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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: Why Ultima Forever is Doomed

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday July 18 2012 at 3:33PM
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Rant: Why Ultima Forever Is Doomed

I know right away what some of you are thinking.   Is he really calling a game that was just announced doomed to fail?   Yes, I am.   Like a lot of people, when I heard the announcement that there was going to be a new Online Ultima game in developement, my ears perked up.   Finally after all this time one of the highest-held IPs in the MMO space is going to get some love and brought back.  Sweet!

Then I actually started reading specifics and realized that the devil was indeed in the details.  Let me walk you through how exactly I arrived here.

If you have been following EA / Mythic / Bioware the last few years, their presence in the MMO space has not been a very good one.  I've been chronicled the failings of Warhammer Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic for quite some time here.   Both of these games were based upon wildly successful IPs and it's safe to say at this point that both of them ended up as failures.  In the instance of the TOR many gamers and observers easily predicted that the several hundred million dollar MMO heavily banking on voice-acting and one-time story content was a recipe for disaster.  While many of us in the community here were scratching our heads dumbfounded how someone in EA did not see this coming, let me flashback to October of 2011.  Someone on the inside actually did see this coming as some may remember, under the guise of "EA Louse", he blogged about how the management and design of the project was a recipe for diaster...

"And Bioware? Don’t make me laugh. They’ve spent more money making the Old Republic than James Cameron spent on Avatar. Shit you not. More than $ 300 million! Can you believe that?

And you know what they’re most proud of? This is the kicker. They are most proud of the sound. No seriously. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That’s the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas,they’re panicking , and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they can’t keep pushing back launch.

Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too ……

During the blog in which these statements are made, EA Louse explains that he himself is slated to get layed-off shortly, and then goes on to explain various personell in the mangement who are failing, going all the way back to Warhammer Online before Mark Jacobs departed Mythic.  Ironically many of these managers to this day still have their jobs while the lower level people are getting axed.  While the entire read is very eye-opening, one of these names should jump out at you...

"Oh yeah, and he needed Paul Barnett. You know him as the crazy British dude that appears in random videos at EA to promote his latest bullshittery. We know him as the crazy British dude who we have no idea of how he still has a job. This man was supposed to be the savior of Warhammer’s vision and design. Now all he can do is promote his strange ideas about his little secret project web Ultima game that’s been almost universally criticized by all of us and focus groups. What’s that? You didn”t know Paul loves one of those old Ultima games sooooo much he’s making a literal copy of it for Facebook? Well, the cats outta the bag. Too bad it sucks ass."

So it looks like the same person with their fingerprints over the WAR diaster and the TOR debacle will be slithering off to Ultima to lay waste to yet another famous IP that MMO gamers hold in high regard.  Does anyone see a pattern here?   EA Louse layed it out exactly how all of this was going to play out and nailed it 100%.  Common sense does seem to exist inside the company, and yet somehow these are the type of people getting put out of a job while the people making the horrid design decisions get shuffled off to another project.

I reported in a previous blog post that EA's market value has lost upwards of 50% since the launch of the TOR.  These guys are in a market free fall and the people responsbile for screwing up all these big projects are still sitting in the driver's seat.  The powers that be at EA need to do a serious house cleaning of the decision makers instead of butchering the staff that actually works well.  The investors should be calling for their heads.  As for Ultima Forever, here's his vision...

Doomed I tell you, doomed.

Paragus Rants
Co-Leader of Inquisition

League of Legends: The Proving Grounds

Posted by Paragus1 Monday July 2 2012 at 9:54AM
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League of Legends: The Proving Grounds

Over the weekend I found myself logging into League of Legends for the first time in a few months.   It wasn't because I wanted to have a reason to start drinking more Jack Daniels, a side-effect of playing LoL for me, instead it was because Riot managed to sneak a new map into the game under a lot of people's radar.  Even when I'm not playing LoL, I still follow the game and their announceement forum to see what they are up to, and I was surprised because there was literally no mention of this new map to be found anywhere on there.  After some fishing around, I did find a post on their general discussion, but it's easy to see how this has been missed by a lot of people I know.

The new map being floated out there is called "The Proving Grounds" and you won't find it by playing through the normal queue system.  In short, the new map is a single lane map much like the one found in the tutorial that is only available for custom games.  Now at a glance the idea of a map with only one lane might seem pointless, that is of course unless you are into a fan favorite mode of play called ARAM.

ARAM stands for All Random All Middle, which was a fairly popular fan created way to play LoL.  As the name suggests, all players would be forced to have their champion randomly selected and players are only allowed to use the center lane only.   In addition to this, players are not allowed to go back to base to heal or buy items.  Now under the old system, all of thee rules had be known to all the players in the game and the enforcement was sort of an honor thing where you would hope everyone in the game would abide by them.

This is where the real beauty of the Proving Grounds comes into play.   The map already being one lane automatically makes it so players are forced to abide by the center lane rule.  Additionally, the map has the other rules basically hard-coded into it.  Under the random options for the map, it prevents players from using the shop to buy gear unless they are dead or have just respawned from a death and haven't stepped off the base.  Another nice little touch is the map also contains little healing packs on the ground spaced out down the lane for people to fight over since they aren't allowed to go back to heal.

In short, the Proving Grounds is a boon to anyone who loved to play ARAM.  I'd highly recommend any current and formal player of League of Legends to head into the custom games and try out a game of ARAM.  The only downside I can see is that I really wish this map and mode would be rolled into the normal queue options without requiring players to go through the custom game list.  Regardless this is a large step towards that direction, and I think if Riot sees that ARAM and the Proving Grounds becomes popular, they will eventually make it into something bigger.

Co-Leader of Inquisition