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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,

Creating Much Ado About Nothing

Posted by SBFord Saturday July 30 2011 at 7:53AM
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First and foremost, I’m a gamer and have since the days of yore when Diablo (the original) first came out. My gaming habit is actually what finally inspired me to quit teaching. I’d done my Girl Scout good deed for the world for a very long while and it was time for something new. So I became instead a newsie on another MMO site and did that for a long time before landing the plum job here at MMORPG.com. So I know hype and I am as much a victim of it as anyone which brings me to the point of this whole post.  It’s about the way we get news from the games we follow.

As someone who’s been a “newsie” for gaming websites for 7+ years, I’ve been witness to nearly every type of PR ploy thrown at gamers. Public Relations by the nature of the business is supposed to generate hype and excitement. Generally reps do a great job combining both carefully worded quotes with interesting factoids of news. Yet even they slip up sometimes. Up to recently, the most annoying PR stunt involved revealing a game’s box art. I mean, who thinks that that’s actually news? It’s just a CGI-generated drawing or an over the top piece of artwork designed to get horny young men to pick up and buy a game for no other reason than boobs and butts (think Earthrise here). But still, as a newsie, I am compelled to publish bits about box art even though I have to put on a proverbial clothespin every single time.

Lately, however, a new and insidious trend in public relations has been rearing its ugly head: Announcements about coming announcements. This particular trend came to a head for me this week with more than one company sending out press releases to announce that an announcement would be on its way within X-number of days. The clothespin wasn’t enough this time. I had to bring out the paper bag and type blind.

I get it. I really do. Public relations campaigns are geared to generate hype. In this day and age of social media and the necessity for posting up-to-the-minute ‘news’ on Facebook or Twitter, PR firms have to stretch to find something meaningful to say as often as possible. This is a Herculean task given the length of development times these days. One way around the need to make things up or to avoid yet another inane “what’s your favorite class” poll, reps have implemented the announcement of the announcement. These give fans a lot of fodder for speculation (they hope) or cause them to “unlike” the fan page (they hope not).

Still, PR firms wouldn’t employ such tactics if they didn’t translate into news sites covering the announcement of the announcement and in hits to the games’ websites.  And dutifully we fall in line by either generating more hype for the announcement of the announcement or we castigate and mock the announcement of the announcement. No matter which opinion we voice, I can imagine the PR reps sitting in their darkened offices cackling like Wicked Witches of the West. “They fell for it, my pretties! And their little dogs too!”

So what’s a newsie to do? If I take the high road and omit coverage of these announcements of announcements, I get those snarky PMs telling me that I’m “missing major coverage and not doing my job”. Conversely, if I do cover announcements of announcements, forum threads are filled with “this is news?” comments. Both make me want to tear my hair out as a victim of the ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t syndrome’.  

*sighs*

Community Spotlight: A Prehistoric MMO?

Posted by MikeB Saturday July 30 2011 at 4:13AM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "A prehistoric MMO - How would you do it?" by Karesh. Simple enough, Karesh floats the idea of a prehistoric MMO to the MMORPG.com community:

Pretty much like the title stated, feel free to post your ideas, etc.

I always find people's opinions and ideas interesting, so that's pretty much my reason for creating this thread.

astoria has some fairly specific plans in mind for a prehistoric MMO:

Proto-humans would be the playable 'races'

Homeo Erectus, Homo Floresiensis, Homo Habilis, Neanderthalensis

They would vary on intelligence, strength.

I'd add Megafauna http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megafauna

my favorite

http://www.itsnature.org/rip/dinosaurs/giant-short-faced-bear/ 16 hundred pounds!

and mess up pre-history some in putting a lot of extinct animals (and the above different homos) together in the same time.

Eating and clean water would be the main currencies.

Slow, 'race' wide technology development through crafting. The game might eventually get to metal working after a few years.

seniorfrito would want to see the game set in the Jurassic period (um, who wouldn't!?):

I actually like the idea.  Of course I would prefer the Jurassic period.  So there would be all sorts of dinosaurs.  However, it'd be super dangerous to venture out.  Like playing the game would always be heart pounding and adrenaline pumping.  Players don't really stand a good chance against most dinosaurs.  Also the reason for people (players) to be there would be some sort of time travel deal.  Not like any sort of cave people or something.

I dunno.  Just people who've gotten sent back in time and have to try to survive.  That would be pretty fun.

BartDaCat takes the setting and injects some fantasy into it (why not?):

"Pre-historic" shouldn't be a limiting factor on the imagination and fantasy that can be incorporated into the content, but it could work as an overall theme.

I'm guessing we're talking dinosaurs, the Ice Age, evolution, struggling for survival in a early pre-Man versus Nature environment, and an eventual almost complete annihilation of all life, followed by an emergence of new species, new continents, formations of society, development of new survival skills, so on so forth...

There is room for a lot of imaginative growth, including:

  • An unknown antagonist that deliberately leads the world to the brink of doom with comets and fire, darkening the sky.
  • Powerful forces that are eventually revealed to be the early "Gods" of mankind, influencing various skills for survival (and gameplay).
  • Formation of early societies in the form of "clans", "tribes", or however they will be named to increase chance of survival.
  • The development of crafting systems centered around a "Survival Skills" theme.
  • Expansions could be based around certain tumultuous events, such as the Ice Age, Meteoric Devastation, and imagined ideas purportedly caused by some unknown antagonist that wants to wipe out all life on the planet.

Perhaps the reasoning behind the near-extinction of all life on the planet could stem from the unknown antagonist, not of this world.  This force could be the impetus that drives pre-Man to form societies in order to strengthen their defenses against it.

The primary antagonist could be Lovecraft-ian, something similar to the Old Gods, and it sends wave after wave of minions from the sea, and outer space, and from other dimensions.  Granted, Blizzard ripped off the whole Lovecraft-ian Lore idea as well in their later World of Warcraft expansions, but the idea still has a lot of room for exploration.

Personally, I've never really considered a prehistoric MMO before, but like most I'd probably want to see it involve dinosaurs. It'd be a sandbox game and everyone's basically a dinosaur with the basic objective being to survive. You'd have access to all sorts of dinosaurs including herbivores. Heck, you could make them factions. Herbivores vs. Carnivores! What's the matter? You've never wanted to see a bronotsaurus throw down with a T-Rex?

Community Spotlight: Personalization in Crafting

Posted by MikeB Friday July 22 2011 at 11:14PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Crafting- Player Invention, Player Creation, Crafter Personalization" by Disatisfied9. In the thread, Disatisfied9 wonders how gamers can set themselves apart through crafting in an MMO:

Setting yourself apart to be entirely unique as a Crafter-- unlike any other.

How is any of this possible in a MMORPG?

If a game developer could focus on an incredibly extensive and robust crafting system-- making it as focused ($$$, time, programming, update importance, & art asset assignment) as any other part of the game (Combat, PvP, PvE)-- what would you want? How would it be done?

Honestly, I can't even fathom how one would take a MMORPG and allow player customization in crafter.

Let's say the game has all the works for items-- Cooks & Alchemists who supply important consumables, Blacksmiths, Leatherworkers, Woodworkers, Siegemasters-- the works.

How do you make it so that one Cook's Food is different from another Cook's Food-- to the point that someone can become famous as "The Bread Guy" or "The Pizza Master" or "The Strength Cook"?

How would you customize player-created gear to allow for someone to place their Armor or Weapons on the marketplace with a hallmark as to why they're so different? Different visuals for the gear? Different stat augments? Different custom marks? Dyes? Legendary Weapons? Extremely Cheap Prices?

"Buy from 'Player43' he has the cheapest prices on Axes!"

"Don't buy from Player43, his axes break easy! Buy my durable Axes-- they may be more expensive but they are worth every penny!"

"Forget those guys, my axes look the best and give a special enchantment!"

Sorry, but what separates these different players from all eventually being capable of making cheaply made, highly durable, specially enchanted axes?

Obviously rarity of recipes won't do much, as even with rare recipes everyone and their mom in WoW have the most desired enchants or recipes. Granted WoW is a horrible example, but still.

Boge suggests a crafting talent tree:

I've got it!  To allow your crafting to be different than others...a crafting talent tree.  You specify which areas will be your specialty, swords, axes, helms, bread, boats, bows, furniture, etc.  Then you specialize further from there, swiftness, mass, durability, flexibility, style, etc.

This way you'll have reason to do crafting.  You can customize your own crafter to create what you'd like while others will not be able to create exactly the same items as you.  The deeper the talent tree, the more unique your crafter will be.

A big part for this to work would be the variety of attributes the crafted items could carry.  You can't just have this profession craft this item.  They're all the same that way!  They need individual attributes.

So basically, depending on how you've chosen your crafting specialties, you'll have the ability to create something with specific attributes that others might not be able to duplicate.  You don't craft a predetermined item, but rather a generic item with customized attributes unique to your characters crafting build.

A whole crafting class within each character.

maplestone feels that the consumer purchasing the wares shouldn't have to worry about distinguishing between two crafters, outside of the price of what they are selling:

I dislike systems that put the burden of distinguishing between two crafters on the customer.  If every blacksmith has their own unique sword design and a customer needs to decide which one to get, you don't end up playing a crafter (something I love playing), you end up playing a salesman (which is something I despise playing).  That's not to say I'm opposed to customization or specialization, just that in the end a buyer should only have to worry about price.

Larsa notes that Ryzom accomplished this goal many years:

Ryzom did this, what is it now, 7 or 8 years ago.

The principle of that crafting system was, like other systems, that you needed a recipe and some ingredients to make an item. The main difference however was that the recipe only specified the type of ingredient, say, as an example you needed 6 leaves, 4 tree branches, 4 medium sized bones and 2 pieces of rope to make that item. (Forgive me that I use a hypothetical example, it's many years ago that I played the game.)

Now, for that above example, in the game you could find 20 different leaves, from different plants, 10 different branches, from different trees, and likewise with all other ingredients. Those actual ingredients (not the class of it) determined the actual colour and the actual stats of the final item. It needed a large amount of experimentation from the crafters to find out what mixture of actual ingredients gave the most favourable stats for an item. Accordingly, these recipes, especially the ones with rare ingredients (either hard to find or only obtainable in dangerous areas or from boss-mobs) for high-end items became a closely guarded secret of the crafter and his guild.

The system was good - and still is I assume.

Oh, how we've forgotten. Star Wars Galaxies, as several users mentioned, did all what Disatisfied9 suggested was unfathomable and more. In fact, there was such a variety between crafters who really worked at their craft it really put me off from trying to dip my toes in as well (I was intimidated by their dedication!). On the vanity side, crafters could personalize every item with their own name and description and many even had naming schemes, going so far as to create "lines" of items to reflect their brand. For example, a crafter might have a certain line of more economical weapons for sale and would denote this with the name of the line, while a more expensive and exclusive line of items would have an appropriate line name to go with it as well.

Beyond this, crafters in SWG experimented with all sorts of components and worked hard to get the best quality resources, some of which would only spawn during certain times of the year and sometimes never again at the same quality. Many of these crafters would also specialize in making different types of gear such as weapons, bio-engineered pets, starship parts, armor, etc, and it was easy to find out which crafters were in the top of their particular field. Tthese crafters were always sought out for their wares as they really put the work in to develop their business, their craft, and their reputation.

I have never seen such a thing again since Star Wars Galaxies, but I'd absolutely love to, even if I myself would not actually try my luck at crafting in such a game. You had to have a ton of respect for these people who put so much work into their crafting; it was really something else.

Beyond the personal satisfaction it must have given these players for being able to do what the game allowed them to do, it really felt like you were part of a community when you could recommend specific crafters for certain types of gear to other players, and it was always nice having someone to go back to for all your needs and being able to trust they will complete your order to your specification and at a price that you felt was fair.

Heck, I developed relationships with a number of crafters, and as a combat profession I would help them go out into dangerous areas of the galaxy and clear out creatures so they could plant harvesters on areas concentrated with high quality resources. Of course, I would receive a discount and/or payment for my time.

Overwolf: The Next Beta Build!

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday July 20 2011 at 7:07PM
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Hey folks!  I recently got to chat with Uri Marchand from Overwolf about just what the team's been up to since we launched the MMORPG client what seems ages ago (it was actually just two weeks hence!).  We discussed at great length some features we'd like to see edited as a company, and I think in the somewhat near future the MMORPG client will have the ability to upload images and video directly to MMORPG.com and Gamertube, so that's pretty sweet! 

But on top of that Uri asked me to share with you some of the main things going into the next beta build, and this is just the major bullet points:

  • Full size compressed recording, for full-screen viewing.
  • Uncompressed recording - maximum quality, crazy size files.  They listened, and this is going in ASAP.
  • Option to remove "using Overwolf".  Not everyone cares that you're using Overwolf so the team is making it an option to leave this on the many different widget feeds.
  • Adding more games to the supported list, and this is an ongoing process all over.
  • Improving the FB interface to make it more usable all around.
On top of that, and down the line a bit Overwolf will be getting its own in-game music player.  They're adding in the option to take compressed smaller JPG images.  And even a "Burst" feature that will take 10-20 screens in rapid succession like a nice DLR camera. 
 
On one last note, the team asked me to assure you all that none of the info gathered by Overwolf will be used for selling to companies.  All of the info about what games you play and how long is completely 100% anonymous and encrypted.  Uri said that even if they wanted to sell the info, they couldn't do anything with personal information as it's all encrypted.  It's purely used to track metrics in the form of game use and time played, etc. 
 
In the future we're probably going to be running some screen and video contests with Overwolf, and the team over there has generously opted to supply the prizes in the form of Steam Gift Cards, so be on the look out! 
 
As always, you can offer suggestions to the OW team at their site, here, and even sign up to test the beta versions every two weeks by e-mailing betaman at overwolf dot com.  Hope you're enjoying this joint venture, and we can't wait to use the HD video feature ourselves to really flesh out our reviews and previews.

Community Spotlight: The Unpopularity of Raiding

Posted by MikeB Friday July 15 2011 at 8:27PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Why is raiding so unpopular to the MMO community?" by MMOExposed. The topic is pretty self-explanatory, so let's get started with MMOExposed:

I noticed the mmo community for some reason cheered Anet on, when they announced no Raid Dungeons in Guild Wars 2. Well I want to ask. Why is Raiding so unpopular now days to the MMORPG community?

Isnt Raiding, a Massively Multiplayer element of PvE combat?

Would you rather future MMO to be balanced for 1v1 PvE rather than 1v20+?

I want to know why the community doesnt like Raiding any more.

Note:
Wasnt calling out Guild Wars 2, that was simply an example.

whilan feels that the stigma against raids is a result of stagnation of the associated gameplay:

Personally myself i don't have a problem with raids as a feature. The biggest issue i can see is how they are done.

1 guy/girl/demon/dragon whatever is attacking the main tank while 30 other people are throwing fireballs/ice or whatever else at it for 30 mins.

The problem is most raids end up this way.

If you change up how the raids are done then it might not be so bad.

Have a group of 20 3 doing a mini-game to keep a sheild down, 2 more trying to coordinate the end game point and the rest trying to hold off the wave upon wave of enemies being sent (of varioud difficulty) until the bomb or whatever is the objective is complete then that might be a bit more interesting.

When people think raids they think of classic style you'd see in similar titles lik EQ or WoW rather then what can be done with raids.

Have multi group encounters, one goes after a reactor, another a prison district all in hopes that it will make the part, overthrowing the fortress and winning the day.

Once they change up how raids are done behind the simple kill the big guy at the end all the time (every now and then is fine, nothing wrong with the mechanic) the word raid might not sound so bad. Some people have just gotten bored with the same style of doing raids.

Plus you also have the added feeling that you have to do it over and over and over and over again to get the better gear. Not sure myself how you fix that one.

Removing the feature all together ala GW2 is an option but i don't like removing options of play just cause people may not like it. Just makes the game seem a bit less complex and less stuff to do.

Personal opinion and views of course.

Quizzical offers a litany of reasons as to why raiding is unpopular to him:

It's not "doesn't like raiding any more".  It's "never did like raiding and still doesn't".

Having to schedule your life around a game is bad.

Needing to farm peculiar gear with no use outside of a particular raid is bad.

Having to do the same raid a bunch of times in a row in order to get up for the next is bad.

Being unable to do the content you want because you're waiting for a raid lockout to end is bad.

Having to worry about losing all of your progress if your guild breaks up is bad.  Especially when game mechanics seem designed with the intent to create guild drama and try to break up your guild.

I'm not against playing a game with others, whether a few others or dozens of others.  But I want to be able to log in when I want to, and then jump in and play.  The reason solo content is popular is not so much that people want to solo, as that people don't want to deal with a bunch of other garbage instead of getting to play the game, and in many games, soloing is the only way to do that.

kevjards feels raiding is unpopular due to the various barriers to entry:

i think a lot of people get put off raiding,when you hear something like experienced people only all the time..and must haver this gear for invite.i remember once on wow the content had only been released that day and this guy was asking for experienced only,he got slaughtered.i play conan and i,m lucky enough to be in a guild that does,nt mind that i,m not the greatest player and they will take anyone into a raid as long as they are prepared to listen.and we have a great time and a laugh.some peeps are just scared they will screw it up and not be allowed back,by that i mean get on a blacklist of somekind.imo anyways..i maybe wrong.

For me, raiding is relatively unpopular due to a combination of many of the reasons above, but primarily due to the raiding cycle. As I'm writing this blog my friends are in Ventrilo doing a raid, getting super excited for new gear, "Oooooooooh!" (literally, they sound like Raving Rabbids right now).  For me, I'm a fan of the large scale content aspect of raids, and sometimes the story context for which that content is built upon. The problem for me has been, outside of the peripheral factors, that you basically have to repeat a lot of the same content in order to see the next bit of it.  This "Gear to Raid, Raid to Gear" cycle is incredibly off-putting for me.

The gear you acquire is typically only good for progressing further into the raid content; it's completely arbitrary. Why not gate the experience with challenging gameplay over itemization? I don't mind itemization being a factor, but I'd like to see it weighted a bit less in lieu of more challenging gameplay.

Having to plan your life around raids, putting competent people together, and the overall "serious business" aspect are some other reasons that make it difficult for me to really get into it. Oh, and let's not forget the advent of DPS meters in recent years. For example, RIFT doesn't feature a DPS meter, yet my friends will go through the process of parsing their combat logs just to find out what silly magical number they hit in some encounter.

I don't feel raids as a form of content are a failure conceptually, but I do think the basic underpinnings of raid design could use a revamp.

Looking for a few Good Guru Volunteers

Posted by BillMurphy Monday July 11 2011 at 8:46PM
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It's that time, folks!  Now that our Guru sites are off and rolling, we're on the sharp lookout for the able and willing gamers out there who might want to help out.  Currently, we don't have anything open for paid positions, but we are looking for a few folks to help out with the news on each site.  And while we realize cold hard cash is always a plus, we can at least offer you cool swag and game copies as we get them.

The gist of what we're looking for is pretty basic:

  • Someone who's a self-starter and will look for news each day during the M-F schedule
  • Someone who has a wide range of knowledge in gaming, but especially RTS and FPS titles.
  • Someone who has a little experience with HTML
  • Someone with the free time to scour the web for news
  • Someone who loves gaming in general, and wants to be a part of these sites
Basically, this is a foot in the door sort of position.  As both Gurus grow, we'll need more help and if you're already on board with a volunteer position, your chances are better than most assuredly.  If you have the kind of "stuff" we're looking for and are interested in helping out please don't hesitate to e-mail myself (billmurphy at MMORPG dot com) or Richard Cox (Richard at FPSguru dot com), or even just post right here and we'll contact you. 
 
Thanks for your time, now get back to gaming!
 

Community Spotlight: Returning to MMOs

Posted by MikeB Friday July 8 2011 at 9:30PM
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This week's Community Spotlight foucses on the thread "You can't go home again" by pierth. Pierth isn't happy with the newer crop of MMOs on the market but also can't seem to bring himself to return to some of his favorite older MMOs and isn't sure why:

It's come to the point that I'll likely go back to one of the MMORPGs I've subbed to in the past (not WoW ) as the newer games out today just aren't doing it for me anymore. For some reason I've been uneasy about going back to older games and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Has anyone taken a break from a particular MMORPG for several months or years and come back to it and had a good experience? I'm wondering if I should leave my older games as rose-colored memories.

Let's find out what pierth's fellow community members had to say!

Tdogskal's roomate had a pretty good experience returning to the original EverQuest:

This might or might not help you.

My Roommate and I both stopped playing EQ1 over 2 years ago, both decided to give it another go a few months ago.

He is still playing and loving it.  I stopped again after a few weeks because I felt like I just did not know what was going on in game anymore and was not having fun playing "catch" up.

AlBQuirky has considered returning to EverQuest but doesn't want to taint his memory of the game:

I think I see your conundrum, Pierth. You view the old game in a certain nostalgic way, like your first love. If you go back and the change is dramatically for the worst, your memory of it will be tainted.

EQ1 was my first MMO. I have thought about going back every now and then (it's been 8 or 9 years since I last played) but have resisted the urge. I don't want to spoil the memory I have of it :)

DarLorkar feels the quality of the return experience will likely depend on how social you were when you originally played:

Umm the main question you need to answer, is were you social in the game? IE: were you in an active guild and had lots of friends? Or a soloer?

If you had lots of people to play with and talk to and go back to an empty game, then most likely you wont be there long alone.

Lot of the good times people had in games back a few years ago were tied up with the peple they played with. So, kinda the rose colored glasses you mentioned when they try to go back alone or try to make new friends in games that are low numbers and mostly maxxed characters running around.

I've had mixed expereinces on this front. I played City of Heroes off and on for over 4.5 years, often taking long breaks before returning and that was basically always the way I played it so it wasn't much of an issue. Most of the friends I had on that game were also still playing it when I returned and I'm sure that helped.

However, trying to return to Star Wars Galaxies has almost always been depressing for me, and I've tried multiple times. Opening up my datapad and finding waypoints to the houses to some of my old friends only to see a pillar of light with nothing there when I headed over to check it out again always sucked. Every time I came back there were also less and less people on my friends list who were still playing and that was definitely a game that was reliant on its community. So, ultimately, it varies, but I would definitely recommend trying it out for yourself. You'll never know until you do!

Have you returned to your old favorites? How was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

EVE Online - Be Vain, But Not Angry!

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday July 5 2011 at 6:39PM
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Well folks, as we reported early Tuesday morning as you were all washing sparkler dust from your mitts, and cleaning dried up beer flakes from your gulliver (yes, gulliver), EVE Online isn't going to die in a fire.  The dust hasn't exactly cleared but it looks like just about everyone except those vehemently against any and all forms of microtransactions can breathe a collective sigh of relief.  Here are the basics:

  • Only vanity items will ever be sold in the store.
  • Nothing that would ever risk "unfair" advantages given to one player for money will be sold.
  • Pricing decisions and the like are under review, and explanations are forthcoming.
Pretty much everyone involved at the emergency CSM meeting in Iceland agreed that the communication on all things involved with the store could have been better, and CCP basically flatout apologized for the way the whole thing was handled.
 
Now I know there are some who will say, "Yeah, but still they should have never let that memo leak" or "the prices are still way too high".  You're probably right.  In fact, even as a non-player I know enough about this industry from surrounding myself with it for nearly a decade to say that's exactly right.  But then all of this is over, you know what's going to be remembered?  Just that memo.  Just the "scare" and the threat of mass exodus.
 
It will serve as a future reminder to CCP and if we're lucky other companies that players are not afraid to band together and stand up for something they believe in.  These may be "games", but they're so much more than what that word implies, and I think CCP realizes that.  Heck, they probably know that more than most devs based solely on the love and care with which they interact alongside the community.  They don't just offer a forum and say "Go bark there, peon."  They brought the CSM into the company as a part of the development staff so to speak. What other developer has ever done that?
 
I know this has been a hairy situation for all involved, and I don't want to sound like a CCP apologist, but give the guys and gals a break.  They're gamers like the rest of us, only they do it for a living.  If anyone realizes how valuable we are to the game, it's them.

Community Spotlight: Your Favorite Dev Studio?

Posted by MikeB Saturday July 2 2011 at 1:35AM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Do you MMORPG.com players like ANY dev studio?" by nhavas. While nhavas seems frustrated in his original post, the thread has provided some interesting responses from the MMORPG community. Let's get started with the original post:

I have to wonder if you guys really like any MMO developer?

What do you expect from these people that they aren't delivering? How far do you -really- expect a 10-50$ investment to get you?

Magnum2103 is a fan of Trion, Blizzard, and ArenaNet:

As far as MMO developers go I like Trion, Blizzard, and ArenaNet.  So far their games have shown a high level of polish, and Trion has particularly good support and listens to it's playerbase (even though Rift didn't do much on an innovative level), Blizzard just makes fantastic games, and ArenaNet is looking great with Guild Wars 2.

If we are talking about ANY development studio though, there are too many I like here to list that I regularly buy games from.  An easier list would be development studios I don't like; 3 companies which I won't bother listing here.

MurlockDance isn't partial to any studio, though he gives Trion some props:

I take each game on its own rather than bothering much about the developer. Case in point, I play EQ2 primarily, despite SOE's reputation with the gaming public, though I still feel pretty sore about the whole hacking event. I'm still watching my cards very closely to make sure that everything is ok. If not, I will leave EQ2 behind unfortunately.

I really appreciate Trion Worlds right now. It's not just because I like Rift. I like championning a studio that is not owned by a major company. They have a quality product in Rift and seem to fix bugs pretty quickly as well as adding in some features I thought they should have to make the community aspects better in the game.

Companies I stay away from? NCSoft, EA Mythic (or whatever they're called these days), and Square Enix. With all three of these companies I've had billing problems. To me it's a very basic thing to get the billing right. If they can't do that, then they won't get my money.

astoria goes in-depth, offering his take on a number of MMO developers:

I like Aventurine that make Darkfall. I think these guys are geniuses. Totally insane but geniuses. Nobody really wants to play a game that hard, but they don't give a crap. They are the honey badgers of the dev world. see honeybadger http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg

I like Fallen Earth, LLC. They've always treated fans well, even if they failed to capture a massive interest.

I like whoever developed Perpetuum. Not really a game for me but I feel like they dropped a functional fun game on a shoestring budget which I gotta respect.

I like Paragon. Even though they did things that I didn't like (incarnate system), I can see where they were things the majority wanted. Plus they made one of the best MMOs ever, so I can forgive a lot.

I like Cryptic okay. I really don't like StarTrek (why do they go where no one has gone before and there are always people there? And why does the ships computer get taken over so much? Do you have a damn off switch?) so I couldn't care what they did to the IP. :) I think they got a lot screwed by Marvel getting pulled but still I find Champs a decent product.

So far I like Trion. I don't consider Rift anything revolutionary, but I do appreciate them trying little tweaks on past successes and just making the product they promised. Again, not a huge fan, but there is a difference between what I personally want in a game and what I respect as good business practice and good treatment of customers as a whole.

I don't like SoE, I think they are shallow and don't treat their work as art or even serious entertainment. They really don't test or listen to fans like even many poorly funded companies do.

I have mixed feeling about Funcom. Love love AO. AoC was a great game 2 years after it should have been, but they promised so much they couldn't deliver and that is just bad business. But I can forgive a lot for the times my barbarian (who looks like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Bill Goldberg) has cut off heads.

Me? I don't like to play favorites given my line of work here at the site, but I used to admire Cryptic Studios quite a bit. While I started my MMO career with Star Wars Galaxies, I played City of Heroes for 4.5-5 years, longer than any other MMO, and for the most part Cryptic Studios did pretty alright by that game (yes, yes, I know you're sore about Enhancement Diversification!).

I can't say I've been too impressed with Cryptic's work since they sold City of Heroes to NCsoft, but I'd like to hope they find their footing again and put out some great new games. And yes, I realize most of the original City of Heroes team stayed behind at Paragon Studios (and they've been doing a pretty bang up job from what I can tell!).

So, who are your favorite MMO developers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Aim for the Shiny Parts....Please

Posted by SBFord Friday July 1 2011 at 7:07AM
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One of my friends posted a video from the folks at College Humor and, while I’m a looooong way from college age, I was struck by just how hysterically funny this video is when it comes to today’s games. But it’s more than just a good laugh (and it is that!). It also shines a light on gender bias with regard to armor models in today’s games. /overly serious intro

First I’ll let you watch it.

Now that you’re all done chortling about shiny parts and finished with that belly busting laugh at the end when the guys come out in armor frighteningly like the woman’s at the beginning of the film, we can move on.

I’ve been playing RPGs and MMOs for a good long while now and the last decent armor model I saw for any of my RPG characters was one that my level 99 Amazon wore in Diablo 2. My best MMO character armor came in Lord of the Rings Online with more of Kalaniel covered than uncovered. Guild Wars wasn’t too bad either. I have to admit, however, that I wasn’t totally enamored of the pseudo steam punk wear-it-as-tight-as-you-can look of my Mesmer but at least she wore pants most of the time! I had a lot of hope for Rift, I really did. But even they let me down. Oh sure, I got to lose the spike-heeled thigh-high boots that are just so dang practical for running around in the wilds of any MMO, but my characters still show an alarming amount of cleavage even at my end game levels. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to realize that the enemy will be looking for the parts that aren’t shiny to aim at first!

I’ll even admit that I’ve quit a few games because I just couldn’t stand what my characters looked like.

Yes, I’m that shallow.

But here’s what I want to know: According to a 2008 study, the ratio of male to female gamers is 60%-40% so why are female characters still running around in G-strings and Wonder Bras? Don’t get me wrong. I get it: Sex sells. I’m secure enough in who I am to think that, at least occasionally, it’s nice to look like a Victoria’s Secret model but not all the time for Pete’s sake! I also get it that men like to see the female characters they play dressed in the skank of the week costumes that some (too many) MMOs utilize. I can accept that but I want equal time. I want that bad boy in a jock strap and a pair of sandals so I can admire his rear end as he’s running down a horde of Orcs. Is that so wrong?

So now I’m putting out the clarion call to developers: Give me male armor models with just their shiny parts covered and at the same time, give my girls better than that thong and Wonder Bra combo mentioned earlier! Maybe I’d be more inclined to play male characters in my games if they were present. I might not but, either way, why can’t female and male character armors be created equal? Maybe we need some Gamers’ Constitution and then make an amendment to it. You know “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all character armor models are created equal.” Or something like that. But if that’s too extreme, all I really want is to see a bit less cleavage on my gals and a lot more shiny stuff covering my characters’ parts. And while they’re at it, I’d also like to see a lot more of my boys. *wink wink nudge nudge*