releases for PC and consoles is a bad thing. It's simply to say that this is a new and emerging trend in game development that will be fascinating to watch as it grows and changes with the ever-changing console market.

What about you? Will you be playing Neverwinter on console? Do you already play MMOs on consoles? What do you think of the trend? Let us know in the comments.

World of Warcraft $60 for a Boost to Level 90

Posted by garrett Tuesday February 18 2014 at 5:45PM
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How much is time worth to you? The old quote “time is money” plays a very important part in today’s story of the day. WoWInsider.com reported that World of Warcraft posted a Level 90 character boost for $60 in their cash shop. If this turns out to be true the debate will rage on for some time. I guess the real question is how much are you willing to spend to play World of Warcraft at its top levels? If you are joining your friends after a long time off or rejoining an old guild, this may not seem like much to you.

MMOs are a tricky thing when it comes to money, value, and time. The purists who play will scoff at those who spend money to get the boost. Lately however, there is the reality of time that many veteran MMO players are facing. In my 20s I spend hours in Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Now with a family, my time is at a premium. I can no longer spend the six hours a night I wanted to in MMOs. If I get to play for 3-4 hours about 3 times a week I am lucky. This is where the $60 comes into play. I have several characters in World of Warcraft at 90 and would really like a Warlock. I will be buying the expansion anyway so I will get my Warlock then and boost him to 90.

For me, $60 really is not that much to spend when you think of the time you save on making a character. If this is what Blizzard is offering I think it is an upfront price and is a one stop shop. You are not being nickel and dimed into your decision by free-to-play antics. Give them $60 and you can boost your character to 90 for the expansion. One and done. 

If this holds true I think it is a great move by Blizzard to get old players back into World of Warcraft and possible net a whole new generation of players into the top levels of the game. After being beaten down by so many free-to-play games on mobile which charge you for every little thing, it will be refreshing to just spend sixty dollars and get the most out of it. 

Can Pantheon See Life without KickStarter?

Posted by BillMurphy Monday February 17 2014 at 8:24PM
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How apt that Brad and his crew at Visionary Realms would subtitle Pantheon: "Rise of the Fallen." When the game was announced I callously assumed that it would be a no-brainer for funding given the success of Camelot Unchained and Shroud of the Avatar. Hell, if Greed Monger can be funded, than why not give Brad McQuaid some love and let he and his team make a throwback MMORPG for those players who want an updated EQ1?

But it seems that I didn't take into consideration two key points: 

  1. Brad's clout has fallen drastically since his days on the EQ team, due in no small part to the terrible tales of Vanguard's development and spotty history all around with Vigil Games.
  2. Maybe, just maybe... the niche audience who would generally fund something like Pantheon is a bit smaller than anticipated (and perhaps more stingy with their money).
Crowdfunding to me is still a very solid way to get the capital needed to make a product. It's a great way for the consumer to direct and partake actively in the development of their desired game. I just wonder if Pantheon's initial offering for $800,000 was way too light on content. You basically have the makings of a dungeon-crawler with corpse runs and promising combat... but not much else.
 
The Kickstarter closes in a little over a week, and unless it sees a huge influx of cash, I doubt it's going to succeed.  But I believe there is a market for the kind of game Brad wants to make. Even if they're a little hesitant to call on him to make it. Here's hoping Pantheon can continue to rise on its own with a self-directed crowdfunding plan. And we'll be following the trials as it strives to do so. 
 

ESO Press Reactions PvP Edition: Not So Ouch!

Posted by MikeB Friday February 14 2014 at 3:54PM
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Last week, I wrote up a blog entry discussing my take on the mostly poor day ESO had in the press. Well, I'm doing one just like it this week, and things appear to be far less dire seven days later. 

With more time to play and a sampling of the game's PvP offering, reactions are a lot more positive overall this week. If you're curious about my stance on things, you can read my preview of ESO's PvP here. It's reassuring to see that my peers in the press gave the game another chance. I'm glad to hear that many are perhaps starting to come around to ESO, as I was almost starting to feel like I was on an island over here.

Both fans and press alike seem to agree that the game gets better once you've spent more time with it, but that doesn't really mean their impressions were wrong. It is still on Zenimax for not crafting an experience that immediately resonates with players. There is clearly something off here or we wouldn't be seeing this trend of reactions and reversals from so many people and I'm not really sure what ZOS can do in the remaining 1.5 months to rectify this. It may rest entirely on word-of-mouth from players who have managed to slog through the early stuff and enjoy the game.

I'm shocked I'm at where I am today, too. Aside from my hopes for AvA, I had mostly written ESO off a couple of months ago. Even though I enjoyed my first real impression of the game, I'm liking it even more now with each passing day, and I'm definitely a whole lot more excited now that I've had a chance to play some AvA. Heck, I started a new game of Oblivion recently simply because I just want to be in Cyrodiil again. I'm jonesing that bad.

What do you make of last week's impressions when compared to what we've seen today?

 

NCSoft and GW2 Makes Money... Who knew?

Posted by Grakulen Friday February 14 2014 at 12:20AM
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Earlier today Suzie posted over in the news section how NCSoft beat the street and made more than they expected too. 

Some highlights are below:

 

NCSoft has published its Q4 2013 financial results that show overall growth, with Guild Wars 2 exceeding expectations by generating $115.9M over the course of 2013. Lineage continued its growth in the Korean market and revenue surged after the release of Blade & Soul in China.

As posted in this MMORPG.com forum thread (by Meowhead):

Today the NCsoft released their Q4 report here are some points http://global.ncsoft.com/global/ir/earnings.aspx

  • Lineage grew significantly in Korea while GW2 remained solid in US/EU.
  • Royalty revenues surged with Blade and Soul China kicking in.
  • GW2 was strong on the back of end of year sales promotions.
  • Contribution from Korea increased with Lineage reaching a new all time high
  • Guild Wars 2 became the 2nd biggest revenue sources along with well settled in-game item sales model
  • Guild Wars 2 earned 33.6 Billion Won = 31.58 Million USD up from Q3s 22.94 Million USD and exceeding sales expectations for Q4
  • Next step for GW2 China will be announced in the near future
  • Wildstar is expected to launch some time in Mid 2014
  • No decision has been made for GW2 expansion for now the focus is provide the LW updates and bring GW2 to China they will update when they have more visibility on the issue of an expansion
  • For 2013 GW2 Made 123.3 Billion Won = 115.9 Million USD also exceeding sales expectations
 
Love them or not love them NCSoft has had one heck of a year and it looks like they are poised to make a run at another good one based upon early feedback on WildStar. That being said while the Buy 2 Play / Microtransaction Business model is paying off big for NCSoft it remains to be seen if they can strike gold with an original tied together with a subscription model.

Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs Speaks to Crowd-Funding

Posted by SBFord Wednesday February 12 2014 at 7:18PM
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There is no question that 2013 was the Year of KickStarter, the year that crowd-based funding fueled the imaginations of both developers and the fans themselves. What started off slowly in 2012 became a juggernaut of funding opportunities, developers clamoring to get their projects noticed and funded. It has been an exciting time, but one that hasn't escaped the growing pains from which any new enterprise suffers.

In a post over at the Camelot Unchained site, industry veteran Mark Jacobs wrote a fascinating list of thoughts that all crowd-sourced project developers should keep in mind. His thoughts came as project after project continues to gather funds long after the initial campaign has ended and, as a result, new and bigger sounding "stretch goals" are added.

Jacobs wrote:

In recent months the game industry has seen the power and importance of crowd funding explode as Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen has continued its meteoric rise. Other crowdfunded games, including our own Camelot Unchained™, have also continued to raise additional funding after the close of their initial crowdfunding period. While this is a good thing for the developer in terms of having additional cash at hand, this cash generally comes with strings attached. One of these strings is, of course, in the form of players’ heightened expectations for the game with the additional content that was unlocked through stretch goals. Stretch goals are, in theory, generally a good thing for both players and developers. Players hope to get a deeper and richer game for their new and/or ongoing donations. Developers get more funding and usually have to grow the team to meet the demands of the expanded scope of the game.

From this point, a cautionary tale in the form of the KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) principle was laid out in an easy to read list:

  1. Add stretch goals that meet the stated needs of backers and that improve the game.
  2. Don't "over-promise" what can be done simply to raise extra funds.
  3. Don't add stretch goals that simultaneously require additional staff before making sure qualified individuals can be found.
  4. Create a sequential list of goals that build on one another.
  5. Adding more goals simply because more money is coming in isn't always necessary.
  6. Remember that not everything can be fit in for launch.
  7. Remember to make a great game.
As the idea of fans funding titles they are most interested in and want to see come to fruition outside of the traditional development cycle grows, it is incumbent on both sides of the process to ensure that realistic expectations are maintained at all times. 

 
It is likely that we will see more articles like this one from Mark Jacobs crop up on the scene as the earliest titles begin to reach release and an examination of the entire process, start to finish, begins. For our money, we're glad that the discussion is starting early, that the responsibilities of both sides of the crowd-funding aisle are talking about what works, what doesn't and how things can change for the better in the future.
 
What about you? Have you backed any KickStarter projects? What do you think of Mark Jacobs' words? let us know in the comments.

ESO Press Reactions: Ouch!

Posted by MikeB Friday February 7 2014 at 8:15PM
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Going to do things a little differently today. While not a formal 'story of the day', the news of the day was really all the press reactions we've seen for the Elder Scrolls Online, and so far, it's not looking too hot. Bill and I talked about this briefly in the morning and it had me wondering if those of us in the press will end up killing this game before it even comes out.

I like Elder Scrolls Online, so far. I also liked Star Wars: The Old Republic, so maybe I'm just crazy, but I seem to like the games that everyone else loves to hate. Not on purpose, of course, it's just how it seems to be shaking out. It's not that I don't see any truth in the criticism I'm seeing for ESO coming out of the press, but I also think, like SWTOR, it's a bit overblown.

Just as it was with SWTOR, I feel a lot of this may have to do with expectations. Maybe I just set my expectations more appropriately, but I never expected ESO to be a better Elder Scrolls game than a singleplayer ES, the same way I never expected SWTOR to be a better KOTOR game. Compromises have to be made when you're trying to be true to your pedigree and also create an MMO at the same time. And with both games, it shows. But I also don't think these compromises make for as poor of an experience as some of the previews would lead you to think it is.

I'm getting this sense that ESO is going to be the press' punching bag over the next two months, even though games like Skyrim, which I enjoyed, but found flawed in comparison to Oblivion (which wasn't without flaws itself), were given rave reviews and exhibited many of the issues that ESO also has. Surprise, surprise, Elder Scrolls Online is an Elder Scrolls game and features many of the same issues that have plagued the series. I simply feel that these issues are being weighed disproportionally with the MMO when compared to how the singleplayer games were received in the press.

I don't think The Elder Scrolls Online is the best game ever, not by a long shot, but I can't help but get this feeling that people aren't giving it a proper chance. As Bill explained in his piece today, it seems to take a little bit of time to grab you, which if true, is definitely a failure on ZOS' part. The first hour, or heck, the first five minutes of gameplay in an MMO are crucial. Still, if you're playing this weekend and aren't really feeling it on the starter island, but you were hoping you'd like it, try giving it some more time to grow on you.

In any case, if this sentiment both from the press and fans carries on through launch, well, it's pretty easy to see where things will go. That box price and subscription fee weren't really doing ZOS any favors before and anything less than absolutely stellar is going to make what is already a very hard sell nigh impossible come launch.

Story of the Day 2/06/2014 The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Tomorrow

Posted by Grakulen Thursday February 6 2014 at 7:39PM
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Every week I struggle to pick just one story of the day. Typically there is never just one thing that overshadows all the rest that screams, I am the one! Today was no exception. Either one of these two stories could have been the story of the day, World of Warcraft gains 200,000 subs (which for any number of MMOs out there is larger than their entire player base) or tomorrow starts an Elder Scrolls Online beta weekend that could have well north of 500,000 testers in game. Because it is shiny and new, and the most talked about game on this website I went with ESO.

In a call to arms Zenimax online has provide over 500,000 keys to fansites across the internet. They have also invited another wave of players that have registered for beta on their website. This is in addition to all the previous beta participants that have been invited to play the game. In what could amount to a super stress test Zenimax is challenge players to break the servers.

Check your registered email address—we’re sending out more beta invites. Don’t forget to take a peek in your spam folder, and if you use Gmail, remember to look in the “promotions” tab to see if you got invited.

If you don’t get an invite today, there’s still hope! We’ve handed our friends at Curse beta keys to give out, so head over there to see if you can get your hands on one. Best of luck! We can’t wait to see you in-game and get your feedback.

Launch for PC and Mac on 4.4.14 is on the horizon, and the beta is only getting bigger as that date approaches. Make sure you’ve signed up to test if you haven’t yet so you’ll have your chance to join us. More invites will be coming soon, so keep your eyes open!

If you participate in the test, please remember that its contents are still protected under the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). You aren’t allowed to share information, media (screens, videos, streams, etc), or anything else related to the test with others. Thank you for testing!

Source: Elder Scrolls Online site

 

This should finally allow fans and naysayers a like to get in the game and find out if they are right. Is the game great? Good? Meeeeh… Hopefully you’ll get a chance to try it for yourself. Don’t fret if you don’t. We’ll have a ton of coverage coming up tomorrow with everything you’ll need to know about what you can expect to see in this beta weekend and when the game goes live.

Story of the Day - 2/5/14 - Broadsword Online & DAoC & UO

Posted by SBFord Wednesday February 5 2014 at 6:40PM
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Most of the staff was surprised today by a pair of related news stories that cropped up on our radar. Both Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online have been under development, or at least maintained in their current states, by EA-Mythic. Under the auspices of a new agreement, Mythic has partnered with new company Broadsword Online Games to take over the content development for both games. EA will maintain a presence by maintaining billing and account services via the Origin games platform.

On first reading the news, some were quick to express concern that the content development for both games was being "outsourced" yet while technically true, the outsource company has a blue ribbon pedigree in MMO development.

Broadsword Games Online was founded by Mythic Entertainment co-founder Rob Denton and a number of Mythic veterans, including several who were instrumental in the development of DAoC in the first place.  While the team is, according to its site, a small one of only fourteen, it is a team that is solely dedicated to Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online. Period.

Our Vision – Every Player, Every Day

We are Broadsword. We have a passion for growing and evolving interconnected online worlds. We believe in quality and strive to deliver compelling content, energized communities and top tier service to all of our players. We are all passionate gamers and we love to work with our communities of committed, hard-core gamers. In the end, for us Broadswordians, it's all about providing an unparalleled experience to Every Player, Every Day.

Our Company – Broadsword Online Games

We have a team of 14 passionate, hard-core gamers with centuries of combined experience creating, running and evolving online games. Broadsword is totally focused on two games – Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Our team of producers, designers, engineers, artists, CSRs and QA analysts works day and night to make sure that UO and DAoC continue to provide delightful and compelling experiences to Every Player, Every Day.

It's never been a secret that many have pined for the glory days of Dark Age of Camelot and its unique game play, yet have similarly lamented the dated look and lack of meaningful content additions over the years. Many on our forums seem to have hope that this new change in direction, this "outsourcing" if you will, may perhaps bring about big changes to a pair of the genre's most venerable titles.

For now, the Broadsword site is largely silent on what exactly the future will hold for DAoC and UO. Hopefully sooner than later, we will know much more. In the meantime, it is great fun to speculate. To that end, what do you expect to or want to see for Dark Age of Camelot and/or Ultima Online? What is feasible? What is not? Let us know in the comments.

 

Story of the Day 2/4/2014 - Guild Wars 2 - The Edge of the Mists Goes Live

Posted by garrett Tuesday February 4 2014 at 5:16PM
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Guild Wars 2 continues its run of updates by launching the latest The Edge of the Mists. MMO players have had a host of great updates to the game over the past year as ArenaNet delivers on its promises of a living world. This patch will bring a big enhancement to PvP. Players have seen a lot of great story lines and this time around the World vs. World maps and queue system will get a big overhaul.

The biggest enhancement is that players will no longer have to wait to get into The Edge of the Mists. As instances fill up for the new WvW zone another one will open so players can enter the new areas quickly. This is a boost to players who want to grow their WvW achievements and abilities.

The team at ArenaNet has improved the queue system as well to allow players to see the population of maps before they enter them. It will also display your rank in the queue for that map. This should help players get into combat faster and find zones which are open for exploration.

Scarlet’s Aetherblade Pirates are the focus of the PvE portion of the patch as players will track her down. Join Taimi and Braham as they remain hot on her trail.

As if killing players in WvW wasn’t fun enough, you can now add a cute little Quaggan to your finishing moves. This part of the patch is hysterical and we can see players jumping on board to get the last laugh on their foes. You can continue to ride the wave of Valentine’s Day by also getting some heart shaped weapons.

Guild Wars 2 has done a stellar job in boosting the original game with lots of free updates for their players. Each patch brings something new on a regular basis and this enhancement to WvW should really pick the battle back up. 

Story of the Day 2/3/2014 - A Place for Galaxies Vets to Call Home?

Posted by BillMurphy Monday February 3 2014 at 7:26PM
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Thanks to the keen eyes of our friends at Massively, our old friend John Smedley was spotted posting some teaser images of SOE's upcoming unannounced game. This title is likely the one Smed was recently referring to when he told folks on Reddit that: "SWG Players - Our next game (not announced yet) is dedicated to you. Once we launch it...you can come home now."

Of course, this sparked the long dormant SWG forum here on MMORPG.com to spark to life, and people have been wondering what kind of game this really is going to be.  Certainly, it will not be SWG 2 or anything involved Star Wars. SOE simply doesn't have the license anymore. But Smed's words speak of a sandbox MMO that involves crafting and player community at the utmost.  

We've known for a long time that John regrets the NGE and CU when it comes to Galaxies, but this is probably his first (memorable) public promise that they're trying to right by the SWG community with a new game.  Two things come to mind though:

  1. Will anything that's not Star Wars Galaxies really ever be enough for fans of that game? And...
  2. Why does this image evoke so strongly a sense of The Secret World's Kingsmouth?
Given SOE's recent trends towards openness and engaged development with the fans, I'm curious to see what comes of this project dedicated to SWG. It was Galaxies and the fallout from the game's rough technical start and eventual turbulence that brought MMORPG.com (then just a forum) to prominence. Heck, it doesn't take Cumbersherlock to figure out that many veteran MMORPG forum users are also SWG vets.
 
Until we really get more from Smed and SOE though, I'm just really hoping we're not talking about a zombie MMO.  That's what that screen evokes for me. I don't think SWG vets want their sandbox to come with undead.  But maybe I'm wrong. 

Community Spotlight: MMO Databases

Posted by MikeB Sunday February 2 2014 at 9:18PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread "How do you feel about mmorpg databases?" by Sawlstone:

I was thinking yesterday as I logged in to wow yet again after a long break. If there was never a www.thottbot.com or www.allakhazam.com that eventually led to the amazing www.wowhead.com would my feelings regarding World of Warcraft be the same. My feeling is simple. I want to discover, explore and learn in an mmorpg.

I'm sure there must have been websites like these for other earlier games but for me these are the ones l discovered for myself and they changed my experience drastically. Starting out in a new game and discovering things yourself is how it was meant to be. Asking a traveller who you meant in game for directions or a tip on where to find a quest is how it was meant to be. Somedays in wow, all you get is L2google....

Now I absolutely salute the people behind such amazing websites that are invaluable for some players. I just wonder if players today placing too much blame on a developer saying a game is completely on rails, whien in fact the shear infromation surrounding a game is jsut saturating their perspective.

One statement that is without a doubt true. Mmorpgs would not seem as on 'rails' if databases didn't exsist. How do you feel?

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

Kevyne-Shandris finds these sites helpful:

Those websites help in many ways beyond quest advice. I like reading the comments on Wowhead on the quests (if it's not the usual driveby stuff), as it offers more info and sometimes more history.

Perfect example is like fighting the pet battle trainers in WoW. Now you can spend an hour trying to figure the right pet classes to use (and lose your win ratio in the process), or you can goto places like Wowhead and study the advice players offered. I was remembering how folks were saying one trainer was brutal to get through (a gate?). But I went in and within 3 tries completed it. Then came back and added my 2 cents so the next Joe won't feel like it'll take rocket science to win. I do it also for those Holy paladins wanting a challenge to down content as a healer (it's actually fun thinking out of the box to do it).

BTW, WoW got the "questing on rails" term because how the quests were laid out into hubs in Cata. No longer could you just pick up a quest while traveling, you have to first complete a whole series of quests to start another in a different zone. THAT got old quick, as you had to even track down the breadcrumb quests to even get a chance to talk with another zone quest giver. It's a lot of wasted back-to-back traveling that mimics Archaeology (ugh!).

But over all those sites add more to questing than just a paper in your journal. If you're a avid quester they'll be your trusted friend as it'll take a year to get the Loremaster achieve, and to complete all the quests...years.

iridescence takes a completely opposite view:

I wish there was a way to delete all gameplay  information about every videogame from the internet except perhaps tough puzzles. It would make them a lot more fun to play to be forced to figure things out yourself or with friends like the old days. Unfortunately that will obvious  never happen

RealmLordsKen isn't necessarily a fan, but will use them if he needs to:

When I first started WoW, also my first MMORPG, and I learned of the "look up your quest" web sites...

I considered it cheating.

I also was never a fan of "hint books" for RPGs, and felt the same way about them.

I use them when I have to because of poorly written quests, or when I have zero immersion in the game and just want to plow through game mechanics to level my character.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan, but it's not something that bothers me too much. With all the information available on the internet, it's no surprise that these sites have cropped up and are relied upon by many players. There isn't really a way around it other than to design your content so that is completely dynamic. That said, I do like these sites for comparing item sets and that sort of thing, but I tend to avoid using them to aid me in quests unless I am somehow really stumped.

What's your take on MMO databases? Share your thoughts in the comments below!