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Weekly MMO Crockpot: “APB, RIFT, WoW” or “LOTRO, GW2, and a Very Secret World”

January 11, 2011 6 comments

Every once in a while I accumulate too many things in my reader that I want to talk about, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Most often I just end up deleting those things after a week or so, and other times, I just mash them together in a crockpot and put up this post. Now granted this isn’t a weekly segment by any definition, but it helps me square away a plethora of information that I think is important enough to share.

APB Closed Beta Information

APB was a great, ambitious project gone horribly awry. Mere months after launch it was shut down due to a wide range of issues and acquired by GamersFirst. The game will now ship as an F2P MMO titled APB Reloaded. A twitter post last week claimed that closed beta could begin as early as February. You can sign up here. I avoided this title because of… well… I suppose you could call it intuition, or sixth sense. Some prefer to call it lessons learned from open beta! I played the game for a few level pre-launch, and I knew right there and then that it needed some serious re-tweaking. Milamber tried it, I don’t think he’s too happy about the eventual outcome. That’s a good amount of money down Realtime Worlds’ bankrupt gullet!

CEO Bjorn Book-Larsson, in his latest blog post claims that nearly 20,000 people have signed up for the beta, and they expect to leverage the input from 6,000 to 8,000 players during the first round. Bad news for fans/players of the original title though: nothing will carry over from the original game, even if you had the highest level character. Sorry! Here’s to hoping the second time around will be met with boast-worthy success.

RIFT Launch Date and Design Principles

Rift will launch on March 1, 2011. WoW. I did not expect that. Given that they are just going through their closed betas, I honestly expected the game not to launch any point before the summer. I guess they are a lot more ready than I imagined. More accurately, they believe that they are a lot more ready than I imagined. So Rift hits in March. Will it be the next WoW-kil- oh forget it!

There are countless unwritten rules for creating an MMO world that successful designs in past games have impressed upon the entire industry. No monsters on the roads; never stop the player from questing or doing what he plans to do; group content should always be separate from solo content. While I will acknowledge that these sorts of rules of thumb are the guidelines that we designers live by, challenging them is where we have found a lot of success in RIFT.”

Will Cook, Trion Worlds’ content designer for Rift (RIFT?), RIFT challenges unwritten rules of the genre in a new dev diary, Massively.com

1. We like it when you surprise us. We don’t it when you surprise us with something that we can’t even wrap our heads around.

2. Is it Rift or RIFT? And wasn’t it Planes of Telara at some point? Or Excalibur Tractor or something?

What the WoW?

In shocking news of the week (not really though), Cataclysm sold 4.7 million units in one month. That is ridiculous. But also curious. If WoW has 12 million players worldwide, does that mean 7.3 million people were simply not impressed enough by the game to actually buy the expansion? 60% of the alleged WoW base never actually bought the expansion. Is it me, or is that just a little strange?

Either way, nearly 5 million active WoW players in Cataclysm is impressive as hell, especially when you consider Cryptic was ecstatic over 200,000 players in Star Trek Online.

Second, as is the case with all systems in WoW, the Dungeon Finder tool was met with resounding success and was one of my favorite additions to the game. It seems Blizzard isn’t hanging up the old towel, and is at it again to further improve the dungeon finder tool.

“Groups could benefit if they knew they didn’t wipe because the healer didn’t manage mana well enough, but because the DPS wasn’t high enough, or boss adds weren’t properly rounded up, etc.”

– Zarhym, Dungeon queue should be performance-based

Now that is smart. Educating the player why their group failed will go a long way to alleviate the tensions in pugs. As someone who has played a Holy Paladin for over six years, I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I heard this. That is fantastic, let’s finalize that and put it on live servers ASAP!

Three Times the LOTRO

Turbine tripled their revenue by going with the Free-to-Play model in Lord of the Rings Online. You hear that Afrasiabi? *sigh*

Make Love, Not Guild Wars

10 years of Guild Wars have passed if you include the development of the title as well. The team has come a long way, and some of their most glorious and touching moments are highlighted in this short and sweet video that goes over the last 10 years.

The Secret World, as Forced Upon us by Ragnar Tornquist

I hate you Ragnar. Months of wait for some but of information My face lights up when I see the title mentioned in my feed reader. And what do I get? EA will be co-publishing The Secret World. That’s it. You suck Ragnar, you suck.

It does take one red flag though. EA has previously published The Sims Online, Motor City Online, Earth and Beyond and Hellgate: London. Do you know how many of those were successful? I’m nervous now.

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“Why APB Turned Out To Be Such a Disappointment” or “Mike Schramm Read My Mind”

July 14, 2010 3 comments

“What APB‘s really missing in terms of gameplay is a real sense of progression. You’ll be doing exactly the same task five minutes into the game as you’ll be doing fifty hours in. While there are various sub-factions to earn reputation with that unlock bigger weapons, and a few stats (Notoriety for Criminals and Prestige for Enforcers) that go up and down based on your performance at any given moment, nothing really changes. No zones are conquered, no wars are won, no faction-wide rewards are granted. Even when you’re doing it right, it’s just mission after mission after mission, and while you are unlocking new weapons or bits of customization, all you get is a small text notice in the chat bar. Nothing about the gameplay ever changes.”

Mike Schramm, Review: APB (Day 2: Enforcers, get enforcin’), Joystiq.com

Categories: APB, Review

“APB VoIP Fiasco” or “Verizon in my Voice Chat”

June 24, 2010 2 comments

APB was one of the three upcoming MMOs that I was very excited about. The other two being The Secret World, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Notice I said “was”, because I am no longer interested in what Realtime Worlds has to offer. There have been several reasons for this in the last few weeks, but the icing on the cake was a recent post on APB’s forums that hinted at Premium VoIP services for the game. The premium services remove in-game voice ads.

The VoIP Fiasco

Allow me to elaborate in the shortest manner possible. APB, of All Points Bulletin, is an MMO-FPS, or more accurately, an MO-FPS since it is not all that massive in terms of number of players (200 or so per server). VoIP is in-game voice chat implemented in APB. Up until recently (and by recently, I mean four days before the damn game’s launch), no one had any clue that there will be a premium price  for VoIP because the in-game voice chat will feature audio advertisements.

/facepalm

Nope, still not interested.

Can you imagine running and gunning in the game, only to be interrupted by an alien voice suddenly asking you to check out the capabilities of the latest iPhone 4G? If such is your concern, Community Officer Toxico over at APB forums quickly explained how the system works. You can only receive audio advertisements if you are entering a new zone, and that too only if you haven’t heard any ads in the last three hours of gameplay. Whether that is three hours of in-game time or real-world time, remains unclear. Because while both scenarios will disrupt gameplay, the former is much more intrusive.

Other Concerns

This isn’t the only reason I lost interest in APB. As an FPS, APB inherently involves twitch-based, fast-paced, run-and-gun gameplay. Realtime Worlds has stated in the past that players will need servers in relative proximity to their geographical location to play the game competitively at all, and personal experience suggests that the slightest delay in overall latency can be utterly lethal.

In addition, the recent ban on reviews, which I found out about through Dragonchasers, also has me raise an eyebrow and give a quizzical look. APB is enforcing an embargo on all reviews till at least a week after launch. Their reasoning seems to make sense, in that the beta version of the game, one that everyone has tested, is not a true representation of the final product, and the final product can only be tested online post-launch. Sure beta isn’t the same as the release version, but it is pretty fucking close. Despite a seemingly earnest and logical explanation, I just derived a negative connotation from the ban: they don’t want anyone reviewing their product because they don’t believe in its commercial success themselves. If that is true, why on earth would I spend any money on the title?

Sorry APB, our courtship was fun, albeit a bit brief, but you’re too sinister and devious for my liking. Adios!

Categories: APB, Microtransactions

Quote of the Day: “Why APB Isn’t an MMO” or “Is MMO Synonymous With RPG?”

June 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The reason we shy away from MMO is because usually, when you say MMO to someone, they don’t hear MMO — they hear MMORPG. And while APB has a lot in common with MMOs, it’s definitely not an RPG.

There’s no character stats, there’s no levels, there’s no skills — the closest thing we have to that is the respect you gain from contacts and organizations for working for them, which allows you to access the better equipment they sell, and some of the functional upgrades that are available in the game. That’s all your characters loadout, it’s his gear, it’s not intrinsic to him leveling up.

– Jesse Knapp, Prodcer, APB (Source).

Categories: APB

“APB Beta Keys” or “20,000 Keys Still Left!” Pt. II

June 11, 2010 1 comment

Today marks the launch of the brand spankin’ new PCGamer website: http://www.pcgamer.com. And in honor of this launch, the site is giving out not one, not two, but 20,000 beta keys for APB. All you have to do is head on over to the website, and make register!

Hurry while supplies still last!

Here’s the official word:

“The first 20,000 people to register at PCGamer.com will receive a key to the city for Realtime World’s forthcoming cops and robbers game, APB. By registering, gamers will get the chance to grab give away trial keys, free MMO items, and access to PC Gamer hosted events.”

Why are you still here? GO REGISTER!!

Categories: APB, Beta

“APB Beta Keys” or “1,899 Keys Still Left!”

May 9, 2010 8 comments

EDIT (June 11, 2010): Those keys ran out months ago fellas. But you can find some more here.

Head on over to Eurogamer if you want your APB Beta key. Hurry! They are running out fast!

http://gamers.eurogamer.net/giveaways.php?id=87022

Categories: APB, Beta

“APB Developers Expect M Rating” or “Captain Obvious in the Hizzouse!”

April 18, 2010 1 comment

APB is one of the three MMO’s I am quite excited about. The other two are The Secret World and everyone’s poster child for ‘the MMO that will beat World of Warcraft‘, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

APB recently also relaunched its website as it gathers momentum for the big launch, expected later this year. Developer Realtime Worlds fully expects an ‘M rating‘ for the title, a cause for joy for anyone who abhors the sensitization of the video game medium for fear of inciting violence amongst youth. Rest assured that the developer sails in the same boat as us, and not only expects, but wants an M rating for the cops-vs-robbers simulator.

And thank god for that. Imagine how lame that title could have turned out to be if all the gratuitous violence had been toned down to please this guy (pictured right).

In his defense, I do love me a PrayStation!