Archive for May, 2010

Funny of the Day: “Sublime Subliminal Sublimation” or “Bad Ads”

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Click to enlarge.

Categories: Comic, In-game Advertising

They Said Whaaat?: “DRM Nazis” or “Michael Pachter Misses The Point”

May 31, 2010 1 comment

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, a fan of the ‘always-online’ DRM,  had the following to say:

“I think anything a publisher does to make sure you don’t rip off their games if their right, and I think that people who steal should be in jail. I welcome the flamer comments on this one; if you think that’s right good for you; we have no interest in your business since you don’t pay for stuff anyway.”

– Michael Pachter, Pach-Attack videocast (Source).

Just two days ago I posted about how I don’t have a problem with the ‘always-on’ format of Ubisoft’s DRM, being an MMO-player. However, I did concede that this is provided Ubisoft’s servers don’t screw up and provide me with the ability to play the game unhindered, as long as I am online.

Mr. Pachter seems to miss this point altogether.

A lot of angst over this form of DRM is due to the fact that a very large number of players were not able to access the content that they paid for. For example, Assassin’s Creed II players were not able to access/play the game because Ubisoft’s servers were down. I agree with taking steps (quite draconian in this case, but a necessary evil from a studio’s point of view) to prevent against digital theft. But if you can’t provide the service you promised while forcing players to be online, you deserve to lose business over it.

It’s the equivalent of buying a box-set at a game outlet, only to realize that you need to plaster the receipt to your forehead while playing it; and even then you can’t access a product you legally purchased, because the studio doesn’t have its act straight.

More than that, just because someone does not agree with this form of piracy, does not make them a pirate by default. because if that were the case, Frank Pearce, a Blizzard Entertainment employee, would be classified as a pirate as well. That categorical statement is more than a little unfounded and baseless.

Care to make a more rational argument Mr. Pachter?

Categories: DRM, They said whaaaat?

They Said Whaaaat?: “Rockstar Games are SrsBusiness!” or “Dad’s is a Terrible Parent!”

May 30, 2010 Leave a comment

“Our games are not designed for young people. If you’re a parent and buy one of our games for your child you’re a terrible parent.”

– Lazlow Jones, Rockstar Games (Source).

My father bought me GTA-IV as a early birthday present. I guess he’s a terrible parent!

Thought of the Day: “Is DRM Really That Big a Deal for MMO Players?” or “The DRaMa Continues”

May 29, 2010 1 comment

As MMO players, we are used to being online on a stable connection constantly in order to have any semblance of a respectable online existence. A solid connection is further necessitated by hardcore raiders, who strive strenuously to conquer end-game content, sometimes for several hours on end. For us, being online without interruption is not just a matter of convenience, it is a prerequisite for the online existence.

This is not to say DRM isn’t without problems. With Ubisoft’s horrendous implementation of their DRM, the horror stories of paying customers being unable to access content, and the stringent penalty for a dropped connection leading to lost progression in the game, its no wonder that the very mention of DRM-based games strike a primal nerve in contemporary gamers.
That being said, and a long-time loyalist for PC games, I have observed the genre devolve owing to rampant piracy hurting sales. The degree of truth in this phenomenon notwithstanding, if DRM can help curb the threat of piracy and bring more studios to release games for the PC instead of exclusive titles for the PS3 or Xbox360, I am all for it.

As an MMO-player, being online, even to play single-player games (if the servers are stable and allow players to play normally), I for one have no issues with it.

Let the flaming commence!

Categories: DRM, MMO Concepts

They Said Whaaat?: “My DRM is Better Than Your DRM” or “Amen to That Brother!”

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

“[DRM is] a losing battle for us. We need our development teams focused on content and cool features, not anti-piracy technology.”

– Frank Pearce, Producer, StarCraft II (Source).

Categories: They said whaaaat?

“10 Questions About the Secret World” or “Funcom Keeps on Sharing!” – Part II

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As promised, the second part of the the-part community-asked Q&A session with one Ragnar Tornquist was released today. Again a lot of information was shared, some of it redundant, and some of the answers were drowning in rhetoric or marketing gibberish. An example is below:

Q: Will Agartha be a variety of environments or purely subterranean caves?
Agartha will be something very surprising and fresh and different – inspired by the myths, built on plenty of research into hidden tomes and forgotten lore, and recreated in a way that’s going to be intriguing both from a gameplay point of view and from a purely aesthetic point of view. We will, in essence, open the gates to one of the world’s strangest, most arcane and most enduring mysteries. But the true nature of Agartha won’t be revealed even at launch: we have much, much more in store.

Notice how smoothly Tornquist avoided the question altogether?

There were, however, some interesting bits and pieces of information. You can read the entire Q&A series further below, or go to The Secret World forums and read it there. You can also find the first part here. But why would you when I have compiled a short list of the most important and interesting tidbits of information in the handy bullet-point list below?

  • PvP will be designed to cater to both large-scale conflicts, and smaller skirmishes to please both organized hardcore PvP’ers and casual players
  • The three factions can band together to fight evil and Barbara Streisand (he probably didn’t mean the Barbara Streisand bit)
  • There will be crafting… or something similar.
  • In groups, different combos can be activated by players using several powers in succession, playing the ‘Holy Trinity’ in TSW will put players at a distinct disadvantage. What I glean from this is that you can play the tank, damage-dealer or healer role exclusively, but only in combining the three roles and further strengthening it with party combos will you achieve your true potential.
  • There is loot. Lots of it. It isn’t wardrobe based, your wardrobe is purely cosmetic, but you will have amulets, rings, necklaces, specific passive powers and even tattoos that will grant you stats. Remember the first CGI trailer Funcom revealed? The tattoos on that Asian came alive as she took on Smiley.
  • Powers can be acquired in many ways, but primarily through purchasing. Go go Capitalism!
  • There will be traditional end-game content. Sort of. *sigh*

Q1: Will Agartha be a variety of environments or purely subterranean caves? (Samsbase)

Agartha will be something very surprising and fresh and different – inspired by the myths, built on plenty of research into hidden tomes and forgotten lore, and recreated in a way that’s going to be intriguing both from a gameplay point of view and from a purely aesthetic point of view. We will, in essence, open the gates to one of the world’s strangest, most arcane and most enduring mysteries. But the true nature of Agartha won’t be revealed even at launch: we have much, much more in store.

Q2: All the PvP in Agartha will be oriented to large cabals (defend or conquest cells), or there will be also some “casual-player friendly” pvp content? (Croshin)

We’ll have both. We’re going to include PvP modes that allow for quick and easy fixes without having to be part of a permanent group or a cabal – although you’ll still be fighting rival secret societies.

Q3: Is TSW’s PvE gameplay design so that PvE players have reason to play after 30 days? (Liliane)

Absolutely. We don’t expect everyone to migrate to PvP after racing through the game’s missions. There will be plenty of reasons to stick around and play for non-PvP players, including – but not limited to – a huge amount of powers to accumulate, achievements, **** and the ********. Oh, sorry, I’m not supposed to talk about those two features yet. We also expect to add content to the game on a regular basis after launch, and the story will continue in content upgrades and expansions.

Q4: Will different secret societies be able to play together in PvE? (Unknown)

Yes. The secret societies may be divided in pursuit of power, but they stand united against evil – at least for as long as strictly necessary. It may only be a friendship of the surface – in more ways than one – but none of the secret societies want to see our world succumb to the darkest of days. After all, if that happens, what’s left to control?

Q5: Is there going to be crafting in TSW and how will it work? (Liliane)

There will be crafting – or something similar – but we haven’t revealed any details yet.

Q6: Is the game still going to focus on a classless skill based system or will it be designed to have players focus on filling different rolls in a group? (Malkov)

Both. Players can create their own hybrids with any combination of powers, but it’ll also be important to put together teams that can function as efficiently as possible. To that end, we’re building combos that require the use of different powers by the various team members, making the choice of powers – and the composition of the team – into a sort of meta-game. I think players gravitate towards specific roles, regardless, but the beauty of our system is that you don’t just have to be a tank; you can also be a damage dealer and a healer. You don’t have to get stuck with one job. Of course, our monsters will also challenge players in new ways. If you play TSW like a purely class-based game, you might find yourself at a disadvantage.

Q7: Martin (Lead Designer) previously mentioned that the game was still item heavy because of the RPG genre, could this be expanded on? How for example will the paper doll be set out so that whilst clothing provides no stats we can still min/max or have progression via items? (Luna)

While clothing has no stats, there are plenty of other things that do – including occult weapons, magic rings and necklaces, ‘passive’ powers and mystical tattoos – and The Secret World will have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of items for players to play around with and configure to their heart’s content.

Q8: And of course this was mentioned already but 300% want to know HOW we will be obtaining skills. Will they be quest rewards, something we learn through grinding “proficiency points” to advance down a skill tree, or will they be something acquired with a WoW-esque “talent points” system? (Quanyin)

Powers are acquired in a couple of different ways, but mainly through purchase. As you gain experience points, you also earn the currency needed to procure new powers – though these powers vary in cost, of course, based on how powerful and unique they are.

Q9: You’ve mentioned before that playing TSW will be like starting at the end-game, because there are no levels. Does this then mean there’s no actual end-game either, because there will always be something new to achieve? (Kasama)

Yes and no. Of course there will be something like the traditional end-game content, since that’s something players enjoy – be it PvP or PvE – but there will also be achievements (and other things) to keep players engaged for – hopefully – years and years. And that’s not counting the content we’ll be releasing post-launch. We have some extremely exciting things in store.

Q10: What kind of incentive is there to kill things apart from just killing them? (loot? knowledge?) i.e: are the rewards more mission based, loot based or something else? (SA_Avenger)

You mean, apart from the pure satisfaction of slaying a powerful demon? Loot, of course; experience; mission rewards; points for (and from) your secret society. The love and appreciation of a world on the brink of the eternal night. What more could you ask for?

Categories: The Secret World

“Live Action Role-Playing” or “Experiential Video Game Theme Park and Resort”

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Via Massively, Game Nation wants to explore a novel concept in MMO gaming: a real-life, customizable game-world ripe with possibility and only limited by your imagination. At least that is what the marketing lingo claims.

“Game Nation™ is the world’s first Experiential Video Game Theme Park and Resort. Visitors will become players as their dreams and fantasies come to life in adventures yet to be told. You will become anything you like and live out the character you create. But this is no game. It’s real!”

Aside from a threadbare website and glimpses of purported grandeur, there is damn near no other information available on the precise details of such an ambitious project. All we know is that over the next 12 months, the company will select the ideal location for said experiment, and obviously we will be updated accordingly via the website and the Twitter account.

While the above seems like a incredibly bloated and preposterously all-encompassing statement, I wonder if there is any truth to the matter. LARPing, or Live-Action Role-Playing has evolved significantly over the years, and we have seen countless examples that go from absolutely, abysmally (happy Milamber?) absurd to incredibly immersive and impressive.

An example of the former category (ridiculousness and context debatable) is as follows:

The later category includes events like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. larping. You can find some images from this event here, and I a posting one below as well.

It is an interesting concept for sure, and it certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt considering its embryonic stage. It will be interesting to see how, in a setting such as this, the developers will deal with the ever-present issue of the illusion of choice. Will ‘players’ (participants?) be given meaningful choices? How will they safeguard against trolling, or the potential damage too much free will can cause in such an ambitious live role-playing arena?

Beyond these concerns, I am also curious to see how successful said experiment will be. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. LARP event above was attended by hundreds of individuals, but that was an isolated incident. How will the developers garner enough attention to ensure the potential player base leaves the comfort of their homes, the Double Big Mac with cheese with large fries with a diet coke, and trek out to wherever they set up and participate in the events. And that too for a (likely) a price.

I’ll keep a close eye on this intriguing new concept, and update here if anything new rears its head.

Categories: Immersion, LARPing, Opinion, Realism