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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

MMORPG PVP Archetypes

Posted by zergwatch Saturday March 29 2008 at 11:58PM
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If the only MMORPG you have ever played is World Of Warcraft, you probably will not understand PVP Archetypes. PVP Archetypes shine in PVP based MMORPG's where in game cross faction chat exists. In games such as WoW and EQ2 where cross faction chat has been disabled, pvp archetypes are actually meta-archtypes as they surface in server and realm forum message boards and not in the actual games themselves.

Source: Zergwatch

The PVP Guy

The PVP guy is perhaps the rarest and hardest to play PVP archetype. The PVP guy is usually the person organizing PVP in their guild or for their faction. PVP Guy is the archetype that is always up front either leading the battle or standing side by side with the leader. PVP guy is always up for a fight and is determined to win each battle at all costs. PVP guy rarely logs out of the game until a clear cut victory has been delivered by his side. It is estimated that only .5% of a PVP server population actually plays the PVP Guy archetype. the other 99.5% of the players on a PVP server fall into one of the following archetypes:

The Crytit

The Crytit complains about game mechanics, odds and equipment more than he actually plays the game. After a long night of battling opponents, the Crytit will step up and serve up a wide range of excuses as to why his or her faction got their asses handed to them. The Crytit has several primary attacks in their arsenal including "We were outnumbered", "We were outgeared" and "We would have won if...". While most players coddle and entertain the Crytit's ramblings, they should be avoided at all costs. The more attention you give the Crytit, the more the Crytit will cry your ear off.

The Sack Rider

The Sack Rider is one of the most dynamic PVP archetypes you will encounter in an MMORPG. They have the ability to quickly and seemlessly switch between sacks with little or no effort. Some of the best Sack Riders have the ability to ride multiple sacks at once, making them a very quick and agile archetype. A sack rider will cling on to the sack of an opponent who has recently schooled them in an attempt to ride their sack right into the ground. The Sack Rider usually stalks their opponents and sometimes the guilds of the opponents hoping and praying that a shred of discarded recognition might be thrown their way.

The Ball Hugger

The Ball Hugger is a novice PVP archetype. Ball Huggers can usually be found cowering in the shadows of a well skilled PVPer during a battle. When a battle has been won, the Ball Hugger will jump from his champion's shadow and absorb all of the positive energy of the engagement. That energy can then be converted into long winded conversations from the non-factor Ball Hugger directed at their defeated opponent. Although damage meters and combat logs will reveal the Ball Hugger played an insignificant role in the engagement, Ball Hugger energy is powerful and can sometimes last for days after the engagement.

The Cheerleader

While the guild is out PVPing and putting their name on the line, the Cheerleader can usually be found in the guild hall crafting his wares or engaging in a business transaction at the local auction house. When the Cheerleader receives word that the guild has bested their opponents on the battlefield, the Cheerleader will join in on the after battle communications between winner and loser. Cheerleaders are usually very vocal in the game forums and usually recount combat engagements in the first person even though they did not participate.

The Drool Cup

The drool cup can regularly be found operating as a lone wolf in a faction vs. faction engagement. Sometimes the Drool Cup is a low ranking member of a guild that mass recruits in numbers to compete on the battlefield. Before, during and after the battle, the Drool Cup will engage the enemy and keep them off guard with a steady stream of incoherent trash talk. The Drool Cup plays a very important role within the faction or guild as they are the ones who clean the jockstraps of the more talented players.

Tin Foil Hat Guy

Tin Foil Hat Guy is sometimes confused with the Crytit. While both will cry an opponent's ear off after a match, the Crytit usually remains focused on game mechanics and mathematical equations. Tin Foil Hat Guy will devise conspiracy theories about the engagement and engineer elaborate tales of exploiting, hacking, GM intervention and spying. Tin Foil Hat Guy is more of an artistic talent that paints portaits of mild retardation.

The top 10 worst things that can happen to any MMORPG player.

Posted by zergwatch Saturday March 29 2008 at 4:37PM
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10. The server is not responding.  Please try again later.

9. Patch Day.

8. Remember that real life friend you begged your long time guild to let in?  He just ripped off two guildies, ninja looted the big raid and sold half of the guild bank on the auction house.
7. Your guild finally gets a voice chat server.  You realize after 4 years of playing with them, you can't stand these people.

6. We're sorry, but this account has been suspended for violating the terms of service.

5. You just found out that the game you built a website for and you've been following religiously for the past 5 years was silently produced by a collaborative effort between Brad McQuaid and Lord British.

4. After losing your job, divorcing your spouse and having your kids taken away by youth services for the amount of time you spend in your MMORPG, they release an expansion that makes it all worthless.

3. Your company is losing money and ready to close the doors, luckily the company was just purchased by SOE for pennies on the dollar and you might get to keep your job.

2. You login to your MMORPG account and your guild bank has been cleared, your guild has been disbanded and your character was deleted.  While on hold with customer service trying to undo the apparent hacking of your account, your spouse walks into the room to tell you he/she is filing for a divorce.

1. The chick you've been cybering for the past 2 years has finally asked for a real life meeting and you brag about it to all your guild mates.  When you arrive at the restaurant, an overweight and bearded man named Bob says "Hi, I'm Electra".





Can SOE redeem themselves with Free Realms?

Posted by zergwatch Saturday March 29 2008 at 2:54PM
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In the race to capture the wide open market of family based MMORPG's, Sony Online Entertainment appears to be the front runner with their upcoming family MMORPG, Free Realms. Currently, the family based MMORPG space is an undiscovered continent waiting for the first explorers to plant their flags, tame the natives and steal their gold.

As a parent of a 5 year old child and an uncle many times over, I can testify first hand that there just aren't any suitable online worlds for tweens. While Toontown Online is borderline condescending to tweens, Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin are not appropriate environments for them either. Sites like Webkinz World, Bella Sara and other real item based virtual worlds shake down kids and parents alike for every last dollar they can commit to the game. Disney's Game Kingdom and MyNoggin are exceptional and highly recommended online outlets for that age group, but there's just nowhere for young kids and parents to play together.

The game is geared for teens and tweens (5-12 year old range). Some parents opt for letting their young children play more mature MMORPG's such as World of Warcraft or Everquest 2, but when sensible parenting comes in to play, you realize its like having your young children sit by themselves on the sidelines, hoping to be called upon to play in a teenage pickup basketball game at an inner city court with no lights at dusk.

The "MMOG" space for children is very cluttered with flash based web browser worlds such as Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel and the upcoming and highly anticipated Hello Kitty Online MMOG. Free Realms promises a exciting and fully rendered 3D world for whole family to explore, adventure, play and socialize in, together.

Fundamentally, Free Realms is a win-win scenario with SOE, provided they can overcome the black cloud that still hangs over them, whether right or wrong, in the MMORPG industry. If the game is solid and fun at release, SOE has an opportunity to be the major player in the family MMOG market.

Free Realms seems to capitalize on several different gaming genres with an MMORPG core element that ties traditional MMORPG activities such as adventuring, combat, exploring and socializing to non traditional MMORPG minigames. Within the virtual 3d world of Free Realms, players will be able to interact with in game venues such as actually Ice Skating at the Ice Rink, picking up an instrument and playing it on stage, playing soccer in mingame formats.

The game will be a free download for the PC, funded by in game advertising, but users can opt to pay a small monthly fee of 4.95 to remove the ads. Players can also pay to buy additional in game items using real money transactions to acquire virtual goods.

Whether or not Free Realms will be embraced by the portion of the MMORPG community that has previously blacklisted the company is yet to be determined. Quite frankly, I don't think it will have any impact whatsoever on the success of Free Realms.

Gibson Gone Wild

Posted by zergwatch Thursday March 27 2008 at 10:27AM
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My gaming article for the day is not about MMORPG's, but hope you enjoy anyway:

Gibson and Activision have had a long and mutually prospering relationship until recently. Activision sold the Guitar Hero video game and Gibson earned royalties by having their products and brands featured prominently in Guitar Hero.

Everything was going good until Activision decided they do not need Gibson products in their game. It is a move that went unnoticed, but a move that may cheapen future Guitar Hero products. Many avid guitar enthusiasts eyes were drawn to Guitar Hero by Gibson replica guitar controllers. If I was to ever play Guitar Hero, which I'm fairly certain I won't, because I prefer to play my real Gibson guitar on a real amp with a real band, I would definitely want a Les Paul style guitar controller.  I would never dream of playing Guitar Hero on some no-frills design or even a Fender design.

Unfortunately, this is a business and there's no room for nostalgia or personal preference. Activision sought to increase their bottom line on the Guitar Hero franchise and cutting Gibson's royalties in future titles.  Gibson branding was a line item they could live without.

When Gibson caught wind of this, they immediately claimed Patent Infringement on a 1999 patent where a guitar player can plug his real life Gibson Guitar into some form of virtual reality headset plugged into some unknown video entertainment system and played with a virtual band. It's not quite Guitar Hero, since non real instruments are necessary or even possible and there's no VR headset that ties you into a virtual concert.

The patents are similar, but in my consumer opinion, they are different enough where they don't infringe on each other. While the Gibson suit has a tiny shred of merit, the driving force behind these suits boils down to sour grapes on Gibson's part. For years, they supported and embraced Guitar Hero. Now that they have been kicked out of the club, they want revenge.

Not only do they want revenge, Gibson is set on taking as many people down with them as possible. First they sued Harmonix, the makers of Rock Band, then they went on to sue major retailers for selling Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

Gibson could be treading on shaky ground with the consumer population with these lawsuits. They are attacking something gamers hold dear and close to their hearts. As a life long supporter of Gibson products, I think they are also tarnishing their reputation. Had Gibson filed these suits when the first Rock Band product was announced years ago, I think they would have been completely in the right from a legal and public relations standpoint.

However, their revenge based campaign against an entire industry down to the retailer just paints a very ugly portrait of a company that had seemed to grown out of their frivolously litigatious and contentious past.

The MMORPG Name Game

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday March 25 2008 at 7:02PM
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The English language is believed to have over 1,000,000 words in it. Nobody really knows for sure what the exact number is. When it comes time to name your MMORPG, it seems that not all 1,000,000 words are available. Instead, MMO developers seem to try to keep the names of MMO's as similar to eachother as the actual gameplay.

In my quest to grind my way through the MMO name game, I begin with the original quest, Everquest. When you've completed all the quests in Everquest, you can move on to Everquest II and Everquest Online Adventures. Each of the Everquest adventures, whether online or the offline Everquest Champions of Norrath, take place in the world of Norrath or the New World of Norrath after the original Norrath was Shattering or the world of Norrath before the time before The Shattering.

If you want to quest a little bit closer to home, you need to investigate StarQuest or Infinity: The Quest for Earth. While quest games are nothing new, I'm pretty sure sticking a Quest in your game started somewhere around the time of King's Quest. There's also Titans Quest, which you can call an MMORPG without the MxO.

Though they may not say so in their name, all MMORPG's have Quests. Not many MMORPG's are light, but plenty are Dark and one is both Dark and Light. Dark Solstice, DarkEden, Dark Ages, DarkSpace, Darkwind and Dark Ages of Camelot seem to give us all the darkness we need. It's time to come out of the Dark Ages and find new ages. Age of Conan, Age of Camelot, Age of Reckoning and Age of Armor provide us with a nice choice of ages to explore. You would think Age of Armor would be about tanks, but alas it's just another place to Quest.

There are many worlds to explore in the land of MMO's. The folks at SOE wanted to be different and call their world a planet in Planetside, while EarthRise and Fallen Earth just call it what it is. If you're looking for other worlds, you can land in Fantasy Worlds, FreeWorld, Irth Worlds, Oz World, Stargate Worlds, Sword of the New World, TerraWorld, World of Kung Fu, World of Pirates and yes of course, World of Warcraft.

In a genre filled with elves, orcs and fairies, I'm glad some publishers are bold enough to just tell us what races are in their game in the title. There's no second guessing what's inside Fairyland, Elf Online, Angels, Immortals, MagiKnights or Ogre Island. Unfortunately that leaves you scratching your head wondering just what Thang is all about. Perhaps orcs and trolls aren't your thang and you're looking for something more worldy like a swashbucking pirate on the high seas?

It's talk like a pirate day everyday in MMO land with Pirate King Online, Puzzle Pirates, Tales of Pirates, World of Pirates and Pirates of the Caribbean. If those pirate titles aren't hot enough for you, there's always Pirates of the Burning Sea.

Enough of this world, lets shoot for the stars. Star Sonata, Stargate Worlds, Starport, StarQuest, Phantasy Star and of course the stars we're most familiar with, Star Wars and Star Trek. Star MMORPG's are out of this world. Infact, they're out of this universe. Universe you say? While the Marvel Universe never quite made made it, we do have Universe Online, Entropia Universe and Phantasy Star Universe.

What would an MMORPG be with a war? We have War on Wheels, Godswar, Guild Wars, Star Wars, Kaos War, Myth War, Land at War, Twilight War, Merc Wars, Warhammer and what would any MMORPG article be without repeated mention of World of Warcraft.

While it seems most MMORPG developers stick to safe words we can all identify with, we do have the rebel sect of MMORPG publishers. As if making an MMORPG was a bad enough stigma, there are those who named their games things like Dofus, Flyff, GoonZu, Mabinogi, Mu, Zu, Thang and There.

If all this reading has made you hungry, you can check out Parfait Station or Pi Story. Maybe you prefer broaden your Horizons and Rise to the occasion with bizzare foods like Andrew Zimmerman. You can try Wurms. If you want something more traditional, you might just want some MapleStory on MMOCakes.

Maybe counting is your thing. There's Two Moons, 9Dragons, 2 Everquests, A3, World War II and not one, not two, but three Tales in the Desert. When counting MMORPG's you can go on until Infinity.

While the English language has millions of possible word combinations and Endless Online possibilities, it makes you wonder why MMORPG developers continually recycle the words. Perhaps there's some MMORPG naming standards that they all secretly adhere to?

I know I've missed a few here, feel free to continue playing the MMO name game.

Cabal Online serves up an an authentic Asian fusion menu

Posted by zergwatch Sunday March 23 2008 at 11:36AM
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If Cabal Online was a restaurant, it would be a trendy, authentic asian fusion joint where you can have sushi and egg foo young served together on the same plate. The waitresses would be wearing kimonos, gagaku would be playing in the background and the menus would be written completely in kanji. The whole game looks, feels and plays like an Asian MMORPG.

Cabal Online came out last year and was released in EU and Asian markets. Earlier this month the game was released in North America by OGPlanet. Upon entering the game, I get this overwhelming feeling that I have already played Cabal Online. Like most other Asian MMO's, you create your character and are just plopped down uknowingly in the middle of some small, yet bustling outpost full of people just waiting for your help.

One of the initial flaws with Cabal is a very unintuitive user interface with unhelpful configuration options. You have to play Cabal either with WASD or click to move with your mouse. I have always preferred using arrow keys. There doesn't seem to be any way to remap your keys in Cabal Online and their support site didn't even mention customized controls.

After being tossed around the village in what was a pretty weak attempt at a tutorial, I was given my first combat mission. I was also warned to be prepared to drink a lot. It seems that Cabal is a game that revolves around drinking potions. Ok, it's about drinking so many potions during combat that it extends beyond realistic and immersive and becomes a hindrance to fluid gameplay and a roadblock for fun.

When the clouds turn dark and rain starts to fall, I know its usually a good idea to go inside. When an MMORPG lacks creativity and immersion in the starter town, I know from experience it only goes downhill from there. When a game introduces an aggravating mechanic on your first combat encounter, the frustration of that mechanic only intensifies as you invest your time into playing the game.

Here is where my review of Cabal Online ends before it even begins. After completing the first few quests, I realized I was right when I said I have already played Cabal Online. The game offers nothing that has not been done before in other Asian fusion MMORPGs. It looks Asian. It plays Asian. It grinds Asian.

In a market where MMORPG's have become a dime a dozen comodity, they must capture the player's attention immediately. They must immediately immerse the player from level 1. The expectations of an MMORPG are realized in the first couple hours of playing the game. Cabal Online failed on first impression.

Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair with my initial assment of Cabal Online. I have not leveled into the combos, engaged in PVP or explored the uniqueness claimed by Cabal. Unfortunately, if Cabal Online was applying for the job as my primary MMORPG, it failed its initial interview. The game carries a pretty decent resume, but first impressions make the most impact. I was unimpressed with Cabal Online. When players tell you "Just wait until level 10, it gets better", that is a warning sign. If levels 1-9 aren't so exceptional as to grab my attention and suck me into the game, why should I expect it miraculously change at level 10?

Epic Adventures in MMORPG's

Posted by zergwatch Saturday March 22 2008 at 10:26AM
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In my last blog post, I wrote about Raph Koster's MMORPG satire and how it seems to have fallen upon deaf ears. Today, I'm going to explore some of the most memorable and exciting journeys and adventures I have had with MMORPG's. I'm a true believer in MMORPG's being about the journeys you make with friends and not the fabricated level acheivements or gear rewards they have become.

Here are my top 5

1. Star Wars Galaxies: Reaching the Krayt Graveyard on foot for the first time. In the beginning of SWG, there were no mounts, no vehicles, no buffs and no 90% armor.. oh ya.. and no Jedi. A ragtag group of noob friends walked across the Planet Tatooine for what seemed like days (probably just an hour or two) to reach the legendary Krayt Graveyard. It was a struggle of epic proportions just getting there, which only got harder once you get there. There was no summoning, no griffons and no teleports.

2. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes: As much as I hate to put Vanguard in any list of anything good, day one on the FFA PVP server alone was an epic challenge. Our guild had a stubborn lot who wanted to all start on different continents. Assembling our guild on day one was a huge collaborative undertaking as people had to take bugged boats from other continents and walk across huge high level (an bug ridden) zones. It was frustrating, yet funny. In the end, the accomplishment of getting everyone together was just a good time. Unfortunately it all went downhill from there.

3. Everquest 2: The Scarecrow King Quest: EQ2 has lots of epic quests. Most of the HQ's are very fun group outings. Early in the game, we decided to get our pumpkin heads so we can PVP like the headless horseman. The Scarecrow King Quest was the first epic battle for us in EQ2. Having to run around the farm doing stupid stuff, finding npc's that only spawn at certain times of the day, etc. It all made for an epic experience with friends.

4. Star Wars Galaxies: Defending your city and your faction base: Back when things mattered and bases cost not only a lot of in game money, bases carried some level of pride. To have a base staring in the eyes of your opponent unharmed for weeks on end was a symbol of pride. Many would come to take it. Few would succeed. It made for some of the most epic PVP moments I have ever experienced in an MMORPG.

5. World of Warcraft: 1-70 grind. As much as I really don't like anything about World of Warcraft, the level "grind" in the game is unmatched in any MMORPG. If you have a small group of friends and commit to sticking in the same level range all the way through, this can be a good time on a PVP server. Like EQ2, the grind was 100% quest driven. Even though WoW is not a great PVP game either, it had huge World PVP gankability that just added to the fun. Unfortunately, without friends, the 1-70 leveling is just miserable.

What are your favorite epic in game adventures and journeys?

Grinding is an essential component of every MMORPG

Posted by zergwatch Friday March 21 2008 at 12:01PM
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Recently, in the MMORPG.Com forums, there was a post from a person asking the MMO community to recommend a game with no grind. The overwhelming response from the community was somewhat disturbing. MMORPG's are about the grind. If you don't like it, then play another game. Of course, some people recommended the instanced world of Guild Wars or the convenience of offline grinding in EVE (I've never played EVE, so I don't exactly know if that is a true assessment).

Has the MMORPG gaming community been so tattered and tortured by the "Grind" that we feel it is a necessary component? Does an MMORPG really need to include some forms of grind to be an MMORPG?

It made me think back to an article written two years ago by Raph Koster and how his sarcastic, yet brilliant summary of the MMORPG has pretty much gone unnoticed and forgotten. It has fallen on virtual deaf ears. In his article entitled "What are the lessons of MMORPG's today?", he outlines some fundamental flaws of the modern MMORPG.

In the modern MMORPG, you create your character, talk to the guy with some sort of symbol hovering above his head then perform certain tasks, sometimes in a particular order for him. Rinse and repeat this several hundred times and you have successfully completed the MMORPG grind. Eventually, you find yourself with a journal full of things that sound something like this:

Kill 20 of these, Find 5 of those, Kill some guy, Kill his friends, Kill his family, Steal his family treasure, Kill 25 of something else, Kill 10 of something different that looks and sounds like the rest, but has a different name.

Is the community satisfied with the status quo? Do people seriously enjoy repetitive gaming? Does the future hold more of the same?

When Raph Koster wrote this article, I had hopes that somewhere, someone at some software development company actually read it. If you are a true fan of MMORPG's and have not read this article, you should stop right now and go read it. I want to point out some of my favorite quotes in his article.

Lone heroes can’t slay dragons. It takes an army.

In today's MMORPG, little attention is given to the solo player. Sure, games like EQ2 and WoW have solo paths to get to max level, but the solo player is forgotten once the level cap is hit. Even though MMORPG's are games of social interaction, there is a good amount of people who want both. It's one of the reason why Guild Wars has been so successful outside of competitive PVP.

People are only good at one thing. You never, ever, ever change jobs. If you want to, you probably need to die.

Once upon a time there was a game called Star Wars Galaxies that challenged this logic. We are so set on MMORPG's needing to have levels. Games have become a race from 1 to 70,80, etc. If you are 20, you can't play with a 70. If you are 50, you don't want to be bothered with teens. You could freely build your character into whatever path you wanted. You could mix and match different professions. You could mix crafting with adventuring. Today, you pick a profession and if you change your mind, the only solution is suicide and reincarnation. Everquest 2 has a great system that allows for mentoring. City of Heroes has it too. Games based on player levels need to have some sort of system that allows friends to play with eachother regardless of level.

Which leads us to: If you don’t keep up with the Joneses, you will never see them again. In fact, if you don’t keep up with your friends, you will never see them again either.

We are told at end game, MMORPG's are for group players only. If you don't have a large group to slay the draon, then you cannot play. Unfortunately, along the way, on the grind, we are told the exact opposite. You are on your own. If your friends can't keep up with you, then they are left behind. Only the fastest grinders survive. I have seen many people quite MMORPG's because they couldn't keep up with the power gamers. (this is where the power gamers tell the solo players to buy an Xbox 360. yay)

Actually, in general, taking your time is counterproductive.

This is the statement that hits this grinding nail squarely on the head. People who embrace the MMORPG grind say the grind is part of the fun. The grind is the journey to the end. If you honestly believe that killing 500 boars, 500 wolves, 2,000 spiders and 1,500 skeletons is a fantastic journey that we should be embracing, we can only hope that somewhere, some developer with a revolutionary vision disagrees.

So when MMORPG players scorn those who are looking for a fun and less grindy alternative, it's pretty sad to see pages full of players supporting the MMORPG instead of embracing the possibility of a grindless MMORPG. An MMORPG where the adventure truly is the game.



Blizzard gets serious about competitive gaming

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday March 18 2008 at 7:54PM
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In a new job posting on Blizzard's website, the company says "The team behind Diablo I and II is looking for a skilled lead 3D level designer with experience building levels using Maya or other similar 3D level building tools. The ideal candidate has experience creating levels in a senior or lead role on a shipped game. We would also like for this candidate to have excellent analytical understanding of competitive online play with various Blizzard Entertainment games and mods (real-time strategy, World of Warcraft, Defense of the Ancients, etc.)."

Is this position to fill an existing need within World of Warcraft to incorporate more competitive gaming opportunities within WoW?  I sincerely hope Blizzard realizes WoW itself, is not the ideal competitive gaming platform.

It does sound like they are looking for a designer to lead them into a new competitive gaming endeavour.  Whether this is World of Warcraft or a yet unannounced title, has yet to be determined.

You can view the posting at:

Smug Smedley on how he will use PS3 to topple WoW

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday March 18 2008 at 7:33PM
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"I absolutely do [think we'll see that (toppling WoW)], and in fact I think by having a stable platform where every customer has an online capable box is a huge, huge potential advantage in building an MMO because you've already got an online userbase. It's a massive advantage over the PC and we don't have to worry about graphics cards or things like that. It's going to be very big. Console online gaming in general I think is going to be one of the next huge phases of growth in the online gaming space." - John Smedley on developing an MMORPG to topple World of Warcraft.

Graphics cards did not sink Star Wars Galaxies, nor is it the reason Vanguard: Saga of Heroes failed.  Graphics cards had nothing to do with the mediocre bleh that is Pirates of the Burning Sea, nor did graphics play any part in the sinking of Gods and Heroes. 

The problem is, John Smedley seems to have the exact opposite effect of the Midas Touch.   While everything Midas touched turned to gold, everything John Smedley comes in contact with turns to shit.

There are several developers working on console MMORPG titles which have far more potential than SOE.  The main reason SOE will never topple WoW is because they have lost nearly all consumer confidence.   SOE is synonymous with clusterfuck.    SOE had a decent console MMORPG with Everquest Online Adventures, but they let the title wither away and die of neglect for PC projects.   Console MMORPG is the new industry buzz word.  If you don't mention console MMORPG at some point, you are not a player and Smed knows this.

Are we now expected to think that Smug Smed bought magic beans that will grow a console MMORPG beanstalk that leads SOE to the MMORPGoose that lays golden eggs?  Is The Agency the holy grail of MMORPG's post WoW?   

For now, we can continue chuckling at John Smedley as he and SOE reinvent themselves on what seems like a weekly basis while they desperately grasp for the slipping market share.

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The first public look at Koster's Metaplace

Posted by zergwatch Friday March 14 2008 at 9:12AM
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From the guy who promised us a whole new way to look at the world of online gaming and the MMORPG, you can be sure that I was pretty excited to see the first public release of a Metaplace application. On Thursday, Raph Koster and Areae announced that it was time to show the world a glimpse of their latest project, Metaplace.

Web Chat. Metachat Live Chat w/ Ur Friends! I uh oh'd.

Ok, it's more than just webchat. It's webchat where you can look up stock quotes, weather and share youtube video. I lied. Its just webchat. Ok, you can throw snowballs and tomatoes at eachother's thumbnail icons and kick a virtual soccer ball around the 2D soccer field. It's really just webchat, right?

If this had come out in 1999, I would have been completely blown away. The touted technology behind Metaplace's Metachat is its ability to interface with other available webservices. Another way of looking at Metachat is as a platform where people can share the internet with eachother and exchange ideas all in one place and throw tomatoes at each other. I think.

One of the points covered in the Metachat bulletin states: "You’ll notice some examples of web integration, with many of the features using web services to talk to other websites. We’ve talked about this before, but its one thing to talk about it and another to see it in action."

While the nerdy programmer part of me is intrigued by the potential for this sort of application to be expanded on once the developer tools are released for Metaplace, the gaming side of me wants to know why I wasted thirty minutes of time nerding out over web chat. The business side of me once again says "Wow, Raph is a genius. People are going to eat this POS up like it was crack flavored candy at a Washington, DC buffet".

In the end, I was throroughly unimpressed with our first look at Metaplace. While it makes for an ok chat addition to a website, it lacks any substantial value or contribution to the progression of online technology as promised.

Raph's MMORPG background comes to light with Metachat because it gives off a feeling of being released before it was complete. Sure, you can look up your local weather and stock quotes, but you are returned a simple one line text block with your query. You can search and share YouTube videos, but you have no control over layout or window placement. The worst part is we are represented by a squished up icon of your MySpace icon.

Maybe I'm being overly judgemental about a chat interface that was released to give an insight into the world of Metaplace. I really do get the whole point of Metaplace. I understand the vision. I agree with the vision. I'm just not so sure this application in any way represents my interpretation of the vision.

Sometime back in the 80's, my older brother bought a game for our Commodore 64 called Zork: The Great Underground Empire. He told me about how great this game was. At the time, I was barely 12 and my idea of an ideal video game was the current suite of Laser Disc based video games such as Space Ace and Dragon's Lair. To me, that was the cutting edge of technology at the time.

One day, I started up Zork to see for myself. You know load "*",8,1

West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

WTF is THAT!? Little did I know at that time that I would go on to complete and enjoy all of the games in the Zork series, which led to MUD's which led to MMORPG's twenty years later.

Is Metachat a prelude of many great things to come? Is it the tip of an undersea volcano, peeking its ugly head above the ocean, ready to build a whole new continent based on Metaplace? Only time will tell. I'm still skeptical at this point.

SOE & John Smedley reigned in by SCE

Posted by zergwatch Thursday March 13 2008 at 1:46PM
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In a press release published today, Sony has restructured its video game business by moving Sony Online Entertainment (currently part of Sony Pictures) to Sony Computer Entertainment.

What does this mean?  It makes more sense for SOE to report to a boss who is more in touch with gaming.   It's probably a move that should have happened a long time ago.   Lets hope this means more accountability on Smedley's wild west approach to running SOE franchises.


GuildCafe - The MySpace for Gamers

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday March 11 2008 at 12:06PM
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Here's an article I wrote over the weekend, but I was not too sure if it was suitable for because I don't want to step on anyone's toes and they might view GuildCafe as a competitor.  If this is the case, please let me know and I will remove the article.   I'm pretty sure the two services don't overlap in anyway besides forums.. but every site has forums I guess.


In last week's WebWatch feature, we took a look at the web based MMORPG ForumWarz. This week, we shift gears from the insanely absurd world of online forum trolling to the future of online gaming social networking at GuildCafe.

GuildCafe is a social networking website for people who play multiplayer online video games. While the website has often been branded as the MySpace or Facebook for online gamers, this branding is not a completely accurate description of what GuildCafe really is.

Founded in 2006 by GuildCafe Inc, led by Jon Radoff and Angela Bull, GuildCafe is not just a place where gamers can go to create their own personal gaming space on the internet. GuildCafe is a tightly interconnected social community where gamers, guilds and clans, bloggers and industry professionals come together to share ideas and information about nearly everything that is online gaming. Unlike MySpace or Facebook, the overall community interaction at GuildCafe takes precedence over individual one on one communications which are the backbone of those services.

Jon Radoff and Angela Bull are no strangers to building successful online communities. In 1991, Jon created one of the first commercial MMORPG's, Legends of Future Past on CompuServe which saw service until 2000. Jon and Angela also ran a very successful MMORPG gaming community called RPK (Ruthless Professional Killers) a PK oriented gaming guild with over 1,000 members across dozens of games through the years. RPK was known throughout the games they played as a no nonsense and well respected top notch gaming guild, a tradition they take with them to GuildCafe.

GuildCafe has been in an open beta since the Fall of 2006 as the staff works feverishly on new site enhancements, feature updates and integration with API services provided by game developers such as Blizzard's WoW Armory. No official launch date has been set.

In 2007, GuildCafe received a reported $600,000 in seed funding from Boston based IDG Ventures and expanded it's online portfolio in November of 2007 by acquiring Uberguilds, a network of gaming websites which includes several flourishing high profile niche gaming communities. In a move that bridged the gap between GuildCafe being one of the most technically superior online gaming social platforms and GuildCafe being a successful gaming social community, the company hired Sanya Weathers, a long time MMORPG community relations manager for Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. GuildCafe also hosts a popular GuildWars tournament called the RAWR Cup.

One of the key features of GuildCafe is its Gamer DNA Panel (sample profile), a profile management suite where users can fully customize their game playing history, provide detailed information about their in game characters from a list of MMORPG's, guild associations, photo gallery and manage their gaming friends lists. On the backend, the information players enter in the Gamer DNA Panel become industry trending statistics that can be used by game developers and players to get a snapshot of what games people are playing, how long the played them for and what games people are looking forward to.

Once a person creates their GuildCafe account, they begin participating in the community by posting blogs, interacting in the community forums, making friends, giving others respect, inviting friends and gaining respect from others. Most activities on GuildCafe translate into GuildCafe Fame, or experience. The more a member interacts and contributes to the community, the more Fame they are awarded which is similar to the familiar MMORPG process of leveling your character through the ranks of GuildCafe and one day becoming a "Famous" community member or even becoming a GuildCafe Champion or Conquerer.

GuildCafe also offers online gaming Guilds and Clans free and easy to use guild management tools which include player rosters, forums, recruiting tools and other tools to create guild branding and awareness on the internet. Players can use GuildCafe to find other people with similar online interests, search for the perfect guild or just socialize with one another.

When you log in to GuildCafe, you are presented with a dashboard interface that gives you a generalized overview of your personal GuildCafe community space. Here, you can track what your friends have been up to with the Frendship feed, check out recent popular photo gallery images, read up on hot gaming news topics and see what's going on with any guilds or groups you are associated with.

Other notable features included with GuildCafe is the favorites system, which is a Digg style news submission engine where community members can submit interesting news and engage in open discussions about the event or news. GuildCafe is the home of the BartleTest, gaming's most notable gaming psychology survey to see just what kind of gamer you and your friends are. GuildCafe also offers blog services, online chat, shoutbox and forums.

GuildCafe has the potential to become the primary social community for online gamers on the internet and they are well on their way to doing just that. The tools provided by GuildCafe are very practical and useful for gamers seeking to build their own online gaming communities and to interact with the overall community.

I thoroughly enjoy using GuildCafe. To be able to interact with old gaming friends and foes in a neutral setting is quite refreshing. One of the areas I think GuildCafe can improve on is how to bring totally unlreated online gaming circles closer together. While this problem goes beyond GuildCafe into the psyche of gamers being creatures with pack mentality, there needs to be a way to build better bridges within GC. Without those bridges, the overall community is just a collection of unreleated and isolated communities.

GuildCafe focuses most of their attention on the "Online Gaming Universe", but to become the standard social outlet for all online gamers, the site needs to go beyond their current reach of the MMORPG and embrace other valid forms of multiplayer online gaming experiences to truly win over the hearts and minds of the Multiplayer Online Gaming masses.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for GuildCafe. In the race to become the standard social gaming community or as some say "The MySpace of Gaming", the odds are heavily in favor of GuildCafe.



Why we buy MMO Gold

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday March 11 2008 at 10:45AM
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If you play baseball, its ok to go to the sporting goods store and buy yourself the top of the line equipment to enhance your gameplay. If Hockey is your activity of choice, an expensive pair of skates and well made protection is your best bet. Perhaps you're not into sports and your hobby is to make custom dance mixes as a DJ? Investing money into the best sound system is the only way you can compete. It all sounds ok to me. How about you? The bottom line is.. If you suck at Hockey, Baseball or DJing.. No amount of money in the world is going to make you good.|

So why is it when you're a video gamer and you want to compete as a top level player, its taboo and scornful to buy the best things you need to compete on a level playing field? Because the time spent collecting gear in MMORPG's is what makes a player good. Skill is secondary. It comes in the form of Dungeon How-To guides freely available around the internet and everyone knows that.  Most refuse to admit it.

In an industry where top media outlets such as IGN freely offer up cheats (exploits) to multiplayer games such as Call of Duty 4 and other high profile competitive games, its frowned upon when a gamer spends hard earned money to get around MMORPG time sinks intentionally implemented in a game by the MMO publisher? Cheating in an FPS is done to get a commanding edge over a well skilled opponent. In an MMORPG, the gear is what makes you a well skilled opponent, but cannot make you better or worse than anyone else in the same gear.

MMORPG's are fun and addictive games, but you cannot deny that for the most part, they are huge wastes of time in the long run. Take World of Warcraft for example. Once a character gets to level 70, it can take several weeks or months to get your character to position where you can effectively compete against others. Some call this a rite of passage to be able to grace the presence of those who have already invested their life away for a video game. Others, those with families or jobs with long hours that don't afford them the luxury of playing World of Warcraft six hours per day, seven days a week call it a roadblock.

If you're the core MMORPG player, right now, you are scrolling to the bottom and writing the following comment "If you can't hack it with the big kids, don't play the game!". It's ok, most people in our society are close minded and quick to go on the offensive. Consider yourself at peace with the masses.

A small percentage of our population is open to investigate the reasons why people do what they do. They are open minded to see another person's point of view and try to put themselves in the other person's situation.

When you do this, the "Why People Buy MMO Gold" debate has two very valid points on each side. You must first examine the root issue behind the booming MMO RMT industry.

MMORPG publishers rely on monthly subscriptions. Therefore, they rely on keeping their subscribers busy in the game at all costs. Once a gamer has nothing left to do in a game, they usually move on to the next one.

The MMO industry has made sure that all costs, they don't lose subscribers. To compenstate for the expensive process of creating new game content, adding new quests or new professions, they dangle carrots and stretch out the existing content as far as they possibly can. They have even coined a buzzword for the carrot dangling. They like to call it progression.

At first, Blizzard delivered progression in the form of raids where 60 people engage a dungeon for hours on end to get 1 reward for a small number of people at the end. Usually, the people fought over the rewards. Friendships were lost. Guilds were destroyed. Fortunately, you can run that same dungeon ad infinitum until all 60 people got everything they wanted. Unfortuately, because of the difficulties, the 60 people were not a set group. While some quit the game and others got frustrated and left the group, there was always a steady stream of lemmings getting attuned and geared up, so the process was a never ending one.

Great for Blizzard, who collects $15 per person each month. Bad for the players who gave up a lot of real life activities and opportunities to chase a pixelated e-carrot that was all thrown out the window with the first expansion. In the end, Blizzard realized that the 60 man raid was a failure and while it never actually hurt their bottom line, when Burning Crusade came out, they made entry level gearing out a bit easier.

On the other hand, there is balance. Balance is when a person knows they want to play a game, but understands that for whatever reason, they cannot. Maybe your job has you working 50-60 hours per week with a 1 hour commute each way. Perhaps your newborn child needs your attention more than the World of Warcraft. Maybe your college studies just don't give you the freedom to play the game for more than a couple hours a few times a week.

As the core MMO players would say at this point "Then don't play my game if you're not hardcore. I worked for everything I got and so should you!". Yes, its witty, but I can't tell you how many times we've heard it before.

Instead, to get ahead, these people turn to China to outsource the tedium and repetitiveness that is the modern MMORPG. Any accountant would tell you buying MMORPG gold and items from a 3rd party Chinaman, who I will refer to as "Uncle Chin" from here on out, is a wise financial decision.

If you get paid $20 per hour, and it takes 20 hours of gameplay to get the item(s) you desire in game and it costs $200 to pay Uncle Chin for those same items, it's more productive for you to work 20 hours, make $400 and give Uncle Chin $200. At the end of the day, you have $200 in your pocket, the gear on your character and time in game to do whatever you want, instead of chasing the gear you needed. Who's the stupid one?

The underlying blame for gold buying does not lie with the gamer. It does not lie with Uncle Chin. The blame can squarely be placed on the MMORPG publisher for creating games that drive people to spend real life money to keep up with the core gamers.

If it wasn't for the WoW RMT business, I don't think Blizzard would have quite as many active players as they do. The number of WoW players who have bought gold, powerleveling or items from Uncle Chin could reach well into the two million figure. If you dispute this claim, then ask yourself how it could be a multi billion dollar per year industry.

Are MMORPG's too hard? No. Not at all. I've played many MMORPG's and its nothing a person who failed their GED test can't master, and usually do. The problem with most of today's MMORPG's is the timesinks intentionally implemented by the publishers to milk subscribers for every last penny they can. For the publishers, time sinks are financial gains and revenue streams. Why is it ok for publishers to intentionally waste our time, but its not ok for the player to find ways around these meaningless time sinks so they can actually play the game the way they want to?

9 Reasons why the Hello Kitty beta video application was a bad idea

Posted by zergwatch Sunday March 9 2008 at 8:47PM
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As usual, political correctness gets thrown out the door and put to death by fiery car crash at Zergwatch.   In this list, we have gay stalkers, shaken baby syndrome, strippers and Rick Astley videos.  What more can you want in one list?  I wanted to have a list of 10, but most were just Sylvester Stallone bad, so only 9 made the final cut.

The Sanrio Cinnamoroll Car
The good news is this video probably got the user, Iliketoeatpoo into beta.  The bad news is Not only does this user like to eat poo, they also like crappy cars and Japanese Gangsta Rap.  Not sure if this is even a beta video at this point.

Gay stalker wants to play with the boys
A good example of the types of "kids" who will be playing Hello Kitty.  Hopefully he can get in beta and his desired user name of "LikesToTouchKids" is available.

Brittany takes 5 from her Phone Sex job to make Hello Kitty Beta video
She also knows how to give good input. Yay, you have a t-shirt.

I want this guy playing video games with young girls
Hi, I couldn't hack a grown up MMORPG, so I want to play a kids MMORPG.

If you throw your baby up and down enough on the internet, you can get into beta.

Unfortunately, Alex is doomed.

Is it Rick Astley or Vanilla Ice
It seems that not only young girls like Hello Kitty, but gay white males have a thing for Hello Kitty too.

Stripper can't spell Hello Kitty
It's ok because you represent Sanrio every night on the pole.

Why Japan doesn't start wars anymore
This is what happens to your society after starting a World War and getting two nuclear bombs dropped on your cities.

I'm the type of girl who will do anything for Hello Kitty

My Top 5 IP MMORPG Wishlist

Posted by zergwatch Sunday March 9 2008 at 6:37PM
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1. Sid Meier's Civilization: MMORPG

A Civilization based MMORPG where players and guilds can form sovereign societies and battle other nations for control of the world's land and resources while competing with eachother in every sociopolitical aspect that encompasses all of what made the Civilization series so great.

The possibilities are nearly endless and a Civilization based MMORPG could truly revolutionize the way we look at MMORPG's as linear grindfests and transform them into truly amazing and dynamic worlds full of turmoil, politics and subcultures.

2. God of War MMORPG

When it comes to spilling blood and getting it on with the women, Conan can't hold Kratos' jockstrap. Cratos in Mythology and in the game was the son of Zeus. In God of War, the MMORPG, players can align themselves with different Gods and Goddesses and battle it out mercilessly for control of Mythological Greece and beyond. This title would of course be rated M and would put the matured centric hype of Age of Conan to shame.

3. Star Wars MMO

Although it's been done before, it was never done right. To have such a prolific IP go to waste is the biggest shame of the MMORPG industry. There should be 5 million people playing a Star Wars MMORPG. Unfortunately, the task was given to Sony Online Entertainment who has managed to alienate and shun loyal and dedicated Star Wars fanatics when they relaunched their sandbox Star Wars MMORPG as a fixed path FPSish MMORPG with the New Game Enhancements.

It's time for SOE to pass the torch and for LucasArts to realize that if done right, a Star Wars MMORPG can be successful.

4. Mario MMORPG

Why not? Combine all of the past Mario hits and turn it all into one big MMORPG. Allow players to choose between the good and bad sides of the Mario Universe and compete against eachother in fun filled head on minigames, run quests and save (or kidnap) peach.

There really aren't any good family and kid based MMORPG's out there and this would surely topple Toontown and Hello Kitty Online. It could also mean the demise of Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin. Kids are only playing those games because there's nothing else to play. Give them something good to sink their teeth into and $$$$ all around for Nintendo.


5. Spore MMORPG 

Spore is intriguingly interesting. The concept is so close to being an MMORPG the way you will be able to send your creations to others and see what happens. If you take that process one step further where there were huge persistent worlds where players controlled local ecosystems and used their creations to invade other ecosystems in a global game of survival of the fittest.

What are your top 5 existing IP's that you would like to see turned into an MMORPG?




A brief history of the Console MMORPG

Posted by zergwatch Saturday March 8 2008 at 12:03PM
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Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 owners are eagerly awaiting the first next-generation MMORPG for their consoles. While the hopes of an eventual Age of Conan port, the recent announcement of Champions Online and the ambitions of Huxley occupy the blogspace, we take a look back at the brief history of console MMORPG's.

The first console MMORPG was Phantasy Star Online, released in 2000 for the Sega Dreamcast system. In 2002, PSO was released on GameCube and Xbox, becoming not only the first MMORPG for console systems, but the first multi-platform MMORPG. In January of this year, the last of the PSO servers went offline, leaving unofficial servers as the only method left to play the game.

In February 2003, Sony Online Entertainment release Everquest Online Adventures for the Playstation 2. The game takes place in the world of Norrath, but 500 years before the popular Everquest PC MMORPG. SOE had high expectations for EQOA, but due to low subscriber numbers, over time the game saw less and less attention from SOE as other more successful PC based MMORPG's were released by Sony. Although Final Fantasy boasts more subsribers than EQOA, it has been hailed as the best of the console MMORPG's by sticking to traditional MMORPG standards, interface and content.

Eight months after EQOA was released, Square Enix released the widely popular Final Fantasy XI MMORPG in October 2003, set in the FF world of Vana'diel. At its peak, Final Fantasy boasted over 500,000 subscribers, while Sony's console MMORPG was claimed to never break the 50,000 subscriber mark. While it was more popular than any other console MMORPG released to date, it never gained the widespread appeal that other Final Fantasy titles had achieved.

While past console MMORPG releases have been somewhat lackluster, the industry is now looking ahead to promising new console MMORPG titles such as Champions Online, Age of Conan and Huxley, all currently in development. However, we probably will not see any of those titles in our living room before 2009.

Will the next generation of Console MMORPG's be Korean?

Posted by zergwatch Saturday March 8 2008 at 11:33AM
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Korean developer Webzen says they have their sights set on bringing console MMORPG's to the U.S. console market. Webzen is the company currently developing the highly anticipated MMOFPS Huxley and APB, a free form combat and driving based MMORPG which has been described as a Grand Theft Auto style MMORPG.

When it comes to the Korean MMORPG, most of us think of the zerg of Asian crossovers which usually amount to nothing more than uninteresting grind fests. Crossovers are the games where developers take successful Asian MMO's and port them to U.S. hardware and translate them (usually poorly) into English. The majority of Asian crossovers have made little, if any impact on the U.S. market.

The other form of Asian MMORPG is the Asian MMORPG in disguise, known as NCSoft. NCSoft is responsible the highly successful Guild Wars MMORPG and the Grandfather of Asian MMORPG's, Lineage and Lineage II. While NC Soft has been the most successful Korean crossover publisher with titles like Guild Wars, Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes, Webzen has yet to make any substantial headway into the American market. While NCSoft focuses on PC based MMORPG's, Webzen has focused on Console based MMORPG's.

According to Cindy Armstrong, Webzen's U.S. CEO, things are about to change as Webzen hopes to lead the way into the Console MMORPG market.

"NC Soft is a great company," Armstrong explained. "In the United States, they have done a great job of bringing new and innovated MMOGs to market , and the U.S. market is not an easy one to penetrate," she continued. "However, we also have a clear strategy for bringing MMOGs to consoles. As far as we know, not many other online games publishers have games in development for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. We think this gives us a real advantage over our competitors."

The company also runs one of Korea's more popular PC MMORPG's, MU Online, a highly involved fantasy RPG based on the legendary Continent of MU and Soul of the Ultimate Nation, in Asian markets.

When you take a look at Webzen's portfolio of console MMORPG's in development and compare it to what U.S. publishers are working on, it looks like Webzen could beat projects like Champions Online to market. Only time will tell if their zerg of Korean style MMORPG's can reign supreme over homegrown titles.

Forum Warz Review- Web based MMORPG for forum trolls

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday March 4 2008 at 8:44PM
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Crotch Zombie's Forum Warz is a web based MMORPG parody game.

In Forum Warz, character creation starts with avatar creation. Excre-Bot 5000 takes you through a series of questions to determine a suitable starting avatar. Avatar creation in Forum Warz is genius and spot on because each of the three times I  ran through the steps to create an avatar, it paired me up with Jimmy The Re-Re, a cross eyed, overweight cross eyed <censored> of a fellow with snot dripping out of his nose. Like I said, spot on.

You immediately start the game with a virtual support operator, Shallow Esophagus was designated to assist me through the opening walk through. It was almost like Mr. Esophagus was some long lost stalker, because he knew everything about me, he even knew about the animal porn.

So I create my Forum Warz avatar, stealing my name from the arrogant English <censored for MMORPG.Com>  Yahtzee, Garreth <censored>gobbler as a level 1 Re-Re.

My first mission was to infiltrate the Denture Chat message board. Unfortunately as a Re-Re, my only two abilities were Drool on Keyboard and Bash Keyboard with Helmet. I spot my target thread right away.. What’s a better Denture Adhesive? toxic waste or ejaculate? After a slight struggle, I pwned the thread, but my ego was hurt a bit, so I took the on screen advice and bought some drugs so I can be better prepared for my next mission.

After pwning the crap out of the Denture Chat forums, I leveled up. ZOMG, I pissed off the old farts. No longer am I a re-re, but I'm am not gracefully Less Retarded and now able to pick one of the three Forum Warz profession classes, Camwhore, EmoKid and Troll. I like to roleplay so I was thinking maybe EmoKid or Camwhore would have huge RP potential, but I went safe and chose the Troll class.

Troll Class Description:
The Troll’s limited (but seemingly unlimited!) secondary attribute is Douchebaggery. This can be replenished with an unhealthy or even — God willing — lethal combination of testosterone supplements, paint thinner and Norwegian grind metal.

Emo Kids Class Description:
The Emo Kid is exactly who you’d expect: a whiny little <censored> who takes over forums by making everyone so miserable they’re compelled to leave. Suffering from perpetual teen angst, the Emo Kid turns otherwise agreeable forums into dumping grounds for her depressing rants, false-alarm suicide notes and side-splittingly morbid poetry.

The Emo Kid’s lifeblood, fueling her anguished existence, is a steady flow of Tears. These are easily replenished with eyedrops, eye irritants, or just a good old-fashioned flogging.

Camwhore Class Description:
The Camwhore is an extreme narcissist who requires constant ego validation. She’s the girl who was called "pretty" one too many times as a kid, and now needs to reinforce her self-worth anytime something with a lens — webcams, human eyes, small municipalities in the Swiss canton of Valais (pop. 3,470) — is aimed at her overly made-up face.

With her secondary Sexiness attribute, the Camwhore derails forums with post after post of pouty, doe-eyed stares and exaggerated cleavage. And if she’s really feeling frisky, she can get your <censored> arrested on kiddie-porn charges.

At this point, you can also choose a new avatar. I gave up the snot dripping emo fag and chose a toilet bowl full of piss, but played it safe again and went with the middle finger.

This is where the fun part starts. Templating your Forum Warz character. I chose my free You Little Shit Starter Pack and complimented it with Text Atax, Level 1 Evil and of course Level 1 Douchebaggery.

Forum Warz is a browser game that emulates the traditional MMORPG we all love with an action bar, xp grind, repetitive quests and carrot chasing.

Anyway, if you can't see where Forum Warz is going then you should probably get back to leveling up your Runescape character and suckle mommy's <censored for MMORPG.Com> because you're obviously not ready for Forum Warz.

Like other MMORPG's, Forum Warz players can form and join Klans. At the time of this writing, the largest Forum Warz clan was the mighty Fruit Fuckerz while Team AWESOME had the most Forum Warz cred (xp), while Phlegmatic held the top player spot for Flamebaiters.

Forum Warz for the short time I played was a pretty fun alternative to my out of game past time of IRL forum trolling and a nice break from searching YouTube for things like "Man getting hit by car" and "Ghetto Girl Fights".

If you are a true forum troll, the only browser game for you is forum warz.  I found Forum Warz a very entertaining, funny and sometimes hysterical game that not only true forum trolls can appreciate, but those who have been trolled upon can also enjoy.

Has Raph Koster given up on the MMORPG?

Posted by zergwatch Sunday March 2 2008 at 10:37PM
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If Richard Garriot is geekdom's Messiah who delivered on to us, the MMORPG, then Raph Koster can be described as both a prophet and Saint of Nerdness. Richard Garriot is currently working on mediocre functional MMORPG titles for NCSoft such as the lukewarm Tabula Rasa and planning his 2008 space mission on the heels of a recent layoff which saw a reduction in force of approximately 20% over at NCSoft.

A few miles south, Raph Koster currently heads up a cutting edge technology company called Areae which had generated industry buzz in 2006 by announcing a vague and very generalized overview of their super secret project "a tech that will literally change how virtual worlds are made." MMORPG fans rejoiced when the prophet delivered his message. Unfortunately, the announcement eventually materialized into Metaplace, a web based social community experiment still in the alpha testing stage.

What? Why? What about the next MMORPG?!? Raph Koster served as the lead designer for Ultima Online before moving on to be the creative force behind Star Wars Galaxies, the MMORPG that thinks it can, but routinely falls short of expectations. Unlike recent "visions" we've been subjected to over the past year or so, Raph Koster's vision of Star Wars Galaxies and the sandbox MMORPG was truly a revolutionary idea that had widespread support, but unfortunately was sunk by corporate mismanagement and the Satan of geekdom, John Smedley.

Raph's portfolio as Chief Creative Officer of Sony Online Entertainment from 2003 to 2006 includes some of what I personally feel are the best role playing games and MMORPG's of late, including Everquest II, EQ2 Kingdom of the Sky expansion, Champions: Return to Arms for PS2 and Untold Legends.

Surely, another groundbreaking MMORPG must be in the works. Hanging on to every word like most desperate gamers so often do, at least one of Areae's "other virtual world projects on the backburner" (as stated on the Areae website) must be an MMORPG.

In my eyes, Raph Koster rightfully deserves his bust on a pedestal in the Halls of Geekdom. Fast Forward to Game Developer's Conference 2008 where he spoke at a private lunch and announced Flash gaming as the next gen console.

<insert record scratching noise here>

This was first reported in article on GamesIndustry.Biz by Matt Martin. In the article Matt provided us with several Koster quotes, but the most intriguing one for those of us who have high hopes for massively multiplayer projects beyond Metaplace was this one:

"I actually think Flash is the next-gen console in a lot of ways. It's pointing the way to the future more-so than the current generations of hardware, precisely because it is well on its way to becoming completely ubiquitous." he said, "That's an upheaval because right now retail PC [gaming] is in dire straits. There are some exceptions but overall you look at audience reach, quantity of games made and creativity of games, and the web is kicking the console industry's ass."

So here we are, wondering if a great MMORPG talent such as Raph Koster has given up on the MMORPG industry for greener pastures. Pastures cut and paste into a flash application in a web browser.

While a flash based social gaming project that encompasses the entire hardware spectrum is a truly revolutionary idea that will probably be extremely successful, it's definitely something Raph can and probably will pull off, it doesn't leave much hope for MMORPG players. While Metaplace sounds like a fun idea that can keep you busy creating web based virtual worlds, I just don't think it's what most MMORPG players are looking for. Is Metaplace really the nextgen MMORPG or is it the nextgen MySpace?

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