Managing Editor Jon Wood rings in the New Year by looking back at the last year at MMORPG.com and introducing the site's new management team.
I would like to take this chance to say that I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and that the New Year finds you all well. While 2006 marked a year of growth for the MMORPG.com community, 2007 is going to be the herald of change.
2006 saw our membership pass the half-million point, allowing us to move onto a three-server system. Along with the membership increase, so too did our forums grow not only to include over 1 million posts, but also to support an area for each of the games currently listed on our Games List. We also brought you coverage of the major MMORPG events of the 2006 including: E3, Austin Game Conference, Penny Arcade Expo, Game Developers Conference and more.
You can read the whole letter here.
Lord of the Rings Online's Design Director Cardell "Annuvin" Kerr gives us a look at Vastin's Castle. This is just a sample, to read the entire diary follow this link.
When I first rolled over to LOTRO from DDO, I was pretty focused on making sure the games were VERY different. We wanted the LOTRO play cycle to be different (ie: I wanted you to be able to play LOTRO for hours, while DDO's play cycle was typically higher impact, and thus shorter), and I wanted to focus on the protagonist, not the system. If anything, I wanted the system to be informed by the protagonist, since LOTRO is based off of a story, while DDO is based off of a system.
However, that's not the entire story. Early on in LOTRO dev (not MEO dev, as I've only been on the project since November of '04), I got into a long argument with another designer about media types (re: Stories, Movies, Games), and what their strengths and weaknesses are. His position... well, it's not important, as I'm the one writing this (I still love him for his brains, though). My position has been bolstered by numerous instances of point 1 (above), and are built around a core of point 2. That position states that books tell stories that can be deeply personal, movies further refine that (or trivialize it/miss the point entirely, depending on your reference), while games... well, games don't present stories as well as either (for the majority of people). Instead, they allow for interaction, something that no movie really does well, and only choose your own adventure books did reasonably well in the past (for a medium that wasn't a video game).
Read more about Lord of the Rings Online here.
Atriarch opens new cities and land development.
Atriana Globalization: world building & Atriarch cities... The Tyrusin Region of Pallidrost has been our default "test & demo" location. It is home of the Arena of Foreign Apprenticeship and is the preferred ecosystem of the Dubo Plant. The Dubo is an ice plant harvested to build the Dubosek architecture seen in the area, for example, the player-built Tyrusin Guard Tower seen in many screenshots. Pallidrost is a good area for use during our internal testing and demo-ing because it is small enough to be contained (a few kilometers), yet large enough try new features within an Atriana landscape. While it will remain our main test area, we are expanding the world to include Drasius (Eshlar Port City), Orescent (Lokai Desert City & Capitol), and the Cavolon Foreign Embassy in the Swamps.
In the past, each of these cities were a demo/test area in and of themselves. It made everything simpler for us that way. Now, we are moving these regions all to the same globe (Atriana) rather than their own individual test globes. This is a significant move considering the world is a true curved globe with six degrees of seemless terrain and movement.
This is an exciting progress contributing toward the globalization of aliens.
Read more here.
Nick Parkinson, the Community Manager for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, has released the third in his series of features that address the question: So You Want to be an MMO Developer.
If you're reading this, there's good news. You've probably already starting doing all the things you need to do to be a designer. Bag of Doritos in one hand? Highly caffeinated beverage in the other? If you answered yes, you're already halfway there. First and foremost, you need to play games. You need to love it, and we're not just talking "I root for the Bears when they're winning" love... we're talking "I wore my Mike Ditka signed boxer shorts to my wedding" love. If you don't have that, you'll probably get tired of it pretty quick.
Secondly, aside of actually playing the games try creating some. You don't need to know how to program to do this. Write a killer quest out on paper. DM a game of Dungeons & Dragons for a group of friends. Make mods for NeverWinter Nights or Morrowind. Write short stories. All of these things will help you develop the ability to get creative ideas out of your head and translated into compelling gameplay ideas and content. It's also provides a great response to angry parents/spouses demanding to know why you're always on that infernal computer.
Read the whole article here
MMORPG.com is happy to announce that we have been given a ton of beta keys for 9Dragons from Persistent Worlds (UK host of 9Dragons) to hand out to our members!
If you would like to try this game out, just visit our page at this link to get your beta key now!
2006 was an eventful year in the world of MMORPGs, and Dan Fortier returns to his MMOWTF column this week to give us a look back at the year that was.
The year started off with so much promise. Warhammer Online went from a cancelled vapor title into Mythic's new flagship game. While Dark Age of Camelot had received a few graphical upgrades courtesy of a new expansion, it was clear that an RvR successor had been chosen. Shortly after April Fools day, Mark Jacobs, the CEO of Mythic, came out and told us that not only were they not selling out to EA, but that they weren't even in talks with them about a merger/buyout. Imagine our surprise when a mere two and a half months later he inks a deal that puts EA in front of Mythic's name. Paul Lee, the President of EA, was later seen doing a /chicken atop the Mythic HQ in Virginia, but all photos have since been bought or destroyed.
Read the column here.
Yesterday, MMORPG.com unveiled our "New Look" v.1.2. The new look seeks to recapture a touch of the old site look and mix it with the newer site, giving players familiar and expanded abilities: our Games List now allows members to check at a glance whether a game is Free to Play or Pay to Play, The look now has better compatibility with high contrast monitors and more!
These changes and more were made in response to the great feedback that we received from you, our community members on the forums. We here at MMORPG.com want to make this the best possible place for you to make your MMO news home.
MMORPG.com's official podcast, Game/On, returns after a brief hiatus for the Holidays!
This week, MMORPG.com's new Community Manager Laura Genender joins Game/On podcast co-host Jon Wood to talk about the proposed laws in South Korea that would see the government step in to control the exchange of virtual currency in MMORPGs.
Listen to the whole podcast here.
Lord of the Rings Online allows us to listen to a new music track from Middle Earth.
At last, we've got a new music clip from LOTRO for your listening pleasure! This one comes from LOTRO's Character Creation sequence.
Read more about Lord of the Rings Online here.
Age of Conan offers up some new Hyborian Lore about the deity Derketo.
In between all the seasonal feasting we have two new entries to the lore section for you to enjoy today!
In keeping with the Stygian theme of this months Clan of Conan update these lore updates focus on one of the other deities that is revered and worshipped in the Stygian lands - Derketo.
Read more about Age of Conan here.
Pirates of the Burning Sea gives us a look at two new user created ships.
With the help of our User Content Steering Committee Flying Lab Software Technical Artist Joram Hughes has introduced two new user-created ships to the Captain's Ship Guide!
You can view screenshots and historical information for Michael O'Dwyer's Capricieux and Eilelwen's Strasland by visiting the User Ships section of the Captain's Ship Guide!
Once there, click on any of the ships at the top of the page for more detailed information.
Want to learn more about our User Content program? Then you will want to visit the Pirates of the Burning Sea User Content Shipwright Forum!
Many thanks to Michael O'Dwyer and Eilelwen for all their hard work!
Read more about Pirates of the Burning Sea here.
World of Warcraft Announces Holiday Contest Winners.
The results are in at last! After indulging in a few cookies and hot chocolate to get into the spirit of things, the judges poured through thousands of submissions (apparently snowmen are melting everywhere) and emerged with definite winners in hand! We sifted through a number of well orchestrated, creative screenshots and tantalizing confections, but in the end, five Holiday Holiday Screenshot and five Holiday Cookie winners stood out above the rest.
Of course, we received so many wonderful entries that we just had to share them with everyone else. The Honorable Mentions for the cookies can be found here, and the screenshots are right over here. Congratulations!
Read more about World of Warcraft here.
After over a month and two rounds of voting, the results are in. This year saw a pitched battle between CCP's EVE Online and World of Warcraft in a number of categories as more than 60,000 votes were cast in the nomination and final voting rounds.
Based on your votes, we released the names of the winners in each category. Each of the nominees represented one of the top vote getters in the preliminary round of voting. To qualify, a game must have received over 10% of the nomination vote.
The categories are:
- Favorite Graphics
- Favorite PvE
- Favorite Story
- Most Anticipated
- Favorite New Game
- Favorite Game
Special thanks go out to everyone who participated in both rounds of this year's voting!
You can read the Awards here.
Entropia Universe brings in 2007 with some virtual booze. Entropia is offering users the chance to celebrate New Year's Eve with virtual champange bottles.
LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 28, 2006 -- This New Year's Eve, Entropia Universe users will be ringing in 2007 with a pop of the cork, a first in the virtual universe. Sjoeblom Winery distributed a limited number of virtual "champagne" bottles to Entropia members on December 19, supplying them for the upcoming holiday. High demand for the "champagne" has raised the virtual bottles' trading value to over $15 per bottle.
The partnership marks a first in representation of wine sponsorship in a virtual world. The Sjoeblom-labeled bottles exemplify the commitment that Entropia Universe has to its users in creating the most realistic virtual experience in a massive online universe. Entropia's real cash economy provides a medium to freely move currency between the physical world and the virtual world with a fixed exchange rate. With inhabitants from all over the globe, Entropia Universe looks forward to celebrating the New Year for a full 24 hours. At the stroke of every midnight, Entropia avatars will be able to pop the cork on their bottles and enjoy the New Year's festivities.
"Entropia Universe continues its tradition of bringing tremendous diversity and functionality to the virtual world," said John Bates. "The fact that virtual champagne bottles are selling for more than $15 speaks to the importance and connection that Entropia inhabitants feel for this alternate universe. We thank Sjoeblom for their vision in working with us, as well."
Read more about Entropia Universe here.
In an article at ars technica there is talk about the South Korean Government hoping to pass a law that controls the exchange of virtual currency.
A controversial bill proposed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in South Korea aims to control the exchange of virtual currency. Described by the deputy director of the mMinistry's Game Industry Division as an attempt to "tighten regulations on hazardous gambling activities," the bill would prohibit the sale and purchase of virtual currency, but would not impose controls on item trading.
In recent years the phenomenon of gold farming has grown dramatically. As online role playing games with complex internal economies grow, so too do the number of companies that are looking to cash in on these new virtual economies. It turns out that some gamers are quite happy to pay real world money for in-game currency and/or items, and this has created quite a stir amongst gamers and politicians alike.
The South Korean bill has received strong support from some in the game industry, particularly companies that run multiplayer Internet games in which the commercial exchange of virtual currency can potentially disrupt balance and competition. On the other side of the issue are gold-farming companies that serve the growing market for virtual currency. An article in The Korea Times cites statistics from the country's Game Development and Promotion institute, which states that the size of the virtual item exchange market is roughly $1 billion and estimates that approximately 60 percent of item trading company profits come from gold farming.
As gold farmers are quick to point out, prohibition will not decrease the market for virtual currency, and somebody will always emerge to take advantage of it. Prohibition, anyone? By imposing penalties on virtual currency exchange, the Korean government will deprive native companies of access to a rapidly growing, $1 billion dollar market that will still be serviced by foreign companies. Many MMORPG developers already have policies forbidding the commercial exchange of virtual currency, and some might question if it is fair to the tax-paying public to shift the costs and burdens of enforcing those policies to the Korean government.
The bill is also relatively vague about what actually constitutes virtual currency. One wonders if this proposed prohibition would criminalize games like Second Life in which commercial transactions are a fundamental aspect of the experience.
As usual, this is probably a case of overly-concerned politicians trying to control what they don't understand. As a result of the growing controversy, the bill has essentially stalled while the debate continues. Like most other sectors of the technology industry, gaming is versatile and dynamic--a combination that makes it difficult to regulate. As trends change, anachronistic laws can become impediments that stifle progress. In order to prevent stagnation, Korea's legislators may have to depend on the invisible hand rather than an iron fist.
Read more here.
Farlan Entertainment allows players to access Dark & Light for free up to level ten.
PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS ---- December 28, 2006 - Farlan Entertainment, publisher of Dark and Light™ MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), today announced that in order to allow even more players to experience the uniquely immersive world of Dark and Light gaming, all Dark and Light forum members can now access the game for free. This is the perfect time for forum members who already enjoy gaming in the Dark and Light universe to invite their friends to try out this engaging MMORPG. They will be able to play the game with no limitations up to level 10. After reaching level 10, they can continue to play as long as they want, but they won't gain more (craft/combat/social) experience points (XP).
Discover the first unique MMORPG world. All Dark and Light players are within the same seamless medieval world of 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of land (not including seas), the biggest gameworld ever created! Massive numbers of fortresses and cities populate the thirteen kingdoms of Ganareth, a land locked in an epic battle for control between the Dark and Light factions. Wherever you are in the huge world of DnL, you can call or be asked for help to conquer, fight, or defend. Teleporting points are found in key locations (near villages and places of interests) for fast transport, or players can fly through the air without restrictions with their own dragon, glider, or parachute. The game has two starting zones--one for the Darks, one for the Lights--so all the players are gathered as they start the game.
Dark and Light provides an unprecedented immersive environment, with original ambiances, such as ice, crystals, volcanoes, or elvish forests; sounds and music that vary depending on the location, the type of transportation and fights, etc.; a horizon view up to a distance of 30 miles; and dynamic and unique weather management.
At the Gameplays link on the Dark and Light homepage (http://www.darkandlight.com/), players will find a set of guides to playing DnL. These guides offer easy entrance to the game for those who have just discovered the unique world of DnL, as well as useful information for the experienced and well-informed player. The user guide page is constantly expanding to include information that will inform players in their journey through Ganareth. Though not intended as a full strategy guide, they are a good starting point for information about how to play and manage the progression axes, along with fort management, crafting, and exploiting basics, information about the Dark and Light skill tree, and more.
Read more here.
On December 20th, Rappelz announced their Epic III expansion which offers a number of changes to the game, notably: changes to their gameply, enhanced PvP and new content.
The Rappelz team is proud to announce the release of Rappelz Epic III Expansion! The expansion became available to play for free on December 20th.
The Rappelz Epic III Expansion will represent our largest addition of new game content and new features to date. Epic III will offer many new changes to Rappelz including: new content, gameplay changes, and enhanced PVP system.
In the Epic III Expansion, players will encounter new challenges and dangers in the form of new areas, quests, new dungeons for lower level users, never-before-seen monsters/raid bosses, and much more.
Also, with the Epic III Expansion the gameplay speed has been increased tremendously to make Rappelz feel like a more fast-paced and action oriented game.
In addition to the changes mentioned above, all in-game prices of equipments have been lowered; lots of new items including helms and cloaks will be available in the item shop, and immorality point decreasing items will make PVP more exciting and fun!
To prepare for the Rappelz Epic III Expansion, you will need to re-install your Rappelz client (After the 20th you will not be able to use the old Rappelz client to play). You can check out the full patch note and download the Rappelz Epic III client by visiting http://rappelz.gpotato.com. See you in Rappelz!
Read more on Rappelz here.
Steve Wilson returns today with his weekly Casual Play column. Casual Play gives a non-hardcore perspective on MMORPG gaming, and this week Steve tells us what it's like to be a "professional lowbie".
How many people have dozens of different mid to low level characters?
I've often wondered how many other players there are out there that are like me. A long running problem I have in massive online games is my inability to stick with one character. I like to try everything, sample every class and combination. See the world and surmount obstacles from every possible angle. And for the most part this has held me back in the traditional treadmill games that are most massive online roleplaying games.
Read it all here.
Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online has gone through a website makeover, with a new, sleeker look. Today, the new site features a brand new Beta Journal. It's too long to print here though, so if you're interested or like what you see, follow the link below.
I'm with some burglars that fellowship together in all-stealth groups, and for us, play is a little different. As in most games, the penalty for stealth is speed and so the all-burglar game is a slower paced game. As you approach each encounter, even the incidental ones, there is time to plan as you creep up to the mobs. Who will take which mobs and in what order? Where do we approach from? It is this planning aspect I enjoy about the class. Burgling is a thinking hobbit's game - oh and those big folk too.
Last Friday our usual leader was out and I was subbing in as leader. With me were two other burglars, a human the same level and another hobbit two levels lower - we'll call them "Wingman" and "Lowbie". We headed into the goblin camps in the Lonelands. The goblins in this area have a series of camps, each different in layout with two to four goblins in each and usually one warg (a very large wolf).
The warg is a concern for burglars. Our mez (mesmerization spell), called a "riddle" in honor of the original Bilbo Baggins' ability in such things - only works on talking bipeds. We can't mez animals or insects. Further - wargs and other dogs seems to have an enhanced sense in detecting us stealthed. So even though the wargs are often the lowest level in a camp - they deserve the most planning attention.
As we were approaching one of the camps I was sending the orders. It doesn't seem right for those in a stealth group (think Navy Seals or Ninjas) to be talking. Hand signals don't work because you might not be looking at the leader at the right time so we use a form of chat where we've mapped pre-determined hand-signal-like messages to the alt-keys on the keyboard to send messages without moving our focus to the chat window or spending a lot of time typing in combat (or mostly pre-combat).
There were three goblins in the camp and one warg. Two of the goblins were higher and the warg was low in level. One goblin seemed to be strolling on a route; the other two stationary in the middle of the camp by the fire. The warg was standing out front towards us, as if on guard. I sent instructions that Wingman should attack the guy on the route - I'd attack the warg and mez the center one and our lowbie would try and mez theirs. After I finished off the warg, we'd still have a mez left and we should be able to take them almost one by one. My fellow burglars, stealthed, fanned out to get behind their targets.
Read the whole thing here.
Guild Wars has released a new State ofthe Game feature. This time, it focuses on giving basic tips for creating and running a Guild vs. Guild team.
This week's State of the Game article provides a collection of basic tips for creating and running an effective Guild vs. Guild team. Many of these suggestions also apply to other forms of PvP, as well. Get them all here.
Read more on Guild Wars here.