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All Posts by Stradden

All Posts by Stradden

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MMORPG.com's Bill Murphy gives his impressions of the recently launched Sandstorm Phase 1 update to Global Agenda.

I’ve been spending a bit of time lately with the newly revamped Global Agenda and like any other of the game’s players can tell you… things have changed.  A lot.  As previously reported Hi-Rez Studios has been spending the past several months since launch polishing and expanding their game.  When it premiered, Global Agenda was a fully-featured competitive shooter with MMO tendencies, but Sandstorm (set to be delivered in several phases) aims to bring the shooter-hybrid closer to a more persistent world feel.  But Phase 1 is just the tip of the iceberg, and already it looks as though Global Agenda’s first major update is giving the game a very welcome overhaul.

First thing folks with the capabilities will notice is the addition of DX10 to the client.  Little touches that come along with the added graphical oomph from DX are all over the place.  Smoke wisps, dust clouds, and lots of other little atmospheric details add greatly to the overall feel of the universe Hi-Rez has created.  Sure DX 11 is now out and about, but just like DX9 before it, DX 10 will likely remain the more used version of the API package and GA looks mighty pretty running in DX10.  Everything just looks better.

Read Sandstorm Phase 1 Impressions.

MMORPG.com just left the EA E3 Press Conference where two new tidbits of information were released. The first is that starships will be available to players. The second is that PvP will take place in "War Zones."

Not a great deal of information was released on either. The starships, we are told, will be similar to player housing in that they will be persnalizable and will serve as your character's base of operations. We were also told that this is how your player travels across the galaxy. What wasn't mentioned, however, is the means by which this is accomplished and the announcement should at this time in no way be construed as to be confirmation of traditional space flight and/or combat.

War zones, it would seem, are contested areas that pitt the Empire and the Repulic against one another in ground based PvP battle. The impression that I was left with after hearing what they had to say and the way that it was presented was that the War Zones would function in a style similar to Battlegrounds or Warhammer Online's scenarios. HOwever, as was the case with startship, this has not yet been confirmed.

MMORPG.com's Carolyn Koh recently took part in a media tour of the upcoming F2P MMORPG, Kingdom Hereos. Today, we publish her report.

More Depth than Expected

You normally don’t get to see a lot of a game in a media tour – sometimes it’s just the most fun feature and then you’re done, and we end up looking around on our own, sometimes floundering around might be the better term as the character you have is probably maxed out and you’re tripping over your mucking huke sword trying to figure out how to kill that tiny rat in front of you. I was pleasantly surprised when I logged into the press account and found characters of different levels and classes. Chris Smith, Producer at Aeria Games and Jesse Henning were our tour guides as we were taken for a whirl through the Chinese landscape in the period of the Three Kingdoms.

After being greeted by the biggest boobs ever before seen on a Chinese woman, we were taken through the character creation. One selected between four classes and four characters: Warrior – your usual melee, Fencer – your ranged DPS, Tactician – similar to a buffing cleric and Conjurer – your usual magic user. Each could be a young or mature male or female.

Read the Media Tour Preview.

MMORPG.com's Jaime Skelton uses her blog this week to urge both the media and the gaming industry to slow down in their acceptnce of the encroachment of the F2P business model into the Western world.

Jaime Skelton

With all the buzz this past week about Lord of the Rings Online going free to play, I've been excited. LotRO is a personal favorite of mine, so seeing some extra life injected into it (along with the chance to be able to drop in without a subscription) is something I'm looking forward to. As public conversation grew, it branched away from Turbine's decision itself, and more to the “free to play transition” of the market, something most gaming journalists and writers seem to happy to accept.

Sometimes, however, the media needs to turn down the volume on the PR hype, hop off the bandwagon, and ask the same questions the community does. Someone needs to ask, “why?”

“The future is now” is often used to refer to new and favorable trends as being the way the market will adapt; it's saying, “This new thing happening is going to take the world by storm and become the standard.” It's a predictive phrase, implying the current state of affairs is evolving by leaving one idea behind to adapt to another. It's also popular propaganda used by marketers, lobbyists, and others who wish to convince the masses that “this new thing” is the trend of the future. For instance, take Nexon's E3 theme, “The Future of Free,” which not only implies their games are an evolved model of free-to-play, but also that “free” has a place in our future.

Read The Future is Now.

All Points Bulletin Lead Gameplay Designer Jesse Knapp writes this new APB dev journal explaining the game's two factions and asks the question: Which side are you on?

Hello, my name is Jesse Knapp and I have been involved in the development of APB for the last three years as the Lead Gameplay Designer. I'd like to take a moment to talk about the most important choice you'll make in APB: Criminal or Enforcer.

Some background...

San Paro is a city at war with itself. With neighborhood gangs and City Security Act backed private security forces looking to expand, everyone is recruiting.

The question is: which side will you join?

Read Which Side Are You On?

Our series of class previews continues with a first look at Rift: Planes of Telara's warrior class: the Champion.

Rift: Planes of Telara continues to give us a first look at classes leading up to E3. Today we get a closer look at the Champion. For those who like melee classes the Champion looks to fit the bill. Two handed weapons, a philosophy of becoming one with their blades, and a nasty disposition to finish off foes in close combat make the Champion an awesome close combat powerhouse. Classes that use huge two handed weapons are always great fun and the Champions look like they can give any class a run for its money. Check out the screens and info below.

Trion comes through again with screenshots of the Champion in action. We will continue our class previews all week leading up to E3 next week when we’ll get the full details. Tomorrow we will look at our final class in the series, the Purifier.

Read the First Look at the Champion.

MMORPG.com's Angie Webb recently had some hands-on time with Realtime Worlds' APB. One of her assignments was to write an article based on her own unique perspective as a female gamer.

This one's for the girls.

Boys, you are welcome to read this, but I was asked to write about APB from a girl's point of view, and I should tell you now that I'm a girlie girl. I like the color pink and shiny things, and I believe that the booth babes, as beautiful as they might be, are not the best part of a gaming convention. I expect my opinions to be a bit "unconventional" for this site, but lots of women play MMOs, and I'm one of them and proud of it. Most sites don't cater much to the female point of view, which is a bit sad since we make up such a large chunk of "your" virtual populations. Some of us are girly; some of us want to be "one of the boys"; but we all look at games in a slightly different way than guys do. And our interests and concerns are poorly served in the industry. In this article I'm going to talk about the things that I (the girly girl) liked about APB: the character creation, customization, and bits of the game itself (shooting people in the face).

Read One Girl's Opinion.

The folks at En Masse Entertainment have been kind enough to provide us with this "day in the life" screenshot feature that tells the story of Daarran, a veteran of the Argon Front who is tasked with integrating lancers into special units across the Federation.

Daarran. Day 37 of detached assignment.
(Daarran is a veteran of the Argon Front, tasked with integrating lancers into special units across the Federation.)

I begin. Today we run, despite their weakness. Never has there been a sorrier bunch of keeners than these four. I'm their pivot, all around see my altitude, and yet they can't hold a simple line against a single charging kumas. If even one falls out or drops a lance tip into the dirt, I will drag them by the neck until the rest understand why there is no time limit on war. There is survival, and there is slavery. Middle ground is for poets and politicians. Soldiers serve...or die.

I continue. Furon has disappointed the squad yet again. "Dust in his fur?" I don't think so. Five leagues in he casts aside the shield to examine a crystal formation, then collects insects with a net. A net! Held upside-down over a cliff for discipline, he remarks on how pretty the clouds are on the rocks below. For this, I left the glacier?

Read Character Profile: Aman Lancer.

The folks at NetDevil spoke with our own Bill Murphy about the kinds of changes that have been made to the game since they went dark. The details will be revealed at next week's E3.

Aside from this week's headlining announcement that LotRO is going free this fall, there was another bit of news that’s started to make some waves in the week prior to E3.  Long since believed to be a vaporware by the cynics, NetDevil’s Jumpgate Evolution is finally back and tracking on gamers’ radars as the title’s producer came out with a lengthy post this explaining the reason for the game’s long period of silence.  What the letter amounted to was that basically NetDevil had a lot of the game’s systems working but  that the result simply wasn’t what they wanted it to be… and so like any good developer would the Colorado lads and lasses went back to the drawing board.

Check out the blog, here.

Originally posted by cyphers


Effing A !!! 

 

Need beta!!  (but only when it's done, filished and polished)

... Then you don't need a beta. You need the launched product. Betas are for testing.

One of MMORPG.com's most prolific bloggers, Teala, spent some time putting together an entry that talks about one of the factos that she feels that EVE Online lacks - The Human factor.

I love EvE.   I love the ideal behind EvE.   I love the sandbox game play mechanics.   With that said, and I am not afraid to say it, it is not all it could be in my opinion.   I know EvE has its purist and to deviate from the canon that is EvE Universe -well that is an invitation to invoke the wraith of the purist that will rain down a verbal jihad upon you the likes which you haven't seen until you unleash one of these purist on a forums board.  They will roast you over an open pit, peel your fleshy carcass from the bones and dine on it lovingly - but oh wait...then as the marrow of your bones oozes out they will gather it in goblets and drink of it as if it is a fine wine.   Oh yes...many players of EvE will not stand for blasphemous thoughts or chatter that may take EvE beyond the realm of its designers intent.

Check out Teala's blog, here.

Our series of class previews continues with a first look at Rift: Planes of Telara's magical Warlock class.

Rift: Planes of Telara continues to give us a first look at classes leading up to E3. Today we get a closer look at the Warlock. Masters of death and destruction, these casters look to be the ranged damage dealers in the game. Sending curses upon their enemies the Warlocks may be squishy, but they can dish out some serious nasty damage. Any class that embraces death and entropy is fun for those who like the dark arts and caster style game play. The Warlock appears to fill the classic archtype well with nasty spells and stealth skills.

Trion comes through again with screenshots of the Warlock in action. We will continue our class previews all week leading up to E3 next week when we'll get the full details. Alos, check out the Warlock write up below.

Read the First Look at the Warlock.

The team at Star Vault has announced that they have now officially launched their new sandbox MMORPG, Mortal Online.


we are very proud to announce that Mortal Online launched at 16:00 GMT+2 today, June 9th 2010.
It has been a rough ride for both you, our loyal fans, as well as the team here at Star Vault.
We have come a long way from the first days of Block A and "Lake Sausage", the time of imba-spears and chars with maxed out skills and now, finally the point we are at today, with all promised features implemented, the beatutiful and dangerous world of Nave.
Without your great support this would have never been possible and everybody here at Star Vault is proud to be a part of this great community.
The ride isn't over yet - there are still a few milestones ahead in the next months. As all of you know the game is not as polished as we wanted it to be but we will continue - with you vital support - to make this an awsome game.

More about Mortal Online, here.

In the news slow week before E3, MMORPG.com Star Wars: The Old Republic columnist Eric Barnett sets his mind to wandering about what might happen if Bioware were to take two routes that seem to be popular among developers recently: moving to a Free 2 Play model and ignoring the IP's niche in favor of a larger audience.

Due to the abundant lack of news this week in The Old Republic universe (aside from a new chapter in the Blood of the Empire comic), I'd like to play the role of chaos theorist. We've seen the F2P market creeping up on us for some time now, and it seems that many companies are starting to become the little spoon in its bed. With more companies trying to copy the "Golden Formula" of MMOs we have seen a major lull in retention and heck, over all fun. I have found myself re-subbing many old accounts just to see if I could rekindle some sort of spark, only to cancel them a few days later. Have certain games caused a ripple effect that has made studio heads worry more about quarterly revenue numbers, than the actual fun factor of their games? This week, let's take a look at how these "popular" design tactics could both positively and negatively effect The Old Republic.

Neither of these two scenarios is likely to actually turn out to be the case, but leading up to E3 where there's nothing much to talk about, it can be fun to think about.

Read The Butterfly Effect.

Originally posted by desiriel

Then offer us some good bit of "informative" journalism: articles with the pros and cons of various systems. Different views of the incoming future from the insides of the industry. Alternatives, options and viewpoints from different heads with different ideas, however unconventional or unheard-of. Something, that is, that MMORPG.com has been doing exceptioanlly well and with balanced wisdom for quite some time and that, for this damned-f2p-thing, you've been putting aside delivering us a single-minded, incessant propaganda. I think Mmorpg crossed a line here.

I'm a fan of yours, Jon, not a griefer or a conspiracy theorist and no one, now, is sadder than me writing these words...

Really, in full honesty and with my full respect and regards.

Honestly, I haven't spoken to a single person within the MMO industry who doesn't feel the same way about F2P. it's coming, whether we like it or not.

I honestly thought that this article was something a bit different, offering real insight into why this is happening. it's not askign anyone to like it, it's just saying that there's a reason it's happening and that it probably isn't the end of the world. Something that is a fact.

It's not single-minded propoganda. Do you realize that I don't actually see the columnists' subjects until the day they submit their articles to me? This is done to make sure that the editorial staff isn't unduly affecting what the independent columnists want to write about. Right now, people seem to want to address this issue, probably because, from their perspective, they see a lot of people responding with complete venom and want to explain why they feel that might be an overreaction.

As for covering the LotRO news, of course it's going to get a lot of play... it's a HUGE story and one that a great many people in the industry see as a positive one.

That said, next week's list is going to be a list of reasons people might want to be leery. There's an overall balance here, no need to worry.

Originally posted by ninesling

While I understand you are annoyed that someone might feel your site is using its blogs to promote the games that buy ad space here, it doesn't really sit well with me that you would "Attack" the people who ultimately come here and spend their time perusing these forums because they genuinely like the content here. "I wish I was as smart as you" What kind of snarky bs is that? Is this what I can expect from the managing editor of this website from now on? I am really amazed at your lack of tact  and your apparent inability to be diplomatic or mature.

You're right, I did go too far at the end of the post and for that I apologize and have been spoken to internally by our Community Manager.

It is very difficult to come to work every day and to be accused of being unethical in your business practices when you work very hard not to be. it is very difficult to come to work day in and day out and have the same person make the same accusations that you have done your best in the past to politely expain in as open and honest a way as possible.

That's not an excuse. It's true that lashing out is never the answer, and I was wrong to do so. I'll admit that.

Originally posted by desiriel

This pretty sums it up for me.

And then: I'm really wondering what's about all this sort of pro-F2P viral marketing that MMORPG.com is putting up with ever growing enthusiasm. Party Line now is that F2P is beautiful and players are to be indoctrinated for their own sake. This trend is getting more and more annoying.  I can read and understand pro-F2P players' ideas even if I don't agree with them but there isn't a day by now that this site send us a F2P Prophet trying to enlighten the ignorant masses (we poor sobs) on the progressive destiny at our doorsteps with the final advent of F2P.

So what's up ? I start seeing the cooked meat beyond your smoke and it smells something unethical for a journalist.

I claim the right to think with my own head and have my own ideas. F2P is unfair and prone to all forms of abuse and money-milking by greedy suits and incompetent developers. And no brain-washing will have me think otherwise.

No one, and I mean no one is telling you that you HAVE TO like F2P MMOs. I'm the one making the decisions about what gets published here and I pesonally don't play F2P MMOs with any regularity. I personally prefer the subscription model. HOwever, it would be completely irresponsible of us to bury our heads in the sand about the issue. Like it or not, F2P is a growing part of the MMORPG industry. That's just how it is. It's also a hot-button issue, so OF COURSE we write about it.

Articles like this one aren't mean to convert P2P players tio the F2P model, this one in particular is here to give an inside explanation of what the F2P model is, and WHY it's growing in popularity.

Look at articles on this site, and anywhere else, for that matter, not as the gospel, but as more information to add to your knowledge. You're free to agree or disagree with any of it. We're not here to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't think. Anyone who mindlessly listens to ANY media in this day and age without adding their own context is in serious trouble.

With the recent announcement that Turbine will be making its flagship MMO, Lord of the Rings Online into a F2P game, MMORPG.com list-smith Bill Murphy rattles off five reasons that players should be excited about the announcement. Next week, he gives five reasons that players should be cautious.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about free things.  I love buying one Coolatta and getting a second free, for instance.  But when “free” is applied to MMOs some players tend to scoff and turn their noses up.  Free MMO, as discussed numerous times on this site and across the internet, is almost synonymous with “bad MMO”.  But Turbine, along with companies like Frogster and gPotato, has been giving players reasons to change their tune.  The quality of the free MMO has only been going up in recent years, and is bound to make a sharp spike with ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2.  And given the success and complete turnaround of DDO since going free to play, it seemed like only a matter of time before another AAA game tried a different sort of revenue model that doesn’t bank too much on subscriptions. 

And so this fall we’ll be getting to traipse about Middle-earth for the low price of nothing.  It’s a controversial subject no doubt, especially since Lord of the Rings Online isn’t exactly a game that needed the saving DDO once desperately required.  LotRO may be one of the best performing MMOs in the western market, and yet Turbine is obviously confident that going F2P will make it even more successful.  But the change is bound to have its share of ups and downs.  In the spirit of remaining positive, here’s our list of five reasons to be excited about a F2P Middle-earth.  Don’t worry naysayers, next week, we’ll have five reasons to be concerned.

Read 5 Reasons to be Excited About F2P LotRO.

MMORPG.com's Justin Webb, a developer who has worked for both F2P and P2P studios, uses his column inches this week to talk about why F2P exists and how it operates as a system.

There was lots of F2P news this week. First, Sony announced a kiddie Star Wars game, and then Turbine decided to make LoTRO free to play. In this article, I’m going to hopefully give some insight into this ever-expanding subgenre, and talk about some things that F2P games “do” and some things that they “don’t” do. In the spirit of full disclosure, before I begin, I should mention that I work for studio that specializes in F2P games and microtransactions. And, conversely, that I’ve also worked for a studio that made subscription-based MMOs. I’ve designed on both sides of the fence. Let’s begin…

F2P seems to be a dirty word in our forums; the mere utterance of which evokes violent palpitations amongst many readers. This is understandable. Compared to subscription-based MMOs, not that many people play them. There is an awful lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there. And many players think they understand how they work, when really they only partially grok the nuances.

Read F2P: Relax... Breathe.

Originally posted by elocke


That's all? No video? Just one little paragraph that sort of tells me this is a pet class?

A tad dissapointing. We wants more!

 

It's a preview. More to come at E3.

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