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Quality MMORPG

A Developer's Reference

Author: sempiternal

DayZ Epoch Brings Sandbox MMO features to Militarized Zombie Apocalypse

Posted by sempiternal Monday April 14 2014 at 7:38AM
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Lately I've been playing DayZ Epoch a lot, and it has got me ignoring my MMO subscriptions. Last week I posted about DayZ Epoch, but I didn't really explain what it is (resulting in an ignorant mod moving the post to the DayZ forum).

So, first of all, DayZ Epoch is not DayZ! They are two very different games overall. While DayZ is pretty much a survival shooter, DayZ Epoch is like a sandbox MMO, with features like home/base building and ownership, crafting from parts and raw materials, NPC traders, mining, hunting, dog taming, harvesting, and vehicle ownership and upgrading.

Best of all, you can play this game for only $6 total with no subscription! DayZ Epoch is a free mod that runs on the military simulator ARMA 2 Combined Operations, which is on sale right now for only $6.23 directly from the publisher here:

Even though I've never really played ARMA 2 (I intend to now after enjoying DayZ Epoch) you are actually getting two games in one, the actual ARMA 2 military sim game and the DayZ Epoch virtual world. Of course, there are many other game mods available like the original DayZ game, but I was not as impressed with that, and have not tried any others yet. Since Epoch alone has over 2,000 servers at this time, I'm guessing it's one of the most popular mods available too.


Now, the heart of DayZ Epoch is really the custom building construction. You can build or modify anything anywhere, except for a few small protected NPC trader camps. You can actually modify or improve even existing game buildings and towns, adding additional buildings, rooms, floors, and modifications on to them or you can build your very own custom base from scratch anywhere on the map. This is a feature that I have rarely seen in even the most ambitious of MMOs. Often building construction in MMOs is cookie-cutter with a limited number of pre-built buildings you can place, very limited construction locations, and they certainly never allow players to modify existing game structures. DayZ Epoch breaks all those standard MMO limitations and really opens up the world to player customization.

The ability to build bases allows players to seek protection, store their items, and have a place to call home. This completely changes the dynamic of the original DayZ shooter game. Vehicles can also be purchased and locked with a key in DayZ Epoch and are not only used for transportation but are a secondary form of storage.

Crafted Cinder Wall w/ Door

Cinder Wall w/ Door

Click here to see all building parts included in the modular building system


Crafted Lumber

Crafted Lumber

Click here to see all the craftable items which can also be used to customize your base


Here's a video I found the other day that does a pretty good job at giving you a glimpse of someone cautiously starting off new on a DayZ Epoch server and beginning custom construction on an existing game building to turn it into their own lockable base:

Episode 14: If You Build It, They Will Come!


Time lapse construction of a simple wood base from scratch, from chopping down trees to finish


To make finding servers and installing and updating DayZ Epoch easy download DayZ Launcher:


Note: I am not affiliated with the producers of ARMA 2, Epoch Mod, nor DayZ Launcher in any way whatsoever. I don't even know the names of any of them. I'm just a player that discovered great value in this game and am excited to share it with others.

EA Drops the Warhammer on Ultima: The Ongoing Saga to Stifle Innovation

Posted by sempiternal Tuesday October 21 2008 at 10:18AM
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Originally posted at where within minutes it was quickly hidden in the Den of Iniquity here:

A long time ago, Electronic Arts was a Tesla of gaming, as it became a player it was bought out by JP Morgans. Rather than innovate, over the past decade EA has 'secretly' been focused on maintaining dominance in retail, through buying up innovative competitors and slyly allowing them to wither away. WoW was a lightning bolt through the heart of EA executive management, but rather than energize the company, it paralyzed them into their stubborn resolve. They've actually convinced themselves that WoW is a temporary trend, and the real innovation will not occur until another decade. Rather than charge into online gaming, the goal for now is still to buy up innovators and half-heartedly replicate competitors to diminish their energy, while at the same time grinding ahead with the old business model.

As for this latest Warhammer 'offer' via Mythic, even a simple Google fight is representative of the misdirection, while a proven online market and franchise is allowed to dwindle to nothing:

Ultima game franchise versus warhammer game franchise

Ultima Game franchise versus Warhammer Game franchise

The Warhammer trend will eventually follow the Ultmia trend:

Will EA continue to be known as the evil corporation stubbornly set on crushing innovation and competition while heading towards a needed bailout, rather than getting back into the game? Morgan has his uses, but the government will never be convinced to bailout a game company on the backs of Americans.



Why Electronic Arts' Ultima Online Sucks?

Posted by sempiternal Thursday November 8 2007 at 5:39AM
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The original producer and director of Ultima Online, Richard Garriott aka Lord British and Starr Long aka Lord Blackthorn:

Richard Garriott Lord British Starr Long Lord Blackthorn


If Ultima Online is ever going to be recognized as more than the grandfather of MMOs and the MMO with the greatest reversal of potential ever, there are two major points that need serious attention;


Believable World

When Lord British and Lord Blackthorn were in charge of Ultima Online, the integrity of the medieval virtual world was strong and healthy.  Ultima Online was at its finest, it was a believable medieval fantasy virtual world and was therefore highly immersive; more than any game previous.  This immersion is the 'magic' that current UO and many newer MMOs lack.  There were very few limits on the freedoms of players and almost all aspects of the game world were interactive and dependent upon the actions of players.  The game focused on and revolved around the players themselves, not the content.  It was the community and people that were important to the game experience, not the programmed NPC content.


Under the supervision of British and Blackthorn, UO did not have giant cartoon-like snowmen and snowflakes, rainbow colored armor, purple spikey-haired elves,  flip-flop wearing ninjas, or neon swords with statistics plastered all over them.  All aspects of the game fit the medieval theme.  Building a reasonably believable world must have originally been one of the main goals and visions for Ultima Online.


In addition, Ultima Online was a quality product and the gameplay was highly balanced; it's likely that the developers, including Lord British and Blackthorn, were experienced players of the game and used their first-hand gameplay experience to further develop UO.  Lord British and Lord Blackthorn were probably the filters that kept poor, imbalancing development ideas out of their virtual world. Because, after they left UO, the floodgates opened with all sorts of foolish game development occurring, such as mirrored attached worlds with two different sets of rules.  The original game balance and virtual world that Garriott and Long had created was quickly destroyed by the Electronic Arts Inc. employees that were appointed to take over.


The Electronic Arts replacements, Rick Hall aka Stellerex and Anthony Castoro aka SunSword:


After over seven years of poor development from Electronic Arts, Ultima Online is limping along as a hodge-podge MMO.  UO has become nothing more than a conglomeration of ideas stolen from other successful MMOs and therefore no longer offers players a unique experience.  There's very little reason left to play UO since the same PvM game designs that UO is now copying are found in newer MMOs offering better graphics and technology.  The integrity of the world is also ruined with player forcefields, connected worlds with conflicting rules, the ability to carry items in death through buying insurance, infinite NPC supplies, giant insect mounts, ridable pastel colored dogs, and even sunglasses; EA might as well add laser cannons at this point - it would not hurt the game that much more.


Clearly the goals and visions of creating a reasonably believable medieval virtual world were lost when the talent left UO and EA took over.  The virtual world began to suffer as it was torn apart and morphed into a mere online PvM content game by the sophomoric MMO developers that followed. Origin Inc., will always be known as the first company that created a truly massive online world and Electronic Arts Inc. will always be known as the first company to destroy an online world.


Heroes & Villains

 "Without villains, there can be no heroes.” A game, or any entertainment medium, is flat, predictable, and utterly lacking in conflict, tension, and suspense without a worthy intelligent villain, see The Worthy Villain .  “The villain is the main source of conflict and tension and suspense -- those necessary qualities in all of literature. Without a worthy villain, there cannot be a worthy hero. Whether the hero wants to win back the love of a woman, escape from prison, rescue a child, nail a serial killer, or save the world, his quest must be difficult and its outcome uncertain if we are to keep turning the pages. That’s the job of the antagonist. As Christopher Vogel writes in his essential book THE WRITER’S JOURNEY, “The function of the Shadow [villain] in drama is to challenge the hero and give her a worthy opponent in the struggle.”


An online world is no different, if there are no worthy villains, then there are no worthy heroes; the game lacks conflict, tension and suspense and our interest in participating in such a game is much more easily lost. When Ultima Online was a virtual world full of villain players there was always a large portion of the player base actively playing the game, even into the wee hours of the night.  It was the conflict that drove the game. The game was exciting enough to play that it was always highly populated with active players. Even though there may still be 100,000 Ultima Online subscriptions left today, it's painfully obvious that most do not spend very much time playing Ultima Online anymore.