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Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek Online’

“Looking Forward” or “2011 is a Good Year to be a Gamer”

January 10, 2011 2 comments

General

In general, 2011 is shaping up to be an amazing year for gamers, especially MMO players. The MMO industry is continuing to grow at an exponential rate and it seems every time to blink, a new MMO has popped up somewhere. 2011 will be no exception, with several well-hyped AAA titles shipping throughout the course of the year.

2011 is also exciting because F2P will continue to grow. With Turbine announcing that their revenues tripled once they decided to go F2P, it goes to show that high-end MMOs (excluding industry-giant World of Warcraft because let’s face it – that is a category in of itself) can make bank by relying on F2P models. I don’t know about you, but given the limited number of hours I have in a day, I don’t know if ‘first free month’ is an appropriate amount of time to adequately experience the title enough. F2P can solve that. If I don’t have the unnecessary pressure to play the game as much as I can in the first month, and given you have done the good job, yeah, I’ll engage n micro-transactions and play your title. 2011 should see several others switch to the F2P model, and that is music to my ears.

Most importantly, I am just glad to be back with and playing with my merry band of vagabonds that I have been playing with for the last several years. It makes the whole thing worth my while, irrespective of all other drawbacks or shortcomings.

MMO Titles

I’m Batman!

There will be a few superhero MMOs out this year. DC Universe Online will be launching in just a few days. I was initially quite excited about this title, but then Champions Online came around and ruined the whole sub-genre for me, and now I have my guard up. I think I will see how the player base reacts to this title before I invest in it. Speaking of Champions Online, the F2P version of the cel-shaded-superhero-simulator is also going to go live this year. Again, despite my issues with the title, and on a larger scale the studio, F2P is a very enticing option, and I was genuinely interested in coming to the game and trying it out for myself. That is until I came across this article from Massively.com, and now I am not so sure again. The archetypes seem a bit off, and being restricted to only so many options for so long doesn’t exactly float my boat. Being able to mix-and-match powers was one of the high points for Champions Online; I don’t understand why they wouldn’t let F2P players experience it fully. It was one of the few things they got right.

No one can hear you screaming in space

Eve Online has left a gaping hole in my heart. I love the game, and I have tried my hands at everything in-game from null-sec farming to high-stakes trading and even some pirating here and there. But the true heart of the game is high-end null-sec fleet PvP, and that is something I didn’t had neither the stomach nor the time for. Fortunately in 2011 a few space simulators will also be launching. The first of these is Jumpgate Evolution, a game I am personally quite excited about because of its rich premise and frankly because I was a diehard fan of the original game. The second is Black Prophecy, and although in all honesty I am not as well versed in all that BP has to offer, it sure sounds nifty.

Star Wars: The Old Debate

Of course no upcoming 2011 MMO list would be complete without the mention of everyone’s favorite (punching bag), Star Wars: The Old Republic. Cyberspace is abuzz with information and opinions about SW:TOR, and the hype generated by the fan-base, the developer and the critics is reaching deafening proportions. Not to mention that this is a colossal IP and nearly no venture in the long-running space opera ever comes close to the fans’ expectations. Hell, 1Up’s Kat Bailey says the title may already be too late. But you have to remember that the title is being developed by industry giant BioWare. Not only are they notorious for over-hyping a title and then miraculously meeting expectations, they have already produced two award-winning RPGs set in the Star Wars Universe: Knight of the Old Republic and its inevitable but equally good sequel. My thoughts: screw the critics, I can’t wait!

Villagers get the shaft

Two titles in 2011 promise to feature worlds that react and morph based on player action (or inaction for that matter.). Rift plans to accomplish this by, wait for it, rifts. Elemental invasions from another dimensions can pour into otherwise peaceful idyllic landscapes, altering terrain and wreaking havoc on the local population. In Guild Wars 2, the developers plan on doing this by introducing monsters that do what they intend. If you get a quest that says goblins may attack the village, and you chose to do nothing, barbaric hordes of goblins will flood the village and take out the local population, and the villagers get the shaft yet again. Rift already has a release date of March 1, 2011. I would be surprised if Guild Wars 2 was delayed past 2011.

The (Super) Secret World (Shhhh)

I have to admit, Ragnar Tornquist is one tight-lipped son-of-a-gun. To say that the morsels that comes out of The Secret World camp are tiny and infrequent would be kind saying “I’ve heard of three of four people who play WoW”. Jesus man, share some details already. We know the game has three factions. We know their names. We know the starting locations. We have solved all puzzles in the forums. We have watched the zombie CCTV footage four million times. It is time to give us something new. Please! No? Well screw you! I don’t want to play it anyway! No I was kidding, I didn’t mean it. I was upset and it just came out. I’m sorry, please come back!

Massively Multiplayer Stabby Stab Stab?

Assassin’s Creed Online? Say it is so!

Other Titles

In addition to MMOs there are so many titles out there that I am excited about in 2011. Here is a short list:

  • Brink
  • Bulletstorm
  • Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution
  • Diablo III
  • Dragon Age II
  • Gears of War 3
  • Homefront
  • I Am Alive
  • Lara Croft
  • Max Payne 3
  • Portal 2
  • Rage
  • StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • The Witcher II
Categories: Bronte

“Player Controlled World Events!” or “Here’s to Hoping They do Something Right!”

October 31, 2010 1 comment

I am not a big fan of Cryptic. This isn’t to say they don’t work hard or their games aren’t popular. I am at odds with the developers over at Cryptic because every action that comes from then seems to be entrenched in making more money as quickly as is humanly possible, and has little to do with customer satisfaction. Maybe that is generalizing too much from select isolated incidents, but the fact of the matter remains: my trust in Cryptic is minimal at best and it will likely take a miracle to restore any faith.

I digress. Massively last week reported that Cryptic’s Star Trek Online will allow players to generate content though The Foundry. There are two questions that pop into one’s mind with such an announcement:

  • First, will anyone be able to generate and post their content and are there any quality control mechanisms in-built?
  • Second, is this a smart move by Cryptic to allow the thousands of individuals with their creative skill sets to contribute to the evolving world, or is this simply clever way to mask the fact that they developers have no idea what the player base wants in terms of content, so they are conveniently handing over the reigns to said players?

The first question, lo and behold, was answered in the same post. All user-generated content will be properly reviewed and subject to intense scrutiny by both the player base and the developers before it makes it onto the live servers. Good strategy, there should be a comprehensive check and balances system to ensure only the best of the very best makes it to the live servers. But then the question becomes, what if the best of the best simply isn’t good enough? Does it automatically get in because there simply isn’t anything better? On a personal level I am quite excited about this step, because I believe the player base can best design (or at the very least inform) content that it wants to engage in itself. However, I look at half-finished, unpolished, and at times downright botched work from Cryptic earlier, and I fear that this little experiment will go so awry, no other developer will ever attempt it again.

This isn’t the first time user-generated content has made rounds of the MMO world. Several WoW addons allow you to create in-game quests to (re)enact events or forge entirely new adventures. Though the use is primarily restricted to RP, such as the excellent 4.01 compatible Verisimilar addon for WoW, it goes to show there is interest in the community for community generated content.

The second questions, however, remains a mystery. If my review of the Blood Moon Halloween event (exactly a year ago to the date) is any indication, Cryptic has never been particularly good at adding content to their games. So perhaps by handing over the driving seat to the player base, they will be able to garner interest that their own content development team failed to illicit. It also means that they can add content to their title, apparently completely free of cost, since I sincerely doubt players will be rewarded monetarily for generating content that makes it to the live servers. I suppose time will tell the true merit of this bold move, and I for one hope its to get the community involved in the project, and not because the folks at Cryptic have run their idea well dry.

If implemented correctly, I think it can be a defining moment in the ongoing MMO evolution. Imagine you gather atop a hill with your friends. Your guild master, an aged veteran of countless wars is briefing you about the undead plague that has spread though the country farmlands in the past week, and how you must use overwhelming numbers to charge and eradicate every undead soul in your path till nothing is left standing in your wake. As a reward, you will get guild points that you can use to purchase things from the guild bank, or repair your equipment. The GM is your quest master and your raid leader rolled into one. And then you charge, axes and swords and battle-hammers raised high, playing out a user-generated event with in-game buddies for in-game fame, glory, and some form of user-generated currency.

I think that would be a helluva lot of fun, so at least for going boldly where no studio has gone before, I salute the team at Cryptic for their audacity and willingness to take risks.