Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’

“Will SWTOR Fix the Companions System?” or “My Only Friend in the World is a Moron”

September 27, 2011 11 comments

Companionship

MMOs are supposed to all about companionship, the thrill of being a part of something larger than your self, the adrenaline rush that comes from working together as a team, and overcoming a common obstacle. Companionship, at least for me, is one of the key components of an MMO. You and your friends, out in the world, seeking adventure, defying death, having a blast.

Most MMOs, in their incessant hunt for additional subscription numbers, have allowed for the ultra-casual-model, that allows one to level practically the entire game without ever having to interact with another human being. I don’t get that. Remember when you needed to group for elite mobs in WoW? Yeah, that golden time is long gone. If you are one of those players, perhaps you should stick to single-player games to begin with, but that is not the purpose of this post, just a sidenote.

Companions

One sub-system that exists in MMOs today is companions. MMOs throw all kinds of companions at you, from mounts to pets to vanity pets and temporary, quest-related NPCs. Companions are an essential component of MMOs. Everyone wants them. People will pay ridiculous amounts of money, even for a vanity pet, just so they can say they own it.

But companions are an oddity in MMOs. Despite their apparent function, they suffer from two intrinsic flaws:

  1. They are two-dimensional.
  2. They don’t serve their core function of being a “companion”.

Allow me to elaborate.

Two-dimensional: Companions in MMOs today have no personality. It is almost as if they see the world through this twisted lens that allows them to see only two individuals: you and whatever is attacking you. In the case of vanity pets, it actually boils down to just you. They have no backgrounds, they have no history in the world, their purpose is unclear and their future uncertain. No one else, apart from you, ever interacts with them, they certainly don’t interact with anyone, and most of the time they have nothing to say.

Failing the core function: A companion is someone you can jointly undertake a task with, be it a quest, a dungeon, a battleground, an arena, or just simple daily quests. A companion is someone who should augment your skills and abilities (granted this happens most of the time with fighting pets – if the AI isn’t terrible), share their experience, reply with something meaningful when you try and talk to them (even if it is scripted), provide company in the dark dreary dungeons of your brand of MMO poison, and exist beyond the confines of your character. MMOs today feature mute, obedient, dumb companions that don’t really give you a sense of true companionship.

But maybe Star Wars: The Old Republic is taking steps in the right direction. If their recent companion reveal is to be believed, companions will have backgrounds, complex personalities, and in-depth personal needs and objectives. You can go about ignoring them, only interacting with them as needed in the heat of battle, an option that will cater to the mindless MMO player, trained for years to treat companions as meaningless pixels on a screen. Or you can choose to interact with them, dig a little deeper into what makes them tick, and through the acceptance system (yes, it involves ‘gifts’ *groan*) eventually unlock additional dialogue options, as well as unique quests and rewards.

They will provide commentary, information on the plots of the various missions you undertake, they will also try to influence your decisions. They can become your closest friends, lovers or even enemies. You get your first companion early on, but more will rally to your cause as you progress further into the game.

Maybe, just maybe, Star Wars: The Old republic will succeed in creating a solid, meaningful companion system, where so many others have failed.

Categories: World of Warcraft

“And SW:TOR has an Official Launch Date!” or “Is There too Much to do in Star Wars at Launch?”

September 24, 2011 3 comments

Say goodbye to your loved ones. Those vacation days you have been saving, better put in the leave application for them as well. Get ready to get fat, and stock up on caffeine pills and energy drinks.

Via Massively, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk (co-Grand Poobahs of Bioware) announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic will officially launch on December 20th, 2011 for North America and December 22, 2011 for Europe.

Just yesterday BioWare released some information, including a seven minute dev diary,  on the companion system in Star Ware: The Old Republic, and provided some additional details today. They seem like a cool new addition to the game. There will be over 40 different companions of all kinds of background representing various races in the universe. Some will be driods. They are all completely customizable. You can change they way they look, the abilities they use and the their tactics. Interacting with them through the affection system unlocks additional dialogue options and allows you to get to know your companions a little better. They all have complex pasts and personal motivations and storys.

All of this is well and good. Syp had a nice post up yesterday about how he loves companions in his MMOs, and how he is really excited about their inclusion in SW:TOR. I had a question for him, which I asked him in the comments section, but busy as he is, he hasn’t found the time to reply yet. I will copy-paste said comment below:

I have to ask you one thing though. Do you think BioWare is putting too much into it? I mean when WoW launched, it was an elementary MMO. The WoW of today in all it’s complexity with all its mechanics, systems and sub-systems is a result of years and years of evolution in the MMO genre. It just seems to me that SW:TOR has too many things in it at launch. Every time I turn around, some new feature is being announced, be it companions or crafting, or interactive cut-scenes, or personal ships, or space combat. Do you think its wise to throw so much at a new player, and you know there will be a lot of new players that will get attracted by the SW brand who have no idea of MMOs?
What do you think? Do you think Star Wars: The Old Republic will be too unforgiving to a new player at launch? Or do you feel that all these new features will instead provide the player with a much more comprehensive and holistic MMO experience?

“Lambasting the SW:TOR Launch Strategy” or “Losing to the Hype”

August 22, 2011 13 comments

Syp’s rundown earlier of the inevitable juxtapositions between the two MMOs prompted this post, as well as a GameInformer story from a few days ago about how EA plans on limiting the number of copies at launch to save on server load.

Let is first start with the GameInformer story from the 18th of August, reported from GamesCom: “…EA revealed that they will be purposely limiting the number of copies available at launch, both for retail and digital.” lolwut? This makes little to no sense to me. When World of Warcraft launched, I remember going to Pyramid Mall in the town of Ithaca, upstate New York on launch day to pick up a copy from BestBuy. The store was sold out, so I left dejected, thinking I will revert to City of Heroes until I can score a copy. Before I took the bus back up to campus, I realized that there was a Target in the same mall, and I decided to go check it out. Lo and behold, some 20 odd copies of WoW were still sitting, completely untouched, on the store shelves. I bought a copy, went home, installed, updated, and loaded into the world as a Tauren Hunter named Xanthus.

Launch day was hell for WoW. The problem wasn’t server crashes (at least not in my case). The problem were the server queues and the fact that newbie starter areas were so overwhelmed with new players that it would take 10 times the amount of time to complete a normal kill quest, even in a full five-man-party. Blizzard responded astutely and rapidly by deploying and doubling the servers in record time, and within the first few days, the situation normalized.

The problem I have with this setup from EA is the same thing that happened to the starting areas in WoW. I fear that at launch, with copies limited and rabid fans clambering over one another to get into the severs (to reserve names, if nothing else), will result in a fairly terrible launch day experience for the players. The smarter thing would be to a) not limit copies, and appropriately respond with servers ready to be deployed at the last minute if the incoming horde clogs all of the intergalactic internet tubes, and b) limit the number of players that an log into a server to the optimal server load. Limiting copies at the start seems like a poor business and strategic decision. Oddly enough, the developers believe that limiting copies will actually ensure the best launch experience. It makes some sense I suppose, but the larger strategy still seems suspect.

Syp says, “I can’t imagine the fever pitch that it’s going to reach by the end of the year”. End of the year? Try now! It would be a challenge to spend an hour in my reader without some blog, news website or hype machine blowing up with the latest and greatest from the BioWare camp regarding Star Wars: The Old Republic. I didn’t think I would invest in it. I didn’t think cared enough to because early adoption sucks 9 times out of 10, and it turns out to be a lot better if you go in a few months down the line when things are more streamlined and the major bugs have been squashed. But maybe I am not strong enough. Maybe I am just not strong enough…

Played Lately: “Magicka’s Mutually Assured Destruction” or “Borderlands Badass Co-Op”

July 15, 2011 4 comments

I am playing no MMO these days, which is odd because I started this blog as an MMO player. There are a number of reasons for why I am not playing any existing MMOs, but suffice it to say, I am just tired of the endless cycle. I am tired of never being able to “properly” impact the world for the better. I am tired of killing the same old ten rats, albeit with a new look and mechanic. I am tired of grinding. I am tired of farming. I am tired of competing for gear because having gained 85 goddamn levels means absolutely nothing in this day and age of the perpetual endgame gear grind. I am tired of all this.

I am not saying MMO’s haven’t evolved, the latest cross-realm raid pugging and Real ID grouping features from Blizzard are ground-breaking features. Eve Online set the bar for player-defined market economies and territory control very high, but suffers from its inherent complexity and that the oldest players are over 100 million skill points ahead of the competition, which, to say the least, is ridiculous. This is but two of many example.

I am looking for the second wave of MMO ingenuity. I am looking for the world-impacting mechanics of Guild Wars 2. I am looking for the level-less scope of the Secret World. I am waiting for light-sabers. And in the meantime, I am, keeping myself busy with a host of other quality multiplayer games, that are just not as massive.

Magicka’s Mutually Assured Destruction

I am playing Magicka these days with three of my friends, and it is a treat to play. There are no levels, no skill points, no game-breaking gear (there is gear), no additional spells or abilities to learn. Everyone starts off on the same foot and finds their preferred way to play. There are eight spells in the game, and five spell slots. You can mix and match the skills in Magicka in those five slots (or less, if you are pressed for time) to create unique spell-combinations. You can cast Fire with Healing to simultaneously heal and dry yourself. You can cast frost to freeze a water surface to walk across. You can sling earthen boulders, or add a dash of Fire to hurl fireballs. You are only held back by your imagination for how you decide to take on an obstacle.

Then you add three more players, and it gets a lot more fun.

There is friendly fire in Magicka. This means that if you are casting a death ray of Arcane energy, an ally who walks across that beam will also be instantly zapped. Given that all spells are both area effect, conical directional, and focused, the possibility of getting hit by an ally’s firepower gets multiplied astronomically. Battles are careful strategic endeavors, because your enemies will come at you from all directions and shooting any combinations of magical energies at them imply you have to ensure your allies are not caught in the spells’ wake. This adds incredible depth and scale to an already exciting game, and results in some of the funniest, and at times frustrating moments in my recent gaming history.

Borderlands Badass Co-Op

I played Borderlands a while back with a friend on the Xbox, but we got bored after about 15 levels. Partially because the vertically split-screen was headache inducing, and partly because I am not used to playing shooters on an Xbox controller. Two years later, Steam decides to have a massive sale on a Borderlands 4-pack. Two of my friends purchase it, and off we go, into the world of Pandora, in search of the 17+ million weapons the game has to offer.

It occurred to me very shortly after playing it with two other players that Borderlands’ Pandora is a cruel, gruesome and tough world. Enemies got tougher, tougher enemies got impossible and we learned what it was like to play a cooperative shooter where your combined abilities can result in the difference between life and death. It is not as intense, nor as teamwork dependent as Left 4 Dead but it does require skill, and planning and watching each others’ backs through the tougher moments.

The bottomline is that Borderlands, even two years after release, has turned out to be one hell of a game, especially when played with several players cooperatively.

Next post: The single-player games that are keeping me busy till a better MMO comes out.

Categories: Borderlands

“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

“Good News of The Day” or “Star Wars: The New Quests”

December 15, 2010 2 comments

After recent talk of Star Wars: The Old Republic being the biggest MMO failure, comment courtesy of a Bioware Mythic employee, it was a relieve to read Brianna’s hands-on experience with Star Wars: the Old Republic. The report is full of interesting tidbits and gameplay information. But there was one particular paragraph that stood out for me regarding the quest structure.

One particular quest really impressed me because I was able to change my decision midway through. A pair of Jedi Masters tasked me with determining whether or not their apprentices were involved in an illicit affair. When I confronted the Padawans, I decided to allow them to bribe me to keep my mouth shut about their romance. (I broke character, but I wanted to see what would happen.) The Masters didn’t seem to believe me, but they took me at my word. Later when I returned to collect my bribe (a rare lightsaber crystal), I got the option to refuse to accept it, which earned me the loving couple’s loyalty. I wish I’d had time to finish the area, because I’d love to see how that turns out (and whether I’d have gotten to use that crystal in my saber). Something tells me it doesn’t end happily, except for me as a player. Can you imagine how a quest like that would go in any other game? Click click click auto-complete click next quest. But in SWTOR, I was riveted.

Brianna Royce, Hands-on with SWTOR’s Jedi Knight on Tython, Massively.com

Given my own posts as of late, whew?

“A Sudden Drop in MMOs” or “Scratching the Itch”

December 11, 2010 2 comments

A Sudden Drop in MMOs

I am no longer playing WoW, and quite at peace with the decision. It is a great game, and I am more than certain that the latest expansion is the best one yet, if the commentary of my peers is any indication. But for now, I’m done, and it’s time to try out something new.

Actively, I am not playing any MMO at the moment. Unless you think infrequently logging into Perpetuum and World of Tanks is actively playing MMOs. I am just waiting for all the madness around Christmas time to be over before I jump into the fray with a new title (poll on that soon). There are plenty of choices, just not enough time to invest in an MMO full-time right now.

Bronte, Hardcore

I have also come to realize that casual MMO gaming is not for me. The first few years I played WoW, I played as the GM of a very large guild and we conquered a lot of content. Then I graduated, got a job, got engaged, and life got exponentially more complicated. That necessitated the investment of a lot of time, and as such, my hardcore MMO habits suffered. But life is beginning to settle down again, my work hours have decreased from 12-14 a day to about 10. I am not overworked or being abused, I assure you, I genuinely love doing what I do, and I would gladly invest more time if needed. But that’s the point, it is no longer needed, I have more time in my hands and more still in the coming months.

So I need to find a way to scratch that itch, that need to play in a competitive environment, that exhilaration of downing the first world boss, the excitement of trial and error as you learn a new fight, the clang of axe on sword (or appropriate equivalent) in a battleground, the rush of an accomplishment that stands out in the world. To that end, I need to find a new title to look into. Syp’s post a few weeks back got me interested in Rift. Then Darren linked to a post on Rift’s beta, MMO Gamer Chick got invited to the beta, a certain someone else skipped it altogether, and it certainly piqued Syncaine’s curiosity. Of course Champions Online is going F2P. I have always wanted to try out Lord of the Rings, and apparently good ol’ Dub’s thinking the same thing. And then we have the upcoming The Secret World, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Jumpgate Evolution, Guild Wars 2 and Black Prophecy, although, admittedly, I have no idea when they may be released. There is also the option of going back to EvE, especially with Massively’s new Mob.

These are options I will whittle down over the next few weeks as I do more research on which MMO seems to best fit my play-style and nature, but one thing is for certain: I think I really want to run a hyper-competitive guild again. It is an incredible amount of work and a thankless job, but it is also a lot of fun, immeasurably rewarding in an unsung manner, and comes with its own set of perks and fringe benefits.

Categories: Bronte, Guild

“Avoiding the Cataclysm” or “Off the Beaten Path”

December 6, 2010 10 comments

I have played WoW for a long time.

I remember the day I went to get it in snowy Ithaca, NY. Best Buy had already run out of copies by the time I got to the store. The clerk told me they will get more copies within the week and that he was sorry. I left the mall quite upset, it was Thanksgiving break, I wasn’t going home, and I had nine days of vacations with a few other international students in the dorms. As I sat at Pyramid Mall’s entrance, waiting for the local TCAT (Tompkins County Area Transit) bus, I looked to my left and realized they had opened a new target store in the area. The bus wouldn’t be here for another 15 minutes, so I just decided to meander around inside, get a little warmer.

Lo and behold, as I traversed Target’s empty aisles, I came across the game section and to my surprise, there sat nearly 20 unsold copies of World of Warcraft, all new and shiny, waiting for their new (soon-to-be-addict) owners to take them home. I picked up a copy, giddy with excitement and rushed home as quickly as I could. I opened the wrapping, and inserted the first of four discs to start the installation process. the installation took nearly a half hour, but that gave me enough time to go over the game’s gorgeous manual (yes, there used to be manuals kids, and yes, we used to read them).

I leveled a Hunter to level 20. Then I switched servers and leveled a paladin to level 60. I took over a guild. I raided Molten Core and Blackwing Lair. I conquered Ahn’Qiraj and sat on C’Thun’s throne. I wandered the hallways of Naxxaramas. I was there when infernals fell from the skies in the Burning Crusade. I was there when the Lich King emerged in Northrend. I was there through all of it, raiding, PvP’ing, fishing, farming and manipulating the Auction House to damn near gold-cap a character.

Now it is time for Cataclysm, and although initially I was very excited about the expansion, I find now, a day from launch, that I am OK with not playing it on launch day. I am OK with not playing it a month from now. Actually I am OK with not playing it at all. This isn’t because I don’t enjoy WoW, or because I am sick of it. I just think after six years of a love-hate (primarily love) relationship, it is time for a clean break. It is time to find something else to occupy my time with in the long-term. It is time, put simply, to move on. And although I am half-tempted to follow the 10 things to do before you quit WoW list by Elitist Jerks to the letter, I think it’s better to make a quiet exit.

There is the new EVE Corp by Massively’s Brendan Drain. There is the Perpetuum’s free month, courtesy of Chris Cavelle. There is Rift’s beta. SW:TOR, The Secret World, the free-to-play version of Champions Online and Jumpgate Evolution are being crafted as I write this. There is so much to look at now, and so much to look forward to. And as much as I love WoW, there are 12 million others who can band together to take down Deathwing. I will be over here, off of the beaten path, trying out something new.

“Games Radar” or “Too Many Tracked Titles”

June 27, 2010 2 comments

I updated my Games Radar to the left today. The following is a list of games I am looking forward to in a few months. I will talk about them individually over the course of time as well.

One thing that stands out to me is that my interests have diversified considerably over the course of time. Which is a good thing because diversity is the spice of life, and bad because, well, I have such limited time between family, work and social as it is.

I guess I better figure out how to operate on an hour of sleep a day!

MMOs on my radar:

  • Black Prophecy
  • Jumpgate Evolution
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • The Secret World

Non-MMOs on my radar:

  • Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood
  • Brink
  • Bulletstorm
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Crackdown 2
  • Crysis 2
  • Deathspank
  • Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution
  • Dragon Age II
  • Fable III
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Gears of War 3
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
  • Halo: Reach
  • Homefront
  • Hydrophobia
  • I Am Alive
  • Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
  • L.A. Noire
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Mafia II
  • Max Payne 3
  • Medal of Honor
  • Portal 2
  • Privates
  • Red faction: Armageddon
  • R.U.S.E.
  • Singularity
  • Spare Parts
  • Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • The Witcher II
  • Two Worlds II
Categories: Bronte

“Star Wars: TOR & TFU2” or “The Force is Strong With These Trailers”

June 16, 2010 2 comments

I have no words. First up is the trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic. The second trailer is for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II.

Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my shirt.

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:

MMOs

  • 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

RPGs

  • 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!

MMOs

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.

*sigh*

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.

RPGs

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.

“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!