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MMOWTF: Behind the Madness

Just in case you can't get enough of my weekly published trash you can read all about the crap that never got it's own article. Enough the blog.

Author: Danmann

MMOWTF Recap #14: Life without a Computer

Posted by Danmann Saturday July 21 2007 at 12:55AM
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The article we are going to look back on today was literally written in 20 min in Yahoo Mail. As I state in the article, I fried my poor PC with a little help from an insane space heater and faulty wiring. Needless to say it was really short, but missing a week wasn't an option.


I find it interesting that the overall quality and depth of the article has nothing to do with the response I get...which means I guess I just keep turning out more worthless drivel. Main screen turn on!


            Quitters Never Win


What an exciting week! I managed to wipe an entire hard drive of games (also deleting this week’s article) and turned my motherboard into a Pentium BBQ. There nothing like inviting your friends over for some toasted ATI and smoked RAM while waiting for the local Fire Dept to hose off your smoldering tower case. Something good did come of the whole tragedy though, since this week's topic is suitably mired in that angst: What makes people quit games?



Not being one for gank and tells, I usually have a dim view of MMO hoppers that move from game to game without even getting their feet wet. It's not like the genre really fits that type of temperament either. Can you imagine grouping with someone with an "I don't have all minute" attitude? How can any game that requires hundred of hours of mostly repetitive content attract gamers with the attention span of a dope fiend?




You can't even read any in-game chat or forums without seeing someone who feels the need to tell everyone in /shouting distance that they are quitting. For sanity's sake I'm just going to focus on the people who can give a somewhat intelligible reason for giving up. I've mentally sorted through all the valid reasons I can ever remember hearing and I'd thought I'd share the top three with you today.




They changed ______ completely!


I addressed the reasons why gamers don't like major changes in a previous article, but it bears mentioning that while major changes can be bad for a game, players expect a certain level of stability in a game that requires such a massive investment of time. It's a tricky and sometimes impossible job of deciding which changes will be in the best interests if the game while keeping the customer happy. This ties in nicely with my second reason:


None of my friends/guild mates/victims play anymore!


Anytime something causes a powerful/popular person or clan to leave, it causes a ripple effect across the entire server. While their opponents may be encouraged to become more active it also creates a fun vacuum. Lots of people play MMOs for the community whether they realize it or not. Even people who prefer to solo would notice the difference pretty quick if all of the players were replaced by bot NPCs. The real strength of the genre is that people who you don't interact with on a regular basis can still impact your game experience. When a group that was active leaves its effects are rarely positive.


There is nothing else to do.



Even games with a scope as wide as MMOs eventually succumb to their age. No matter how many new areas, mobs, spells, raids or loot you add players will lose interest after the parts of the game they enjoy become stale. This can be countered to some extent by well designed dynamic goals and robust character diversity, but eventually this becomes a main reason even the hardcore fans begin to look for greener raid pastures. The games that are successful will always find way to keep a steady flow of new players to offset this.



Taking a look at the major reasons that players leave can help designers avoid the pitfalls that can make a game hemorrhage subscriptions and go a long way toward find cost effective ways of keeping them, but then again it's not like people need a good reason to jump ship for the next shiny beta on the horizon.



I'm going to have to cut this week short now, so save your plastic beads for a more festive occasion. Remember the forum is for sharing and that sharing is caring. Till next week.


- Dan Fortier

MMOWTF Recap #13: It's not OUR fault...we were BORN this way!

Posted by Danmann Wednesday July 11 2007 at 5:04PM
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This recap is going to feature my article on MMO addiction. Even though I sum it up pretty well in the article the premise was basically: "Take some responsablity for yourself". Just hearing people cry about their chemical imbalances are the fault of anyone (other than their family tree DNA) makes me want to go off on a Dennis Leary "No Cure for Cancer" rant.



It won't cure your addiction and it definitely doesn't offer any solutions...which is the point. Everyone has their issues that we can't fix or are a symptom of the world we live in. Take a deep breath and deal with it. On a side note that "/chicken on you noob" was a Pure Pwnage and one of my personal favorites


As far as the article goes it was basically printed unchanged except for a few clarifying word switches. On with the show!







                  MMO-holic: The Architecture of Addiction



                  I’d like to welcome you all back to my little corner of for the first real column of the new year. As always, there is no shortage of MMO related news to throw into the grinder and this weeks topic should get the ball rolling nicely. Today I decided to put my cross-hairs on one of the granddads of virtual plagues: MMO addiction. Is this a real addiction and who does it affect? Take a quick swig of some Pepto-Bismol and read on to find out!



There are plenty enough things in life to worry about without inventing new problems. Even health nuts admit every breath you take brings a lung full of cancer-causing material into your body and even fun activities like skiing can be dangerous if you happen to be a former Mayor of Palm Springs or the Governator of California. All kinds of drugs, prescription and otherwise, can create more medical problems than they solve. As if all this isn’t bad enough, some people can find unhealthy fixation with the games that are supposed to make us forget all the crap I just mentioned.



Some folks apparently have some problems letting go of the games they play because I’m hearing more and more about this so-called addiction to online games. You might have heard some stories taken right from the news about people leaving their infants to die while playing an MMO or stabbing their friends over stolen virtual property, but it’s nothing new. Better are still are all those urban legends from the older days when Dungeons and Dragons players were considered lures for Satanic cults and people were committing suicide over lost characters. What is the common element behind these stories? Without a doubt the answer would have to be mentally unbalanced people with addictive personalities. These kind of looneys can turn any hobby into a dangerous obsession and it looks as though they have found a home in our neck of the woods.



For the same reason violent people play violent games, listen to violent music, people that are  prone to addiction are drawn like a moths to flame by games that are addictive by design. For years criminals, sociopaths and people desperate for attention have been blaming the things which they enjoy for their own shortcomings and bad decisions. Would playing any kind of music or game non-stop turn a mild mannered person into a killer? No, but it could push some borderline psychos over the edge. It’s much easier to blame the music or game that we use as a vehicle for our obsessions rather that look at the real causes behind the problem.



MMOs are designed from the ground up to eat your life. They are filled with blatant time-sinks that are made to hook you into playing till the next *DING* and the genre is a perfect self-activated wreaking ball for your mundane existence. It’s no surprise that a majority of the people that play our type of game are the ones who desire a break from the nagging reality of everyday life. There is a reason the first EQ was dubbed ‘Evercrack’ by longtime players and it wasn’t because the economy was screwy.



I have no doubt that are there are probably a decent amount of people who really do have a true psychological dependence on the fictional adventures they have in MMORPGs across the globe. Should the designers of these hamster wheels share some of the blame for this problem? You could rationalize that the old-carrot-on-a-stick routine used by MMO Devs is no better than the shady tricks used by cigarette companies and drug dealers. Unlike other pushers though, developers can’t be called on to the carpet since their product doesn’t actually cause a physical addiction. No matter how far gone someone is into Neverland, they don’t actually need to play their game. Like any medical condition though, the results can be serious and long lasting. If you ever find yourself lying on a cot yelling “ /chicken on you noob lol” while flapping your arms I’d say your beyond the help of modern medicine.



What about the thousands of people who are victims of this particularly crippling vice who still have to trudge though the workweek, burdened by this unquenchable desire to kill, loot and murder? My advise to keep doing what you do now: Arrive late, take long breaks and leave early. Just remember, before you crawl back to your electronic fix, check and make sure your insurance covers game addiction therapy.



In the grander scheme of things though, it’s hard to really take this kind of thing seriously. What would some of the less fortunate people on the planet have to say about our epidemic of convenience? I’m sure the folks that have to live everyday with the threat of bombs and masked men with guns wouldn’t have much sympathy for the poor MMORPG addicts among us, but then again, I’m just guessing. Back off guys, this violin is expensive.



I guess this is enough offensive rhetoric for one week. Check back next Monday to see who else’s toes I can step on. For those of you who are as addicted to forums as I am, you can get your fix by telling me off. Pile on!



- Dan Fortier

MMOWTF Recap #12: I also hate being wrong.

Posted by Danmann Friday July 6 2007 at 5:36AM
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This tasty little tidbit is a look back at my first MMOWTF from this year. It was a mix between my real thoughts on the year to come and some obvious playful rhetoric about some games I hate. Ironically after doing a dance of vanity about being right about Auto Assault being the first to be canceled, hindsight in this case, makes me look a bit foolish.


This article give some predictions on the game to be released this year and beyond. Only two of the games I mention by name actually have been released so far this year so let's take a look:


Vanguard: SOH. Yes I actually said "While it probably will release and do well..." but the again I wasn't in Beta or I might have had a different opinion. My main pet peeve with games is that they are released WAY too early. For a game that wanted to be "Next Gen" they took a step backward in player trust by shipping a buggy product just to start making their money back. I can't be right all the time so I'll take it in stride.


Lord of the Rings Online: My 'review' of this title was little more than a hate rant disguised as a paragraph, but I still stand by my words. Despite doing very little to break the mold feature and content wise LotRO has done pretty well even by post-WoW standards, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. If this game sticks around several more years I'll be happy their PvE fans won't be flocking to anything I'll be playing.



Interestingly enough this episode was kept completely intact...Even Editors take a day off  I guess. Who knows?  Maybe Dana was warming to my style and forgave me for all my good natured Canadian jokes...Anyhoo ON WITH THE RECAP!


                                      Happy Newb Years:   A look ahead to 2007


        Ah. It’s so nice having a fresh clean slate to work with. The rest of the year is like a beautiful white carpet to drag my muddy boots across before plopping down to write more grammatical garbage for your amusement. I am taking this opportunity to throw out any sort of creative writing I might have planned in order to bring you a very special MMOWTF preview of the year to come. Just ignore the boring parades and turn off whatever Bowl game you’re watching and read on because your monthly subscription money might depend on it.



Many of your are glad to see that those festering pile of crap titles that got foisted on us last year  are now clearly in the rear view mirror. This new year brings no less than five big MMOs with release dates in the first half of the year so lets start by taking a closer look at them:



Vanguard: Saga of Heroes: The self proclaimed `Third Generation' title from Sigil is still in Beta. Reading about the game you get the sense that they are trying to make it appeal to everyone and trying to include just about every goodie from games past. The devs are going to a lot of trouble to make the game seem to have universal appeal, but the basic game mechanics show otherwise. There are tons of interesting features including a seamless world with no loading and the ability to sail ships and use mounts even at lower levels. However I still see a High Fantasy level based grind based on high end items and content. While it's definitely going to launch and probably do well, it doesn't really doesn't deserve a `Next-Gen' moniker in my eyes. If your looking for the next giant faceless wonder, l33t dewds, look no further.



Gods and Heroes: A lot about this game reminds me of that PS2 game called Gladius. The game features an intriguing Squad based combat system where everyone can use a group of henchmen to aid them if they choose. It also has a Node-lock combat system that keeps the combat organized and as Mr. Garrison from South Park says "It locks you into place" so that the combat looks more realistic. The setting is historical and the henchmen system adds to the dynamic by turning every player into a group. This should be an interesting title for the combat freaks out there who like to solo without using a pet class. The instancing and lack of crafting make me think that is their target audience as well. For those of you who have ever wanted to be Bellerophon or Theseus, but fainted at the sight of a real sword wielded in anger, this could be the game for you.



The Chronicles of Spellborn: Making use of the Unreal engine, TCoS looks to offer a more active combat system that is faster paced and based upon skill `decks' that players can use to customize their combat abilities. The idea of playing a twitch combat system that doesn't involve strafing around like Robotron sounds great, but I'm concerned about crafting being dumped into NPC hands, the lack of a real death penalty and the fact there are only two races. On the bright side, they are producing the game themselves so if they screw up we can blame them directly rather than shaking our collective fists at the evil company behind the scenes.



Lord of the Rings Online: I'm beginning to get sick of this franchise and this time I can't fault the creator. Ever since the first movie came out developers from all platforms have been shoveling us a healthy diet of craptasic games stamped with the LotR logo. I'm not to sure what they were thinking, but turning Middle-earth into a PvE art book game was just about the worst thing they could have done. Not allowing a IP with such a huge back story of war to be played out by players on both sides is just lame. The lack of PvP won't doom this game obviously though, so I leave that task in Turbine's capable hands.



Age of Conan: Decapitation and partial nudity are mere sideshows to the other features that make AoC a good contender in 2007. Funcom has their plate full with pleasing the Conan fans of all ages and delivering all the content they have promised so far. From drunken brawls to player made cities and sieges they appear to have a solid direction for the game and the only question remains is `Will it be fun?". If I'm able to drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentations of the women, I'll be one happy Cimmerian.



Pirates of the Burning Sea: Is it just me or does this game seem to have been in development for a long time? I like being salty and robbing people as much as the next guy so here's hoping they can really capture the savagery of sea combat and being a pirate without forcing me to eat citrus. Ever since that accident on the offshore drilling rig I can't even bear to look at screen shots with water in them so I'm not to sure how this game is coming along. I guess I'll fall back on the ole standby phrase: "Point me toward the Open Beta!" Let's just hope after it's released these `patches' they are talking about aren't of the eye variety.



Warhammer Online (or WARas Mark Jacobs keeps reminding me) is set to release later on in the year, but even given the resources of EA and Mythic's experience in the genre, I don't think we will see it before 2008 so I'll reserve my opinion until later on. Hopefully we'll get to see more of this title as the year progresses as I'm eager to see more details about all the races and classes. Blood for the Blood God! Now that I've angered the fanboys, it's time to look into my cracked crystal ball and dish out a few predictions for this year:



- Atriarch will announce an Open Beta date of Feb 2010 followed six months later by another ten second video of one their avatars dancing. No one can claim they aren’t making progress right?



- Development of Darkfall is moved to another European country to `speed up the development process'. Months later, several former Razorwax employees are arrested for smuggling enriched uranium in order to fund their project.



- Dark and Light, Auto Assault, Roma Victor and Archlord all get canceled and no one notices. If a game is canceled and no one is playing it, does it make a sound?



- EVE Online announces the follow up expansion in the works. Following the trend of naming their major expansions after books of the bible, it is called Lamentations. It provides an in-game method for canceling your subscription instead of crying about people being able to `warp to 0 km.'



- World of Warcraft's Burning Crusade expansion is launched. Blizzard executives are seen panhandling on the streets of Irvine to make up for the lost revenue of a post-holiday season release.



- Bioware finally gives the details of their much debated MMORPG project. Unfortunately, since the press release is only available to current subscribers of Star Wars Galaxies, we may never know what it says.



Now that you're in the know about the next biggest things to hit the MMO fan in the next twelve months, you can amaze your friends and industry insiders. Hopefully we can look forward to year that brings more choices and hours of entertainment than the last. Fortune-telling is exhausting so I'm off to take a nap. Make sure to visit the link below and fill the rest of us in with your predictions.


- Dan Fortier


MMOWTF Recap #11: Damn, I hate being right

Posted by Danmann Tuesday July 3 2007 at 1:38AM
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Yes, I called it. My pick for Most likely to be Cancelled in 2007 was of course Auto Assault which just recently threw in the towel. Did I jinx them or did they jinx themselves? It's kinda depressing that yet another somewhat orignal title is thrown to the wolves. Somewhere the God of Fantasy MMOs is cracking a wicked grin. Rest in Peace  AA.


Following my blockbuster MMOWTF Awards I decided to do a cliche-fest Year End Review. I spent literially 4 hours going back and reading all the major news stories for 2006 just top pick my favorites and make sure I didn't get any of the details wrong. The only major edit on this one was the bullet about "Sony confirms they are publishing Vanguard and mass suicides follow" which was rather blunt but a gag none the less. Funny how that ended up eh?


Let's take a look at the unedited version shall we? Stay tuned for the next Recap in a few days.


                                  MMOWTF 2006 Year in Review


 It’s Christmas time and you know what that means: Time to stuff some stockings! I’ve got some coal and candy canes to hand out this week while I review the year that is mercifully almost over. The end of the year is a time of reflection on the year that was and they say that those who don’t learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them. Pay close attention while I turn back the clock a bit since I know you all itching for some holiday cheers and jeers. Let’s get started!



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 a 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.



This wasn’t the only major businesses getting down and dirty this year either. Shadowbane unexpectedly became free to play shortly before its creator, Wolfpack Studios, shut their doors and fired their staff. Somehow the game survived by a thread as UbiSoft kept the game on life support before turning over the reigns to the newly formed Stray Bullet Games. If Shadowbane were a cat he would be looking both ways before crossing the street. To say that it has been an up and down year for this title and companies involved would be an understatement, but it’s still alive and that more than I can say for a few titles that had some high hopes during 2006.



Not all games managed to survive this year despite the odds though, as SEED was cancelled in it’s fourth month. Some folks said they saw it coming and that it was the only fate for an underfunded niche game. While the idea of a non-combat MMO is a somewhat ridiculous thought to me, I still hope that roleplayers will find a home someday in a playable game. While SEED was taking it’s last ragged gasps, Dark and Light and Horizons continued to run their respective traveling circus shows, each drawing shudders from audiences across the country with their sideshow tricks and snake oil salesman routine.



While neither game has worked right from the beginning, it takes a special kind of suck to surprise me and these two have succeeded. The developers of Horizons, Tulga games, was swallowed by EI Interactive in July which in turn was eaten by Pixel Magic just last month. Throw in some unsecured billing transactions and a PR smokescreen and you can’t do anything but shake your head. Dark and Light has had it’s share of bungles in the financial department this year too. Not only do they still not have a button to cancel on your account page, but they also charged hundreds of players that never signed up for a subscription. Throw in the return of of Chaos and you’ve got an All-Star cast of people to blame for the lack of trust for independent Devs.



The biggest shocker this year would have to be the ‘Death of E3 as we know it’. Why wouldn’t game companies want to spend millions of dollars on booth babes, giant statues and multilevel bars to promote their games every year? Where else can all the gaming snobs and industry whores be seen all in the same place every year? Several of my internal organs shriveled up at the thought of not being able to drink martinis while rubbing elbows with self made celebrities and ultra-rich nerds. I guess eventually something had to give and perhaps we started to get too caught up in the glitz and glamour and lost focus about what game conventions are about...Nah. Damn E3, I’m gonna miss you.



Not all was gloom and doom this year though. EVE Online continued to break the record for most players on a single server instance moving past 32 thousand just recently and joining forces with White Wolf. World War Two Online celebrated it’s fifth year proving that people still play MMOFPS. Guild Wars managed to squeeze in two stand alone expansions to their popular game and World of Warcraft showed it can bulldoze it’s way into TV as a setting for a largely popular South Park episode. It doesn’t matter if you see these as a sign of the Apocalypse like me or are just thankful to play a working game you have to at least tip your hat to the guys that can make a working product.



Rounding out the ‘Best of the Rest’ are some other highs and lows from the headlines of 2006:



  • - Back in February Sony Online Entertainment asks current and former Star Wars Galaxies testers to participate in a focus testing group and pays them $125 for two hours just to prove that they made the right decision after all


  • - A ganker was banned and crucified for all to see in Roma Victor. Perhaps he was driven to a life of crime by the wretchedly pixilated graphics...Now we’ll never know.


  • - Blizzard announced they were getting into the fast food business to in an April Fools gag. Sadly, they never confirmed whether Children’s Week was a farce. I mean, isn’t that an ongoing attraction?


  • - Sony confirms they will be publishing Vanguard and mass suicides follow.


  • - POSSe Entertainment give notice they will be making a WoW-killing MMO called Dragons and Legends. Call me pessimistic, but I am dubious that a company that begins with POS can make a great game.


  • - Cryptic cuts a deal to make a Marvel MMO. As much as I’d like to see another Super Hero title, why would you try and compete with yourself?


  • - The FBI recently busted an illegal Lineage 2 operation called L2Extreme. It’s good to know that beating up some hackers takes precedence over other investigations that involve the security of the entire country. Good job keeping your priorities straight guys.



That’s a wrap folks, I’ve had my say and I’m sure I missed pointing out a lot of great highlights so feel free to remind us all why 2006 will never be forgotten, at least until next year. Happy Holidays to all and see you next year when I’ll look ahead to 2007. Don’t forget to make like Methane47 and spam your way to victory in the forums!
- Dan Fortier





MMOWTF Recap #10: MMOWTF Award Winners

Posted by Danmann Sunday July 1 2007 at 12:29AM
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I don't think I've ever thrown about so much venom in a piece of literature as I did with this article. This was also perhaps one of the most edited of anything I've written for the site. All sorted various barbs and jibes were glossed over, but even the edited version pulls no punches.



As I promised I counted all the forum votes and announced the top 3 vote getters in each category followed by my personal pick. I have to admit even I was shocked at the results nearly a year after the NGE fiasco put a big dent in SWG's sub numbers. The effect is magnified here for some reason and the Awards really proved how cool it was to hate SOE last year.



Before I reprint the original I want to discuss a bit why I made the choices I did for each category with the benefit of hindsight.





It's hard to remember the last time I looked at a game this bad. Some guy posted a Roma Victor fight scene and it made me gag with disgust While the guys behind Dark and Light were obviously less talented artist, Red Bedlam's guys were probably working with animation tools from the 1980's. Sure there are probably some worse graphics if you look really hard but none were released in 2006...anyway I'm not sorry.



LEAST FUN: Dark and Light


One of the quickest ways to lose my interest is to have bugs that only show up after you have invested a long ass time into an aspect of a game. Dark and Light took the cake in this regard. Most of the system were flawed, like crafting, but the bugs were so frustrating because you wouldn't discover the item you made was screwed up until much later, like when trying to repair it. for example. Combine this with the most inept programming staff to ever touch a keyboard and you've got a game that make you want to become a serial killer.



MOST DESOLATE: Dark Age of Camelot


I spent a lot of time in DAoC on the same server so when you go back after a six month break and notice everyone you fought against is gone, it pretty obvious the game is going downhill. I could probably have picked a game like DnL that couldn't even hold a hundred people on it's sever without crashing, but the whole connection with DAoC made it jump right up in my mind when I wrote the piece.



WORST USE OF A POPULAR IP: Dungeons and Dragons Online


Eberron and 3rd Edition FTL. nuff said. Freaking 3-tards shouldn't shit on a proud genre.





An NDA still up 2 years after launch? Developers who tell you that they won't give you all the tools to test it at once because they know better than you? Assholes who promise the world and deliver a turd? The lead dev who tries to convince me at a gaming convention that SOG is NOT the DARK and LIGHT BETA when I know for a fact it is? These guys deserve everything bad that happens to them from now on plus some.




While a definitely don't think this game deserves to die it really can't comeback when the devs themselves declare it dead. Its funny how we keep hearing: WTF! dewd stop making teh stupid Fantasy games!" but they still sell like Sims 2. (ironically the popularity of The Sims didn't help it's online version in the slightest) The game isn't cancelled yet, but I can't imagine a Free-to-play model is far off.







Now on with the ORIGINAL and UNEDITED MMOWTF Award winners





                                              2006 MMOWTF AWARD WINNERS:
                                                   The Best of the Worst


 Welcome back to the 2006 MMOWTF Awards. Despite a weak grasp of the English language and plummeting approval ratings I’m still your host of this weekly jaunt into forbidden territory. This week we tally up all the votes that you placed and give out some punk cards to the losers in each category. I painstakingly counted each and every post/ballot and finished a mere couple of hours before the forums were the victim of a database failure. Each of the categories will show the game you voted for followed by my choice. Now without further ado, lets see how you voted:



With a healthy 38% of the votes, Dark and Light won by a decent margin over the runner ups Roma Victor (21%) and World of Warcraft (8%). This game met all my requirements for truly awful graphics with its melted wax hills and mountains, horrible avatars and poorly placed structures. Congrats DnL, I hope we never see your like again.



There are so many choices here that it’s hard to select one from the bunch. Narrowing it down to the games that are 3D and that look bad even on their released screen shots makes it a bit easier though. I’d have to say that Roma Victor is the worst simply because it is brand new and looks equally as bad even on the highest settings. Iron poisoning and barbarians were downfall of the real Rome but these graphics will be the undoing of the Roma Victor version. Et tu RedBedlam?



Star Wars has no trouble beating out the other games nominated in this field taking 37% of the votes when compared to Dark and Light (16%) and RF Online (11%). Obviously our voters are still a tad bit upset over the giant overhaul of the combat and class system last year. It is more fun than picking the fleas off a Wookie or potty training an Ewok? Who knows, but I’m not in hurry to experience any of the three anytime soon.



How much fun can you have in a game that crashes every ten minutes, has ridiculously poor design and game breaking bugs? Not much, if any, I assure you. Why not hop on a Dragon and soar through the sky? Make sure to avoid looking at the ground if you enjoy getting more than 10 FPS. Take a hot air balloon ride across the massive landscape? If you do then everyone within 2 km will crash out as soon as you hop aboard then be told they are already logged in when they try and restart! I wouldn’t recommend this ‘game’ even to a masochist.



Once again, the majority spoke and gave SWG another dubious award gaining 51% of the votes for this category. Coming in at second place was Dark and Light (23%) followed by Dark Age of Camelot (9%) at a distant third. In my introduction to the voting last week I suggested giving preference to game whose population had dropped rapidly rather than a game that never had the big numbers so I’m not too surprised at this outcome. Maybe by this time next year, everyone will be over it, or playing a new Star Wars game. Either way, Galaxies comes away with the Golden Tumbleweed here.



It’s truly a sad state of affairs when even the mighty zerg army of Albion is reduced to a couple eight man groups during peak hours. While it never quite had the numbers the SWG enjoyed, its demise is more significant to me because it represents the downfall of one of the best PvP games in the last ten years. All good things must come to an end though, so out with old and in with the new.



Seeing a trend here? With 63% of the votes, Star Wars beat out Dungeons and Dragons Online (37%) and The Matrix Online (4%) for the worst of the MMOG conversions. I’m pretty sure that no permanent damage was done to the franchise, but for most of the voters SWG betrayed the original concept of the movie, much like the newest Trilogy did. DDO has fallen pretty far from last year when it won “Most Anticipated for 2006”. Shows how much you can trust award votes.



This was a tough call since I was torn between DDO and Lord of the Rings. Being an old PnP gamer who still keeps 1st edition books I was appalled at the shallow gameplay and simplistic mechanics which are totally at odds with the flavor of the AD&D system. Why pay monthly for a poor mans’s Guild Wars when you can just log on to a NWN Persistent World for free and get better Modules to boot?



With a staggering 77% of the votes SOE won in a blowout and the next closest was Dark and Light’s very own NP Cube (16%) followed by Turbine (3%). What can you say? When the gibbering hordes have spoken all you can do it stand aside and watch them play ‘Pin the Punk Card’. Keep your chin up Sony, at least the PS3 works great right?



Sony may have their enemies, but for me I have to give the nod in this category to the guys from Reunion Island. Without comparing lies, mismanagement, and audience alienation stories, I can safely say that NP Cube has done more than anyone else to damage to the reputation of small time Devs everywhere. When you hurt the folks with little pockets it means a lot more in my book. Plan on dropping that NDA sometime guys?




Star Wars wins it’s fourth award tonight in a close fought battle of bargain-bin hopefuls taking 29% of the votes edging out it’s faithful runner up Dark and Light (17%) and Archlord (15%). The voters continued to vent their rage on their favorite meat puppet and SWG beat out some other games on the chopping block with less than a tenth of their subscribers. I can only hope that by the time next year’s awards roll around we won’t have to look at any of the games that received votes here.



How much longer can you go on with a handful of subscriptions and server merges before you call it quits? NetDevil may just choose to skate along on the razor edge of profit margin, but MMOs are only worth running if you love your own game. I don’t think any amount of extra work can turn this title into a money maker however.



For some reason space opera games seem to win all the awards, good or bad here. Once again, Star Wars crapped it’s way past the competition gaining 40% of the overall votes. In at a close second, Dark and Light claimed 29% followed by Dungeons and Dragons Online (10%). This year the old school Pre-CU/NGE gangstas came out in ‘force’ and sent a message. Are they just Rebel scum without a cause? Will something good ever come of this franchise? Will I ever stop causing trouble by provoking die-hard fans?  Difficult to answer, these questions are...uncertain the future is.



Once again I’m in the minority here, but as far as I’m concerned this is the worst game top to bottom that I’ve ever had the displeasure to play. When this title is gone the MMO world will be a better place. When you have to hire an exorcist to uninstall something from your computer you’ll truly feel my pain.



Well there you have it, After all is said and done we still aren’t any closer to original, fun and engaging titles than we were last year. Let’s all wish upon a star that 2007 brings me a reason to stop these Awards all together. When your done washing out your drool cup I’ll be waiting for your comments in the Forums. Till next time.


- Dan Fortier


Posted by Danmann Wednesday June 27 2007 at 1:42AM
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This weeks recap takes a look back to late last year when I was considering doing some kind of Year End Award crap when happened upon a thread with a video about Entropia Universe. The pure unadulterated lameness was sign from Hell that I should proceed with all due haste. SnaKey also gave me even more motivation with his hilarious gif



(BTW I'll be  getting in touch with you for some graphics for this year's awards)


I had originally hoped that the Awards could run parallel with the Reader's Choice Awards, but Dana wasn't too hot on promoting my 'Negative Awards' by giving them any sort of official backing so I was forced to count and record every single post/vote myself. To make things even crazier, a database failure 3 days or so before the due date wiped out the thread with all the votes. Luckily for us I had already counted every post up till an hour before the wipe. Even with the original thread's 200+ posts the replacement one still filled up pretty quickly.


In my next recap I'll go over my picks for the Awards last year and we can see how the winners have faired this year. On with the flashback!



                                       2006 MMOWTF AWARDS



This week I decided that our Readers Choice Awards needed a little something extra. Today I’m opening voting for the First Annual MMOWTF Awards. Unlike the other show in this tent, my categories are a bit different than your usual fare. Let’s face it, this past year has been pretty craptastic as far as MMORPGs go so I’m not exactly in the mood to jump for joy and praise the ‘Best of the Year’. Keeping with my usual pessimist theme, the MMOWTF awards are going to give you all a chance to point the finger at the bottom of the pile and hold our collective noses.



The rules are pretty simple: There are seven categories in total and you will be voting for the game that best fits the title. Since this is the ghetto version we don’t have fancy in-screen voting options so just place your picks in the Forum topic so it will be pretty obvious who wins. I’ll be giving out my picks in next week’s MMOWTF. Obviously a game can win multiple awards, but I designed the categories so it’s unlikely that even an interactive vomiting simulator would win them all. Let’s get started shall we?


Worst Graphics:

 The loser who takes home this award is the virtual cousin of that girl that always walked home alone and had to carry her own books. It seems MMOs are always behind other genres in this category, but it shouldn’t be to hard to pick the worst eyesore you’ve ever had to look at. To keep this fair let’s make sure the game is at least 3D and looks extremely bad even on the highest settings. Consider how the games’ avatars interact with the scenery and try to keep in mind when a game was made when making your decision as well since a recently released game with 1995 graphics should probably win over a game that was actually released back then.



Least Fun:

Some games make you wish you were at work instead of playing them. The title that takes this moldy cake should be so wretchedly boring or frustrating that you have wiped your hard drive at least once to be rid of it. MMOs aren’t the most action packed genre, but if you have ever actually fallen asleep or smashed your keyboard into pieces while fighting a monster or doing a quest then please nominate that game for us.



Most Desolate:

The game that you vote for here is the one with the most empty virtual world. Ever played a MMO that felt like a single player game? If you have ever wandered through empty streets in major cities or waited several days to find a group then it’s a pretty good bet that game deserves a nomination here. I would give strong consideration to a game whose population has dropped rapidly rather than a niche game that never had big numbers. Some games divide up their player base through several servers so make sure that you are actually playing on an open one before you cast your vote.



Worst Use of a Popular IP or License:

This award goes to the game that despite the backing and fanbase of a popular intellectual property, managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m going to do my best to avoid dropping names and fudge the balloting, but it’s going to be hard. There are several possible candidates for this award, but try to give it to the one that completely betrayed the entire feeling of the original product. The winner should have not only made a mockery of the original, made it’s creator roll over in his/her grave, (or wish they were dead) but also make it nearly impossible for any future product based on the idea to succeed. Choose wisely.



Most Shameless Developer:

We all make mistakes, but the winner of this award will have actually brought the industry backwards and shame to their family for generations to come. The Developers are the guys who make the product we play so be careful to make a distinction between them and the producer who, in some cases, is a completely separate company. The guys who take this dishonor should do us all a favor and find a new line of work. We have a nice selection to choose from this year and it looks like no shortage in the foreseeable future.



Most Likely to be Cancelled in 2007:

Who is the next in line to get axed? Sometimes a game doesn’t have to be really horrible to get shut down. Sometimes the guys behind the scenes are smart enough to pull the plug before they get in over their heads. The game that wins this one could be hemorrhaging cash at a shocking rate or just happens to have producers with a quick hook. Whatever the reason, look into your crystal ball and vote the game most likely to go under, not necessarily the one that deserves it.



Biggest Stinker:

This is it, the big guacamole. The game that stood out in your mind as the worst game you have ever seen. Now if you were smart or cynical you probably never played it, but since this is the dark horse of gaming awards you can even vote on hearsay! Some of you will know instantly which game deserves this award while others will most likely need hypno-therapy to recall the grisly details of this game-that-should-not-be.



Now you probably need to go take a shower to get rid of that dirty feeling you have and I don’t blame you. These aren’t awards you feel good about giving out. I can only hope that by shining a rusted flashlight on these roaches we can keep the rest of them at bay, at least  until the battery runs out.



Now do your duty as a good opinionated gamer and mosey on over to the forums, place your vote for the worst of the year then laugh with your e-friends at the choices of your peers. I’ll see you next week with a armful of punk-cards to hand out.


- Dan Fortier





MMOWTF Recap #8: Teh Game

Posted by Danmann Saturday June 23 2007 at 5:05PM
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This little rant was perhaps one of my favorite ones to write. There are definately lots of gems in here depending on how you read it. Obviously the whole thing is just a gaint mock of expected features for most games. I was partially inspired by Distortion0  and his great thread about his most original game ever.

The GAME was somewhat aimed at certain casual players who expect to have everything served to them on a silver platter in any game they choose to play. The Filtering system though is great idea if someone could get it to work. There were a couple edits to my original work including the removal of the ™ from the title even though he left it in the rest of the article and chopping off 'Third World" from my comment about countries needing a dictator...wouldn't want to piss off  Ethiopia right?

Anyway..Let's take a look back at it shall we?


                            The GAME™


I’m sick of playing other peoples’ crappy online games. Everyone should be able to play one game that gives them exactly what they want. Whether you prefer instant gratification or a rewarding grind we should be able have the best part of all games in a single package. I decided the only way to make this a reality was do it myself. That’s right you heard me, I’m making my own game and it will appeal to everyone. It’s known simply as "The Greatest All-Player MMO Evah" (The GAME™) and I’m giving you, my biggest fans and critics, a sneak peak!



The problem with all other games, which we’ll just collectively call ‘Teh Suck’, is that they all favor a few certain types of players so that you have to jump from game to game just to find the one that suits you best only to have it go bankrupt or change completely. This is where The GAME™ comes in, because not only is it completely original, but it combines all your favorite elements into one beautiful package and has features that have never been in another game, let alone an MMORPG.



It seems like every MMO out there has the same old setting. In most games you can pick from either a Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or some odd hybrid of the two, but in The GAME™ I decided to create an entirely original universe to experience. The players can choose to be one of the hundreds of playable races ranging from the brooding Ovanmitts who have the innate ability to resist heat to the peaceful and helpful Kee’Chayns that can carry lots of useful items and even have a dangerous snap attack. Each of the races can be customized to an insane degree as well. For example, you can stretch and bend your avatar or even change their texture. Even the normally rectangular Remoat’Khantrol can be round or completely made of gelatin with our incredible character creation process. All the races have been thoroughly tested on paper and I can safely say they are all completely balanced.



Unlike most boring games that start out all players in a single ‘noob area’, in The GAME™ you can start in any of the thousands of colonized worlds! Your adventure can begin on the planet of I’hop in the Gran’ola sector of space which is a world made completely of hash browns and smothered by a cooled layer of pepperjack cheese. Explore the caverns of Bel’le’Buton which are beautiful but dangerous, being infested with the evil servants of Lynt. I’ve spent literally dozens of minutes detailing these worlds to be as realistic and original as possible so there will never be a dull moment.



Each of these fantastic worlds is seamless with no loading times allowing people who love to explore a chance to discover hidden ruins or make contact with lost civilizations. For those who prefer to not waste time traveling anywhere there are ‘instaporters’ every hundred feet that connect all the civilized worlds in the universe. Just simply select your destination and you’re off to any part of the galaxy. If that’s not instant enough, all players have a portable device that can teleport them to anyone on their friends list anywhere in the game with the click of a mouse. You’ll never be out of the action!



Taking the idea of making everyone happy a step further, I decided to throw a twist into the character advancement. Some people prefer a linear progression with simple and straightforward classes while others prefer to choose your own skills and make the kind of character they want outside of the boundaries of a rigid class-based system. In The GAME™ you can choose which advancement system you want and you can change your mind at any time! Staying true to my original design, I completely renamed the classes and skills so no one could claim I ripped off my ideas from anyone. For example, I combined Fighters, Nukers and Healers into one class, gave it stealth and named it the Corpsemaker. Don’t be intimidated by the thousands of choices in making a character, you can respec at anytime and all the options are explained in detail in the small-print instruction novel.



The real feature that is sure to win everyone over is the all powerful ‘Filter System’. Using completely new and untested technology, I’ve developed a way to have each player determine their perfect level of immersion. Similar to most ‘normal’ games that offer sliders and settings that maximize performance, my Filter System allows you unparalleled control of your online experience.



Using this revolutionary system, any player can choose to filter ANY aspect of the game at any time! Tired of being annoyed by those higher level jerks who keep stealing you kills and training mobs on you? Just filter em’ out! With a stunningly simple interface you can keep players, objects, monsters, even entire cities from affecting you at all! Of course unless they filter you out players can still see and interact with your character. A griefer can kill you, but unless you have him filtered in you won’t suffer any ill effects, while on his screen you die quickly. My bleeding edge then AI simulates your response allowing him to see you whine incessantly. You can even filter out all the other players and make it a giant single player game if you choose to...It’s the best of all worlds!



In The GAME™ I created a detailed faction system to allow players to gain prestige with the NPC and player created groups throughout the universe. By completing various tasks and quests for the different empires and groups you gain points that eventually allow you to purchase goods and services at a discounted price. At the highest levels of influence, entirely new areas are unlocked like the "Harem of Duke Flexible" and "The Tomb of King Tooeasy" who purportedly left his most epic treasures guarded by a bunch of grey mobs. For the overachiever in your guild the ‘Trials of Ownage’ allow players to even gain real world power, although I’m still in negotiations with the various Third World countries that need a new dictator, this feature is slated for a future expansion.




While most of these ideas are almost completely converted to paper from the Wendy’s napkins I scribbled them on, there is still plenty of time to see your ideas implemented before The GAME™ goes gold. Be part of the next big thing in gaming, if you have an idea or suggestion that would make it even better please submit it to me via the forum and I’ll make sure you don’t get the credit for it when it comes time to pay out royalties.



Till next time,

- Dan Fortier


MMOWTF Recap #7: Case of the Missing Rant

Posted by Danmann Thursday June 21 2007 at 2:31PM
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When I went back to look for this article on the Features>Column list it wasn't there! After a bit of checking I found it in the news forum back on page 40 something so no real mystery except how it went missing from the feature list. Besides a few goofy typos this one made it through the editorial ringer intact and ended up being one of my most balanced and useful articles (despite my best laid plans to the contrary)


Roll that beautiful bean footage!



             No No’s for MMOs



Sometimes you look at the debacles that have occurred over the course of the short history of MMO’s and you wonder: Do they ever learn? You would think that by looking back with hindsight at some of the mistakes that have been inflicted on us by shortsighted or incompetent developers that the next generation of publishers would have compiled a very comprehensive list of what not to do. Sadly, we see the same mistakes being repeated time and time again mixed in with a fresh batch of new blunders with every title released. Have no fear my fickle readers for I have created a short cheat sheet for all current and future designers called: No Nos for MMOs. Read and be enlightened!



This one is my biggest pet peeve of all. Making sweeping changes may seem like a good idea if your game isn’t doing so hot, but trust me, it’s bad news. First off, it makes it look like you didn’t spend anytime actually testing or designing the systems you are changing. You don’t want the customers doubting your competence when they are paying a monthly fee. Not only will the current group of players be less than thrilled, but playing Husker-Du with your code isn’t the best way to keep the game bug free. Keep in mind that the customers you lose aren’t going to be instantly replaced instantly with loyal new players who love your new changes either.


At first glance this might seem to be a thinly veiled swipe at Sony, but it’s really not, although what happened with NGE did draw a nose pinch and a slight head shake. My main beef with these kinds of changes is that it shows a lack of preparation and demonstrates a general whimsical approach to game design that doesn’t fit well with the MMORPG genre. Players expect a certain level of stability in their game and woe to anyone who takes away a gamer’s security blanket.



I’ve noticed a tendency in Developers to promise the world early on and it’s not always a bad thing to keep all you options open, but when your eyes get bigger than your budget, timetable or coding skills, you are going to find yourself in a sticky situation. Now of course 90 percent of the people attending your Dev Chats or reading your blogs won’t be around to pay for the final product if it gets that far, but if you don’t focus your efforts on the key features that define your game then you are going to end up wasting a lot of resources on unworkable designs.


The next time your fans ask you "Can I play an evil dragon with a rogue class?", think twice before you say "Why not?". Know your limits and keep your design goals realistic and you will be fine.




This may seem like a no-brainer, but anyone who has beta tested several MMOs can tell you a few horror stories of designers that completely disregarded important and persistent warnings about issues that ended up as game breaking bugs. Remember that these people are testing your game for FREE. Make sure they have easy access to all the game files and patch notes and keep them informed on what aspects you need them to test. While many of them may have ulterior motives, they are a great source of feedback and a motivated group of testers will find thousands of bugs that you would never have found otherwise. If you ignore them, treat them like dirt you will find they will just stop helping or hide critical bugs from you to exploit later. Some are going to do it anyway but you definitely want to keep it to a minimum.


Generally speaking you want to have at least a couple people who are in constant contact with your testers and making them feel a part of the development process. They may be fickle or unobjective at times, but it’s a win-win situation if you play your cards right.





This one is quite simple: If you spend most of your time designing content for the max level folks instead of enhancing the overall game experience then you are only contributing to the power leveling problem. There are always going to be people that spend every waking hour playing your game and they will always be able to get bored of your new stuff faster then you can design it. Instead of catering exclusively to this, why not give players a reason to stop and smell the roses?


This isn’t about casual vs. hardcore either, if you make it possible to take part in PvP or group content throughout the game you will be much more likely to avoid the ‘endgame heavy’ development issues further down the road. Sure you might tick off the powerlevelers and your forums may have a few more "OMG where r the Tier 5 Mage Cloaks!!" posts, but it will save you more headaches in the end.


I think that’s enough good advice for a Monday. Until next week why don’t you earn yourself a few stars by contributing to this discussion. I’ll be watching.


- Dan Fortier

MMOWTF Recap #6

Posted by Danmann Wednesday June 20 2007 at 1:55AM
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Following my little PvP rant I typed out a throughly inoffensive yet newsworthy peice on the CCP/White Wolf merger. I probably could have played the devil's advocate and given all the reasons why it wouldn't be good idea, but I figured I'd cool my heels until another opportunity to inflict random literary carnage presented itself...which by the way, has yet to happen.


This edited version feaures a MAJOR difference at the end: Dana thought he'd be cute and put his own opinion in at the end regarding the 'Wii sweeping in to take over the market'. I don't like the Wii. I don't like Nintendo and no matter how many fucking units they sell I won't buy their fucking craptastic kiddie games EVER! Why do I hate Nintendo so you ask?


They refused to grow up with their first customers. I LOVED Nintendo when I was 12 and I got my first NES I loved my SNES even more and refused to play Sega or any of their other competitors. Once I started growing up and making my own game purchases and choosing which system I wanted with my own money NINTENDO WAS STILL MAKING GAMES FOR 12 YEAR OLDS! They refused to market products that I was interested in and instead turned their back on the generation of gamers they had helped create.


Instead they released the N64 with it's retarded controller and kid games like Banjo-Kazzooie and while Playstation was using CDs and marketing titles that voilence loving adults would enjoy like Legecy of Kain (the first one) and Twisted Metal. A philosphy they stand by to this day with their candy apple happy linup of cuddle crap they feed witth gusto to family minded parents who's their life now revolves around. God damn you Nintendo.

Anyway...On with the Recap


           Along came a merger


How could I pass up an opportunity like this? While mergers are becoming more and more common as we spiral toward Cyberpunk, the most recent amalgamation between Crowd Control Productions, (CCP, creators of EVE Online) and White Wolf, the second largest pen and paper RPG maker, made me stop and think. What other companies who might want a slice of a related industry would be looking to join forces with (or swallow whole) another company with a strong history and tools in the field? This week in MMOWTF I’m going to dig up some details behind this deal and speculate on the next big corporate fusion.


This whole business came out of left field, but it was all started when CCP contacted White Wolf at Gencon last year to get them to team up on the new EVE collectable card game. Apparently mums the word on the specifics of the deal but with White Wolf becoming a ‘wholly owned subsidiary’ and Hilmar Petursson becoming the CEO of the combined companies, it is pretty obvious who is running the show. If you would have told me yesterday that one of the foundations of pen and paper throughout the 1990's till today would be owned by a group of upstart MMO Devs from Iceland I’d have called you crazy. Now it’s a done deal...Wow.


Neither company has shown any indication of financial woes so at first glance this deal looks like a simple marriage of convenience for both parties. CCP just recently jumped into the card game business with their ‘Second Genesis’ collectable card game, which is a market White Wolf knows well. The press release also mentions the creation of a pen and paper RPG based on the EVE universe, but it remains to be seen which rule system the game will use. White Wolf can use their resources to bring EVE to an entirely new fanbase while rejuvenating their own product line which, as far as I’m concerned, has been going downhill with the new versions of their core settings.


On the other side of things, CCP can offer a lot of assistance and a wealth of experience in the online gaming arena. It looks as if they are planning to bring the World of Darkness into some form of MMO as well. Activision did a pretty good job in creating faithful conversion of Vampire with Redemption, so I’m curious to see how CCP fares without a proven terrestrial RPG engine to work with. Overall this merger will probably help both companies expand their products into new markets so I don’t see a downside. Good luck CCP/WW.


Considering how off the wall this deal seems we might as well open the floodgates of speculation and see what other crazy mergers might become a reality in the near future. Read at your own risk!


Avalon Hill/NCSoft - Yeah, I know AH was bought out by Hasbro a while back, but I can dream. Wouldn’t it be great to have one of the great historical wargame makers team up with the masters of the almighty treadmill? Imagine Stonewall Jackson giving you a quest like “plz kill ten yankees and I will give you some great loot!”, spending an hour getting a group of Allies together to go fighting Nazis only to have your machine gunner lag out or grinding for weeks on end  swinging your ‘nasty pointy thing w/panache’ (ala Tales of the Floating Vagabond) to get to level two. I’m glad we’ll never know what could have been.


Blizzard/Chaosium - Want to see one of the darkest RPGs ever turned into a cartoon wonderland? How about the Great Old Ones transformed into respawning  puppets for twenty five man raids? If so, then this merger is your dream come true! If anyone could suck the fun and terror out of being in Lovecraft’s sick imagination, it’s definitely Blizzard. Maybe they could package it together with a copy of Starcraft: Ghost 2008.


MindArk/Games Workshop - Who needs EA/Mythic when you can have the self declared kings of innovation cranking out your product? MindArk has been charging gamers real money for every single one of their possessions for years and not even Larry Probst can claim that. If you want to do a giant land grab in Bretonnia or wander through the empty streets of Nuln then I can’t think of anyone else better suited to the job. Want your Trollslayer to have pink spiky hair and lots of tattoos?  You better stop by the atm on the way to the barber fella.


Square-Enix/Palladium - Rifts was one of my favorite pen and paper RPG games when it came out and I can think of no better way to tarnish it’s memory then to let it be ‘Squared’. Before you know it the Coalition States would be riding Chocobos into battle and Moogles would have wiped out the Vampire kingdoms simply by virtue of their cuteness. Of course, Palladium could then counter by designing a Final Fantasy RPG based on their system so I could shoot Cloud and Sephiroth with a Wilks laser pistol. I can hardly wait.


Microsoft/Sony - Now obviously this is not a PnP/MMO pick but given the troubles that Sony  has had with the PS3 launch and their dwindling profit margin they could be ripe for the picking by monopoly-maker himself Bill Gates. I’m sure there is nothing the digital overlord would like more then to have a stranglehold on the console industry too. If you’re going to laugh at the thought like I did, do me a favor and knock on wood please.

OK folks, your trip on the MMOWTF express has concluded for the week, please exit the vehicle and don’t forget to pick up a gimmicky T-shirt at the vendor on your way out. The forum topic is now open so drop us a line. Till next week.


-Dan Fortier



MMOWTF Recap #5

Posted by Danmann Sunday June 17 2007 at 3:11PM
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This is the juicy one...The fifth published article came on the heels of some much liked material and even now is one of the most (un)popular articles I've ever written.  Some may take into account my knack for sarcasm on the fly and thought I was mocking gankers (which I was), but a lot of the content is very much true to my game style. I don't usually do a dance after killling someone, but I typically pick fights with characters I can easily beat although I avoid hardcore griefing tactics. I have a policy to never smack-talk although I do enjoy reading the cries for help and/or afterdeath rant of the person I killed quite a bit.


I don't feel sorry for the people I kill or the impact on their enjoyment of the game becuase I never break the rules. As I mention in the peice itself, I just use the tools the Devs gave me to have fun at others expense. What can I say? I'm a ganker at heart...


As a bonus for reading through this (ironicly) unaltered version of #5 I'll reprint my forum post I made after someone suggested I need to be in a Mental Instituion. Enjoy.


         Don’t Hate the Player...


Welcome back to another week of irresponsible and shortsighted insights. I’d like to start by getting something off my chest: I like killing people. I like killing people a LOT. The weaker and less able to defend themselves, the better I feel. In fact, I think I’d go so far as to say that the most fun I’ve ever had in a game were the times when I brutally butchered people who had absolutely no chance to fight back or even escape. It is my indulgence in this sick pleasure that really makes online games worth playing for me.


I find that the real joy in PvP games isn’t in simply beating your opponent, but in humiliating them afterwards by dancing, yelling and generally acting like a four year old with too much sugar after you tell him ‘No’. There are few things in life as great as zerging a non-combat specialized player with twice as many people and camping their corpse for a several hours afterward just to get them even more upset. Victory over a helpless opponent is all the more sweet when they send you hate mail and threaten to do horrible things if they ever find out where you live in real life.


The idea of being in a pitched battle with a chance of losing doesn’t hold any particular interest for me. If I wanted to play a game with forced equality I’d be playing an FPS. Letting silly things like honor and fair play influence your playing style is just a recipe for getting your ass handed to you. Catching enemies unaware, busy or unprepared is the meat and drink of the Art of War and as I see it, being victorious and ignoble is much better then being a noble loser. Morality and courage don’t have any place on the battlefield unless they help you win because might makes right, especially in MMOs.


Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not endorsing packet sniffers, duped items or other such implements of blatant cheatery. I’m just out to have fun and if that happens to involve using tactics others find cowardly or unfair then so be it. On small servers you can actually get quite a reputation for this style of play and the constant visits from GM’s are always amusing. However, in the great tradition of lowlifes and most celebrities I’m going to blame someone else.


Griefers are just using the tools the developers give them to cause trouble and enjoy themselves at the expense of others. Why else would a designer put a game mechanic that leaves items on your body when you die if they didn’t expect players to camp it? Why else would they put guards you can kill in a safe zone if they weren’t secretly hoping a big group would barge in and slaughter the civilians? Certain games that don’t invite this behavior make it obvious in their design. In Dark Age of Camelot can you run around in Jordhiem killing people? Obviously they decided that having a safe area even in a PvP game was something they wanted. Anyone who knows human nature shouldn’t be surprised at anything that happens in a online battleground.


There is no denying that Free-for-All killers are in the minority and games that have tried to exclusively cater to their mind set have either become a victim of their own success or are so buggy or unbalanced that they never developed a huge following. I like the idea of being responsible for your actions and letting players who wish to lead lifestyle of unremitting violence do so at the cost of being wanted. This kind of game mechanic actually enhances the thrill of being a mass murderer while providing some form of justice in the eyes of the victims.


Speaking of victims, there is special relationship between the PKer and Carebear that transcends love and hate. Their rivalry is made all the more intense by the mutual realization that they need each other. If we learned anything from Ultima Online’s Felucca exodus, It is that a balance between the two extremes needs to be kept. In a game without some form of PvP combat all you can look forward to is endless grinds and raids against the same predictable AI. While the two styles don’t meld well in traditional MMORPG games, the lack of either becomes an obvious detraction after a while. Variety is the spice of life and being able to pick your poison in a well designed game is something that has a universal appeal.



My message is simple, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Everyone has had a bit of fun at someone’s expense one time or another so what’s wrong with some anonymous virtual bullying? If you survived high school you should be able to handle it in an online game. Next time you’re in Rivervale,Yew or Tartoken don’t forget to watch your back because we’ll be there waiting.


I’m finished for now so if there something you want to say, but want to use a fake name, you are in luck...We have forums! Keep it warm until next week.


- Dan Fortier


A big thanks to the folks who suggested I needed some psychological counseling since I recently checked myself into McLean Hospital to get some help with my narcissism and my complusive killing disorder. Things were going great until me and my new friend Peter (He was in for sexual misconduct so I'm guessing he was a high level Priest) saw this n00b mage kid with some nice gear we wanted. We ganked him but the GMs in white clothes caught us and hit me with some kind of root spell that looked like a funny vest.


Some crazy carebear tried to mezz me with needle but I grabbed it and stabbed her with the special attack I'd been saving up the whole time. Now I have to dictate my posts and articles to the floating typewriter that visits me in my padded cell...Gratz guys!


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