I need to get the following thought off of my chest: please stop referring to glossy, high-resolution screenshots, official documents, and trailers as “leaked” materials. Us gamers are not idiots, we know most of the time it is the developer trying to generate hype while maintain the (foolish) facade of not “sharing any crucial information until we are ready”. It seems every time I turn around, there is some new piece of news one of the gaming sites, claiming that the dozen or so 1600×1200, 300 DPI screenshots were leaked. For the love of god!
Here is an example: Leaked Copernicus Screens Look Like a Futuristic World of Warcraft
Are you kidding me? For those of you who are not aware of the Curt Schilling/38 Studios fiasco, here is a brief primer. 38 Studios was formed (originally as Green Monster Games) back in 2006 by former baseball player Curt Schilling. In 2009, 38 Studios even acquired Big Huge Games. Big Huge Games released one of my favorite RPGs this year: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. This helped further establish the groundwork for their ultimate project, codenamed Copernicus, a AAA MMO. Rhode Island promised $75 million dollars to lure 38 Studios to Providence, in exchange for creating jobs. The company defaulted on their latest loan payment, due on May 1. 38 Studios employees were stiffed on their salaries, and now apparently laid off. Harsh words were changed left, right and center, and the future of Copernicus seems bleak indeed.
Please understand that I loved Kingdoms, and I would really like to see Copernicus made and be successful. But this is not a leak. 38 Studios employees should be on mountain tops, screaming about Copernicus, sharing every image, beta video, and juicy morsel of information they can on the MMO. Calling it a leak is just annoying.
So, can we please be adults about this?
My Witch Doctor died a lot in Nightmare. It took some time and painful calibration to figure out how to help him survive, and so I also read a lot of opinion on the class. Interestingly, the one piece of advice I found to be pretty consistent is: “Don’t be lazy, grind. If you are dying a lot, it is not your abilities, play-style, or curve, it is your gear. Don’t be lazy, grind.”
I want to say that WoW has influenced this grind subtext, and that the “Everything Must Take Longer (TM)” has permeated into the core of Diablo 3, but Diablo has always been about the grind. The major change is that you don’t grind to level-cap, you level-cap and then grind to endgame, but the basic structure stays the same. I feel that the grind of WoW may have influenced it a little, as one form of grind influencing another results in a more grind-oriented approach to game design.
For example, I am constantly short on gold in Diablo 3. I have to spend it on repairs, buying new items that are an upgrade for my incredibly squishy Witch Doctor, to upgrade my jeweler and my blacksmith artisans, combining or removing gems, and I have to buy more stash space. I understand that your stash space is permanently unlocked, as are your Artisan abilities for all characters (on the same regional server and not hardcore). But it still means all of that has to be unlocked once, and so (at least) the first character is extremely grind oriented.
Then again, the AH flipper in my tells me I should just play the AH, make a ton of gold, and do whatever the hell I want to after.
What has your experience been?
GameInformer has been bleeding The Elder Scrolls Online information over the last few days. Their preview for the three playable factions included maps of their native zones.
I thought it would be nice to superimpose those maps over one another and figure out what the world of The Elder Scrolls Online might look like, and this is what I came up with. Enjoy!
Tracey Thompson, the PR Lady Extraordinaire (probably not her real title) over at Bethesda Softworks sent out a blast email this afternoon, officially announcing an Elder Scrolls MMO. I know some think this was inevitable and this email almost seems like a sneak attack by Captain Obvious, but I am tingly all over!
The game is being developed for both Mac and PC (/points at consoles, /laughs), under the leadership of one Matt Firor. Further details will be revealed in GameInformer (what is with this magazine and exclusives?) cover story for their June 2012 issue.
For those keeping score, the last Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, was released less than six months ago, and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
I don’t hate publishers. I think hate is a very strong word. But I think the larger a publisher grows, the more it feels it can interfere, influence or even dictate developer decisions, features and timelines. I am probably wrong, but I don’t think a developer has just come out and said it point blank.
Mark Cern, the CEO over at Red 5 Studios, developers of the upcoming F2P MMO Firefall said that the pressures put on the developers by the publishers is death to the video game industry. He cites the very valid example of Riot Games, whose smash hit MOBA game, League of Legends, has no publisher, but has more concurrent users playing it than World of Warcraft. Yes Mark, that is kind of bananas!
I for one salute the man. It takes courage to state in no uncertain terms: “Who needs publishers any more? I certainly don’t. I couldn’t care less about them at this stage”.
I am an MMO player. I have been an avid MMO players for some time, going on nearly 10 years now. I love this genre of video gaming. There is just something very natural and recognizable about a world where unlikely heroes coalesce and cooperate to defeat the larger threat. A world that goes on when you have logged off and gone to sleep. A world which has it’s own heartbeat.
Lately though, I have struggled to try and define for myself what playing an MMO means to me. Is it that you get to play with more than 30 people? Is it that there is a deeper sense of community through guilds/corporations/forces? Is it the ability to meet random people from around the globe with similar interests in gaming? Or is it something deeper?
The MMO genre has grown almost exponentially in the last decade or so. As the genre expanded, it has also evolved and the qualifications for what makes an MMO has also morphed significantly over time. These days almost anything that features a substantially large number of players playing together is called an MMO. The browser-based MMO reared its head, and today MMOs like Battlestar Galactica are approaching 10 million subscribed users.
I think for me an MMO is all about the people playing it, it is about the community, and the connections and relationships you make along the way.
It is the difference between the dread you feeling logging into Team Fortress 2, not knowing what batch of colossal idiots you might be randomly paired with on your team, vs. logging into a group of dedicated individuals that you trust to have your back in that battleground or that dungeon.
It is the difference between 14-year olds getting high on superior reflexes and calling your mother a orge vs. people that genuinely care for your well-being both in-game and in real life.
It is the difference between RNG screwing you over vs. RNG’s attempts foiled by a well-coordinated team of individuals that strive together for a common objective.
It is the difference between knowing that you won the game for your idiot team vs. knowing that unless you had your friends and guildmates sweating and bleeding next to you, you would never have accomplished that particular objective.
For a casual gamer like me, an MMO is a community, a band of brothers from other mothers and sisters from other misters (I had to!). For me, an MMO is about being able to log in, have fun, play to your heart’s content and have a team that backs you up.
For me, MMOs are all about people.