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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

How far will you go to get into the Hello Kitty Online Beta?

Posted by zergwatch Friday February 29 2008 at 11:42AM
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Last week, Sanrio shook the MMO world with the announcement of the Hello Kitty MMORPG beta. Millions lined up to be the first to get accepted into beta, only to have their dreams crushed yesterday by an email from Sanrio.

"Thank you for subscribing to Hello Kitty Online closed beta! As much as we would like to accommodate all our subscribers, there are only a limited number of accounts to give out. We would like to pick best people to test the game, so this is your chance to tell us why you should be one of the chosen applicants. Here's how you can get an account: Go to Dream Studio and create a video answering the question "Why do you think you should be selected for the closed beta testing?".. The length of the video should be at least 15 seconds / 3 slides. "

I can only assume at this point that no self respecting adult is going to make a 3 minute video of themselves just to check out Hello Kitty Online. I was genuinely interested in Hello Kitty Online as a game I can play together with my daughter. I still am. I'm just going to have to wait, because there is no way in hell I'm going to video tape myself for three minutes begging and pleading for a beta key for Hello Kitty. I definitely will not have my daughter do it either.

The question is... Who will? Teenagers who will think its funny for shits and giggles? I doubt they care enough. Moms? I dunno, don't know many of those who willingly want themselves captured in video.

They will probably get the diehard Hello Kitty fans. Yes, they are out there. My sister in law is one. If she knew about this offer, she would probably do it.

This requirement could be a double edged sword in Sanrio's beta. Will they get enough technically oriented players who can provide them with sufficient beta feedback?

I have some pretty high hopes with Hello Kitty MMORPG as a vehicle that allows young kids and parents to finally play an MMORPG together.

Console players are skilless, driveling morons

Posted by zergwatch Friday February 29 2008 at 10:30AM
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Debunking the common misconceptions core MMORPG players have with console based mmorpg's

For the core MMORPG player, thier most anticipated MMORPG being released on a console platform seems like a fate worse than death. For years, the core gamer has enjoyed his or her game in the relatively peaceful confines of a well educated, sophisticated and experienced gaming community.

At least, this is what they want you to think when the topic of console MMORPG's is being discussed on any MMORPG message board. In the core gaming circle, core gamers fundamentally believe that console gamers are skilless driveling morons who cannot handle the complex and sophisticated MMORPG creature. To make matters worse, to develop an MMORPG for both console and PC distribution, the developer needs to dumb the game down so much that controller button mashing r-tards can play too, says the core gamer.

There are two fundamentally opposite mindsets between the average console player and the core MMORPG gamer.

Console players buy many game titles per year, in the hopes of quickly defeating the game and moving on to the next one, unless the game has a multiplayer mode in which case it will get frequent reuse to fall back on between future game purchases. Console gamers may play several different games on any given day.

The core MMORPG player buys one game every few years and plays nothing but that game religiously with very few other gaming diversions. They are accustomed to playing a game that will never end while the developer throws even bigger pieces of cheese at them one or two times per year in the form of expansion packs.

With all that being said, lets get to debunking the myths surrounding the console MMORPG.

Console gamers are not technically sophisticated enough for MMORPG's

This is a very popular argument which the core gamer relies upon. The one about console players not having the skillset required to play an MMORPG. MMORPG players spend countless hours fine tuning their game's interface, installing mods that will help in raids, determining the right slot in their action bar to put their most crucial skills and abilities. They roam the virtual landscape with a 101 key keyboard and a 4 button mouse. Surely, the 6 button, 2 stick console wielding baffoon cannot compete with that.

The basis of this argument is that the demographic of the core gamer is suspected to be males between the ages of 18 to 34, while the core demographic of the console gamer is considered to be children between the ages of 6 and 17. Surely, a child who mashes controllers all day is not prepared to participate in the same virtual world as the well educated, young urban professional.

When you actually think about it, children are very adaptable and have a much lower learning curve when it comes to embracing and mastering new technology. The core gamer is usually set in their ways and rarely embraces going outside the norm. An MMORPG needs to be a turned based mouse clicking objective oriented grind that mimicks real life struggles or they won't play it. Console gamers are more open to new ideas and change. They embrace the non conventional and welcome difficult challenges. They embrace fun.

You can't do with a controller what you can do with a mouse and keyboard

As I mentioned, a standard keyboard has 101 keys. When you throw in the mouse, you have a total of approximately 140 ways to interact with your character. Add in shifting and control-click and you have an awe inspiring 420 ways to interface with your avatar when playing an MMORPG on a PC.

Sounds very sophisticated and technical, yes? When you come back down to the land of reality, MMORPG players use 4 keys, 2 mouse buttons and a push of the mouse left and right or up and down. All of their skillfull prowess comes down to mashing the same two mouse buttons for hours on end. All of the keys on the keyboard are for convenience purposes only. They are not required in any way. Can you imagine an MMORPG that requires PC players to actually have to use more than WASD and a mouse to play? There would be widespread revolt. The game would be shunned by the community. The mmorpg interface is about as exciting and challenging as Microsoft Excel.

If you have ever played an RPG on a console, you will understand why in some ways, a console controller is more convenient than a PC. One of my favorite console games was Sony's Champions of Norrath series, a spin off of Everquest and Everquest II. In Champions of Norrath, you use the directional stick and button clicks simultaneously to shift between spells. Towards the end of the game, with a quick click and push, you have over 16 spells and abilities at effortless disposal at any given time. In the time it takes a PC gamer to scroll across the screen and left click their icons, the console gamer can fire off the same amount of different commands.

While the PC gamer is given visual cues in the form of icons and cooldowns, the console gamer memorizes patterns and combinations. If you put the console controller in the hand of a core gamer and the keyboard/mouse combo in the hands of a console gamer, which one do you think will master their new craft more quickly and successfully?

When you consider that a Playstation 3 console can support USB keyboard and mouse, there are xbox keyboard and mouse adapters and the Wii remote functions similarly to a mouse and keyboard, half of the battle has already been lost for the core gamer.

Console gamers will bring down the MMORPG community

Have you actually ever played an MMORPG? Most are already chock full o' mouthy teenagers and children running amok. They're also full of grown adults who act worse than the mouthy teenagers and children. I hate to be the one to break the news to the core gamer, but the MMORPG community broke down several years ago. MMORPG's were once the Jaguars and Porches of the gaming industry, but today MMORPG streets are full of bicycles with training wheels, handme downs and rice burners.

I doubt we will ever see an MMORPG with the communities of days gone by. The new MMORPG community has been brought down to the guild level. Where you used to have one large interweaving community of players, you now have thousands of micro communities, each with its own unique identity and culture. Infusing the overall MMORPG community with console players will have no impact on these micro communities, nor can they sink the overall community any further into the mud than it already is.

Console MMORPG's are dumbed down and waterered down shells of an MMORPG

Since we really have not seen any console MMORPG's besides Final Fantasy, I was unable to find any evidence of this claim being true or false. While its true that Final Fantasy is a horrible MMORPG to play on a PC, I think the problem lies more with Square Enix being a console manufacturer and adding PC game play as an after thought with more importance being focused on the console play.

This problem is one for the industry to resolve. I have worked in the business software development industry for nearly 15 years and the one thing I know is there is a technical solution for every problem. The unfortunate reality though, is that it takes a well balanced team of highly skilled professionals and millions of dollars to achieve a successful product. The MMORPG industry has the capital, but I'm afraid it lacks the skill and ingenuity at this point to develop a product that pleases everyone involved.

While this complaint is one of the few with merit, I think it will eventually work itself out. When the Wii came out, one of the hurdles developers faced was how to make the Wii variant of a title interface more appropriately with the Wii remote to give Wii users a more unique gaming experience over the PS3 and Xbox. At the time the Wii remote was a new and very non conventional gaming control interface for consoles. We can also add that many predicted doom for Nintendo because the wii remote was so different. Core gamers perhaps?

Console MMORPG's will not have a traditional MMORPG look and feel

My first immediate wise cracking response to this gripe is GOOD! The MMORPG interface is terrible. So terrible infact that to effectively use it and compete in the game, you must scour the internet for add-ons or modules that help you better control it. I yearn for a new age when the MMORPG operates more like a hybrid MMORPG, FPS and RPG. When you take each of those elements individually, they each have good and bad. At some point, we can only expect and hope that the creative juices flow enough where a hybrid interface can emerge that solves all of our problems.

MMORPG's are still using the same user interface they had back when Everquest was first released. There have been no changes, advancements or improvements in almost 10 years. I think we're long overdue for an MMORPG UI revolution.

Hybrid MMORPG's must have seperate PC and Console servers

This argument stems more from the core gamers' fears than it does from a technical standpoint. PC and Console gamers can interface and play on the same servers. The problem lies with the core gamer's phobia of console players. Core gamers are folks who spend lots of time being good at their game. Almost to a point where their ingame accomplishments and real life accomplishments are sometimes blurred together. Many core gamer's pride would be hurt to learn that they received an in game whooping by a 10 year old on a Wii.

Instead of embracing the new challenge, it is much easier to petition for platform seggregation. I personally think an MMORPG that pits PC gamers against Console gamers would be a wildly fun and exciting challenge. If you buy the game for a console, you must play X faction and if you buy it for a PC, you must play Y faction. From a PVP standpoint it would make a hugely successful and well bonded community with a fierce competitive rivalry with your opponents.

From the technical point of view, this argument is purely garbage.

Console Gamers Vs. PC Gamers

PC MMORPG players are unemployed 30 somethings still living in their mom's basement wasting huge amounts of time hoping their in game persona turns out to be better than real life reality, while console gamers are skilless driveling button mashers chasing the cheese through a predefined set of circustances before burning through another game.

While both statements are usually quite fun to sling at eachother, you will see that both sides of the coin are very similar. There are console players living in mom's basement, and a good portion of the MMORPG community carries a drool cup in their man purse.

Slowly, the core player demographics are being blurred by successful crossover titles. Halo, WoW, Command and Conquer, The Sims and the list goes on. As time progresses we will eventually see the demographics of the core player edge closer together. The bottom line is that both demographics enjoy video games. It is one common denominator you cannot dispute. If that common bond cannot make a hybrid MMORPG work it will be the fault of the player and not the developer.

In Conclusion
A hybrid MMORPG can be successful. It can be fun. It can also be the huge breakthrough the MMORPG industry so desperately needs. I don't encounter many console gamers who are anti-pc, but we frequently see the core gamer up in arms about any potential MMORPG hybrid.

When a decent MMORPG hybrid comes out, will it be instantly boycotted by core gamers, or is this entire argument just another finicky complaint from a community that has always complained about the most minor of changes in the way their games are played?


Requiem: Bloodymare Review

Posted by zergwatch Thursday February 28 2008 at 5:55PM
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Writing a review about an MMORPG is about as useful as one weighing themself before and after they poop to see how much their poop weighs. The end result is a useless bit of information that nobody cares about and most people are just going to think you're crazy anyway. Also, In the case of MMORPG reviews, we can quickly assume that at some point in time the review will turn into some off topic rant about World of Warcraft.

See what I mean? We're not even out of the first paragraph and WoW has already taken over this review. This past year, we saw a handful of games come out that were alternatives to the Orc, Troll and Fairy orgies of today's MMO market. RF Online, Tabula Rasa and Pirates of the Burning Seas are some names that come up when we try to find fantasy MMORPG alternatives. Another thing that comes to mind when you mention those names is the fact that they are all MMORPG community failures. Sure, people play them, but they are the die hard, hard core pirate wanna be's, hard up Star Wars Galaxies Sci Fi Fans and Anime fans who want an MMORPG to call their own.

This week, a game called Requiem: Bloodymare seemingly popped out of nowhere like16 year old girl showing up at your door to say "You don't know me, but 16 years ago, you dated my mom...". We'rve been so accustomed to the false hype created by the likes of Sony, EA-Mythic and Funcom, blasting us each day with gameplay videos preceeded by over over zealous Englishmen who will tell you anything so you buy his game or the promise of a glorious MMO world where chicks (played by men) run around without shirts all day.

If you like this article, you can read the rest in its original location, Requiem: Bloodymare Review.

A WTF week in review: There must be something in the GDC water.

Posted by zergwatch Sunday February 24 2008 at 12:05AM
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After a dismal week last week, we rebound with some really exciting news from the gaming industry gutters this week.  We're back to the WTF levels we saw just two weeks ago.  Sit back and enjoy last week's top 10 WTF headlines from the gaming industry.

#10. Electronic Arts exec says Activision-Blizzard can't compete:  EA Exec smack talks the new Activision-Blizzard company and says they have nothing on EA.

Activision offers refund for Guitar Hero III : Plagued by delays in replacing CD's, Activision Announced this week that they will issue refunds for those who don't want to wait to replace their defective game discs. 

UK bank blames fraudsters for World of Warcraft ban:  Citing Blizzard as a high risk offender when it comes to chargebacks and disputes, a UK bank told its customers they can't use their credit cards to play WoW.

Former Atari exec claims company rushed titles out the door:  Former exec from Atari says the company pushes titles out the door at all costs, not worrying about consequences or quality.

Nobody cares about your stupid story: 2K Games' Ken Levine admits that players care more about game play and game quality over a story.

Blizzard says buying gold is bad: Apparently losing the battle against the Chinese gold farmer, Blizzard makes a plea to its users to not use RMT services.  Pretty Please.

Lots of Blah Blah Blah from GDC 2008: GDC week gave us lots of good news and lots of news nobody really cared about.

Day of Defeat: Sony Blu-ray K.O.'s Toshiba HD-DVD: There were no surprises here other than why Toshiba prolonged the beating and WTF Xbox owners are going to do with their new HD-DVD player.   In a sense, Sony KO's Toshiba and Microsoft with this news.

PS3 owners petition Sony to release open beta for Home: "We Demand that you have a beta" says a bunch of PS3 owners.  I'm pretty sure Sony really cares what they ask for.

Baby dies from neglect while parents play video games:  What is video gaming without people killing each other and their children?

GDC Ghetto Report 2: A collection of page 2 news from GDC.

Posted by zergwatch Wednesday February 20 2008 at 9:29PM
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In an effort to cover the stories most others are passing up to ride the sacks of EA, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, here's today's  GDC 2008 Ghetto Report:

New website allows gamers to earn cash for playing games. Allows Console Gamers to Flaunt Their Skills for Cold Hard Cash

TN Games Unveils the 3RD Space™ Effects Driver at the Game Developer’s Conference 
Free Software Driver Supports 3RD Space FPS Vest, Adding Physical Sensory Effects to Popular Game Titles!

Champions Online is new IP for Cryptic's Superhero MMORPG 
Cryptic Studios Announces Champions Online

Revolution Returns to Mars in THQ’s Groundbreaking Open World Shooter Red Faction: Guerrilla  
Third-Person Action-Shooter Re-Defines Destruction and Open-World Game-Play

New website allows gamers to earn cash for playing games. Allows Console Gamers to Flaunt Their Skills for Cold Hard Cash

Emotiv Launches Neurotechnology Development Platform 
Opens API and Development Environment to Enable Widespread Integration of Brain Computer Interface Technology into Video Games and Beyond

Logitech Unveils Official Wheel of Gran Turismo for PLAYSTATION3 
Logitech Driving Force GT Wheel Delivers Powerful Force Feedback, Brake Bias and Traction Control Adjustment

Havok announces Havok Cloth and Havoc Destruction 
Two new technologies announced by innovative gaming engine developer Havok


News from the 2008 GDC Ghetto.

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday February 19 2008 at 1:39PM
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As most gaming blogs and news services zergrush to the Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and Funcom booths, I've decided to take a virtual stroll through the back alleys of the GDC 2008 to see what I could come up with.   Wandering around the GDC Ghetto, where no self respecting blogger or journalist dare's to venture, I uncovered lots of interesting page 2 news.

Check back daily as I bring you more from the GDC Ghetto.

Here is today's Backalley GDC news that few care to pick up on:

Leading Technologies Now Available to MMO Developers
Simutronics Integrates Middleware and Devices with HeroEngine

Disney and Techno Source Take Internet Connectivity to the Next Level with Disney Fairies Toys Powered by Clickables Technology
Innovative Next-Generation Technology Designed to Extend Playtime from Spectacular Online World of Pixie Hollow to the Real World

GameShield Enables Innovative Protection and Licensing for Next Evolution of Game Distribution Yummy Interactive’s New Universal Digital Rights Management Targets Game Publishers and Developers

Game On! ECD Systems Launches Beta Version of Revolution Games Network for Developers Social Networking Portal for Gaming Now Open to Independent Game Developers

Eye-Com & NeuroSky Partner to Demonstrate Intuitive, Integrated, Wearable, Neurological and Ocular Control Technology at the Game Developers Conference - 2008
Game Developers Conference 2008

Scene It? Reels in the Stars with 2008 Game Lineup
Screenlife, LLC and Mattel Unveil Scene It? Seinfeld Edition, Scene It? Disney Channel Edition, and Scene It? Music and Disney To Go! During 2008 Toy Fair

Thriller Publishing/Games Announces Formation Over 100 Years of Video Game Industry Experience

Image Metrics Facial Animation to Showcase Power of Emergent Game Technologies’ Gamebryo at GDC 2008 Image Metrics’ Computer Generated Facial Animation Technology Demonstrates Graphics Processing Capabilities of Gamebryo

IT Territory Acquires License for Simutronics HeroEngine for Its Upcoming Fantasy MMO Game Russian developer to test MMO waters in Russia

Disney responds to Hello Kitty Online with Pixie Hollow, Disney Fairies MMORPG. Fans Will Be Able to Create Their Own Virtual Fairy, Personalize a Fairy Home and Play and Chat with Fairy Friends While Exploring The Online World of Pixie Hollow.

THQ and Blue Fang Games Announce Development Agreement Creators of Zoo Tycoon Franchise to Develop New Property for Nintendo Wii and DS

Disney Online Creates New Team Focused on Online Virtual Worlds, Communities and Games
Steve Parkis to Lead Disney Online Studios

Gaming WTF Week in Review (2-18-08)

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 10:30AM
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After a hot week last week of really amazing shit happening in the gaming industry, I'm afraid to announce, this past week has not been all that exciting.

Early in the week, bloggers around the world confused an EA earnings summary with an official release announcement for a new Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic game from Bioware, however, the news was quickly squashed before the sun set later in the day when EA made an official announcement debunking the rumor.

In what's turning out to be the latest MMORPG soap opera, Firebrand developer David Perry shed a few tears about the cancellation of Marvel Universe's MMORPG.

OMGWTF! Finally, after years of being the brunt end of many jokes, Hello Kitty Online has gone into beta. The folks over at Disney need to keep an eye on this one as it will surely sink that piece of garbage MMO they operate, Toontown Online.

Funcom chops away even more from Age of Conan as Prestige Classes got the axe.

Square Enix filed lawsuits against several manufactures that got caught smuggling counterfiet Final Fantasy Swords and memorabilia at the border.

Who would have ever thought that a lawsuit over a Bratz video game could be worth $14 million dollars? Well, the arbitrator did, but we'll see if this one goes to trial. Most likely it will.

Interview: Funcom's chilling MMO no longer quite so secret. Having planned on remaining silent after their initial announcement, Funcom generously gave in to our pestering ways and decided to spill a bean or two on their as yet undercover project, The Secret World.

Activision's next "Hero" game might be DJ Hero? Activision files for US Patent for DJ Hero, but does it mean a title is coming? They have also filed for several other brands for potential hero games.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars In Theaters and on Television in 2008. Warner Bros. Pictures Releases Full-Length, Theatrical Clone Wars Movie August 15, Followed by the Debut of the Groundbreaking TV Series, Premiering This Fall on Cartoon Network and TNT.

That about wraps it up for the hot topics from last week, sadly there were no IRL slayings over MMORPG's or people going AWOL because they played Call of Duty 4. Let's hope this week gives us some more exciting news.

My forray into the Burning Crusade, one year later

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 10:01AM
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Ok, so WTF. TBC is old news. Big Deal. An anniversary is an appropriate time for something like this.

After refusing the urge to ever be a part of anything that has to do with the World of Warcraft since it was released, for the sake of journalism, I broke down a few months ago and gave it a shot.

The game installed rather easily, but I soon learned I had to wait 9 fucking hours before I could actually play the game because there has obviously been so much content released for the game since the day the DVD was made, which included the Burning Crusade Expansion pack.

When the patching and restarting of the game finally ended in what seemed like an eternity, I was taken to a nice and simple character creation interface. Did I mention it was simple? I like to be bad. I like to be evil. What can be more bad and more evil than an undead warlock? Sure as hell not that queer looking human paladin, I thought to myself.

I quickly entered the World of Warcraft because I only had a very few choices to make to customize my character. It was quite different than in most of the games that aren't as great World of Warcraft.

I'm not going to go into the starting areas of World of Warcraft or even talk about how many fucking boars you have to kill to play this game since I'm about 3 years too late to bitch and moan about the "old" world. In all, the experience from 1 to 60 was pretty fun and simple. Did I mention simple?

Finally after wasting away night after night to get to level 60 and finally see what the Burning Crusade was about and how I can finally play WoW and participate in glorious world pvp control battles, I passed through the Dark Portal. There's obviously some kind of struggle going on between all sorts of 20 polygon NPC's, but after watching a few minutes of this I realized you cannot participate since everything is Level 70 elite and that nothing is really going on except for a pretty dull NPC script that loops itself for eternity.

I felt a certain uneasiness as I passed hundreds of fucking boars on my way to the first Horde camp. Wouldn't you know it? One of the first quests in The Burning Crusade was to kill more fucking boars. I thought this is probably just some sort of sick joke by Blizzard to make sure that you are truly addicted to the game. Heck, if you can make it to level 60 and still kill boars without quitting the game, you're probably in it for the long haul. For the sake of journalism, I was.

Hellfire Peninsula really seemed like more of the old World of Warcraft. There was really nothing new. Sure we had some 5 man instances that didn't require DKP and a guild full of whiney gear-whoring crytits, but it showed me nothing more than a continuation of what WoW always was.

Alas! There is a world PVP area. The side who controls the most towers gets buffs and bragging rights to being the side that controls the zone. I mount up with a few friends as we cautiously approach the Arena anticipating a battle to end all battles. The sweat poured down the side of my avatar's skinless face. We made it to the arena. WTF? Where is the epic world pvp battle? Where are the alliance? Where the fuck is anyone? Anything? Shit! So we just sit there and wait as we gloriously take the arena. Surely, everyone must be at one of the other two zones. Surely, they weren't. World PVP in the first zone of TBC was either waiting by yourself at one of three control points or ganking some poor chap with your group of three people, hoping he breaks his keyboard and logs on his level 70.

I got out of Hellfire Peninsula as soon as possible, hoping that the letdown was because all the PVP was going on in the higher zones.

Zangamarsh was a pretty zone. Thank fucking god there were no boars. PVP in Zangamarsh was fun as far as the one vs. one battles you have everywhere you go. Ok, I lied.. the One vs. One gankings you give people while they either stand there confused or try to run. The Zone PVP event in Zangamarsh is still a fucking mystery to me. The whole area was void of people and NPC's. After leveling to about 63, and not finding an NPC to even give a PVP quest, I moved on to Terrokar Forest.

This is where I find Shattrath. Now I knew what all those r-tards meant when they spammed countless fucking messages non-stop for hours on end "Can sum1 open a portal to Shat 4 me? Plz? Will pay Gold!".

Shattrath is a city where Horde and Alliance come together, sing, dance and be merry with eachother. We all become friends in Shattrath which makes standing outside the city gates ganking people even more rewarding than all the failed world PVP sub games they put in the expansion pack.

To cut to the chase and try to put this story out of its misery, I finally made it to 70. I can continue making quirky and amusing digs at all the stupid shit that I had to do between 60 and 70 and how the game is still lacking any serious world PVP or how the game is still a loot whore's wet dream, but I must say... if the game truly sucked as so many claim, I would have quit this process at level 61.

The World Of Warcraft is a solid game that hardcore gamers feel threatened by because it gives every 10 year old kid the ability to kick hardcore gamers' self proclaimed and self righteous ass in a video game. I fear that is the reason most hardcore players shy away from WoW. They would rather sit on gaming message boards crying about the lack of MMORPG's and keep looking for the next great MMORPG. The truth is, hardcore gamers will never be happy with an MMORPG and they usually won't last more than a few months in any game that comes out no matter how good it is anyway.

With that being said, World of Warcraft really is not for me. Maybe because deep inside, I'm one of those hardcore gamers. I think it has most to do with the mindset of the WoW player where gear trumps fun and getting gear is the core game where in my eyes the core game is the epic conflict between good and bad. It could also be that I need cross-faction communication to truly enjoy a video game. A video game where you can't trash talk or be trash talked is similar to listening to the radio with the sound off.

I can see why WoW is still the king of MMORPG's. I still think WoW will remain trump well after the hardcore gamers have quit Age of Conan and Warhammer and return to their state of forum QQ'ing for a new messiah. World of Warcraft is not a bad game. As the old saying goes "Guns don't kill people. People kill people", the same can be said of WoW. "WoW does not make people lose their job, lose their wife and lose their kids. People lose their job, wife and kids".

New Star Wars MMORPG announced

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 10:00AM
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Well.. if you count a flood of new internet rumors by deprived Star Wars fans an announcement.. it has been announced.

It all started when Star Wars Galaxies failed. What will the game hungry Star Wars MMORPG nerd play once the game they loved was turned into a heaping steaming pile of crap by Sony Online Entertainment?

For some, there was a broad new horizon of other MMORPG's. For others, there was JKA, Star Wars Battlefront II and yes.. Lego Star Wars. But for the vocal minority of former SWG players, there was a new life of suspicion and consipiracy.

Last year Bioware announced they were building an MMORPG and soon after they annouced they were working on another undisclosed project with Lucasarts. The blogs and forums were churning with thirty something virgins plotting their future life in the a new Star Wars universe and taking every chance to bitch slap John Smedley and Sony Online Entertainment Group.

This week we heard about some girl that nobody really knows who posted in her blog that her brother's sister's uncle's aunt's dog's previous owner has confirmed that there is indeed a new Star Wars MMORPG, but it's not Bioware, but some other undisclosed studio.

The new Star Wars MMO will take place in the time of Knights of the Old Republic and will be released to coincide with the 2009 Star Wars television series.

Well, atleast this is what every screaming Star Wars Galaxies refuge is touting as the word of Jesus for the week.

Internet goes tits over Age of Conan's breasts

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 9:59AM
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Tit. Nipple. Breast. There, I said it, and so has every news service covering video games over the past week as Age of Conan released information that the infamous tit and nipple will be a staple of the upcoming MMORPG.

In this age of Toontown Online, Habbo and Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Funcom has chosen to become the slackness of the MMORPG industry. There is such a buzz when it comes to Age of Conan's tits and nipples, I decided to investigate.

Not being a huge fan of Conan, as it seems every blogging gaming geek has become on the internet since breasts and nipples were announced, I started with the Wikipedia entry of Conan the Barbarian and there was not one mention of tits, nipples or breast. There wasn't even a simple boob to be found.

Then I came across the old Conan the Barbarian movies where I remember as a child walking in on some spicy scenes, but shit... that was the 80's, bush was not in the White House, but bush was definitely in the Conan movies.

The odd part once again, after reading the Wikipedia entries of the Conan movies there was no focus on tits, boobs, ass or even bush, since Bush is another hot topic on the pale-skin blogger scene. The focus was mostly on plot and story.

Now we come back to Age of Conan, Hyborian Adventures and there wasn't even a mention of breasts and nipples in that wikipedia entry.

So I'm left to wonder. Are breasts and boobs that critical to the success of an M rated MMORPG or are breasts and boobs the new smoke and mirror of the MMORPG industry?

I understand in the middle ages, people just didn't have the money to go to Aeropostle or Gap to cover up their breasts and nipples, but come on.. is it that critical in the storyline? It's not that I'm on an anti-nipple crusade. I enjoy a good breast as much as the next guy.

This week, we are flooded with breasts and boobs again, while things like 12 classes instead of 14 and even more release delays are quitely tucked away under the boobs and breasts.

It leaves me wondering why we are so worried about stupid shit in Age of Conan like breasts and boobs and less on the shitty gameplay videos recently released.

Finding the right guild hosting provider for you MMORPG guild

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 9:59AM
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So, you finally pooled your MMORPG friends together and formed a guild or clan. The next natural step is to create a guild website or some method for out of game guild and clan communication.

The most sought after features in Guild Web Hosting seem to be a scheduling system, a tracking system such as raid rosters or DKP management. Message Boards are another key factor in deciding where to host your guild's website.

Some brave adventurers try to create their own guild website, but the costs associated with web hosting, software licensing and the difficult task of customization and programming can seem overwhelming even to a top notch computer savvy guild master.

Guild Hosting Providers have sprung up on the internet in recent years to do the enormous popularity of MMORPG's, led by World of Warcraft. Our search is on to find the top 5 guild hosting companies and compare their service offerings.

Guild Portal: Guild Portal started in 2002 and is the veteran of Guild Hosting. They offer guild hosting packages between $30-$45 per month. Their service includes guild email, voting services, forums, event and raid management, community participation rewards, quest tracking, real time chat for guilds.

The company claims to host over 90,000 guilds and offers a feature rich guild hosting platform that is intuitive and easy to use.

GuildCafe: A newcomer to the Guild Hosting business, GuildCafe goes beyond guild hosting and delves deeper into the global social aspect of gaming. Where other guild hosting businesses focus solely on hosting each guild site as an individual entity, at GuildCafe, your guild site is part of the overall MMORPG gaming community.

Guild websites at GuildCafe take a unique approach and instead of an object with owners, your guild site has more of a community value and not just a stat tracking machine.

GuildCafe's guild sites include message boards, blogs, event tracking, roster management and community building tools. GuildCafe has been compared to Classmates.Com and MySpace of the MMORPG industry. The best part is, hosting at GuildCafe is free.

The most enticing feature at GuildCafe is its open MMORPG community tools that promote your members and guilds and help guilds forge alliances and allows MMORPG players to connect with eachother outside the game.

Guild Universe: Guild Universe began in 2003 and offers free and paid guild and clan webhosting. Under the free package, your guild receives free message boards, roster, polls and event scheduling, but it is ad driven, meaning there will be ads on your guild's web pages.

The Guild Universe premium plans range from $14.95 per month to $29.95 per month depending on the feature set you need to run and manage your guild online. The premium guild site offers a DKP system, customization and removal of the banner ad system.

Guild Launch: Guild Launch is another relatively new player in the Guild Hosting space. The site launched in 2006 and boasts a very rich set of tools for guild management. Hosting packages range from $6.00 per month for basic functionality to $20 per month for a full fledged guild portal system.

Moving up the chain of features, Guild Launch offers ventrilo service for $11 per month and fully integrated raid, item, bank and roster tools. Integrated guild wiki, guild roster tools and the ability to seperate DKP into pools so you can track 5 man, 20 man and 40 man DKP with their own unique tracking systems.

Guild Launch also provides hosted guilds with a suite of web widgets that can be placed on any website to help promote the guild. Another feature of Guild Launch is full integration with a handful of MMORPG's including Final Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft and Pirates of the Burning Sea.

MMO Guildsites: MMO Guildsites is yet another newcomer to the emerging guild hosting industry. Started in 2006, MMO Guildsites offers full featured guild websites with an emphasis on World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online guilds.

Each guild site is a suite of customizable tools and widgets, nearly 50 in all that can be easily managed and arranged by the guild webmaster. MMO Guildsites has a more subtle and corporate feel to their application than the others where they serve up crisp and clean pages that can be easily customized. Guild hosting plans range from $9 to $17.

There are many other guild hosting companies out there, but I've only sampled the top rated and most rewarding ones I have found.

Most offer a free trial, so make sure when you're choosing a guild hosting provider for your clan or guild that you do some investigating on your own. Speak to other guild leaders and see what they think. Don't forget to search the internet for feedback and reviews.

The hardest part of managing a guild website is to get your members to actually use it. Once they do use it, changing providers can be very difficult and you will most likely lose some of your user retention.

Happy searching and best of luck to you and your new guild.

Gaming WTF Week in Review (2-12-08)

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 9:58AM
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This blog post is a little dated, but very enjoyable.

The past seven days have provided us with lots of WTF moments in the gaming world. Of course, the issue of titties in age of conan has raised a nipple or two.. err eyebrow.

In Florida, an ex-Marine and Iraq war veteran from Indiana has gone missing. Family and friends blame Call of Duty 4 on the disappearance.

PR firm Kohnke, hired by Perpetual Entertainment, has dropped their lawsuit that alleges Perpetual knew the game Gods and Heroes was to be cancelled before they were hired.

Star Wars fans rejoice. A new rumor about yet another new Star Wars MMORPG has surfaced, this time by surfer girl, a blog from a girl who seemingly dribbles through each and every blog entry, yet we are supposed to think she's a credible MMORPG industry source and not just some shut in roleplayer hoping to score a date with a level 90 jedi.

Woops, EA Mythic's secret of "Whats inside the Warhammer Online Collector's Edition" seems to have accidentally slipped out to the masses.

Meanwhile Wired PWN's Warhammer by saying.. "It looks just like Warcraft!". So, who really gives a shit what's inside the collector's edition?

And if that wasn't strange enough, Mastiff has announced a new extreme sports console title: Major League Eating. This release defnitely takes away the grounds Wii has made against the couch potatoe phenomenon by introducing a game where you.. eat.

Ashen Temper leaves Shadowbane. Weee! Did the people who actually cling on to that game for dear life actually expect somebody to stay in sink with the ship?

Some really crazy shit happened in Russia last week when a man was killed in a real life guild vs. guild match. Can we say "OWNED!"

Sony announced a silver edition of the PS3, maybe they felt lackluster sales was due in part because their PS3 console was initially black. Maybe?

W2K Games pulled the plug last week on Civilization Revolution, the console version of the hit series Civilization. If you're developing a console game and not building a Wii port the only explanation can be mental retardation.

And finally in the wacky world of Gaming What the Fuck, the Brazillian government goes ahead and bans Everquest and Counterstrike, but it's still ok to plow down miles of rainforest each day so you can produce cocaine to sell to the world.

MMORPG Showdown: Hello Kitty vs. Toontown Online

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 9:57AM
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World of Warcraft dominates the MMORPG market, yet each and every day, we are peppered with potentional challengers that always come and go. WoW is Mike Tyson of the early 80's. Everybody hates the game, but Blizzard somehow finds 10,000,000 people to play it with a near cult like following.

With upcoming games hailed as potential threats to WoW such as Age of Conan and Warhammer Online just around the corner, you have to come back down to reality world and realize that neither of those titles have any chance at becoming the next 10,000,000 subscriber game.

So, we move on to an even more exciting MMORPG space and an emerging MMORPG showdown that will put two evenly matched opponents head to head against eachother.

We're talking about Disney's Toontown Online and Hello Kitty Online. Toontown started in 2003 and has gone virtually unchallenged for four years in the children's MMORPG space. While the numbers are not nearly those of traditional MMORPG's, in the past Disney had boasted tens of thousands of simultaneous "toons" online at any given time. The unfortunate reality of course being that a good number of those players may not even be children, but that's a whole other article for another day.

I have tried Toontown Online several times with my child, each time she was bored before I was. Toontown Online has a character creation system that is generic, boring and bland. Users create cookie cutter toons from a handful of mix and match heads, bodies and feet then you get to customize colors and pick your name from a pre-determined set of available names.

Upon entering the dull and flat, yet 3D world of Toontown, you learn soon that the main focus of the game is to run around doing missions to "combat" the evil cogs. In Toontown, combat consists of buying pranks such as pies and water squirting flower called "gags" and use them on the Cogs.

If you ever thought the monotonous grind of an Asian MMORPG was bad, you'll quickly file Toontown "combat" in the same folder as some past Asian grinder masterpieces.

Fortunately, Toontown is full of mini games for children to play, otherwise its safe to say, nobody would be playing it.

For four years, Toontown has been the only option for young kids in the MMORPG, who probably should not be in the MMORPG space to begin with as I'm a firm believer in MMORPGs being terrible addiction forming habits, but most kids these days are already addicted to video games anyway.

Today, open beta for Hello Kitty Online was announced (which I of course immediately signed up for). I'm the anti-beta. I think beta testing an MMORPG is on the same level of electroshock therapy on your testicles, but how could you pass up being a part of history and not check out Hello Kitty Online?

After perusing the the Hello Kitty Online marketing material, I quickly realized that this is going to be the cutest goddamn MMORPG we have ever seen. I suddenly lost my angry gaming edge and wanted to cuddle with fluffy pillows and ride unicorns around rainbow filled sky.

Hello Kitty online seems to catch exactly what young children want. Young kids don't want to throw imaginary pies at flat 2D models in a 3D world. They want a happy and bouncy world full of fun with characters they can relate to.

Characters are fully customizable with chic and in fashion clothing and hair designs, not some floppy eared Daisy Duck or Goofy wannabe imitation that looks like some 8 year old drew it up himself.

The game starts off in the Flower Kingdom and one relief was that it's not just about "fighting" monsters, its more about adventuring and building your own part of the Hello Kitty Universe.

Kids can build their own house, farm, mine, learn skills such as tailoring, cooking and engage in commerce with other players. You can have pets and maintain and furnish your house.

Where Toontown Online is a world locked into itself, Hello Kitty Online is a game world that extends beyond the game and into Sanrio's social networking platform and web services designed specifically for children.

So while most of the MMORPG world is watching and waiting for a WoW KO of Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, my eyes are on the gritty powerstruggle that will ensue between Disney's Toontown Online and Sanrio's Hello Kitty Online.

Just from the pure gayness and pop-culture that surrounds Hello Kitty, my money is riding on Hello Kitty.

To Cheat or Not to Cheat in MMORPG's

Posted by zergwatch Monday February 18 2008 at 9:55AM
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The majority of MMORPG players will claim they have never cheated, hacked or exploited in any way shape or form. Ever. I'm not quite sure how honest the gaming community has been with itself, but I know there is enough demand for powerleveling services, RMT services and websites offering MMORPG cheats and exploits that it has mushroomed into a billion dollar industry over the past few years. I'm not talking about the little white button mushrooms you see at the grocery store either. We're talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki sized WTF mushrooms.

Whether or not in game cheating or exploiting is a good or bad thing does not really matter in today's society. Smoking is a bad thing, yet people do it. Murder is a bad thing, yet it happens every where in the world. When building Zergwatch these past few months, one of the core fundamental issues at hand was whether or not to outlaw or embrace advertisers selling MMORPG or powerleveling services or even cheats and exploits. Whether or not to allow users to post cheats, tips or even exploits.

After long deliberation, we decided that our original goal with Zergwatch was to provide a platform that was based firmly on freedom of information and freedom to share information between gamers. The risks and rewards of cheating in an MMORPG are in place and those who choose to cheat risk account suspension, bans or even scorn and ridicule by their respective gaming community.

What drives people to outsource their gaming play time to third world nations for pennies per hour? To say I have never bought in game gold or used a powerleveling service is like Bill Clinton saying "I did not have sexual relations with that women" or "I did not exhale". To say I have never taken advantage of an in game bug to defeat an opponent, score some extra coin or shortcut some experience is similar to Roger Clemens flat out denying banned substances had nothing to do with his Major League Baseball longevity.

For most MMORPG players, buying gold or powerleveling services is a semi sane means of being able to play and compete in the video game you love, but without having to sacrifice real life commitments such as enjoying time with your family, playing real life sports, vacations and other things that actually do exists outside of your gaming world of choice.

To counter that argument there is a seemingly endless flow of powergamers who either inherited a whole lot of money so they don't have to work or are living in their parent's basement who will argue that if they can get to level XYZ and have the best of everything, so can any casual player. I'm sorry, I had to use the Mom's Basement Cliche, this is a video game blog after all.

The point is should a player who is fortunate, or unfortuntate enough to have exponential amounts of free time to grind and gear shun the person who wants to play, but for whatever reasons, real life circumstances just don't allow it?

The bottom line in this debate is the fundamental design flaw of most MMORPG's where the value of your ingame character directly relates to the amount of time invested playing the game and less on skills and acheivements. There has been a subtle shift as MMORPG publishers are investigate RMT commerce for their games as long as they maintain some level or control. In other words, as long as they profit too.

Another welcoming change is PlayNC's Guild Wars, where players can buy into an end game character that requires minimal time investment from the player.

Currently, the publishers scorn the player who wants to get an edge, but the problem lies squarely on the publisher's inability to craft a system that does not entice such services and practices. It's much easier and cost effective for them to place the blame on the player rather than design game systems that can accomodate video game play styles from across the spectrum. 2008 is still a rather new year and I am very interested in seeing what is in store as we progress with new MMO's on the horizon. I'm hoping somebody, somewhere gets it right in a half way decent game.