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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: Haters Gonna Hate?

Posted by MikeB Thursday July 29 2010 at 1:06PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “So why do many MMORPG gamers hate so many new MMORPG games?” by Qazz. Qazz appears frustrated by MMO gamers who seem to hate every new MMO that is announced or is coming out. Are we all just grumpy grognards or are the new crop of games, well, crap?

Qazz asserts that the highly vocal detractors possibly just don’t like MMOs at all, offering a humorous scenario to illustrate his position:

“I've seen many posts by people who say they aren't playing any MMORPG's right now because "there aren't any good games".  Should people who hate on MMO's all day, but can't even say they are even playing one, just admit they don't like MMO's?

Here is an interview from the HappyVille Pie Competition to illustrate my thoughts.

___________

Mayor Morpg: "Welcome to the HappyVille Pie Competition.  Mr. Fussy McCritik will be judging today. Well Fussy...talk to me about your thoughts on the competition?"

Fussy McCritik: "All of the pies suck.  They make me want to puke. They're all made so people will buy them. I can't stand any pie that is made today."

Mayor Morpg: "Well, to me it sounds like you don't like pie...do you think you really should be judging a pie contest?"

Fussy McCritik: "STFU, I know all about pies.  I'm just waiting for somebody to make a good one."

Mayor Morpg: "Fussy, if there isn't a single pie that you like, then you just don't like pies. Just admit it."

Fussy McCritik: "You don't get it do you? Go back to your World of Walnut pie. I'm done with this interview."”

TrunksZ simply feels that “haters gonna hate”:

“Haters gonna hate, I know is a cliche but is true, some people just hate out of pure hate, for example WoW, we all now that theres a big part of this site community that hates WoW and if you think otherwise you are probably going to get trolled, some people hate WoW for their own personal reasons, some others just hate it because others hate it and don't have a personal opinion about it and some others hate it because thats what they do, AKA Trolls.”

Uquipo (along with several others) feel that the hate is due to the nostalgia many MMO gamers feel for their first MMO and their desire for new MMOs to recreate that:

“They fell in love with their first MMO, whether it was UO, EQ1, AC, SWG whatever.
.
They are trying to recapture that first blush experience. This is impossible because they are suffering from nostalgia and no game can live up to a perfect mental image.
.
So they sit in the forum and gripe.”

Kyleran disagrees that the hate simply stems from nostalgia:

“You continue to post this  "nostalgia" theory and fail to acknowledge that today's MMO's are designed quite a bit differently from their early forebearers and for those who preferred the "old style" today's games are found wanting in terms of gameplay and features.

DAOC was my 2nd MMO and I've been looking for a replacement for quite some time.  Nothing has come even remotely close, not even WAR.  (the influence of WOW's success is much too strong for Dev's to ignore these days)

That said, I did find EVE many years later, and while it is quite different from DAOC, its still  manages to be fun because of its unique implemenation of game play.

What isn't fun is that most other games follow the model started by EQ which reached its peak in WOW and has been poorly copied since then.  Those games (outside of WOW) I dislike.  (hate is too strong a word)”

Kuatosune takes the opposite argument of nostalgia, asserting that new MMOs are too much alike instead:

“The biggest reason people hate on MMOs is that going from one to another feels the same.  It might have a shiny new wrapper on the outside but the core is exactly the same as the one you had left the new game for.  So when you fight through the same kind of content with similar quest lines and grind it's very easy to start getting grumpy about our choices out there.  As a community we've had so many great hopes on games only to have them crushed time and time again.  At this point we're all waiting for the game that will give us our golden carrot so that we'll be happy.  So we all get our hopes up only to have them crushed and the cycle continues.

I believe that the market has become over saturated with mediocre product meant to be cash cows for their producers.  Our only hope is that the cows wither up and die so that developers might innovate a bit more.”

Me? I don’t really think there is a straight answer to this. Given the time and emotional investment (some people can play a single MMO for years on end) we all look for different things from these games, and our tastes, preferences, etc. are so diverse that I think it all just gets jumbled together when a new game is announced. The game may hit the mark for a subset of people, but not appeal at all (or outright offend) many other groups of people for any number of different reasons. Collectively, the latter group is larger and more vocal and so it would appear we just hate everything, but I really don’t think that’s the case.

On the other hand, it is true that many MMO games that have come out or are coming out are simply derivative clones and there is certainly a good deal of stagnation in the genre. I feel many MMO gamers are united in that feeling and so that can breed a lot of negativity when a game is announced that doesn’t quite offer enough new, this is especially true if the game is being developed with a licensed IP.

Why do you think there’s so much hate in the MMO genre? Let us know in the comments below!

The Upside of the F2P Parade

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday July 28 2010 at 5:32PM
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So I'm sure to many the trend of converting old games into Free-to-Play titles looks like little more than a fad in a world where everyone is struggling to ride the success of the one big dapper-suited gorilla in the room.  Yet I see it as a bold new step in Western online gaming, and frankly I wish it was one that could have come a couple years earlier.  I'm not sure what prompted Turbine to give it a try with DDO, but I'm glad they did.

Everquest II is one of those games that I've had nearly since launch but for some reason or another I've never really dug into it.  I find myself several times a year picking it up our of curiosity, leveling an old character or a new one to about level 30, and then I lose interest because I can't seem to get excited enough by it to shell out $15 a month.  I like it, but I just don't like it enough to make it my main game and in my household... it's only one sub a month.  That's a self-imposed rule.

So with the announcement of LotRO going F2P and now EQ2, you can probably begin to understand my excitement.  As long as both companies can do the F2P game without making it still seem a ripoff for those things that do cost money, I can foresee myself spending a few dollars here and there for items, extra experience, bag slots, and other types of "fluff".  I may never spend as much as $15 a month on each title, but the idea that I can play whenever I want and maybe occassionally buy something to advance my character a little easier while supporting their product is immensely tempting. 

But the real upside is that I won't have to decide on just one active subscripton any more to play two of my favorite "sword and board" MMOs.  I can pick up EQ2 and LotRO whenever I want to starting this fall with no cover charge.  Then who knows, maybe I'll see fit to shell out a few bucks for a mount or some extra bag space.  At least I'm not being deterred by an arbitrary subscription fee anymore. 

I only wish this attention to a hybrid business model could have come back when Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa were floundering.  What I wouldn't do to see both those games adopt this type of experience.  I'm betting I'm not alone in that area either.

What about you?  What game do you not play as much as you'd like due to the subscription rate, and find yourself wishing it would go the DDO route?

Starcraft 2: Electric Boogaloo

Posted by garrett Tuesday July 27 2010 at 2:31PM
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If anyone gets that reference, then well go outside and bust a move!
 
So Starcraft 2 has launched and Blizzard is now calculating the currency exchange with South Korea as we speak. Hordes of cash are once again filling the Blizzard coffers. As fans take to the stars and battle it out in RTS madness.
 
I played the beta of Starcraft 2 and well quite honestly got my butt kicked in online play. The game play is very similar to Starcraft, but I guess when your game becomes a nation’s professional sport…you cannot change much over the years. Still, Blizzard has delivered another fast paced action game that while may seem simple to some, will be endlessly addictive to others. I for one enjoyed the Beta and will definitely be playing this week.
 
The Battle.net is another whole area of Starcraft that Blizzard is now showing off. Boasting to be one of the best gaming social networks on the web, it looks like the true link of Blizzard fans between World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and eventually Diablo 3 will be formed. Players and fans around the Blizzard Universe will finally be connected, heck who remembers the RealID fiasco from a few weeks ago? No one! Blizzard launched a game, all is forgiven.
 
If there is one thing that Blizzard does get right in almost all of their games it is game play. The game moves fast and is easy enough to learn, of course, mastering it will pit you against top professionials in full stadiums of roaring fans, so good luck with that.
 
Overall the big question for MMO and especially WoW players is will Starcraft take them away from WoW? My guess is no. WoW players will forever be and if anyone does leave it will only be for a short while…until Cataclysm.
 
Say what you want about the pricing or online play, the story mode, etc. Bottom line, Blizzard puts out a good product that is playable. Something other game companies can struggle with at times. Blizzard doesn’t rush and the test the heck out of their games. This helps, maybe corporate publishers could learn something from not just investing money in a game and forcing developers to work endless hours to complete it on deadline, but also investing time in a game. The time was taken with Starcraft 2.
Even if the game play is similar to the older version, keep in mind it is literally a national sport in Korea. How much has soccer changed in the last fifty years? Heck they don’t even have goal detectors on the goals yet….
 
For now, enjoy Starcraft 2 !!

Community Spotlight: If You Could Revive Any MMO...

Posted by MikeB Thursday July 22 2010 at 1:02PM
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This week’s community spotlight focuses on the thread “If you can revive any game.. what would it be and why?” by Beartoe. As the thread title implies, Beartoe wants to know which MMO other readers feel are worthy of coming back from the dead, and why. Beartoe’s pick? Asheron’s Call 2:

“if you can revive any game .. what would it be and why? 

for myself  it would be Asheron's Call 2.   my first mmo.  before wow or FF11, almost same time when SWG just came out, and EVE was still in its infancy.

I remember creating a big hulking Lugian Male.. and using the portal like "stargate effect" to the starting area. the world was beutifull.. grass sways as the wind blows, your armor and your flesh shows damage as you get into tough fights, but slowly repairs itself as you rest.  sounds of the world and the music is like no other.  Lotros music instrument, the way you can hit keyboard keys for the notes was first introduced on this game.

the basic layout of wow ui interface. is straight carbon copy of ac2.   it was one of the first mmo that uses addons, ui layout and what not. .. again this was pre-wow.

anyway.. I would like to read more about you guys.  post away.”

Gardavil wouldn’t want to see any MMO revived, and offers his reasons why:

“Which MMO would revive if we could?

None of them.

Because most of the Players that made the old school MMOs so enjoyable have left MMO Gaming. A new generation of MMO Gamer is here and is now more of a majority than we ever were years ago.

Because most of the Developers, Artists, Forum Staff, Community Leads that made those MMOs great are gone as well. Developers don't run their own MMOs now, Suits do, and well Suits can't hold a candle to running an enjoyable MMO as far as I am concerned... they can make a MMO financially successful, but that's different. Financial success does not always equal an exhilarating and memorable MMO experience. In my own experience Financial success for a MMO usually kills the fun of an MMO. MMOs are best imho when they are designed for a niche audience. Niche audience's don't make huge profits "usually". There are exceptions...

Call me a pessimist but I thoroughly believe any attempt to revive any of the old school MMOs that so many of us on these forums say we miss would only end up reviving old software (even updated software) but with too many new faces that do not do things as Players did years ago. Too many Faces that want something different from MMOs then we enjoyed.

I would rather remember those old MMOs as they were, remember the Players for who they were and how they played their game, remember the Devs and the Staff of the old MMOs for how they did things, good and bad, then to try to "reenact" the old days.”

Swanea’s picks are sure to surprise:

“Fury or Hellgate london!

Fury was all about PvP. You got loot from PvP.  It was a fairly fun system, but the system requirements were INSANE at the time.  And there were huge memory leaks and just overall bad problems with the program.

I remember them saying when I first heard of it, the Week preview would have 1 million people.  Then 500,000 they said...Then 100,000...and yeah....

Hellgate London by the people who made Diablo I/II.  Had the right idea, but it seemed like it was trying to everything and nothing.”

Aeroangel points to the obscure MMO Seed:

“My boyfriend told me about an MMO that was released in 2006 called Seed. Roleplaying was enforced, and it had a large dynamic storyline where you were a clone of someone from earth, and in the first part of the story you had to group together with other players to fix the space ship you were on. There were various jobs you could have like being a repairman, or being a gardener, etc. There was a lot of GM activity, and the story and quests changed based on what the players did. It sounded like a really good game to me, but it's dead now.”

A number of other users echoed familiar requests, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa, Auto Assault, and of those I would also have to agree with The Matrix Online and Tabula Rasa. I only played Tabula Rasa in beta/late beta, but I found it to be a really interesting game and I was more than a bit shocked to see it go the way of the do-do as soon as it did, especially with its storied development history. The game was innovative in many ways, but it did feel lacking in some key areas.

The Matrix Online and I have a lengthy history. I was more involved with that game and its development process (long term beta tester/focus group tester) than any other MMO, except for maybe Star Wars Galaxies. However, it did have many serious issues and SOE wasn’t committed to taking up the challenge of fixing them, so I feel it was appropriate that it was put down in the end rather than be dragged out for years on life support. The last time I visited the game, even Mara (the game’s most populous area), was fairly empty, which was never the case in its heyday. If it were revived with a proper live team and a vision I’d love to see what they could do with it, but I always got the idea that the game was DOA no matter what as many gamers had preconceived notions about MXO due to the failure of the sequels, which was unfortunate. The Matrix as an MMO makes more sense than just about any other IP to me. After all, the characters were basically jacking in to what was essentially an MMO!

So, what MMO would you like to see revived, and why? Let us know in the comments below!

Collector's Editions: Worth It?

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday July 20 2010 at 5:07PM
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As many of my friends know, I’m a big fan of comic books.  I’ve been reading them and in love with their sequential artistry since I got my tonsils out at age four.  So it only makes sense that I’d start to get excited about DC Universe’s impending November release.  Yesterday SOE announced the pricing of the game and, perhaps more importantly, its collector’s edition.  So rarely are the collector’s editions worth the added price, but sometimes when the price is low the extras packed within seem so incredible it’s hard to say no to paying a little more for a lot of added fluff. 

I am guilty of purchasing the $75 edition of World of Warcraft at launch, and I even shelled out an extra $10 for Auto Assault a long time ago in order to get a cheap pair of headphones (with a mic) because I needed a new pair and they seemed decent enough on my budget.  I bought the CE for WAR, Age of Conan, LotRO, and others.  I bought one for Hellgate: London for crying out loud.  But now that I look back on them all, I’m wondering if they were ever actually worth the extra money spent. 

When I bought the CE for the Lord of the Rings films, I cherished those statues that came with them and have them in and around my house today.  But I’m pretty sure the soundtrack for WoW is collecting dust somewhere or used as a coaster, and the comic book for WAR is similarly holding up a much heavier book at the bottom of a bin in my attic.  

So as I’m faced with another game I’m anticipating offering a pretty meaty collector’s edition at a price double that of the basic game, I’m wondering if the added incentive of the #0 issue of the tie-in comic and the Jim Lee designed statue are really worth it.  I can’t decide, and I might not in time for the game’s release.  And if that happens, I’m pretty sure my life will go on without said statue and comic.  Has my innermost nerd outgrown the need to purchase every collector’s edition he can?  Or am I just becoming more selective? 

How about you.  Have you bought a CE for any game in the past, and if so was it worth it?  Or have your bundled collectibles gone on to serve such morose purposes as my own?

Opinions Wanted

Posted by Stradden Friday July 16 2010 at 11:25AM
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I don’t often talk too much about myself here at MMORPG.com, and for good reason... I’m really not that interesting. But I wanted to take this opportunity this week to talk a little bit about how proud I am to have been working here at MMORPG for the last five years.

I couldn’t ask for a better place to work, my bosses and co-workers have been nothing short of amazing, whether it’s coming together to get a major feature off the ground, or working tirelessly to keep editorial and advertising apart (something that the management of this site has been very serious about since day one).

Then there’s you all. Sure, there have been days where some of our readers have driven me crazy (and I’ve said things I maybe shouldn’t have), but in the end, it’s the amazing people here, whether they’re praising or being critical that make what we do here worthwhile.

Over the last five years, I feel like we’ve all worked together to build something special in the video game news site space, and I appreciate that.

Now, as you all may or may not be aware, the company behind MMORPG.com has started to branch out into the wider world of gaming websites with our most recent addition, GameOnMac.com.

GameOnMac.com covers not only titles for the Mac platform (OSx), but also games put out for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. So, even if you’re a hardcore PC fan, if you’ve ever played a game on Apple’s handheld gaming platform, this site is going to have something for you.  

Now, I don’t know how many of you remember how rough around the edges MMORPG.com was when we first launched, and the evolution that happened through the hard work of our staff and countless suggestions from you guys, but we want to make sure that MMORPG.com’s younger sister site gets the best possible start.

That’s why I’m asking all of you to head over and check it out. I want to hear your thoughts, your comments, your suggestions, anything that might help to improve GameOnMac the way that you’ve improved MMORPG.com.  Is there something that you think we’re missing? bugs we haven’t found? Something we’re doing wrong? Anything. I’ll be honest, it’d also help us out if you created an account and rated a few games.

So, that’s it. If you have any thoughts, or suggestions or anything, leave them here, or email me at editor@gameonmac.com. We honestly do value your input as gaming website users.

Thanks,

Jon Wood
Managing Editor MMORPG.com / GameOnMac.com

Community Spotlight: The First 60 Minutes

Posted by MikeB Thursday July 15 2010 at 3:35PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “The first 60 minutes in a new mmo - how important are they?” by Amathe, a reader who is no stranger to our weekly spotlight.  Pretty straightforward, Amathe wonders how important the first 60 minutes in an MMO are. So what’s the community have to say about that? Well, let’s start with Amathe, of course!

“I always love starting a new game.  The box is laying next to my desk.  I've just made my decisions on what race and class to play, and chosen my appearance.  My character has appeared in a new world waiting to be explored. My family has been told to leave me in peace for the evening.

Now the question is, what will the first hour be like?

In that hour I will experience the graphics and sound, get a flavor for the game's community, try out the UI and maybe face off against a few monsters.  For me, they key is whether the combination of those things and others evoke some emotional desire to see more and want be part of this new world.

So how important is that first hour?  Do first impressions really matter?  Or do you need to give it days, weeks or months before it's fair to start evaluating?”

Dannydeuce definitely appreciates a good initial impression, but can be pretty forgiving depending on the circumstances:

“Nothing quite like that initial feeling.  Just reading your post made me happy.  This is especially true in a brand new game were everyone is starting from square one on opening day.

With that said, it is important for me but I understand problems happen.  I will get a good basis of what this game consists of, but I won't judge the server status or other related issues if the game has recently been launched.  Will I make presumed assumptions of the game as a whole...probably not.  But if the problems with a game do no get fixed in a timely fashion, it will infact make my stay at the given game not quite peachy.”

TheHatter feels the first 60 minutes are crucial; however, he believes the two week mark is the real key point:

“As far as MMOs go, the first 60 minutes to me are extremely important, but not to the point where the developers are trying to cram a bunch of content into the first few levels. To me, the first 60minutes show me how good the combat is, how good the movement is, and just how well the engine runs the game and whether or not it's my style or not.

Personally, the 2 week mark is the kicker for me. If I make it at least to the first 60minutes, I'm probably going to keep playing for up to 2 weeks. At that point, I either lose interest in the game or decide the game doesn't have the content I was hoping it had. A good example of this recently is Atlantica. I loved the game, I loved the combat, I loved pretty much everything about the game.... except the lack of character development content. At the 2 week mark, I had gotten a good idea how their advancement system worked and I just didn't like it. I was hoping for something more along the lines of FF Tactics advancement. “

Axewielderx puts a ton of weight on the first 60 minutes:

“The 1st 60 minutes of any game are the most important of any game, at least from my point of view they should be. This time frame the developer is sending me a message. This message is their vision of what this new world is and means to them. If they think this message is important and worth hearing and seeing, then they will present it to me in that way.

They will have well thought out game mechanics, a storyline that is interesting and worth learning more about, graphics that present this vision acurately, and because of having done these 1st few important things, there will be a community that seems interested in taking the journey into this vision.

If the developer did not take the time to show me their vision, why would I spend my time there?

Just MHO,

Axe”

Opinions appear to be pretty split. There are a good deal of gamers that feel the first 60 minutes, or even the first 20 minutes are absolutely crucial, while many others take into account the progression of an MMO and allow days or even weeks before they make a decision. One poster mentioned that the first hour isn’t too relevant for him as by the time he’s made the decision to purchase an MMO he’s done a lot of research and has generally made up his mind at that point. I tend to fall into that category as well, however, that doesn’t really apply to those of us who are trying a game as part of a trial or buddy pass or something, in which case the first hour is crucial to me.

In fact, developers recognize this as well, and they deliberately design out “first play experiences” or first play sessions which normally target the first 10 minutes to one hour of gameplay and have an intended goal for the players experience in that timeframe. Developers, just as you do, realize this is a pretty key period of time to “hook” the player and they generally pay a good amount of attention to just about everything you are intended to experience within the course of that first hour. Heck, there are focus group tests that often focus squarely on just that first play experience.

So how important are first impression to you? And do they come attached with a pre-determined time frame? Let us know in the comments below!

Guild Wars 2 Is Getting Hard to Ignore

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday July 14 2010 at 6:17PM
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After Warhammer’s hype, a game I still play but felt greatly disappointed by, I promised I’d never let myself get too hyped up by an upcoming product ever again.  Even in face of all the news and talk of BioWare’s The Old Republic, I’m trying to keep a level head (as evidenced by my last two List articles about TOR).  For everything good I hear about a new game, I try to balance it out with potential pratfalls.  It’s my way of not getting burned.  It’s like playing the lottery, but not expecting you’ll ever win so you don’t plunge yourself directly into an abyss of depression when you’re on your deathbed and realize you wasted a crap-ton of money on lotto tickets.

But Guild Wars 2?  Well, with Guild Wars 2 it’s getting harder and harder to stop myself from swooning like a little girl (or over-ripe mother) in front the newest Taylor Lautner poster.  The best I’ve been able to muster so far is that so far… all of GW2’s promises are just that.  For now at least, the cool features of ArenaNet’s sequel are just talk.  But it won’t be long now until we hear reports from people who have actually had hands-on time with the game.  Gamescom will bring said impressions, and hopefully I’ll do the same a little bit later at PAX come the beginning of September.  Then we’ll at least have something tangible to go by.

For now though, all the stuff the folks at ArenaNet are sharing is the kind of PR spin that I think many gamers are finding very difficult to ignore.  They’re coming off (and I don’t mean this in a bad way necessarily) as MMORPG evangelists, bent on bringing us under their tent.  To say that the collective attitude on the internet toward MMOs and gaming in general is one of cynicism and angst isn’t really a stretch.  Players of this genre of games are looking for someone to come in and not only do something special, but to do it really well.  And while at this point the news from ArenaNet is purely PR, it won’t be long until demos are shown and beta goes live… and then we’ll all find out if this really is a title worth hanging our hopes on.  We’ll start to really be able to discern whether or not it’s a true game-changer.

As Tycho of Penny-Arcade puts it: “I don't care if they ever launch the game at this point. It's already contributed to the health of the genre simply by being a judging, omnipresent force.”

Summer Game Blues and San Diego Comicon

Posted by garrett Wednesday July 14 2010 at 1:16PM
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So the fall out from E3 has now ended. We have all seen what the developers like to show off. Overall I would say we came away from E3 as gamers a little bit underwhelmed. Is there hope for the slumping summer box office…hahaha??
 
Well San Diego Comicon is offering a surprising look at some games coming up. The biggest announcement out of San Diego will be 38 Studios first look at their new game world. It looks like Project Mercury will be shown to the public for the first time. With McFarlane and Salvatore on board how bad can it be? It should be a great announcement and some solid news for MMO fans.
 
Also Guild Wars 2 is expected to be shown at the show. The news we have seen from GW2 is making everyone look twice. So far it has been great and seems to be in line with fan expectations.
 
Star Wars: The Old Republic will be on hand, as will Age of Conan, and of course all of the super hero MMOs:  DC Universe, City of Heroes, and Marvel Super Hero Squad.
 
San Diego is coming back with a vengence on games. Last year there were almost no games on the flor or schedule. This year it seems like a few more are coming to the front lines.
 
As the summer months continue we have shows like Dragon Con, Gen Con, GamesCon Europe, and PAX to look forward too.While most of the announcements have already been made there are still a few surprises on the plate for us fans.
 
If anyone will be at these shows…definitely look for playable demos. I know many games are expected to be playable at PAX…see you there !

Community Spotlight: Your RealID Thoughts

Posted by MikeB Thursday July 8 2010 at 3:23PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on “The Battle.Net RealID Poll & Discussion” thread by The_Grump. I know, I know, we stickied that thread to avoid creating new topics on the subject, however, highlighting some of your thoughts on this massive development seemed like an appropriate topic this week!

The_Grump simply wanted to poll the community on your thoughts on the RealID development, and well, polls are always fun.

So what are you guys saying this week on the issue? A lot! It’s been tough to sift through, but let’s take a look at some of the more interesting responses.

Teala gives the new policy a thumbs-down:

I voted  (Nay) World of Warcraft's popularity and the state of information security make this incredibly dangerous.    

After recently getting my account hacked, this can only make it easier.   There are so many reasons why this is a bad thing that it makes you wonder what idiot came up with it.   realID in game is an opt-in only.  This forum realID thing is also an opt-in only, but therein is the rub, because the only way to use the forum now is to agree to Blizzards plans to make your first and last name public.   For me this is not an issue, but for many others it can and will cause problems for them on numerous levels.   Boneheaded plan is saying it kindly, but that is what this is and I bet if we dig deep enough you'll find this is all Activisions doing.”

Munki strays from the general consensus, offering his own point of view:

"So many people have such a warped, scared view of the world.

People steal ID's by swiping Credit Cards, sending out virus. Nobody is going to go through the effort to target you from a videogame forum where they ONLY get your first and last name. If somebody wanted to steal somebodies information they could open up ANY page of the phone book and get a better start.

Even if they can somehow manage to find information about you by just googling your name, what good does that do them? Are they going to stalk you, no. Are they going to do anything with that information? no.

Theives have FAR better ways to get the information they need about targets far more valuable than any of you would ever be. You use your real name every day, you show your credit card to minimum wage employee's at walmart every week, you hand your credit card to watiresses. You show your drivers license to bouncers.

People wear name tags to conventions; do they all lose thier identities, get stalked raped and die? No they dont.

People are blowing this into a rediculous situation. I personally am VERY glad that Blizzard is doing this, if not just so we can have precident on the internet of people using their real names.

You can actually find more about my personally by searching my character in WoW's name than my real name, but do I care if people can find out one picture of me from facebook and my music choices on last.fm? No I don't, because that means nothing. If anybody asked me for a picture I'd show them, if anybody asked me what music I listen to I'd say Red Hot Chili Peppers are my favourite band. People are far to paranoid, hopefully this becomes a reality check.”

Salvatoris thinks this will all just make trolling more effective:

“ I don't play WOW, but I  would not post on any gaming forum that displayed my real name.  I also wouldn't play a game that used my personal info as leverage to keep me from posting on their forums.

I think this only gives the trolls and nerd-ragers ammo.  Imagine you get in an argument with some unstable ass-hat on the forums.  Now he will be a few mouse clicks away from your business contact info, home address and phone number, facebook page.... no thanks.  How about players under 18, will they be divulging their first and last name too?  I'm not a paranoid guy, but don't we generally tell children not to post their info online?  This sounds like a dream come true for pedophiles and griefers. “

Nytakito agrees with Blizzard’s move, asserting that the negative response stems from a bit of an age gap issue:

“I'd really like to know how alot of you would fare in the world I grew up in.  A world before the internet, where there was no "veil of anonimity" covering a means for predators to stalk their prey.

When I grew up, EVERYTHING we did was associated with our REAL NAME, and our FACE.. If we got caught doing something bad, and gave a fake name to the police, it got logged to all law enforcement agencies as a "known alias"..

You all act like you are somehow constituitonally guaranteed the right to say and do things under a pseudonym, and the simple fact is you are not.  The internet has been a thorn in the side of law enforcement since its initial rise to mainstream popularity only what.. 10 years ago??? 

Things are not changing for the worse, things are changing back to more how they used to be, where accountability for ones words and actions actually means something, because eventually, there will be no way to escape what you said, or did, under some anonymouse veil.

All it takes is one company like Blizzard to look at their community and say "Enough is enough" to get the ball rolling.

I applaud Blizzard for this move, and hope other companies will follow suit.”

Swanea highlights an existing security issue involving RealID and add-ons:

“I want to point this picture out.

This guy has a few very commenly used mods installed.

It's now showing REAL Names, of people who he does NOT know NOR are they on his REALID friends list.....

http://img10.imageshack.us/img10/6942/ridmover.jpg

To people who STILL think blizzard is doing this to "clean up the forums", really, wipe off your nose and get real.  This is for more money and contacts with facebook.  They could EASILY find thousands of people willing to mod the forums for free, but they "choose" this.”

So there you have it, there are tons more responses to sift through and of course we encourage you to do so (it is a community spotlighted thread, duh!), but if you care about what your community manager here at MMORPG.com thinks of the issue, read on:

As someone who is knee-deep in community every day I found the news to be shocking and a bit appalling. As many of you who are longtime members of this community know, our community hasn’t always been sunshine and smiles over here. Things can get pretty rough and honestly we have a reputation for that (something I have been trying to combat since coming on last year), but I’d never resort to recommending such a drastic solution to solving the issue. Granted, our community is quite large but it pales in comparison to Blizzard, I still don’t see this going down as a good thing.

There have been countless examples raised by our community, WoW players, readers on other sites, bloggers, etc in the last few days so I’m not going to go through all that. Suffice it to say the potential issues raised far outweigh the benefits. Ultimately, what happens? Some of the more rampant trolling and flaming is reduced to an extent due to people being unable to hide behind a pseudonym? Not worth it.

Blizzard should simply step up their game and brainstorm some less extreme alternatives to dealing with their forum situation, either that, or hire more moderators!

The REAL ID and YOU

Posted by garrett Wednesday July 7 2010 at 8:41PM
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In the last 48 hours Blizzard's REAL ID announcement has driven more traffic than the LA freeway. Having people post under their real names on the forums...I guess my secret identity is out...well as is everyones.

I know several celebrities who play WoW...what now...will the players of Hollywood be exposed?

Wait a second...who gives a Flying-F about them...what about my privacy god damn it !! ??

Here is my major issue with Blizzard's new policy...they are forcing you to do it.

If you want to post on forums as yourself or create an account as yourself that is fine, but some people do actually care about privacy. I know police, detectives, teachers, who do not use tools like Facebook for fear of exposure. I agree with some of the posts that you are now exposing peoples names to groups of wackos out there. It is true, there are cyber stalkers out there who will use this to their advantage...and all that needs to happen is one lawsuit where this tool is now used in a crime and a huge mess will explode on the national stage.

While I am all for forum trolls and flame wars to at least be held in accountability, I think this is such an extreme measure that it doesn't make sense for Blizzard to do it.

I do believe that they truly think they are right and are too big to fail on this.

But they could be wrong. Could the WoW killer finally be Blizzard itself?

They have certainly created enough of an uproar to make them think twice. The issue is how do they respond? If they collapse it and say, nope we're not doing it...will they win back the loyalty of players? Or if they stick to their guns, will enough people never post on their forums again?

Well, I have an email into Blizzard for a comment, but since USA Today is not hearing back from them, I don't forsee us getting a comment any time soon. Still we will continue to research this story as is grows.

Two Things I Wish APB Had...

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday July 7 2010 at 4:25PM
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        I’ve been spending a lot of time with APB for my review (which will be published Thursday for those interested).  And on the whole I find the game both entertaining and endearing, if not a little depressing because of what I feel are some glaring omissions.  Now, feel free to get angry, argue, or even (gasp!) agree.  These are just my opinions on the game’s mechanics and gameplay and serve as a little preview of what my final review will bring tomorrow.      

  • A Modern Cover Mechanic -  APB is a very much akin to games like GTA set in an MMO space.  Why then does the title not make use of today’s much-lauded cover mechanics that can be found in recent Rockstar games, and were likely pioneered to nigh essential status by the likes of Gears of War.  It’s a third-person shooter, and I just can help but wish it was in the game.  It’s fun without the simply crouch and peek controls they have in place, but with a landscape littered with barriers, dumpsters, and indeed destructible cars, I really think that a cover mechanic akin to Mass Effect 2, RDR, Gears and GTA IV would have really helped the feel of the game.  In a TPS game, it looks and feels awkward to only have the crouch and peek controls in place.
  • Better Driving – Some will just say that it’s a learned art to drive in APB, but I refuse to let that be reason alone why Realtime Worlds gets away with some of the worst handling driving controls in all of gaming.  It’s such an integral part of the action, and I have found myself getting better at “dealing with it”, but I almost always dread those times when I have to get behind the wheel and on more than one occasion I’ve just hoofed it because I didn’t want to use the cars.  They drive like bricks sliding across the ice.

These are my two main actual “gameplay” complaints against APB, and they pretty much come down to poorly implemented controls and physics.  I still enjoy the game, but I do feel it’s a very flawed offering, and my review tomorrow will likely reflect that.  The only good thing about the complaints gamers may lay against the title?  It has the luxury of being an MMO, yes luxury, and if it can survive long enough a lot of our complaints just might get fixed and my whining might be rendered moot.  Check back Thursday for my full review of a game that’s at once both incomprehensibly addictive and totally frustrating.

Community Spotlight: Thoughts on Crafting in MMOs

Posted by MikeB Thursday July 1 2010 at 3:23PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “Crafting: What do you like?” by Fishbaitz.  In the thread, Fishbaitz polls the community on their thoughts and preferences for crafting in MMOs:

“I was responding to a post on another forum on crafting, telling him my thoughts on the matter. He was for having a myriad of crafting profession and gathering professions, like mining, gathering, smithing, fletching, cooking, ect; with many levels or tiers in each category. He supported this with it meant a good economy and lots of content. I was inclined to disagree.

My thoughts on the matter is that crafting should be limited to the actual crafting professions with less or smaller levels in them. And gathering would be largely simplified as well by giving more from each resource node. I supported this with the claim that his style of crafting isn't fun and is overly grindy, and that you don't need gathering professions to support crafting professions in order to have a good economy. I also stated that crafting like that is not a lot of content.

We both claimed that the majority of the MMO community was behind us, but I got curiose and wanted to find out what other people thought about it all.

So, do you like blueprint or exploratory crafting? Gathering and Crafting or Crafting alone? Multi-combination materials or straight materials? Many tiered materials or few generic ones? I want to know your thoughts and any examples of crafting systems found in games that you like or dislike. I want to know what the MMO community wants.”

Loke666 is quick to offer Fishbaitz his thoughts:

“Well, I am all for a few professions (like smith, alchemists, tailor and such). 6-8 is good, maybe one that trains animals and a herbalist that can collect rare herbs and make salves) .

But I also would like one class that basically is a crafter/merchant who can take all of those and are leveled up in a different way, like getting xp for crafting and earning money instead of killing things. that class should also get a store instead of a house.

As for the crafting in itself I want the player to be able to design their own item with effects and looks, the better crafter the more choices. 

And no system that forces you to make a 100 tin daggers or something else useless that no one wants to buy.

And i don't want an auction house, it is better to shop at player stores and market stands. Someone that can point you in the direction of a crafter that has the item in stock is fine however.”

Neosapience takes a pretty extreme view on crafting:

“Crafting directly contradicts one of the main reasons for playing your character, which is gear acquisition. I've never played an MMO where crafting was anything more than a boring time sink. If the economy needs more (or less) gear, then the simplest solution is to make mobs drop more (or less) gear.

I know some people are hardcore role players and enjoy being seen as an 'important crafter', but filling a role that takes no skill is tedious at best. In other words: crafting should be a game in itself, otherwise it serves no real purpose.”

How could we talk about crafting without talking about SWG? Deepfry obliges us in this regard:

“I too enjoy "complex" crafting and for me the absolute reference for crafting in an mmorpg was Star Wars Galaxies (the original, before Sony ruined it).

First of all SWG was a totally player-run economy.  With the exception of starting gear, everything was player-made and everything decayed, thus ensuring that crafters would always be needed.  When i say "everything" was made by players, i mean everything - armour, weapons, medicines, clothes, food, drink, land transport, space vessels, houses, furniture, musical instruments, entertainment props, mining equipment, crafting equipment, factories, surveying equipment ... the list is endless. 

I cannot even remember all the crafting professions, but those i can remember are:  Armoursmith, Weaponsmith, Doctor, Chef, Architect, Shipwright, Artisan, Tailor ...

There were maybe 15 resource categories (metals, ores, hard plastics, liquid plastics, woods, plants, gases, liquids, etc).  Each category contained literally dozens of sub-categories ... so under metals for example you would find all the metal types that you can think of (iron, steel, copper, zinc, tin, silver, gold,  ... etc etc).

There would then be spawns of these sub-categories, each with a different spawn name ... so, for example, there would be up to 100 different types of copper.  Every resource had 6-8 aspects (hardness, flexibility, durability, conductivity, etc) and each aspect was graded from 0-100.   (So for example, one copper spawn might be graded as follows:  Hyanarium Copper: Hardness 30, Durabilty 40, Conductivity 96, Flexibility 68, etc).

Spawns would last from between 1 day and 2 weeks.  The chances were that the exact same resource would never spawn again.  You had to use your scouting and surveying skills to locate the spawns (which could be on any of 9 different planets), then find the best concentrations and then set up mining machinery to mine/harvest them.

Once you had collected the best possible resources, you could then work on trying to improve certain aspects, depending on your skills (increasing a wood's hardness for example, or a plastic's flexibility).  You would then create your first sub-components, on which you could again conduct experiments to improve certain aspects.  These sub-components would then be put together to form main components (more experimentation) which in turn would form the finished product (more experimentation). 

All of this experimenting allowed crafters to concentrate ondifferent aspects of an object.  You might choose to make armour which offered less protection, but which lasted longer before needing to be replaced, or which was lighter and therefore allowed faster movement.  Or a house which was more energy efficient and thus had lower running costs.  Or a medicine which was very powerful but whose effect lasted only 10 minutes ... as opposed to a 30-minute but less effective one.

The quality of the final product thus depended on the character's skill in finding and mining the best resources, the quality of the tools he used (player-made, varying qualities), his experimentation skills, the quality of his mining and construction equipment (player-made, varying qualities), etc.  It is no exaggeration to say that every item created in SWG was unique.”

Me? I’ve never been much of a crafter, however, I think it can be fun when it’s a bit more simplistic, but that is just my personal preference. I had my most fun crafting experience in Champions Online, oddly enough, and it was an extremely simple venture there. I just found the gathering to be a bit addicting. Keeping an eye out for resources as I leapt, sped, or flew through the city. Creating bags and upgrades was also a fun distraction.

While I’m not personally into deeply complex crafting, I have to touch on Deepfry’s post about Star Wars Galaxies. I hung out with a lot of crafters in that game, in fact, early on I used to protect one of my closer crafting friends (for a small price!) when he had to make his way to dangerous areas in order to mine for the game’s better resources. I can recall one time where I was escorting the guy through the scary forests of Dathomir so he could place his mineral extractor. I think an interdependence between combat and crafting characters is neat, and I’m not a huge fan of the trend towards crafting being relatively self sufficient and typically selfish. Players in WoW, for example, typically choose a crafting profession that benefits their class.

In any case, SWG’s crafting was deeply complex and I’d argue was probably the best implementation of crafting ever seen in an MMO. Most crafters I knew were thoroughly satisfied with their options. Even some combat professions had crafting options. Rangers crafting traps and camps being one example.

What are your thoughts and preferences on crafting in MMOs? Let us know in the comments below!