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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: DayZ -- A Mod Better than Many MMOs?

Posted by MikeB Sunday May 27 2012 at 4:32PM
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We're focusing on the thread "DayZ. A game mod better than all MMOs i've played in the last five years or so" by Params7. In the thread, Params7 brings an interesting zombie survival mod called DayZ to the attention of the MMORPG.com community:

Basically its a mod for a military simulator, ARMA 2. Its a persistent world, with permadeath. You only start out with a can of beans, a handgun. No compass though you can find it. No radar and map but you can find compass and a piece of the map, which won't have your positions so you'll have to figure out where you are on the map.

Sounds pretty anti-casual, but it has by FAR, has the greatest potential for human interaction because you depend on each other so much. This one mod is better than the entire show of Walking Dead when it works right, though sadly its plagued by a host of server issues right now.

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Q8c8jnL3s

Some gameplay vids:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRpPIyJDSEQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSWRfI4SkWc

if you venture out alone at night and put a flare down this can easily happen to you as resources are VERY rare and people easily turn on each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoMcXjOv-VI&feature=related

Its build on concepts no dev today would have the guts to try, but after experiencing this game I'm convinced permadeath is the future of RPG's.

So, what ARE people saying about DayZ? Read on to find out!

Gibbonici sums up some of the most interesting aspects of the mod:

Yeah, I read about DayZ a couple of weeks ago and downloaded it to see if it was much cop. Well, like the OP, it's the best MMO experience I've had in as long as I remember, and its not even an MMO. In fact it's one of the best gaming experiences I've had probably ever.

It's the absolute antithesis of what MMOs have become and more closely matches the potential that MMOs had 10 or more years ago. A massive open world with several cities, dozens of towns and villages and vast forests all set across a huge landscape. There's no hand-holding here, anything goes. Some players group together to survive in the safety of numbers, others camp in the loot rich cities to kill and rob those who come to find the stuff they need, others lone-wolf it around the world trusting no-one and relying completely on themselves.

You need to eat and drink, you need ammo and weapons to survive, you need equipment like maps, compasses and hunting knives to give you an edge in survival, you need road flares for the oh so dark nights. You even need medicine and blood packs to alleviate the physical effects of being hurt. In future updates you'll need to keep dry and warm in the realistically modelled weather system and environment.

You have a very limited, very realistic inventory system that means that every bit of useful equipment you find presents you with a dilemma. Do you dump that extra clip for your rifle or do you leave that can of beans behind? Do you take that assault rifle and dump your shotgun even though you've only got a single clip of rifle ammo?

There's no XP, no progression beyond the equipment you have, there's no end-game, no instances, no raids, there's no party system, no binding, no fast travel, no quests, no storyline, no designated PvP areas. And death is permanent. It is incredibly lean and extremely mean.

The only certainty in DayZ is that you *will* die. How long that takes is up to you and what you are prepared to do to survive.

And it's all about survival.

It does give me some hope for the future of MMOs though. Despite the industry churning out WoW-clone after WoW-clone and more and more players drifting away from the ridiculous state of MMO affairs, DayZ, a mod for a 2 year old specialist game, has pushed Arma II:Combines Operations to the top of Steam bestsellers chart. There's a huge appetite for open-world, free-form games which DayZ proves. Even though it's still in alpha, and even though it can take an hour or more to get on a server that doesn't bug out before you get to play, the game is absurdly popular and becomes more so every day.

Playing it shows you just how fat and weak MMOs have become.

Worstluck feels DayZ is a better MMO experience than all the MMOs he's played over the last few years:

Been playing this pretty heavily non-stop for a bit now.  It's true, it's a better MMO experience than all the MMO's I have played in the last few years. 

It's amazingly tense at times, well most of the time.....It's just an insane gaming experience.  It really feels like you are trying to survive.  I love zombie games, L4D, Killing Floor, etc....but this is totally different ball game.  Over the last weekend I actually made it past day 0.  Unfotuantely at maybe the 26 hour mark I pressed the wrong button and fell two stories off a roof.  That only broke my legs.  The 25 zombies on ground level promptly chewed me up!

I hang out up North near Berezino most of the time and if you see me (Worstluck)... I am not friendly...don't take my stuff!

The spell DayZ seems to be casting over many gamers hasn't seem to have affected GTwander:

I think I found the problem;

You crazy folks out there are confusing an FPS MOD for an MMO. I'm not going to argue semantics about how many people fit on a server at once (50 atm), but this is simply a take on the ARMA franchise with zombies. It's not meant to be anything else, at least atm.

All the characters are stock ones from the main game itself - if you wanted to connect with them, you'd have to play the single player to even get who they are.

Ya'll need to drop the MMO-baggage at the door and see this game for what it really is... an FPS MOD, not some end-all zombie MMO. Jesus...

"It is what it is because it's what it was meant to be."

I've been reading about this mod for the last couple of weeks and have been attempting to resist the spell, mostly because I didn't own ARMA 2 and wasn't sure I wanted to drop $30 on a game just to play a mod that may very well be a fad. I couldn't relent for too long, however, as I ended up giving in and picking up the game (and DayZ) after a couple of friends (with apparently much less willpower) purchased ARMA 2 once I showed them a few videos.

What's clear to me is this mod (even in such an early stage) has struck a chord with many gamers who have apparently been itching for something like this for quite awhile. Despite the game's unforgiving design and clear-as-day Alpha state, people in the press and on many a game forum are just going absolutely bonkers over DayZ. A number of users in this thread likened the game to the Lord of the Flies, and I've brought up such comparisons myself when talking to other friends about the game. I also like to think of the game as kind of a quasi-MMO The Walking Dead. Sure, the world of The Walking Dead may be infested with zombies, but they're mostly the backdrop against what is really a story about humanity and what people do to survive.

Of course, some people just want to be jerks. And that's how my own experience with DayZ started. Not 15 seconds after I first came into the world did someone nearby unload some hot lead into my back, killing me instantly.

A fitting welcome, I suppose.

In any case, if you aren't too familiar with the game, I would encourage all of you to check out this video series called The Days Ahead. Though I warn you, you'll probably have a hard time resisting the urge to pick up ARMA 2 for the mod afterwards!

If you're a fan of  DayZ and feel it would be fitting to find its way on our Game List here at MMORPG.com (it does have many MMO qualities, though it is not strictly an MMO, nor is it even a standalone game!) please head on over to the poll thread I've put up. Likewise, if you don't want it on our list, make your voice heard as well!

I'm looking to gauge interest before approaching the team about listing it, so please let us know how you'd feel about this.

Community Spotlight: Which MMO World Would you Live in?

Posted by MikeB Sunday May 20 2012 at 4:07PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "In which MMO world would you live?" by Emerendil. In the thread, Emerendil poses the title question to the MMORPG.com community and offers his own thoughts:

If you could enter the world of your favorite MMO, where would you build your house?

Mine would be in Telara from Rift, somewhere in Silverwood, which is my favorite zone. Probably in Argend Glade, or near Sanctum :)

Cognito chose EVE:

EvE.

I would be immortal. I would be in space with access to thousands of planets. I could learn new things without actually having to learn them - just wait for the timer to be up :P. I would have no fear of death, so would be able to do anything I wanted (though I just thought, that would also remove the thrill or excitement out of a lot of things).... So many reasons and things that entice me about this game universe than any other game world.

AlBQuirky has an amusing reason for wanting to live in World of Warcraft:

I was going to say Original EQ, but who wants a hill giant or griffon stomping on your home?

World of Warcraft would be the safest, in my opinion. The monsters know where to be and they stay there. Maybe build a house above the human starting area, where the griffons fly over from Stormwind to Iron Forge. Only a couple of empty tents there next to a pretty stream...

Terranah would want to live in Star Wars Galaxies:

That's easy, Precu SWG.  I had a beautiful home in a lovely city.  All my friends lived around me, the cantina was across the street and the shuttle port was close by.  I had my dog Lucky, a cute ingame GF, and enough chips to live comfortably.

Yup, those were the days.  Still miss my dog.  I have a pic of me and him watching the sun set from my porch, last day I played.  He was a good dog, but he knew how to get in trouble!

For me? It's a toss up between the awesome world of Star Wars (in Star Wars Galaxies) and The Matrix of The Matrix Online. The latter is pretty easy to imagine, especially since we saw all the possibilities of the movies. I think it would be awesome to walk around the 'real world' with all sorts of capabilities while knowing the whole thing is fake. Look however you want, be as strong or fast as you want, know Kung Fu, the possibilities are endless. At the same time, I'm also a huge Star Wars nerd and I'd love to actually live in Star Wars, but The Matrix is a bit easier for my head to wrap around.

What about you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Diablo 3 - Error 37 and You!

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday May 15 2012 at 3:07AM
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Well, by now we've all seen this (unless you live in the EU, in which case... stop being so awesome). 

I set my alarm, living in Ohio, for about 2:55AM. I went to bed at a proper time, told my wife not to wake up when she heard Tom Petty on my iHome, and said if she needed me I'd be battling back the demons of hell in Sanctuary.

Thing is... I'm only battling back my inner nerd rage at the simple fact that Blizzard NA was not prepared for this launch. I know they've sold more copies than I can possibly imagine already. But how is the EU data center doing just fine while we NA folk are fudged? I didn't even want to play with people. I just wanted to kill some stuff before going back to bed and then stream the game in the morning.  

Now, who knows if we'll even get to do that? If the EU center can be online and operational, maybe it won't be long before NA is. Maybe as I'm writing this...

Nope.

Still screwed.

This is why there should have been an offline mode. But I digress. Feel free to share your own stories of frustration here, post your own Epic Error 37 screens, and hang out with me while I wait for the Heavens to start freaking trembling like they are supposed to.

"Stay a while, and look at this error screen!"

Community Spotlight: Graphics vs. Gameplay?

Posted by MikeB Sunday May 13 2012 at 1:39PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread "STOP screaming for better graphics, your killing game play !" by delete5230. In the thread, delete5230 asserts that the clamoring for higher quality graphics in MMOs is to blame for the 'crap' MMOs released over the past few years:

I can't stress this enough.

The population is demanding better and better graphics in mmo's.  This works on single player games but not MMO's. EVERY single player game has loading screens and small zones, yet it's acceptable because it's a single player game.  Were not talking about single player games, but MMO's.

Were getting crap mmo's as of late.  Why ?.....because you people are demanding better graphics and developers are trying to accommodate.

Would you like proof ?......Funcom is a good exaggerated example, they are a an amplified sample of what all other designers are also trying to do.  You can plainly see that a lot of money is put into Age of Conan but it was a released failure. This is because they went full all out graphics.  All time and energy went into graphics, and we were given a shell of a game. YOU ASKED FOR THIS !.....This topic is not about Funcom, it's about graphics.  If your gonna go off on a rant about Funcom your not getting the point.

It all comes down to this. It's like a time spent slide bar :

Community                                                                                                              

Large open world................................................................................/............... Graphics

It all comes down to one side or the other. You can't have both YOU JUST CAN'T. It's only 2012, were not their yet.  Sure we had a few that somewhat gave us both like LOTRO and maybe a few others, but for the most part we get 90% crap game play because of graphics.

To make things worst, now developers are adding Tools and gimmicks, and adding Dungeon finders, Dynamic Events, Personal story lines and worst of all cinematic cut scenes. All this takes away from community, and vast open world. It's where the money is going.

Now we have this slide bar :

Dynamic Events

Dungeon finders

GRAPHICS                                                                                                             Community                                                                                                                                                                                          

Cinematic videos............./....................................................................................Large open world

It's all about slide bars. You can't have it all !!!!

Brainy concurs:

OP is dead on.  Its a matter of resources, and graphics hogs up devs time and money more than anything.  It really doesnt matter what the other stuff in a game is defined as.  The more time spent with graphics, the less time with everything else.  Most of the other stuff takes only a fraction of the time to develop compared to just upgrading graphics a tiny bit.

The real problem is players dont really know what they want, they scream graphics and get it, then after the shiny wears off, they go to games like WoW.  The devs need to just ignore the graphic whine and make a solid game without them.  If the gameplay is there, the players will gravitate to the game.

zyurmgeist adds:

You missed one. The higher the graphics requirements the fewer the characters and mobs can be in a zone without bogging down. So you can choose higher graphics, a more open world, a more populated world. Pick any two.

vee41 feels delete5230 is simplifying things:

So what you are basically saying there is that for example Dynamic Events and gameplay are a tradeoff? As games become prettier, the 'worse' they become? I have to disagree as it really is not a simple tradeoff or slider you can make to simplify things. I do however agree that lot of recent games have been strong on graphical department, less so on 'what actually make games fun'- side. While that does hold true to most recent titles it is still over simplifying things and not taking into account the fact that they are actually excluding each other. You can have a pretty MMO that is fun to play, GW2 does that for me. World is huge, even zones feel massive and I don't feel limited in anyway which is not the case for many other titles.

Open world/graphic quality tradeoff is understandable, there was a lenghty post in the forums about it recently. You did not define what is 'gameplay' to you?

I disagree with the premise of the thread but I feel the basic gist of it is a good discussion to have. You can have high quality graphics while also having a solid MMO, it's just that most developers don't tend to be able to hit the performance marks in general. I can think of many MMOs that suffered massive performance issues with many people on screen at once and most of them do not push the envelope in graphics. At the same time, I can think of games like Age of Conan, which did, and also suffer the same issues. It really has less to do with the graphics and more to do with how the developers tackle the technical issues involved with having many people around at once.

I feel that MMOs, of all video game genres, should aspire to push the graphics envelope in order to create more convincing and believable worlds. Games like TERA or ArcheAge feature high quality graphics but do not appear to exhibit the same issues with having many characters on screen, the latter of which also aims to create the large sandbox world replete with tons of gameplay features. 

Where do you stand on this issue? Share your thoughts in the commons below!

Community Spotlight: Moving Away from Keyboards?

Posted by MikeB Sunday May 6 2012 at 3:15PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "Emminent death of the keyboard in mmo's....good or bad.." by rungard. In the thread, rungard asserts that the keyboard is going the way of the dodo:

its my opinion that the keyboard is going to become obsolete, and everything is going to go to voice and gesture based gaming.

For mmo's i think the mouse will survive, and i actually think well end up with a mouse and a joystick combo, with voice being used in place of the current ui. I think gestures will be there too but they will take a little bit of a back seat in mmo's

as someone who is a terrible typer i think this is a great thing coming. What do you think?

Does the MMORPG.com community agree? Read on!

jakin says there's zero chance:

Zero chance.

Joysticks are too limited and limiting, not to mention imprecise and slow compared to mouse-keyboard user controls.

Gesture based games are fad-ish and I don't think have long term staying power in any genre other than casual party games.  Simple fatigue will do them in - it's tough to play hours at a time for days on end (the typical profile for an MMO) with Kinect or the motion sensitive joysticks.

Voice stuff might come in - but with voice chat being so popular in modern MMOs I doubt people will be all that interested in having to choose between talking and game interaction.  Not to mention, there's the fatigue thing again, plus the simple logistics (for instance, I don't use voice chat generally because my gaming rig is close to the living room and my talking would disturb the rest of the household when they're watching TV.  I wouldn't play a voice-activated only game).

Mouse and keyboard (of some description - it's tough to call some of the really high-end devices a "mouse" any more) is here for a very long time to come.

 

IIIcurrier concurs with rungard:

I agree, atleast keyboards as we know them. Right now they are ennefective and totally 1900th century.

It's the same reason game developers can't seem to come out with intuitive controls, hotkeys on your top 1-0 keys, while hotkeys to pages like character screen, skills, guild/allegiance bound to key like z,c,f.

I know a well designed game by its default controls, most the crap that comes out now is just crap that's it, perfect example is bethesda's last couple releases, junk and clunky.

centkin isn't fond of the idea of switching to voice and feels keyboards will always be around:

Keyboards will always be around.

Personally I do not like voice (person to person) at ALL In games as it significantly reduces immersion.  I do not mind when NPCs speak but I do not like when I hear the screaming baby in the background of the burly orc who then yells in a high pitched female voice at the baby. 

But that said, there are other fundimental reasons to use a keyboard even if (especially if) you use voice.

It is that there are a limited number of ways to interact at the same time -- if you are talking into a microphone, you can't also use talking to make your character do things. 

If you have 20 different actions a player can do, unless you are using a really funky mouse you really need the keyboard, and I dont see games really taking the vindictus minimalist model any time soon.

One thing that does seem gone is parsing text into an MMO like the old quests in everquest where you would communicate with the npc rather than choosing from menus.

I feel the mouse and keyboard control scheme has been in place for as long as it has because it simply works. Even so, there are always going to be people looking to refine and evolve the way we interact with technology and games, giving way to motion and voice controls in recent years. However, I frankly find the current implementations of such controls to be more clunky than anything else. It just takes longer to accomplish the same tasks. I do think there is potential for voice control layered over existing controls, however, akin to the sort of thing we're seeing with some Kinect-enabled XBOX games like Mass Effect 3. Sometimes barking orders at the TV is simpler than fumbling through menus, but I can't see voice or motion control outright replacing traditional controls for movement, shooting, or firing off abilities.

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