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All Posts by Stradden

All Posts by Stradden

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Vigil's Joe Madereira and Mark Downie give us the E3 lowdown on their upcoming MMO, Warhammer 40K Online.

Check out the full size video, here.

On the first day of E3, these aliens appeared out of no where and danced.

View the full size video, here.

Brian Knox, the Senior Producer over at Tera has posted a new dev blog for our reading enjoyment, talking about class and race combos.

I want to talk a bit about TERA's class and race combinations, something that's been a hot topic in our community and was recently discussed in Sam Kim's interview on Ten Ton Hammer and then again on TERACast. In the past we've said that we plan to have all classes available to all races, and this is certainly still our goal. However, like plans gone awry for a relaxing vacation, sometimes real life interferes with your ideal plans. 

There are three forces at work here:

Game Balance. Above all, we want to ensure that TERA provides a balanced experience, something I discussed in my post about classes and hitboxes. What’s more balanced than allowing every race to play every class?

Race Differentiation. The flip side of the coin is what makes each race unique. Size, hitboxes, and animations provide some uniqueness, but so too does allowing each race its own individual set of classes it can play.

Aesthetics. We want to give players as many options as possible, but there are story and lore reasons why a certain race may not be appropriate for a particular class. This is partially based on our continuing development of TERA's rich narrative backstory, partially because some combinations simply don’t make sense, and partially because the actual combinations (such as weapons and armor for some races) are very technically challenging to pull off in a convincing way. If you’re going to look at a character for hundreds of hours, we don’t want you thinking how goofy that character looks holding a massive sword. 

We’re trying to find a way to make sure the game is balanced, the races feel distinctly different, and everything remains aesthetically pleasing. That might mean that not every race will be able to select every class in the final version of the game, but then again, it might. The fact of the matter is, we just don’t know yet. We’ll keep everyone posted on how this shapes up, but for now we’ll have to stick with a firm "maybe," and we certainly appreciate everyone’s patience as we move closer to TERA's launch.

Read more on Tera, here.

The folks at SOE have provided us with these new screenshots from their upcoming spy-based MMO, The Agency.

The Agency

Check out the new screens, here.

MMORPG.com columnist Justin Webb attended this year's E3 and sets his column's sights on the five best things that he saw last week in terms of MMOs.

Last week, many of the MMORPG.com folk made the trek to LA to take a look at the latest MMOs in development. Many of the big guns were there. We saw Bioware's The Old Republic; a trio of SOE games; the latest from Trion; and some snippets from THQ, Perfect World, Gazillion, Nexon, Square Enix, and EA.

I wanted to write "The Top 5 Things That Hit Bill Murphy in the Face at E3", but unfortunately Bill only got hit in the face three times during the show, his most impressive injury coming from a piece of porcelain shrapnel that flew across the food court barely minutes before the doors opened on the first day. Bill has a small cut on his lip to commemorate his inaugural "blooding". So, in honor of Bill and his regular Top-5 articles, and that fact that I can't think of anything else to write about, I've decided to go with "The Top 5 Most Awesome MMO Thingies at E3 2010".

Read The Top 5 Most Awesome MMO Thingies at E3.

MMORPG.com writer Alan Smithee had some hands-on time with SOE's spy-based MMORPG, The Agency at their booth at E3.

At E3, we were able to get a new look at SOE's upcoming shooter MMO The Agency. The regular PvE experience was not on display; instead we got to see and play PvP multiplayer for the first time. The demo takes place in the Black Abbey, a three-point assault map, set in a monastery in Venice. Each of the three main areas (a courtyard, library, and a submarine drydock) are captureable and serve as respawn points. One side's goal is to detonate the sub (it's rigged with explosives) and "sink" the monastery; the other side tries to protect it.

Combat is fluid and fast and better than I expected - there was no noticeable lag, even when the screen was filled with multiple players and particle effects. The game feels indistinguishable from a regular shooter, with very few MMO conventions in evidence. Headshots are automatic crits. Players use WASD and a mouse to move and shoot, and Ctrl to get into cover... and that's about it. The cover system is handled very well, allowing players to duck and hide behind objects when under heavy fire, while still allowing them to peek/lean out and take the occasional potshot.

Read E3 Hands On Impressions.

In a recent story, Massively learned that DC Universe from Sony Online Entertainment would carry a standard subscription fee of $14.99 at a PC price of $49.99 and a PS3 price of $59.99.

No word as of yet on whether or not a dreaded supplemental cash shop will also be offered.

I think a number of people are missing the point. The point of the article is to talk about the way that most outlets cover events like E3, and to say that he does it differently, for better or worse. The article highlights the reason that we all tend to just get little bite sized chunks of information out of E3 rather than great in-depth articles.

Speaking as someone who has covered a number of E3s, I can tell you that is one of my greatest frustrations as well. You're constantly missing something because you have to spend time churning out articles as quickly as possible in a way that insures that neither the show itself, nor the articles you're writing, are getting your full attention.

MMORPG.com's Richard Aihoshi talks about the art of covering E3 and the show that he would most like to attend given the opportunity.

Richard Aihoshi

Richard Aihoshi's latest column serves up his observations after this year's edition, and also looks ahead to a show with a much stronger F2P focus, ChinaJoy.

After attending about nine or 10 in a row, I've haven't been to the past couple of E3s, which means I wasn't in Los Angeles last week for the 2010 edition. Overall, my reaction this time was pretty much the same as last year, when I found that the one thing I truly missed was the opportunity the show provides to see and speak with a lot of bright, interesting, cool people in the industry.

How about the event itself? Well, yes, I missed it too - but definitely to a lesser extent.

I was always fortunate in not having to cover past E3s like many writers who are obliged to split their time between seeing game presentations and trying to write them up as quickly as possible, most often as show reports and/or mini-previews. I opted not to do those, which let me take twice as many meetings at the cost of not putting up any articles until the week after. So, I got the chance to see and learn more, but my coverage generated fewer page views than it would have had I approached the show in the "standard" manner.

Read Post-E3 Thoughts.

Originally posted by erictlewis


Interesting pics.  The tron stuff looks interesting, and the warhamer stuff looks cool.

I have to ask what game the chi-coms are from.  Nothing like having ventage comunist uniforms running around, at first I thought cuba but most of the folks in that picture are asain.  So Chini posibly vietnam. 

 

North Korea. Google the game Homeland. :)

An update on his personal blog states that Brad McQuaid, one of the men behind Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, has returned to game development, now in casual/social game form.

His blog goes on to state that the company, which he has co-founded, will later go back to making MMOs.

I am pleased to announce that I am a co-founder of a new company based here in the San Diego area.  We’re starting small and growing as needed.  Our focus is going to be on bringing some sophistication to casual/social gaming.  At some point we will also return to developing MMOs.

After a needed 3 year break from 11 years of working on massively multiplayer games with the large teams, budgets, and 3-5 year development cycles I think this will be a nice change of pace.  I’m also very excited to be involved in a genre that is relatively new to me.  I look forward to bringing MMO design principles to casual/social gaming.

Check out Brad's blog, here.

Cheers to the folks at Massively for catching this during a crazy E3 week.

The Old Republic's Senior Producer Jake Neri sat down to answer some of our questions at this year's E3.

Watch the larger video, here.

E3

Check out all ten pages of our E3 gallery, here.

MMORPG.com's Garrett Fuller got some hands on time with a Smuggler during his recent visit to the Star Wars: The Old Republic folks at this year's E3.

In playing Star Wars: The Old Republic there are a few things that continue to stand out. The storylines that are created for characters are by far the most intricate seen in a game, especially in an MMO. There is also the Star Wars feel to the game. The sounds, the music, the planets and design, heck it reminds me of Star Wars Galaxies in that respect. So in this hands-on article we wanted to talk about the Smuggler class. Personified by Han Solo and viewed as one of the most iconic Star Wars characters in the universe, the Smuggler is a rogue of sorts that relies on quick reflexes and duck and roll combat techniques to get the job done. I wonder if there will be any actual smuggling in the game.

The Smuggler we had a chance to play was doing missions on Ord Mantell when we stepped in to run around. The character was female and Twi'lek.

Read Hands On With the Smuggler.

MMORPG.com's Bill Murphy took in the sights and sounds at E3, stopping by the Trion booth for a little bit of hands on time with their upcoming MMORPG, Rift: Planes of Telara.

Back in April I had the chance to fly out to San Francisco for Trion's unveiling of what is now called Rift: Planes of Telara. There was a lengthy hands-off demo exploring the rift gameplay mechanics back then, but at E3 this year I finally had a chance to get behind the controls and see how the fantasy MMORPG actually plays. Producer Adam Gershowitz (who recently has been added to the dev team at Trion) and head honcho Russ Brown watched over my shoulder and helped me along as I played through some of the game's newbie experience and explored the newly unveiled class system (details of which can be found here). And for a game that's still in the Alpha stages, the level of polish and sophistication is pretty incredible. Rift is certainly looking like the AAA title Trion hopes it will be.

Players will begin life in the Shadowlands. Not to be confused with the titular location of a certain Anarchy Online expansion, the Shadowlands is sort of a place between life and death in the Rift universe. Players are all former heroes of a past war that rocked the world, and begin as what the team refers to as "Ascended Souls", a Telaran slain during the great Shade War and resurrected to combat the forces of Regulos. As one of the Ascended, players have access and the ability to commune with the souls of Telara's many fallen heroes. Basically this serves as the lore reasoning behind death and the multi-classing system.

Read the E3 Hands On With Rift.

Originally posted by Nesrie
Originally posted by Stradden

 This is a weak excuse at best. If they've been answered and it's important, keep asking the question. If questions are asked and not answered, don't give up until you get an answer. Someone on the team knows. There is no such thing as "off limits" in true journalism. It's called taking risks and not being a simple puppet.

Yeah, that's not how it works. You DO realize that all employees of pretty much any gaming company are under strict NDAs and could face not only termination, but also legal action if they were to reveal information to us that we weren't supposed to have. It's not a question of people not knowing the answer, it's of people not being able to give an answer publically.

So, what I'm doing is not called "being a simple puppet," it's having an actual understanding of my job, its business and the business that I deal with on a daily basis.

Originally posted by MissyShade

That sums it up pretty well. It's not advertising so much as it is the access issues. Some game companies are bad when it comes to press relations, but many are respectful.

Of all the reviews I've written, two have burned bridges - at least in so far that both went dead silent on me after the review went up and was sent back to them. Which is amusing, because I know that has to reflect a certain soreness on their part - my review style takes after a more "constructive criticism" approach than a "scathing review" approach. Interestingly, I'm reconnecting with one of these two companies now, so perhaps, on their part, the silence was caused by a different matter.

Of two other very negative reviews I've written, off the top of my head, both companies are in close contact with me still and don't even mind if I ask harder questions. I know, too, many others of us who have managed to keep good relations with companies after negative reviews - as I said, they usually know when they release a bad game.

Speaking as the Managing Editor here, I'd like thats ay that it really isn't actually an issue of access either. If your people are doing their job right, the companies in question aren't going to blacklist you for asking questions. The reason, more often than not, that you don't see a lot of the "tough questions" is because they've been asked and not answered, or the journalists know ahead of time that certain areas are "off limits." This isn't at all unusual in entertainment journalism and quite frankly I don't see it changing any time soon.

I can see where it might be different for freelancers without the backing of major sites behind them, and without a second recourse for making sure that the information keeps flowing. I have never personally seen a dev studio blacklist a writer or an outlet for a bad review, so long as that review backs up its claims and doesn't make wild and uninformed accusations. In fact, as you said in this post but not necessarily in the article, harsh, well-founded and supported criticism more often than not leads to MORE contact with the studio in question, not less.

So, do news outlets work in various ways to maintain good relationships with developers? Of course they do. Implying that good coverage is traded for more access, while might be the case at some outlets (I've only ever worked here so I couldn't speak to that), is going a bit far. 

I know that here at MMORPG.com, we have a very talented Industry Relations Manager whose job it is to maintain good developer relations between them and the site and not once has he ever said to me: "If we ask them this, or we don't say what we want them to say, they'll never talk to us again."

Warhammer 40K was perhaps the most anticipated MMO announcement at E3. Today, Garrett Fuller, our resident 40K expert, breaks down the new information in this first impressions article.

This week at E3 we got a chance to see the Warhammer 40K Online trailer and talk to some of the developers from Vigil Studios about the game. Of all the IPs out there for game worlds, 40K is very complex and has an incredibly passionate fan base. From what we saw the team over at Vigil has just as much passion as the fans and for me that is an excellent start.

By now you have all watched the trailer and so you know about as much as we do on the game. My only disappointment with what we saw is that it was not enough. Then again it is still deep in development and the team at Vigil was honest about the process and setting up a schedule for information that will keep fans happy and not give away too much too soon. Nothing is worse than waiting for information on the game, but at least THQ is taking the fans seriously and has a plan to keep us happy throughout development until the game is launched.

Read Warhammer 40K E3 First Impressions.

MMORPG.com's Michael Bitton had some hands on time with Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic at E3. Today, he brings us his experiences playing the Imperial Agent.

We met with the Bioware and LucasArts folks in an E3 meeting room tucked far away from the chaotic and absolutely gigantic EA booth that was down on the show floor, where we were assailed with all sorts of The Old Republic awesome, including a demo of the game's armor progression, the awesome "Hope" cinematic, a group gameplay demo, and more. While all this was going on, the room adjacent to us could be seen through the glass wall separating us, which contained two rows of machines set up with the actual game running live. Needless to say, all I could do was think about the moment I'd finally get to get my hands on the game. That day has come, and I chose to spend my first live experience with Star Wars: The Old Republic as a female Chiss Imperial Agent.

If you read the series of possible playable races articles we ran in recent weeks, you'd know I was pretty keen on the idea of Chiss being in the game, however, I felt they'd be an unlikely addition due to their isolationist nature. Turns out this didn't stop Bioware from putting them into the game, and my dreams of playing a Chiss in Star Wars: The Old Republic came true in short order. Why the Imperial Agent? Because spies are cool - duh!

Read E3 Imperial Agent Hands On.

MMORPG.com's Bill Murphy writes about the trend of MMO games to forget to "add the fun" and instead focus solely on how to keep us paying that $15 a month.

We’re all rats. 

We get set down into a box and we’re told to press a button over and over until we are assigned rewards at random intervals.  If we stop pressing the button, we get electrified by the grid below our feet: a diabolical way to keep us pressing that button.  It’s a clever way to keep us locked in our operant conditioning chamber lest we break free and realize that there’s a way out of the box should we choose to cut loose. 

We are gamers.

We play our chosen MMOs and we kill virtual creatures repeatedly in the hopes we will be assigned shiny gear at random intervals.  Should we stop killing the virtual creatures in search of our loot, we won’t be able to compare to our peers.  We won’t be able to progress our characters.  In the shift to subscription gaming, developers must find a way to keep us playing and paying.

Read Killing Fun by the Numbers.

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