In this developer log, Keth, Lead Content Designer for Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar details the origins and mechanics of the Dread system.
The Mechanics of Hope and Dread
The initial inspiration for the system was what I was calling the "evil-o-meter." I just imagined getting near some source of great evil, such as the Witch-king, and watching a needle peg all the way to right. And it's hard to explain, but imagining that in my mind made the situation that much more intense and cool. For some reason, that completely artificial mechanism added an important layer to the scene. Sure, we try to convey evil through our art, sound cues and other sources, but it just seemed really awesome to me to really tell you, the player, that, "HEY, THIS GUY IS EVIL!"
Of course, some sort of Geiger counter of evil isn't appropriate to our game world, so we convey that you are near sources of evil through a change in the game's music, portions of the User Interface (UI) changing, and the world itself seeming darker and more oppressive. I think it's pretty dramatic and cool. As we've already talked about, the books aren't all about evil and dread -- hope is just as important a concept, so our UI reflects that as well.
All right, so now that you'll know when you're near evil or good, what exactly are the effects of hope and dread on your character? As I mentioned above, those emotions had a definite impact on the characters in the books, so they should have an impact on your character as well. Our first step was to essentially add an attribute of sorts which reflects the character's mood. The Mood attribute ranges between -10 and +10. A -10 Mood represents the depths of despair and hopelessness, while a +10 represents the heights of hope and jubilation. So what effect does mood have on your character? I'm glad you asked!
Read the complete article here.
Michael Wallis, CEO and co-founder of the newly opened Colony Studios has officially announced the creation of their MMO production house made up of veteran game designers. Colony Studios' first MMO is currently scheduled for a late 2009 release and is said to be a space based sci-fi game.
RENO, NEVADA - APRIL 30, 2007 -- Colony Studios has joined the list of new MMO developer studios with one significant advantage - the team members have contributed significantly to the successes of the most popular MMOs including World of Warcraft, EVE Online, City of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, Everquest, and Ultima Online.
Veteran MMO developer Michael Wallis, CEO of Colony Studios, believes his team has more per capita experience working on hit MMO titles than any team of its size ever assembled.
"Our collective contributions to a significant number of hit MMOs give us a strong advantage," says Wallis. "Most dev teams - including Colony's - have gone through the process of learning what doesn't work in game development, but our team members have also been intimately involved with creating what does work in several successful MMOs and that combination will serve us well. Our challenge is, of course, to use our experience and talent correctly to create an MMO that players will enjoy."
Colony Studios' MMO is based on its own IP and focuses on a dynamic, living world which won't be developed as a "safe" MMO, meaning it won't be a World of Warcraft clone with a new IP skin. Colony Studio's goal is not to be afraid to take chances outside the normal MMO design and to breathe new life into what is often described as a somewhat stagnant increasingly generic genre.
"Our MMO, which will offer far more than a linear storyline, will provide a ton of history and backstory, but the players will consistently influence the content," says Wallis. "The bottom line is we've launched MMOs before, and our experience lets us anticipate bumps in the road and steer clear of them. The fact that we've been through it before means things are much less likely to fall through the cracks."
Colony Studios' first MMO is currently scheduled for a late 2009 release.
Read more about Colony Studios here.
Recently, Managing Editor Jon Wood visited the offices of The Chronicles of Spellborn in The Netherlands. Today, we kick off a series of articles from that trip with an introduction to TCoS and some of the innovative features that are promised from this upcoming MMORPG.
Last week, I was invited to visit the offices of The Chronicles of Spellborn in The Hague, The Netherlands. Over the next few weeks, MMORPG.com will be running a series of features on my visit, and The Chronicles of Spellborn itself. I thought, in knowing that, that it might be a good idea to start the series with a kind of "getting to know you" introduction.
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the game's offices and met with Marco van Haren, the Marketing and PR manager for the game. What I found, frankly, surprised me.
For many, this will be your first introduction to TCoS. Whenever I have the opportunity to learn something new about a game that I don't know much about, I try to find something special and unique about it. Generally speaking, that's a good place to start. In the case of The Chronicles of Spellborn, it seemed to me as though they were trying to take all of the conventions that we know in MMORPGs and turn them on their ears.
Read the whole article here.
Lineage II is turning three, and to celebrate this milestone they have sent out a press release with some fun facts about player accomplishments over the past three years, and mentioning some up-coming in-game events.
Elite PvP gamers in North America and Europe are celebrating the third anniversary of Lineage® II, the gaming market's premier Player vs. Player (PvP) massively multiplayer online game.
Lineage II, which recently released The Chaotic Throne: Interlude, the sixth chapter of its free expansions, continues to cultivate a very loyal and long-term playing customer base in North America and Europe. Lineage II is one of the most dominant titles in the worldwide MMO market, having reached more than 17 million customers in just over three years, and continues to grow as NCsoft takes the game into additional territories.
Only the most strategic players dare to brave the dangers lurking in the never-ending world of Lineage II. During the first three years of Lineage II in North America and Europe, more than 3.8 million characters have been created, with only 33 of those characters reaching level 80, the game's highest playing level.
The game is also renowned for its clan system, resulting in the creation of more than 57,285 powerful clans, which have participated in 2,228 successful castle sieges.
Additional Lineage II North America and Europe Fun Facts:
* Number of free major content updates: 6
* Number of contests and events: 42
* Number of Striders: 7,233
* Number of Chrono souvenir items: 2,418,054
* Number of pets (Hatchlings, Wolf, Baby pets): 128,898
* Number of deaths since launch: 618,978,656
* Number of chaotic characters: 86,176
To support the anniversary and celebrate the launch of Interlude, NCsoft continues to run special in-game events including limited-time only gatekeepers and newbie weapons, which will be available through May 8. For information on all of these events, go to the game's official web site: http://www.lineage2.com/archive/2007/04/interlude_3.html
For more on Lineage 2, click here.
Last week, Wurm Online suffered from an unfortunately timed server crash. The makers of the game estimate that "more than 500 000 hours worth of playing time has been wiped away." The good news is that the game will be up and running on May 5th and players will be reimbursed for the lost time.
The latest off-site backup was too old. We will reset Wurm Online totally. It will once again be that huge forest infested with creatures, awaiting your colonisation.
The game will open again on the 5th of May at 1600 hrs Central Europe/Stockholm (0900 in US/Central), with a promise to make automatic off-site backups and other safety measures we can think of. Up until then we will carefully generate new maps, look over the database structure so that it will put less stress on the disks and write reimbursement code.
Old players will be able to retrieve all gold they ever purchased, and of course retain their premium time plus two weeks bonus. The reimbursement will be based on the email you create the account with. Hopefully we can recover the Ageless title from the backup, and with it the Bok.
Get the details here.
Perpetual Entertainment has announced that they will be running an add in Game Developer Magazine featuring concept art of Starfleet Academy, and sending the call out for Artists and Engineer. Only one question remains, if engineers wear gold, what colour do artists wear?
APRIL 27, 2007 - Perpetual Entertainment is running a full page ad in Game Developer Magazine this month. The ad, which is aimed at recruiting fresh new talent to join the STO team, features a previously unreleased concept image showing Starfleet Academy, located in Horseshoe Bay, just north of San Francisco.
See the ad and concept art here.
Rusty Williams, Flying Lab Software CEO, has publised a devlog detailing the current state of Pirates of the Burning Sea, where he covers topics ranging from shipping and distribution, to putting the finishing polish on the game.
It's been a while since I've started a thread, so I thought it'd be a good time to catch everybody up on where we are.
First, the game itself. Now that we've essentially finished coding the new features, we've been able to spend more time on bug fixing, performance, and polish. For example, the majority of the developers have been focusing on server improvements. ConCo has finally had the chance to replace the rank 1-15 missions (yay!!!) and will be spending their time polishing up the encounter logic and the rest of the missions. Most exciting are the big new additions: Avatar combat and boarding combat. All of the new avatar combat missions are going in, as well as the boarding combat support. Our designers have been duking it out with one another with big boarding battles, and it looks like a lot of fun. We're iterating very quickly on it, with daily status mails, real time bug fixing, and lots of attention. And the rest of the team is finally getting a chance to go back and just polish their work, and fill in placeholders.
What's also helping us move so quickly is that we've also grown again. We're up to 68 people. One of those people is a full time web developer, who's in charge of implementing and rolling out our new web site. This has been a long time in coming, and it's finally at hand. It'll do a much better job of introducing a new visitor to the game, and also provide some fun resources, especially the new ship guide! It'll take a little while to put up, and I expect Aether will have some update on its progress as we crank through it.
Another one of our new hires runs a full time usability/playability lab, where we bring in players to see what they think of the game. We're also conducting tests of our new marketing materials, the new web site, etc. As you might expect, this kind of data is extraordinarily useful in fine tuning the game, and it's extremely cool to watch our test scores constantly improving. The lab is on the second floor, which we've now completely moved into. We don't anticipate leaving our current space until after we ship the game.
Read the full atricle here.
We apologize, but due to the recent network shutdown and security upgrade of our site we have not been able to prepare the necessary pages for our contest drawing scheduled for today...therefore we will be delaying the drawing until tomorrow (May 2) at 9PM EST
Thank you for your patience.
Blizzard and Renaissance Entertainment Productions have teamed up to offer World of Warcraft players and fantasy fans alike a special discount on tickets to several renaissance faire events.
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to walk a mile in your character's shoes, there's no better place to indulge that fantasy than the Renaissance Faire. Stroll through bustling markets full of merchants eagerly hawking their wares, witness breathtaking displays of swordsmanship, or enjoy fine food and drink while one of the many troupes performing at the faire entertains you.
World of Warcraft players and fantasy fans in general can now take advantage of a special 20% discount ticket offer for several events organized by Renaissance Entertainment Productions, the first of which is the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California.
Learn more about the renaissance faire here.
In the most recent edition of the Better Know a Developer series on the EverQuest II official site, Chad Haley, Character Art Lead for EverQuest II is profiled. Chad answers questions about how he made it into the industry, what inspires him, and more.
How did you get into the industry?
In college I took classes in code and art, as well as regular classes and figured that art was my best way in. I had a teacher in a multimedia class that knew someone who worked in the industry and was given her email address. I asked her how to get in and she responded that 'testing' was the easiest path in. I'd never heard of video game testing as a career, but six months later there was a testing position from Midway on the college job board. I applied for, and got that job. After two years I was a lead in QA and everything rolled from there.
What inspires you?
I like to be immersed in worlds, so anything that does that. I am mainly inspired by books and games. I liked the Robert Jordan series up until book #8. There is a lot in Qeynos that is inspired by his books, especially the mage tower. I also get a lot of influences from music, and listening to books at work such as the Harry Potter series. I also get inspiration from the world around me, and how things are laid out. When I was working on the Lions Mane Inn I needed a detail for it and found inspiration in a Claim Jumper. I was there for dinner and it inspired everything I did with the Inn. Particularly the antler chandelier.
Read the full article here.
This week, Dan Fortier uses his MMOWTF column to muse about the idea of playing a genuinely evil character in an MMORPG.
Ever get the feeling that game designers don't care if you want to play an evil character or not? I have yet to play an MMO that really lets players be evil, let alone do anything but change the name of the materials you need to get for the FedEx quests you receive from an evil faction. There are a few reasons I can think this is the case, but none of them are really good enough for me. They are either trying to avoid an M-rating, or they just don't want to do the work to create a satisfying bad-guy experience.
Read the whole column here.
The City of Heroes official site has been updated with a report on the state of the game, detailing the progress and the changes that have been made in the game over the last 3 years, and thanking players for their continued support.
Three years. For some on the Development Team, the amount of change over that time has evolved the game to bear only a slight resemblance to its original form. In just the past 12 months we've published three major updates: Issues 7, 8, and now 9 (coming very soon). Seven and Eight added a ton to the game in terms of content for players to chew through, and now Issue 9: Breakthrough adds a completely new spin on things with the Invention System.
Now, new players get to see the fruits of years of hard work right away. They experience a game that has always had Inventions, Consignment Markets, the Rogue Isles, Supergroup Bases, Mayhem/Safeguard missions, Striga, Croatoa, Arenas, Badges, and everything added to the game since launch. We are certainly not done yet and look forward to the rich promise the future holds!
But let's not forget the present. Issue 9: Breakthrough is probably the biggest "change" made to the game yet! We think it's a dramatic change for the better. Adding in the Invention system was a daunting task. It needed to be a system that integrated smoothly into a three year old game and appealed to our current class of players. Based on your feedback, it sure feels like a success on both counts. The Invention system makes characters stronger, more diverse, and adds a whole new level of excitement to the game. We've had many players urging us to put out Issue 9 onto the live servers, bugs and all, because the game they were playing on the Training Room was more fun and engaging than the current live version of the game. Higher compliments could not be made.
Read the full story here here.
The latest edition of the Grab Bag is available from the Camalot Herald, and as always they answer a myriad of miscilaneous question relating to Dark age of Camelot.
Q) [Insert question/comment about the new icons here.]
A) We've gotten a lot of feedback on the new icons that hit Pendragon in 1.89a. I want to alleviate a lot of fears here: they are by no means finished. There are many changes, updates and fixes based on your feedback that will go into effect over the next couple patch cycles. Also, we recognize that some players may wish to stay with the old icon sets. For those players and UI modders, we will have a custom UI zip file available from the Herald that uses these old icon sheets.
Q) I've signed up for the newsletter and everything, but my question is, what if I have multiple accounts on that email? Do all characters on the account get a cloak or just one? And will all accounts on that email be eligible to receive the "Dragons Revenge" cloak? There are five accounts on the email, two are active. Do I need to put separate emails for the accounts for them all to receive the items?
A) Yes, all accounts tied to any email address subscribed to the newsletter will get the rewards. If you have 10 accounts all using the same email address, and that email address is the one you used to subscribe to the newsletter, all accounts with that email address will be flagged so that all characters on all 10 accounts will be able to receive all of the rewards.
Read more here.
The Myth War Online official site has been updated with information about their Carnival of May, a series of in-game events, including quadruple experience for defeating monsters in the fields.
1. Free Presents
GMs will appear at stall area of each server irregularly during May 1st-3rd and offer various stones with different attributes (Such as Icy Crystal and Oceanic Stone), Mystical Fruits and Chocolate for free in the form of setting stall. Before the GMs set the stall, the system will announce the time when GMs will appear but nor the detailed location. Players have to seek the location by themselves. The system will announce when the activity is over.
2. Bounty Hunter and Survival Quest on May 1st:
We will wipe all Bounty Hunter records at Server Time 0:00 on May 1st and gather the final results at Server Time 20:00 on May 1st. Players can do Bounty Hunter during the 20 hours from 0:00 to 20:00 on May 1st. NPC will show the final winning group. And the winners will be given special rewards by GM.
Reward: Aurora Lion Egg
We will wipe all Survival Quest records at Server Time 0:00 on May 1st and gather the final results at Server Time 21:00 on May 1st. Players can do Survival Quest during the 21 hours from 0:00 to 21:00 on May 1st to join the contest. NPC will show the final winning group. And the winners will be given special rewards by GM.
Reward: Green Capilla Egg
Read about the Carnival of May here.
Richard Garriott recently took to the skies along with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking for a zero-gravity flight. Now with his feet firmly back on the ground, Richard Garriot blogs about the experience.
My girlfriend Kelly and I have just returned from an incredible couple of days at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with Professor Stephen Hawking, which included participating in his historic zero-gravity flight where we all experienced the freedom of weightlessness aboard a specially equipped 727 flying parabolic trajectories. While I have been a fan of Dr. Hawking for some time, I became more and more impressed with him (and his staff) the more time we spent with them.
Professor Hawking has had a lifelong desire to travel into space, and zero-g flights are now among the first steps in that journey. Also organized as a benefit for several charitable organizations, the Hawking flight raised over $144,000 for these charities.
For Wednesday, April 25, we prepared to do a full dress rehearsal of how the flight operations would unfold. From the outset it was very clear that the ZERO-G team and Hawking's personal team planned this expedition well. As we rehearsed all of the activities that we would repeat the next day, it was quickly evident that this would work well and be very exciting and comfortable for Professor Hawking. Kelly and I are both experienced parabolic flyers, but this was our first trip aboard G-Force 1, one of the planes owned by ZERO-G--a company I was one of the earliest investors in about a dozen years ago.
Professor Hawking had a very busy Wednesday himself, first helping kick off the event by meeting with the group who would be flying with him Thursday. While we were flying rehearsal flights he was answering interview questions from the large group of media who had come to witness the event, and after our test flights we had a reception in his honor where he gave a great lecture on his journey through science and his passion for space travel. Personally, I was excited to see him discussing work that is now well beyond black holes, including very recent thinking on theories about the origins of the universe.
Read the full blog here.
Funcom has announced that Age of Conan is now in technical beta, allowing several hundred brave souls to do some limited adventuring in the lands of Hyborea.
Now is an incredibly exciting time for everyone working at Funcom. The technical beta is kicking off and we've already started inviting several hundred players to join us and become some of the first people to tread the blood-soaked earth of Hyboria under their sandaled (or chain mailed, for that matter) feet. After years of working on the game behind closed doors it is finally ready for the world. Bringing more external testers into the game is a very interesting experience for us, especially with so many people participating. We're just as excited as you are, if not even more!
We know most of you won't have the opportunity to join us this time around (though your chance may come soon!), but we still want to let you in on what we'll be doing in these first tests by explaining to you what it will involve.
This first time around we're focusing on testing how well the server works under heavy load, particularly how the different areas of the gameworld holds up when many people try to get into one specific place. In the days following the test, developers will be going through the data collected and probably utter quite a few "oohs" and "aahs".
"We'll start by testing several different high-load scenarios on our servers by pushing the technology, like seeing how the server reacts to so many people going from one area to another at the same time," says Quality Assurance Manager Ørjan Mathis Tvedt. "This is to further optimize our servers for the future tests which will be even bigger in scale."
Read the full article here here.
The latest edition of Game/On, MMORPG.com's weekly podcast, is now available for your listening pleasure.
This past week, Managing Editor Jon Wood traveled to The Netherlands to visit the studios of The Chronicles of Spellborn. While there, he caught up with the game's Lead Designer, Chris Nengerman.
You can listen to the podcast here here.
Forum Threads Watch List
Well you asked for it, the forum watch list now allows you to manage your forum thread subscriptions from one central page. Watch as the latest posts bubble to the top of the list in your favorite threads, remove some unwanted watched threads or all of them if you want!
To check this new feature out be sure you're logged in and head over to the forums. In the top of the left menu on the page below the Spy glass link you'll see the glasses icon indicating the new area. Click on this link to check out the new Watched Threads feature!
EA / Mythic today released a new Career Profile for WAR. The Chaos Chosen is a powerful mage / tank class. Check out the screens and write up.
A Chosen Champion of Tzeentch is a sight to behold - warped by the blessings of the dark gods, these hulking behemoths have the power and size to match even the mightiest of mortal creatures. Their thick Chaos armor can ward off the most punishing of blows, while the fell weapons they wield can cleave the heaviest of defenses. However, these "blessings" come at a price - the Chosen is beholden to Tzeentch, and must constantly strive to earn his favor. For the Chosen of Tzeentch this means more than mere slaughter and death. In order to earn the grace of the Changer of Ways, the Chosen must apply guile and trickery as much as brute force. Only through careful planning and deliberate carnage can a Chosen of Tzeentch truly find the favor of their god.
The Chosen of Tzeentch Specialty
Tzeentch expects his Champions to be both ferocious warriors and cunning tacticians. As a result, Chosen who excel in these areas are granted profane rewards. These Dark Giftsallow the Chosen to manipulate the ruinous power of Chaos itself. While this provides them with ever greater strength, it also continually strips away any remnants of humanity that may still reside in the dark recesses of their memories. These Dark Gifts supplement the warrior's awesome martial skills, increasing their durability, strength and even allowing them to harness the Winds of Magic.
Read it all right here.
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar official site has been updated with an article detailing how a player can customize their user interface.
In The Lord of the Rings OnlineTM: Shadows of Angmar (LOTRO), players can customize certain elements of the game's user interface (UI), also known as "skinning." While we don't allow you to do a full-scale UI replacement, we do give you the ability to replace selected visual elements of the UI. (A full list of these elements and their sizes is provided at the end of this overview.)
Read the full article here here.