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My 2 Copper's Worth

Well we're on a website dedicated to MMO's so I'll give you one guess as to what I'll write about. And no it's not mustard.

Author: ivan50265

Episode #2- High Fantasy MMO's or The flogging of a dead horse.

Posted by ivan50265 Saturday June 30 2007 at 10:54PM
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   Welcome back to my little slice of the big blog pie.  Today might come off as more of a rant, and if that's the case I'll dedicate this episode to one of my favorite bloggers here Paragus.  If you're reding Paragus I hope to do you proud. Ok to the issue at hand.

   What is High Fantasy?

  Now that's a good question, and for the uneducated gamer I will elaborate breifly.  "High Fantasy" is a term used to describe your Tolkeinesque fanatsy setting.  These settings almost always have a midevil setting to them and have races such as elves, humans, dwarves, halflings(gnomes), and of course orcs.  There are usually alot of pretty forests and mountin settings for your fighter, or mage, or thief, or priesly type character to run around in and dispell evil wherever you can find it.  The majority of mmo's out today are set in this enviroment, and I'm here to say enough is enough. 



Stop beating the dead horse

   Now it may just be me, but my God have we not ridden this one trick pony into the grave?  Now I'm not saying that I don't enjoy the occasional romp in an enchanted forest.  Heck I like to slay a dragon just as much as the next guy, but how many times do you want me to do this before I chew my arm off or worse yet chew my wife's arm off. ( I rather like both of my arms) All the cool fantasy IP's are either out on the shelf or soon to be there.  It's been done and done and done.  All I'm saying is let's put another flavor on the menu.  I mean how many burgers can you eat before you crave some chicken or even a hot dog. 

Now I know what youre going to say: "There are other genres out there", and you're right there are, but why not explore them a little further, or at least get a couple of different takes on those genres. Have we really done all we can do with the sci-fi genre? I think not.  Let alone there are a provential ass load of cool genres out there that just haven't been touched yet. What might those be?  Well now I'm glad you asked. Here are a few of my personal favorites:



Genres I'd like to see

Disclaimer: Now if some of these are being devloped I haven't seen anything about it.



Modern Day Horror

This genre is chock full of possibilities if you thik about.  Zombies vs Humans, Humans vs Vampires vs Werewolves, Zombies vs Zombies. All right maybe not the last one that could get rather boring. But you get my point. Tell me you wouldn't want to play a vampire or werewolf or be the guy that can bring them down.



The Wild West

Grab a six shooter and Hang em High yeeehawww.  The untamed west could be a serious good time playing as an outlaw, indian, bounty hunter, sheriff, or the crazed crusty miner type. With showdowns and bar brawls, bank robberies and Indian raids, that's got fun written all over it.



The Cold War

The USSR invades the US and we enter WW3.  Watch the movie Red Dawn you'll see what I'm talking about.  Be a Russian or a US troop or just be a guy caught in the middle.  A clever developer could really make a great one in this genre.




Angels and Demons. Heaven versus Hell and earth is in the middle.  This could be a game of Biblical proprtions! (pun intended)



Alien Invasion

Developers could really have a blast with this little ditty from a serious toned War of the Worlds type to a campy Mars Attacks type game.  Why quest for Boar tusks when you can zap a martian!



These are just some of the examples me and the wife came up with that we thought would be fun and most important differet to play.

I guess in the end when it comes to the fantasy genre there's just so many glowing swords I can oooo and aaaahh at.  Only so many sets of armor I can find or make.  And think about this cool little perk. You wouldn't have to quest for boar meat or wolf hides. Well maybe you wouldn't. And that's my 2 copper on the subject.


 Well that's about it for me tonight. Thanx again for the read, and I'd love to hear what genre you'd like to see done. Go ahead and let your imagination run wild and post a comment if you'd like and tell me what you'd like to see.  Next time we'll talk about some Intellectual Properties that I think woul dmake awesome mmo's. Until then.



Episode #1 The SOE Dilemma epilogue- SOE, Romans, and Pirates

Posted by ivan50265 Wednesday June 27 2007 at 7:44PM
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   Let me first start off by saying thank you to those who read my first 2 posts. Your patronage is appreciated.  Now to the meat of the subject.  SOE of course has to do something the week after I write my blog about them to once again get the forums abalzing with their name. Media Hogs! SO I thought I'd tack on  a little snippet to look into the new matter at hand and offer my provential 2 copper on the subject. So friends enjoy a bonus issue of My 2 Copper's Worth.

   So here's the skinny.  The devlopers of Pirates of the Burning Sea announced this week that they have partnered with SOE to distribute and market the game as well take on the task of money collection. This is an identical deal that was struck last year with the creators of Gods and Heros.  Now I don't blame anyone here for not be too happy about this. SOE has a solid reputation for upsetting it's consumer base.  (Check my previous post for more info).  Nor do I blame anyone who sides with PotBS creators.  Let's take a look at the pluses and the minuses of these ventures with SOE, and see what SOE gets out of the deal as well. 


 What do these two companies get out of the deal? 

Simple enough they save a ton of money. Developing an MMO is an expensive venture in itself, but then factor in marketing costs, and production costs of packaging and your really talking some bucks. So by giving SOE the marketing and the billing these companies are avoiding a large obstacle. Let alone SOE are masters at marketing (they've gotten us a couple of times haven't they?) , and with the station pass that opens up the opportunity of players of SOE's other products to take a look.  And let's not forget E3 exposure and SOE's little get togethers. This deal offers these two companies a chance at a mainstream and highly competitive market which is a huge boost over going it alone. Now remeber neither of these companies has agreed to let SOE handle customer service nor does SOE have much if any say in the development and release of the game. Which is good news. As we have seen the tragic results of that with the recent release of Vanguard. (Sorry Vanbois) SOE's responsibilities include making boxes, marketing, and billing. All things they have experience in and handle well.

Now, what does SOE get out of it?

Well on this I'm gonna throw out a little conjecture here. 

First off they get to be behind two games that they didn't have to spend a dime on developing. So any money they get out of the deal is mostly profit. If the companies go under I'm sure they have rights to buy the games and keep them running as well.

Secondly I think SOE is trying to relegitimize itself in the eyes of the consumer. I think the first attempt at this was Vanguard, but that backfired as they got their claws a little deep in that game. But with these other two games they aren't in deep so if they are successful it's a win win for them with their name on the box the public stock rises in the eye of the consumer.

Third it really makes that Station Pass look attractive now doesn't it.  With 3 new games added to it in a years time that's just insanely a good deal for those of us who like to play more than one game. On top of that they two out of the three are unconventional settings as well. Which is a plus on the diversity end of things.

Fourth and Final point. It gives SOE a platform to try and get some more people playing the games they own. My guess is by the time these 2 games are on the shelf we'll be seeing a Vanguard free trial showing up around the same time.

Now for this to work these games need to launch well. Not Vanguard launch, but somewhat smooth and 80% bug free. Good reviews would only help as well.

In the end I have to admit I like SOE business model when it comes to these games, and if they stick to this model could become a protal for smaller developers to get their games exposure to a larger market share than they could on their own.  SOE could very well end up with a great little collection of niche games that could attract a sizeable fan base and alot of money as long as they can keep themselves out of the developers way.  So if you're a fan of either of these 2 games I wouldn't be too worried the worst case as of right now is you'll have more people to group with at launch. Well that's my 2 copper's worth.

Thnx and until next time


Episode #1-The SOE delimma.

Posted by ivan50265 Sunday June 24 2007 at 3:04PM
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Images and or events in the following blog may contain emotionally disturbing material. Read on friend together we can conquer these demons.



   Well here we are friends at last. No more gab about my personal life or my wife we're into the stuff you care about (hopefully) mmo's and the companies that create them. I thought it would only be fitting to start then with one of the most talked about companies on the market.

   With their reputation for buggy launches, overnight overhauls, broken promises, and poor customer service SOE has accomplished what many have not the alienation of their customer base.  What was once a leader in this industry has now become one of the most despised and untrustworthy companies out there today.  The very mention of their involvment with a game is enough to make alot of gamers turn away from a game altogether if not at the least be very nervous of what's to come.  Today I'm gonna give you a quick overview of what went wrong, what is wrong, and what I think SOE needs to do to get back what was lost: the trust of the consumer. 



What Happened

   This is a point of some conjecture within the mmo community.  What happened that pissed off so many people.  From what I can tell and have personally experienced it's a combination of things. But I'm pretty sure where it all started.

   If any game had high expectations it was this one, and SOE's first mistake was they matched those high expectations with alot of hype so by the time this game was ready to launch hundreds of thousands of people were ready to join the Galactic Civil War. When the day came and we all wanted to get on....well alot of us couldn't. I personally took the day off to play and found the eight hour ordeal of trying to get on at the least a little exasperating.  But we were willing to look past that because if we know one thing launch day in the world of an mmo is a provential nightmare for any game. After things smoothed out we were all quite content and having a pretty good time.  The downfall came with 4 simple blows:

1.  The Jedi Grind- When they came out with the force sensitive village the entire focus of the game went to earning your Jedi, or getting the right gear so you could kill one. Gone was the galactic struggle, and here we were thrust into some preverse reincarnation of the clone wars.

2. The Combat Upgrade-  With this came their attempt to make the game more challenging and what we could once kill alone we had to kill in groups.  We all came back and found we'd been wussified and that wasn't cool.

3. BUGS,BUGS,BUGS- If not their biggest mistake it is a close second.  SOE did a horrible job of finding and fixing bugs. We were 1 year into the game and still complaining about week one bugs.  One of the most famous of these was the always hated Imperial Hat Bug where you couldn't put your hat on to complete your uniform. (I wander if they ever fixed that?)

4. The NGE- The creme de la creme of mistakes where SOE lost close to half of it's existing population. This little overnight patch sent the community in an upraor and rightfully so. With the NGE came a more action oriented gameplay. Beter loot drops (Farewell economy). And the abiity to create a jedi (KOTOR anyone?).   All of this and there were still bugs from week one sitting around.  To this day people are still sour at SOE for this. There's even a "Disgruntled SWG Vets" forum thread on this site. 

But friends don't think you're reading the rants and raves of a Star Wars fanboy we have other examples to look at as well. Remeber this little gem?

To say it simply this game defined the word repeatative. Not to make things any better was the ability to switch your skills to be what ever you needed to be so there's no need to group or ever buy anything. I think MxO became the first Massive Single-Player Online Role Playing Game. The one thing this game had going for it was an excellent storyline that you could play through from the beginning and watch it unfold.  The SOE bought the rights to the game and the storyline just stopped, and a new one started that was pretty much silly at best. It was like they introduced supre powers to the matrix it was just plain weird. This game started with somewhere around 10 servers and I believe the lat time I checked was down to 3 or 4. 




The Present

So here we are in today SOE stock with the gaming community has taken a serious hit, and we get the launch of another seriously hyped game:

I'm not going to take alot of time here as ther are some excellent Blogs already on the subject of this game, but here's the skinny.  We are told that this game is the true sequal to Everquest with huge lands diverse races, an engaging crafting system, and the new addition of diplomacy. What we got were BUGS, BUGS, and more BUGS.  Remind you of something?

From what I've gathered the game has already lost a bundle of players and is in the process of trying to merge servers as well as fix bugs and add content. Yikes that's alot on the plate.  The devs asked recently that it's players be patient with them while they sort things out, and I ask Why should they? These people have invested time and money in updated rigs and software only to get a game that still needs alot of work. Shame, Shame. With the consistency of buggy launches why should one trust the next product you put out? On top of all of this have we heard anything from SOE's other older offerings? The answer is no. SOE hypes the new games forgets the old ones and are left right now probably losing some serious money.



The Road Back

Is this the end of SOE? Right now there's one mmo out there that has more oplayers than all of SOE's games combined (WoW duh.)  To the dissapointment of many of you the answer is no. But SOE has alot of work ahead of it if they want to stay competitive in this market.  Some of that work is already underway in my opinion with the great stuff they are doing with EQ2. Their latest expansion "The Echoes of Faydwer" is an excellent offering upgrading graphics, adding lands and content, as well as a new race. let alone allowing you to buy all the previous expansions plus the basic EQ2 all in one package for under $50. Not a bad start, but SOE should be investing in alot more of their offerings in the same way. MxO celebrated 2 years of existence and not a peep about it nothing new to launch and no expansion. That's just goofey. Maintaing the status quo of your games or drastically changing them doesn't show any commitment to the product or the people playing it. On a side note though I believe SOE has returned to the original stroyline in MxO which is another step in the right direction. One other thing they have going for them is

This game is a departure from the classic fantasy that SOE has beaten into the ground. It's a fresh concept with some new twists in setting as well as gameplay. What SOE needs to show me at least is that they can launch a fully functional game. If it's not ready delay it show some commitment to quality. Get behind Vanguard which sounds a little overwhelmed and get them throught his launch so they can start getting their people back. It's just launched there's hope for it! All in all SOE's comeback is going to have to start with a basic commitment to quality, and start spending some money on your products rather than taking it.

But in the end that's just my 2 copper.

Hope to see you next time. Thanks for your patience. Hope I didn't bore you.


Next week: WoW:Community or Sub-Culture.

Prologue- In the beginning....

Posted by ivan50265 Saturday June 23 2007 at 9:29PM
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Well to start this whole thing off right I feel I should introduce myself good and proper. 

My Real Life

   I am a full time non-traditional (old) student returning to finish what I started a longtime ago. It's pretty fun, and also affords me some valuable free time to let my mind go here.  I got married for the first time about 2 months ago to a very beautiful gaming nerd to which my friends are all jealous. If your nice I'll post a picture of her sometime. All we pretty much talk about are mmo's.  We love them.  So it's safe to say that our house oozes a steady flow of geek on a regular basis. We have 4 cats that were all my wife's idea. She's got a thing for animals.  We reside in the heart of the midwest in good ole Iowa. Where we have a pretty simple yet fun life playing games and upgrading our rigs.

My MMO Life

This all began about 10 years ago when I bought Ultima Online by complete accident.  I had thought I bought another Ultima game, but it turned out to be one of my most happy little accidents. I played a miner/blacksmith there for about 2 years never really adventuring as much as outfitting the adventurers. I moved on to Everquest for a short stint, and then to SWG until the "Jedi Grind" made things a little silly.  Since then I've played a myriad of games like EQ2, CoH/CoV, Auto Assault, EVE, Planetside, LOTRO, and of course the 8 million pound gorilla WoW.  Currently I have active subscrptions for WoW and just restarted my CoH subscription to check out the new updates. I truly love this genre of gaming.  I love the idea of having my own personal little adventures in what ever IP I am exploring at the time. Nothing else in my mind compares to the fun and the friendships I have had in mmo's.

So that's just a little bit about me to get things started. I will try to update this post on a weekly basis so keep checking in.  I look forward to interesting dialouge between us, and if there is an issue or a game you would like to hear about drop me a line and I will do my best to accomodate you.



Next weeks topic: SOE (this should be a fun one)