Archive for the ‘Alganon’ Category

“Algalnon Expansion Delayed” or “This Abomination Still Alive?”

April 19, 2012 2 comments

Looks about right!

Anyone still remember the whole Alganon fiasco? Allow me to refresh your memory. After management changes, two separate launches, completely ignoring accusations of how it was a shameless WoW clone, and one of the worst PR campaigns in the history of video gaming, Alganon still stands. And apparently, an expansion was supposed to be released in the near future. What is it called? The Cruning Brusade?

Massively now reports that the team over at QOL is citing “unforeseen circumstances” for why the expansion has been delayed to the fourth quarter. The devs wrote the following in the April newsletter:

“After evaluation of the project, it was decided that more time was needed in order to do some critical bug fixes as well as to spend more time on certain areas and features of the expansion in order to do the best work possible.”

With me so far? But that is not the fun part. The fun part is that one player actually decided to give a blunt, and admittedly bleak evaluation of the state of affairs in Alganon.

First John4 says:

I swear at this point Derek is feeding you these news bites.

Anyway, Alganon, has a long and inglorious history. The problems (other than the current “the expansion is still due Winter 2011 as that runs into March 2012” quote that i *love* from DS) are tantamount to a few things that have been hashed, re-hashed, and microwaved over time.

Derek will mention all the stuff *he’s* done without really giving credit to Padreic and the people actually keeping Alganon a possibly-respectable game. As a current player and payer of MicroTransactions, and as a guild leader of one of the (maybe) three guilds still in game, we play despite Derek, not because of him. The team deserves the credit, not him. Regardless of his “i kept the company afloat” rhetoric.

I also recently learned he hired a PR firm for this new MMO-thing he is developing, and can say with unending confidence they aren’t doing their job. When the guy no one likes is making the majority of statements online about the game, you have failed as a PR company.

Go ahead. Look it up. It’s in the textbook. Page 126. I’ll wait…

At this point, Derek must realize how polarizing a figure he is. Most of my posts on the Alganon forums have been deleted despite me trying to support the game and being one of about 6 people still trying. When you censor your player base from any communication with the devs at all, it won’t end well. I *really* wish Alganon woudl have left itself in Padreic and the team’s hands instead of the dictator, but alas, we all can’t get want we want.

Thus, i’ve been off to another game of late. Good luck, and thanks for all the fish.


Then Derek actually responds:

One day, it is my hope that you will grow tired of posting this same rubbish everywhere you find me posting or talking about Alganon.

As to the giving credit, you must think that the people who developed the game did that in an isolated environment all on their own and with no direction, no planning, no funding. That’s particularly hilarious in and of itself. Especially when you consider the fact that for three years before I even got there, the game was an absolutely mess – as evidenced by the 2009 release. To where the game is now – more than two years later – what do you think changed? That’s right – me taking over the team, leading  it – and FUNDING it.

Stupid internet comments are just that. Stupid.

Yes Derek, stupid internet comments are pretty stupid. Head on over, grab some popcorn, and watch Derek (Not-So) Smart dig a hole that seems to have no finite depth!

Categories: Alganon

Weekly MMO/RPG Crockpot: “Mummies, Super Heroes, Jedi and Revamping Jumpgate” or “BioWare Bonanza, Trine Sequeled and Dungeon Siege 3”

June 12, 2010 1 comment

That’s MMO slash RPG, not MMORPG. Every week all the random bits and pieces of news that I come across regarding my favorite MMOs and RPGs (or at least the ones that have piqued my curiosity) start piling up in the ‘temporary’ section of my bookmarks toolbar. This is an attempt to clean up my bookmarks.

The following is a quick list if you want to skip to something in particular:


  • DC Universe Online Videos
  • Dawntide Beta
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic Dialogue Choices
  • The Mummy Online
  • Jumpgate Evolution Revamped
  • End of Nations Trailer
  • Lord of the Rings Online goes F2P


  • Dungeon Siege 3
  • Mass Effect 2: Overlord DLC
  • Fallout: New Vegas Pre-order Bonuses
  • Trine 2!
  • Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 at E3

Here we go!


DC Universe Online Videos

The developers of DC Universe Online, recently announced to be set free upon the masses in November, released more videos this week than BioWare, and that is quite a feat to accomplish. To start off, we got the DC Universe Online – Inside the Studio – Episode 5 this week, which addresses some key questions about the upcoming MMO, such as, can players create kid heroes in the DC Universe, e.g.: Teen Titans. Not exactly my cup of tea, if you know what I mean, but the video is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

Next up we have a short video misleadingly titled “Life on the Streets”, where the game’s creative director Jens Andersen walks us through the “super speed” power and how it plays out in both traveling through the world, scaling walls and combat. It’s very short, barely under a minute (if you take out the time for the logos etc.), and doesn’t really tell us much of anything. Worth a look, especially if you are a Jay Garrick fan! I thought “Life on the Streets” would be about the living, breathing world. Guess I was wrong!

Finally, we have “The Suicide Slums Travelogue” trailer. It has to do with The Suicide Slums, and it is in trailer format. How apt. Chris Cao, game director, walks us through the ghetto of Metropolis, that location in every major city in the world that the so-called “civilized folk” dare not trespass.  There are a few threads of storyline and lore as it pertains to this section of the city, along with some fairly obvious information such as “villains can use the slums’ shadows to hide, whereas heroes can come to the slums to fight crime.” No shit. Trailer is below, it’s two minutes long, enjoy!

Dawntide Beta

This is old news at this stage, considering Eliot Lefebvre already posted about it well over two weeks back. But I caught wind of it just now, so I am going to talk about it. If you have a problem with it, go read another blog you pansy! (Yes I am having a weird day.) On May 31st, that would be exactly two weeks ago, the game went into open beta.

Dawntide stands out from the crowd because its central premise promises the creation of towns, cities, societies, cultures and the whole world of Dawntide based solely on player input. This concept is very intriguing to me, and I have yet to come across a game where player interaction shapes the world categorically. A small example would be the manner in which the Wintergrasp battle is fought in Wrath of the Lich King. One team defends the fort, whereas the other assaults is with siege vehicles, trying to take down the walls which will allow them entry into the inner sanctum. Once the final wall to the fortress itself has been breached, the game is over. The tower cap also works, especially if your faction far out numbers the enemy.

Battles of this scale and scope occur all over WAR, I am sure, as towns are captured and bases razed, but as Eliot points out, “PvP” is far too often regarded synonymous with “sandbox”. I hope Dawntide focuses on player input through social interaction and world questing to shape its lands, and not how hard can you stab the next guy. Whether it actually happens remains to be seen.

I will be trying out the Dawntide open beta with in the week, and post more thoughts here.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Dialogue Choices

BioWare has long touted story and character development as the fourth pillar in MMOs as one of its major strengths. Well that is until Derek Smart came along, and left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Way to go douchebag.

Anyway, in a prior developer walk-through, BioWare explained how their NPC dialogue options were deep, engaging and laden with all manners of choice. These choices, they have now revealed, go beyond the cookie-cutter good and evil, and also delve into the flirty, whimsical, or purely cosmetic to accommodate for a greater set of play-styles and personalities. What I find really cool about the whole affair is that the dialogue options will vary for each class, allowing specific responses that may be tailored to reflect the class and lore. In addition, when grouped, multiple players will be able interact with the conversation, advancing the structured and segmented dialogue tree.

We already know SW:TOR has over 50 novels worth of dialogue and story written for it, and more is being added every day, and that every NPC in the game is fully voice-acted. So this comes as an added benefit, and one that I am really looking forward to.

Here is a quick poll, and your participation is kindly requested.

The Mummy Online

Branden Fraser is to mummies what Francis, Louis, Zoey and Bill are to zombies.  With three movies shot on the premise of ancient mummies, and a spin-off starting he who dares you to smell what the rock is cooking, I suppose it was only a matter of time before there was an MMO spin-off. The game will be set in the 1930’s and feature both player versus environment and player versus player opportunities.

Universal’s Bill Kispert had this to say:

“The Mummy franchise is chock full of exotic settings, supernatural enemies, exciting quests, and over the top action. It is ripe with gameplay possibilities, and we look forward to extending our relationship with Bigpoint to bring the world of The Mummy to life for gamers.”

There you have it, as generic a launch statement as it gets which can be summed up as follows: “We think this is a cool idea, you should too.” For the record, unless I see something groundbreaking, and despite my affinity for mummies, this is likely the last time I will post about this title!

You can find more about the game at it’s official website.

Jumpgate Evolution Revamped

I am a huge fan of the Jumpgate series, so it always pains me to see the game go through so many delays. In fact, next month will mark a full year since the original estimated release date of July 2009. With deafening silence from the developer for the last several weeks, fans of the series were finally given a questionable ray of light. Executive Producer Lance Robertson wrote a detailed forum post on the game’s development.

So what is with all the delays? Apparently the development team has scrapped most of the gameplay elements in the game and replaced them completely with a new vision for what the game should act and play like. Good news I suppose, considering it will always be better to have a game revamped and restructured prior to release and not after (*cough* Alganon *cough*). This does, however, imply that the game will be inevitably delayed even further.


End of Nations Trailer

Here is a novel concept: an MMORTS. Developer Petroglyph has been working on this game for a while, and there was an interview I came across on Bitmob that shed some much-needed light on the title. Petroglyph’s Mike Legg, alongwith the core of Petroglyph, has been working on the RTS genre tracing back to Westwood’s genre-defining Command and Conquer series, and even as far back as Dune 2.

In true E3 fashion, and in order to create some hype for the title, a launch title was revealed. The title itself sets up the storyline of the game, but does not give actual gameplay footage or indication of what to expect. Good watch for the lore and background buff, terrible watch for the anyone looking for massive armies wreaking havoc on the battlefield. I fall squarely in the former category, so I thoroughly enjoyed the trailer, lack of in-game footage notwithstanding.

Lord of the Rings Online goes F2P

This is likely the biggest news in this bunch, but it has been covered to death by Rubi Bayer over at Massively, so head on over to get all the juicy details. They also sat with the development team over at Turbine for an in-depth interview.


Dungeon Siege 3

Dungeon Siege holds a special place in my heart, and that is because I absolutely loved the first one, and absolutely detested the second one. The first one needs to be put on a pedestal with a Parabolic Aluminized Reflector spotlight above it, whereas the second one needs to be fed to a pack of wild dogs, pissed upon, and buried six feet under. The first was a work of art, set in a unique world filled with mystery and twitch-based combat, whereas the second was a piece of crap so vile I couldn’t bear to get past the first few hours without throwing up. The first… well… you get the idea.

Anyway, DS3’s developers released some screenshots from the game that look suspiciously like artwork. You be the judge.

Mass Effect 2: Overlord DLC

In three days, that is June 15, 2010, the Mass Effect 2 universe will see it’s latest DLC addition in the form of Overlord. The DLC features a rogue AI and Commander Shepard’s race against time (why is always against time?) to stop it. The DLC will feature five missions set on the same planet, interspersed with more driving in the Hammerhead.

Shepard’s latest exploit will cost you a whopping 560 points, which is approximately $7. Pricey? You betcha! Worth it? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

Fallout: New Vegas Pre-order Bonuses

Walmart, Best Buy, GameStop, Amazon and Steam are all offering some extensive lists of exclusive content if you decide to line their pockets with your hard-earned doubloons. Here is a full list:

The Classic Pack, available when you pre-order through GameStop, contains:

  • Armored Vault 13 Suit – Extensively patched up and dotted with piecemeal armor, this outfit is an homage to the classic ending of the original Fallout.
  • Vault 13 Canteen – This handy device is useful for staving off dehydration and providing a small amount of healing in the Mojave Wasteland.
  • Weathered 10mm Pistol – A well-worn 10mm pistol that packs an extra punch despite its modest size.
  • 5 Stimpaks – Food and water are good for long-term healing, but when the fighting is fierce, Stimpaks help keep Wastelanders upright.

The Tribal Pack, available when you pre-order through Amazon, contains:

  • Tribal Raiding Armor – Pieced together from scraps of armor, this outfit provides protection without impacting mobility.
  • Broad Machete – This heavy-bladed melee weapon does high damage against limbs and can quickly deal out a flurry of attacks.
  • 5 Bleak Venom doses – Useful on any Melee Weapon, Bleak Venom makes short work of most living targets.
  • 10 Throwing Spears – If you would like to silently pin an enemy’s head to a wall, Throwing Spears are the way to do it.

The Caravan Pack, available when you pre-order through Steam and Walmart, contains:

  • Lightweight Leather Armor – This hand-modified suit of leather armor reduces its overall weight without impacting its ability to protect.
  • Sturdy Caravan Shotgun – Despite its rough appearance, this Caravan Shotgun will reliably fire 20 gauge shells until the Brahmin come home.
  • 4 Repair Kits – Useful for repairing any outfit or weapon, Repair Kits are a valuable tool for any caravaner.
  • Binoculars – The Mojave Wasteland is a dangerous place, but with these trusty Binoculars you’ll be able to spot trouble coming.

The Mercenary Pack, available when you pre-order through Best Buy, contains:

  • Lightweight Metal Armor – Modified for long-range travel, this Metal Armor sacrifices some protection for mobility and overall weight.
  • Mercenary’s Grenade Rifle – Though similar to other 40mm Grenade Rifles in the Mojave Wasteland, this model has a faster reload cycle.
  • 3 Super Stimpaks – When you absolutely, positively, need to keep your blood inside your body, Super Stimpaks fix you up in no time.
  • 3 Doctors Bags – Mercenaries and broken limbs go together like Iguana-on-a-Stick and Nuka Cola. Thankfully, these Doctors Bags take a bit of sting out of the inevitable crushed skull.

I personally like the Mercenary Pack, but considering there is no best Buy within, well, a few countries of my geographical location, I suppose my doubloons are only good enough for Steam’s Caravan Pack.

Trine 2!

Trine was a fantastic platformer. It was innovative, varied and presented you with a plethora of challenges that tested both your wits and your ability to pay attention to your surroundings. Despite the obvious solution, the game actually allowed you multiple solutions to almost every puzzle situation, which is why it stood out from the crowd.

Trine 2 has now been announced. That is all I have to report now. I will post more as more is (inevitably) uncovered at E3, but this title has my undivided attention. I just hope it isn’t like the Dungeon Siege sequel.

Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 at E3

Take a look at the following floor plan from E3 2010, courtesy of Kotaku. There really isn’t any additional information, but I am siure more will surface as E3 marches on.

They Said Whaaaat?: “Derek Not-So-Smart” or “Will Someone Shoot This MMO in the Face Already?” – Part III

May 11, 2010 Leave a comment

First, go read the latest controversy involving the comedy team MMO team over at Quest Online, creators of Alganon.

There is only one response to the forum post where Derek Smart denounces the plagiarism accusations by someone called Soulos, and it reads:

Who gives a tit.

Keep up the good work Alganon. 🙂

I guess you will have fanboys for anything these days!

“Derek Not-So-Smart” or “Will Someone Shoot This MMO in the Face Already?” – Part II

May 11, 2010 2 comments

But since the team at Quest Online has decided that there is no end to their virtual stupidity, the conclusion to this was this forum post. I encourage you to click that and go read the first few lines by Derek Smart, the laughing stock of the MMO community.

In said forum post, Derek Smart manages to:

  • Belittle Kill Ten Rats for being a ‘little known blog site’
  • Call an ‘unprofessional’ website that writes (/sarcasm on) ‘news’ (/sarcasm off)
  • Claim this is mere accusation, not fact
  • … and shrug off the blame to his PR company anyway, claiming they made the mistake and he just ‘looked it over’

Is there no end to his madness?

Categories: Alganon, Controversy

“Derek Not-So-Smart” or “Will Someone Shoot This MMO in the Face Already?”

May 10, 2010 1 comment

The fact the new grand poobah over at Quest Online, ‘creators’ of Alganon, is called Derek Smart is irony personified. After his senseless tussles with the previous head-honcho, David Allen and bloated talks of revamping Alganon to move away from the ‘WoW-clone’ mentality, you’d think Derek would smarten up. But that is probably asking for too much. The honorable Mr. Smart has outdone himself by publishing a press release that copies, word for word, a two-year-old press release from BioWare to promote Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Ethic over at Kill Ten Rats caught this most shamefully blatant form of plagiarism and idiocy, thereby writing another chapter in the hilarious saga of all things Alganon.

Here is an excerpt that is of particular interest from his press release, dated Wednesday, April 28, 2010:

Traditionally, massively multiplier online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,’ Derek Smart continued. ‘In Alganon, in addition to these we’ve added the fourth pillar to the equation; a story. We delivered a fun, immersive adventure that gamers expect in a top quality massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, we’re not done yet.”

Nearly two years, BioWare released the same document, and I personally remember it because of the ‘fourth pillar’ argument below, dated October 21, 2008:

“Traditionally, massively multiplayer online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and General Manager/CEO of BioWare and General Manager/Vice President of Electronic Arts Inc., “In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we’re fusing BioWare’s heritage of critically-acclaimed storytelling with the amazing pedigree of Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and adding a brand-new fourth pillar to the equation – story. At the same time, we will still deliver all the fun features and activities that fans have come to expect in a AAA massively multiplayer online game.”

For shame Mr. Smart, for shame!

Categories: Alganon, Controversy

“All Gone Not” or “David Allen Strikes Back!”

April 15, 2010 4 comments

Alganon lumbers on like some aged soap opera. The producers of this soap opera haven’t had a look at the ratings in a while to come to the realization that it needs to be shut down. Like now.

The newly (self)appointed head of Quest Online, Derek Smart, known for his [/sarcasm on] unrivaled subtlety and decency [/sarcasm off] has, on an occasion or two, called his predecessor David Allen incompetent and incapable of producing a quality product. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on regarding the controversy at Quest Online (or if you are anywhere near the fence), the fact that David Allen never retorted properly does strike as a little odd.

Earlier in the week however, David Allen lashed out against Derek Smart, in a somewhat delayed attempt to reattain some of the lost dignity:

“Mr. Smart began a smear campaign attacking my credibility, first privately among the investors, and then publicly. As many have read on various internet websites, Mr. Smart has made disparaging remarks concerning my professional work and comments that could lead others to question my loyalty, honesty, and ability to successfully create, build, run, and manage a multi-million dollar MMOG development company; something I have been doing successfully for over four years.”

Massively reports that Mr. Allen has also filed a civil suit against Mr. Smart for indulging in said smear campaign. In his defense, Derek Smart has been more than a little harsh and quite vocal about the professional capability of David Allen.

The irony of Derek’s last name being ‘Smart’ is deeper than the hole Alganon has found itself in as of late.

Categories: Alganon, Controversy, Opinion

They Said Whaaaat?: “Derek Smarted!” or “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same”

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

“The Dec 1st launch of the game should never have happened. It was a mistake that has not only cost the company money but has also cost people their jobs and put an otherwise exceptional product at risk.”

– Derek Smart, President, QOL, forum statement

Exceptional product? Really?

EDIT: Damn, Syp beat me to it!

“Alganon Woes” or “Leadership Shuffle”

March 11, 2010 3 comments

You know an MMO has trouble when controversial news about the title and the drama in its forums are a lot more entertaining than the content itself.

David Allen has bailed the flaming wagon that refuses to stop for a reality check, and keeps on rolling down that hill into a cesspool of oblivion and destruction (or, the artist former known as Alganon)!

The game recently switched to a F2P model, immediately following a statement from Mr. Allen categorically claiming the game will never, under any circumstances, switch to an F2P model. I am assuming that caused some level of conflict between the president and the management in general.

The new guy in charge is Derek Smart. If that sounds familiar, its because Mr. Smart is notorious for his innate ability to take any critique to his work, and his unsatisfiable need to, in his own words, piss people of for no good reason because he is having a good day and wants to start trouble. You go girl!

Stay tuned for more coverage from the [/sarcasm on] greatest MMO launch of all time [/sarcasm off], as the truth, which is most assuredly stranger than fiction, continues to unravel.

Categories: Alganon

“Well That Took Long” or “Alganot”

March 4, 2010 2 comments

Starting Monday, effective immediately, Quest Online has decided to shift from a subscription-based to a free-to-play model.

For me, the most interesting statement is the following:

“There is a difference between Free to Play (F2P) and Subscription Free (SF). F2P gives the client away so there is zero barrier of entry. This creates a game world where anyone can just come in and do their thing. The drawback is the lack of controlling troublemakers and defining the general social maturity of a game.

We decided to keep the purchase price to prevent Alganon from being saturated by gamers who have no investment in the game they are playing. Even though we are subscription free most gamers prefer to play with others who are committed to the game to some degree.”
– Alganon Team, Press Release

The reasoning has some rationale, but it’s still a little flimsy. A mere three months after launch, Alganon decides to switch to an F2P model. Perhaps the decision is more closely tied with the inability to retain a loyal customer base. You know, due to the fact that the playerbase may finally be in tune with the fact that this is, after all, a watered down, rehashed version of another MMO, the name of which I quite forget now. But that is mere conjecture.

This does spark a few interesting questions. Is this truly the future of MMO gaming? Is the MMO player-base turning increasingly casual? In a hyper-competitive market is the ever-expanding choice of multi-genre titles more of a curse, than it is a golden opportunity to tap into an existing market.

But then I think of the hype around titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic and wonder if the fault lies with the developers who to try to adhere strictly to tried and tested formulas instead of focusing on innovation, novelty and inventiveness. The fact of the matter is that contemporary MMOs suffer from a the rigors and pressures of surviving a market dominated by a few select titles that all follow the same base formula. Deviation from this formula not only implies challenging the norms that the playerbase is most used to, it also makes for a poor business decision, especially if the sustainability of the title is responsible for a series of continued paychecks.

Which brings us to paradoxical impasse. Should developers try and focus their energies on the pre-established conventions and try to milk the existing market through content and gameplay elements that feel ‘natural’ to a rapidly maturing MMO audience; or should they focus on challenging these conventions and take risks to ensure they stand out from the crowd and build a upon their edge through innovation.

If you play Alganon, and you throughly enjoy the experience, all the more power to you. But it does beg the question, does blatantly ripping off an ultra-successful franchise an advisable option, or one that will eventually lead to poor retention and only short-term gains?

Categories: Alganon, Opinion

They Said Whaaaat?: “Crap on a Cracker” or “Alganon Blues”

December 2, 2009 3 comments

“Keep giving us that Crap on a Cracker. I’m beginning to get use to the taste.”

Cadfael, Alganon Forums

Thought of the Day: “Alganon Launches” or “Price Slashes”

December 1, 2009 2 comments

Alganon launches today. On launch day, the prices for both the game itself, and the monthly subscription were slashed to $19.99, and $9.99 respectively.

That should go over well with the people that bought the game full price!

Anyone playing the game? First impressions? I am dying to know what the one-month added development cycle did for the game!

Categories: Alganon

“Novelty vs. Nostalgia ” or “Innovation vs. Stagnation”

November 6, 2009 1 comment

Micheal Denny heads Sony’s Worldwide Studios Europe (yes, a Worldwide studio for Europe). Speaking at Develop Liverpool yesterday, he says new intellectual properties (IPs) are necessary for the gaming business to thrive and to counter stagnation. He talked about a ot of other things as well, and you can read the full article here. But we will work with just the statement above.


It sounds like a fairly generic, obvious statement. Novelty and innovation go hand-in-hand with memorable experiences and awe-inspiring moments that challenge the very norms that define us as gamers.

But the truth of the matter goes deeper than that.


There are several new IPs in the last few years that have redefined genres, challenged existing modus operandi, and experimented with pre-existing formulas that both surprised and entertained. Mirror’s Edge and Assassin’s Creed are two examples that capitalized on the parkour phenomenon and introduced it, albiet with varying degrees of success, into the gaming arena. Assassin’s Creed’s repetitiveness aside, no other game allowed you to race parkour-style across rooftops, weaving, dodging, jumping, climbing through densely populated cityscapes with the same satisfying fluidity.


Another example is Left 4 Dead. It capitalized on America’s necrotic (necro-erotic?) fascination with the undead, and elevated it to breathtaking heights. (Literally. Remember ‘No Mercy’?) At the most basic level, you find weapons, you shoot things, you heal, you get from point A to point B. But the whole experience was moulded in a way that fed our most primal instincts when faced with near-impossible odds, and structured to reward teamwork rather than the ever-present lone-wolf gameplay. In short, it was the first memorable and lasting IP to explore the zombie genre, and it did so with elegance and style.


Then there are games which mix and match pre-defined and functionally distinct elements of the the gaming macrocosm, and produce something that is simultaneously fresh, yet oddly familiar. Borderlands, a first person role playing shooter game, is a great such example. Although I have some reservations with the game, it has challenged industry norms and brought to life interesting, deviating ways of combining age-old gameplay elements to create a fresh, unique experience.


Innovation even applies to taking the same old concept and applying a fresh twist to it, be it story, gameplay, control or any other aspect that defines the game for what it is. Dragon Age: Origins released three days ago in the U.S. It unlocks for me today (about bloody time). Although I have not played the game yet myself (not that it stops me from shamelessly singing praises about the it), I rest assured because industry veterans, reviewers, bloggers and players are awash with praise. Although BioWare is weaving a tale that the fantasy RPG genre is over-saturated with, Dragon Age: Origins’ “story is rich and engaging, the characters are memorable, and the journey is one that pulls you in, captivates you and compels you to move forward toward the conclusion.” In other words, despite utilizing a familiar setting, the game is designed to surprise fanss of the genre and throw elements into the mix that are both unexpected and against the grain.


Then there are games that innovate and surprise you in ways you never thought possible. Because prior to these games, the genre to which they belong simply didn’t exist. I am talking about Braid. There were moments where I just stopped, and stared at the screen in awe at how much love and energy and effort they had put into something so elementary and simple. A straight-forward platformer was transformed into a cerebral masterpiece that enthralled, amazed, and made you stop dead in your tracks.


And for any fan of Valve, the cake always was, and always will be, a lie. Can you think of any other game that made you fall in love with an inanimate cube?

There are countless other examples, but the bottom line is that innovation is what drives the industry forward, gives us novel, unexpected, at times mind-bending IPs to play, and justifies Micheal Denny’s statement. Mr. Denny may be striving for the Captain Obvious title, but he certainly drives the point home. However, that is only part of the story.


On the contrary, nostalgia plays a big factor in attracting an already dedicated fan base to a new iteration of an old IP. Warcraft, Command and Conquer, Metal Gear Solid, Diablo, Splinter Cell, Max Payne, Grand Theft Auto, Halo (and many, many more) are all examples of great games that relied on nostalgia and the success of the inaugural titles to attract additional revenue.


Click to enlarge. Courtesy of Bad Pie Bakery.

World of Warcraft is a global phenomenon. With the entire population of Earth, Vulcan, Tattoine and Caprica (that hurt your head?) acquired as the player base of the ever-popular MMO, Blizzard has created a behemoth that is practically impossible to dethrone. ‘The next WoW’ has been applied to countless MMOs released since, and none have achieved the success (at least in numbers and subscriptions) that WoW enjoys to this very day. I can’t help but wonder if the game would have been this successful if prior Warcraft titles had not existed. Would it be laughed upon? Would it be degraded as a shameless clone (I am looking at you Alganon!)? Would it never take off the ground? Or would everything remain the same? Regardless of the level of success WoW would enjoy in this alternate reality, my patented sixth sense tells me it would be nowhere near the level of success WoW is today, had it not been for the millions of avid followers of the IP.


The Call of Duty series is an interesting case study because it applies to both the novelty and the nostalgia sides of the argument. On the one hand, the series has capitalized on a massive base of rabid followers ever since the first Call of Duty hit the market. On the other hand, the series was redefined with Modern Warfare, a title that needs little introduction and speaks volumes about the level of innovation and effort that went into redefining this classic series on a whole new level.


The third rendition Max Payne, for the lack of a better word, looks weird. Max is fat, balding, in South America, and a mercenary for hire. It is almost as if someone designed a new game, and someone else stamped it with the Max Payne IP and course-corrected everything accordingly. But as a fan of the original Max Payne and it’s fantastic sequel, I know for a fact I will buy and play this game. I will not care what the reviews say, or what the screenshots look like, or how far removed Max will be from the familiar New-York-world-weary-cop setting. I will play this game with all the enthusiasm and wonder that I played the first two games with. I will remain loyal to this IP regardless of the vicissitudes of passing years or changing studios.


But the nostalgia factor isn’t limited to rehashing old game IPs in a new light. It also applies to leveraging a tried and true formula, rather than an IP. Consider Knights of the Old Republic. The game took the RPG formula BioWare has essentially and effectively perfected, and combined it with the nostalgic fan base of the Star Wars universe. Yes it was a pre-existing IP, but one that was not leveraged in the RPG gaming industry as such. The result was a product that won grand slam titles, scored high in every category, provided a fresh setting and gameplay, and secured its place as a classic for some time to come.

The most recent of these examples is Torchlight. The graphics looks cartoonish and severely dated. There are only three classes. And it ends too quickly. But it is an incredible experience, offers smooth gameplay and feeds on the far-reaching and widespread Diablo nostalgia that the gaming media has made no effort to hide.


One step forward, two steps back. Two steps forward, one step back.

What started as a ‘Thought of the Day’ post has turned into a 1,500 word piece juxtaposing novelty against nostalgia in contemporary gaming. In the end, I suppose I agree with Mr. Denny, but only in that his statement paints just part of the picture. Nostalgic experiences and revisited IPs are just as important to the genre as novelty and innovation. And in select cases, they can work hand-in-hand to create an unforgettable masterpiece.

Do you guys agree? Which side of the fence are you on? Can you think of some other examples that apply to the two dismetric opposites above?

“Bad Day to be an Alganonian” or “Tackling the Tough”

November 4, 2009 1 comment

This isn’t a good week to be associated with Alganon, developed by Quest Online. After some tough love from the blogger community and some hard-hitting feedback, president and co-founder of Quest Online, David Allen, delayed launch by a month to work out some of the kinks, and decided to give Massively an interview.

Maybe the game is cursed because even the folks over at Massively came under fire for throwing what readers of the blog describe as ‘curve balls’ at Mr. Allen. You can read the full interview here.


The following are some interesting, albeit harsh and painfully blunt comments from readers on the interview and about Alganon in general. I tried to include some positive or neutral comments, but they were… hard to come by.

“Wait… what the hell kind of interview was this? Hi, you mind if we fluff up your really terrible game and make it seem like it’s okay? You didn’t ask why the UI was an exact copy of the WoW UI, including the achievement pane which Alganon doesn’t even use? Or why the Families System is nothing more than an extra chat channel? Or what his actual reasoning was for offering pre-orders for the game under the NDA only to take that money and push the beta back a month? Or even how a company with limited resources plans to push out an expansion once every 6 months?”
– Darzin

“Stop throwing easy balls at devs. Give them some hard questions, the ones we really want answers to.”
– Clockwork

“I pre-ordered this game because I thought it looked really neat, the process to set up my subscription was really painful and required actually getting in contact with their head customer support person. From there I downloaded the game, went through the patching process, rolled a Mage and I found out in the first 5 minutes that this game was complete and utter crap.”
– Phil

“This game is basically a subpar, clunky, ugly WoW clone with none of the polish or charm. I’m amazed that they haven’t been sued by Blizzard; maybe it’s *just* different enough to avoid a lawsuit.”
– Iggy

“I remember reading on the forums that one of the continents used to be called “Asheroth”, and when called out on it, David Allen defended it by saying that he had the idea for Asheroth before WoW came out, nevermind the fact that, as far as I can remember, Warcraft’s world has been called Azeroth since the beginning, almost 20 years ago”
– Iggy

“Blatant rip off is blatant.”
– breezer

“I really will never understand why people take so much time out to bash a game. I have not played this game or WoW for that matter but the game has not even come out and its all doom and gloom. Sad place we are in, sad.”
– Itoao

“I still cant believe why this awesome site, is covering such a subpar blatant ripoff of WoW, and not even asking hard questions.”
– Wonderwyrm

“It’s their job to be diplomatic, even though it’s probably as obvious to them (the Massively journos) what the problems are there. A little diplomacy and *choke* politeness *choke* allows them to keep covering the game into its future, whether that coverage is more probing or not, or whether that future is as short as we all suspect it to be or not. Leave the vitriolic anger to us. Which we do so well.”
– Neurotic

“I must say that after beta testing this game it needs months and months of more fine tuning.”
– Raven7680

“It’s hard for me to say a game sucks… but this game is absolutely NOT worth paying a subscription for.”
– Rawry

Massively is a solid website, and has been my favorite source for MMO news for some time. So it was no surprise when they took the readers’ comments to heart, approached Quest Online with a new plan, and announced that they would ask David Allen the hard hitting questions.. asked by the readers themselves.

robot spider

You can find the details of this upcoming interview here. If you’d like to ask a question (I believe the limit is one question per person), send an email to shawn AT massively DOT com by Friday, Nov. 6, by 8 am East Coast time with the subject line “Alganon questions.”

Let’s see Mr. Allen dodge this (hail of) bullet(s). 🙂

Categories: Alganon

“Final Beta” or “Maybe We’re All Wrong About This”

November 4, 2009 1 comment

Alganon, developed by Quest Online, has announced its open beta event launching on November 11, 2009. This is the final stage of testing before the game launches on December 1, 2009.


President and co-founder of Quest Online, David Allen had this to say:

“Alganon is what players have been waiting for. All one needs to do is play during the Open Beta to find out.”

Head over to Aglanon’s announcement page for additional details, and how to download the test client.

Categories: Alganon

“Requisite Retort” or “Infringement Initiated”

November 3, 2009 2 comments

Quest Online, the developers of the upcoming (and now delayed) Alganon have come under some fire recently from the blogger community. They recently had a chat with the folks over at Massively. President and Co-Founder David Allen answered (dodged) a bunch of questions regarding the MMO. One statement in particular stood out to me.

“I’m not upset we’re being compared to the most successful multi-billion dollar MMOG [WoW] on the market.”
– David Allen, President and Co-Founder, Quest Online



See anything familiar? (Click to enlarge)

Oh really? Maybe that is because everything in your game, including graphics and the smallest UI elements, are shamelessly copied from WoW. Hey-oh! 😛


You can read the full interview here, if you are so inclined.

Categories: Alganon, World of Warcraft

“MMO Cloning Technology” or “MMOwned”

October 28, 2009 3 comments

Alganon is a name I came across occasionally in the last few weeks. It is a new MMO being developed by Quest Online, originally slated for a release on October 31, 2009.

The game was previewed by the guys over at That’s a Terrible Idea, as well as Tobold and Eldergoth. And the verdict was resoundingly unanimous: Alganon simply sucks.

Evizaer on That’s a Terrible Idea says: “Alganon is a great example of how to make an MMO that has no chance of success: it copies without perfecting, it adds without improving.” Tobold words are not much different. He sums up the game in the simplest terms: “Alganon is just plain bad.” You can also read Eldergoth‘s detailed and painfully honest (p)review here if you are looking for a much more in-depth look.

I haven’t played the game myself, but the overwhelmingly negative feedback prompted me to look up the MMO, and see what all the fuss was about. In that regard, I suppose their FAQ turned out to be a gold mine. Here are a few nuggets:

“With all of the features, technology and design going into ALGANON, the only thing that will pull you to our game is what it ultimately becomes.”

failtrainAll aboard the fail train. (Note: we will simply ignore the million graphics and UI issues brought about by ‘all the technology’ for the sake of keeping this about 7,000 words shorter). If the ‘only thing’ serving as a selling point for your game is what the game will eventually become, you have failed in just about every category that judges your abilities as an MMO developer. In addition, Alganon charges nearly the same amount as any high-end, mainstream MMO, and requires a monthly fee. Given the sheer lack of polish, and the unabashedly scathing previews from bloggers and industry veterans alike, it is surprising to see Alganon move the release date from October 31 to December 1st. As if an added month of development will magically fix the plethora of issues identified.

It’s a sure shot recipe for disaster, and Quest Online is hell-bent on drowning in the misery of their own creation, the sooner the better!

“Who is your target audience?”
“Any gamer who wishes to be immersed in a large-scale fantasy world where they will have fun, build customized powerful avatars, interact with a virtual community, and explore a vast world of creatures, companions, interesting secret locations, and much more.”

And grandmothers with arachnophobia and a secret fetish for oatmeal raisin cookies. Oh and dead people.

“How large is the world?”
“The continents of Ardonya and Harraja are huge! The domain of Asheran Forest, for example, is larger than the entire playable space of some other games. Many of these areas will be opened up sometime after release, allowing a progression for your character’s exploration long after you begin your journeys.”

frigginhugeAre they *this* huge or *THIS* huge? Asheran Forest being larger than the entire playable space of some other games is a dubious statement since ‘other games’ is as broad a definition as it can get. Incidentally these boast-worthy areas will be open ‘sometime after release’, implying that any sado-masochist willing to fork over $39.99 is buying an incomplete, gimped game where even content you paid for will be kept locked till the developers feel like releasing it to you.

Here is another stellar example of marvelously generalized statements that are about as vague as… something. (Get it?)

“What kind of environments and creatures will I encounter in my journeys through the world?”
“There is a huge amount of variety in the terrains offered in Alganon.”

But at the end of the day, the one thing that baffled me is as follows:

“The core game is designed for single players to have a rich and fulfilling experience on their own if they choose….”

wherethefiseveryoneThis is in the FAQ’s of an MMO. Enough said.

Edit: As reader Leto pointed out, this could simply imply that the game does not force you to group. But there is a clear and present difference between forcing you not to group and encouraging you to stay solo. Champions Online is one great example. The game at no point blatantly tells you to go at it solo, but it is designed in a way that encourages solo play and subtly takes away the choice of grouping. If the same is the case with Alganon, in their pursuit to provide single players a ‘rich and fulfilling’ experience, then once again they have failed to meet basic objectives.

It really says something about the game when you can conclusively and concretely establish that it will not be worth your time, effort, energy or money, despite having invested nay a single second of playtime in it. Perhaps this will serve as a deterrent case study for Quest Online, and budding MMO development studios.

Categories: Alganon, Review