Posts Tagged ‘MMOs’

Worlds Adrift Trailer Flies In More Gameplay Footage

Worlds Adrift [official site] is a game I primarily knew as “the thing with skyships and grappling hooks”. There’s a new trailer, though and it has bits and bobs of gameplay footage in amongst the sweeping camera shots of clouds and floating islands. I’ve also had a little look at the lore of the game so here’s what I now know:

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Let’s Do The Timewalk: Revisit Older Dungeons In WoW

Welcome back

Sounds pretty straightforward to me – I mean it’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right, with your hands on you hi… oh. My bad. “Timewalk”. Blizzard want you to do a “Timewalk” in World of Warcraft [official site].

The WoW devs are setting up a couple of weekend events dedicated to letting players attack old-school dungeons. It looks like they’re tinkering with character scaling in order to make older dungeons for babby players relevant to the old guard:

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Going Analogue: What MMOs Can Learn From LARPs

In theory, MMORPGs are my favourite PC games in the world. Exploring strange new worlds, dressing up in shiny armour, and kicking butt are my primary gaming motivations and MMORPGs have those in spades. Richard Garriott sold me the dream of a living fantasy world to inhabit in my early PC gaming days and it’s a dream I’ve never quite given up on.

Yet the genre has become stagnant, like the fetid dregs of your drink once you’ve dragged yourself to bed after an all-night raiding binge. Everquest became popular, then World of Warcraft ridiculously so, and the desire for all that subscription money cemented the theme park MMO as the One True Way, with only EVE Online achieving success while stubbornly flying the sandbox flag. Which isn’t much good if you prefer dragons to spaceships. I believe that MMORPGs need a good kick up the arse and I’d like to propose an unconventional Boot of Inspiration: live-action role-playing, better known as LARPing.

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A Rant: Enough Of Single-Player MMOs

Not The Elder Scrolls Online, it's Skyrim. Obviously.
According to The Elder Scrolls Online game director Matt Firor, the series’ online spin won’t be quite as social as expected. At least, not completely. “We have a whole part of the game that’s 100% solo, and that’s the main story,” he explains to an invisible interviewer in this Game Informer video. “Everything you do is solo and the world reacts to you that way.”

Isn’t it about time we just admitted this isn’t actually a good thing?

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Player Interaction Versus Story In MMOs?

An unhealthy longing for this kind of interaction.
This article by Secret World lead Ragnar Tornquist, in which he argues that there’s still room for stories that aren’t generated by player interaction, is a bit awkward. I can’t help thinking that it’s a defence against exactly the kind of criticisms I usually make of MMOs – that the effort put into their stories and quests would be better spent on providing players with the kinds of tools that they need to make their own stories. I am thinking here of the years I spent in Eve. But it made me think about the MMOs which actually put player interaction first. Other than Eve and Mortal Online I couldn’t really think of any. The Twittermind came to my rescue, suggesting Planetside – of course, with its lack of anything aside from purely player driven combat – but also Wurm Online, Neverdaunt, Love, and A Tale In The Desert. Which led me to think: What else is there? Could we make a list of MMOs where dev-developed story, fiction, and narrative content is necessarily secondary to the interaction of players? And how would be set up criteria for deciding that in borderline cases? What are the best examples of doing away with story? And what is it that generates the best stories from player interaction in MMOs? Comment peoples, open your brains.

An Ancient Argument

I’ve given myself 37 minutes to write this post in. You won’t learn anything new from it.

Kieron’s covered the problems with MMO reviews in a reliably masterful way, and there really isn’t much to be said beyond it. All I can do is repeat some of what others have touched on a thousand times previous, with different words at a different time, and with my own sense of awkwardness and upset. I don’t have an answer. That doesn’t make it any less relevant.

Today’s drama has been unpleasant, both personally and in terms of feeling really awful about how the two fundamental sides of the games criticism divide – the creators and the commentators – see each other. That’s (almost) all I’m going to say on that specific matter.

What I will offer is comment on why that kind of situation can ever develop, which unavoidably becomes the eternal bete noir of how games journalists can possibly review MMOs.
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Second Skin: The MMO Documentary

I’ve not had the chance to watch all of this yet, because the idea of observing moving images whilst listening to dialogue seems like a frightening impossibility to me. What will they think of next? If you, however, are convinced you can embrace this ‘video’ medium, perhaps you should watch Second Skin – a 90 minute documentary about how and why people spend so much time in online worlds, and some potential repurcussions of it. Online relationships, for instance – one guy reveals that, upon finally meeting his Everquestian beau in real life, she threatened him with a knife. To counter that kind of thing, there’s the raw, racuous of joy of one couple’s wedding conducted both in the real world (“henceforth you will no longer be two, but one”) and in-game (“from this time forward, you will share the name “Soulslayerrrrrrrr”).
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Fat Loot: The 10 Most Revenuetastic MMOs

Being the arrogant know-it-alls that we all are, it’s rather too easy to make knee-jerk suppositions about the state of the MMO market, but recent research by Screen Digest (via the BBC, via RPS-chum Dan Gril) suggests it’s in ruder health than is sometimes supposed. Currently, the industry is growing, despite last year looking, from afar, a wee bit disastrous for anything that wasn’t Warcraft. In the US and Europe, there was a jump of some 22%. At a guess, that’s got something to do with growing broadband adoption and the increasing take-up of MMOs by formerly non-habitual gamers. Also that not enough people are bored of elves yet.

Coming out of this is also a top 10 of MMOs, and it’s a slightly surprising one.
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The Year In Graphs

Stats about games about stats: what finer way to ring in the new year? GamerDNA and Massively have shoved up some end-of-year research detailing the trending and state of play of the major MMOs, as documented by monitoring X-Fire. Not a perfect sample perhaps, but certainly a reputable one. More importantly, they have graphs! I love a graph, me. Well worth a nose at their detailed and engaging analysis, but some of the more interesting trends are summarised inexpertly below…
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Serve the Servants

Since I’m a crazy self-obsessive, I pay attention to the referrals which are cheerfully logged in the machinery of the good ship Rock Paper Shotgun. When I wrote ridiculously lengthily about Travian the Servitor linked to us. This caused me to work my way back through their sporadically updated archives. They’re a community manager for an un-named MMO, and the blog is an archive for assorted observations about managing a mass of humanity which has decided that – y’know – they don’t fancy being that humane anymore. For example, here’s their final point on how to file a complaint…

Don’t make threats. At least, not in the initial few rounds. If you threaten to sue or call the Better Business Bureau right out of the gate, you’re putting the company in defensive mode. At best, the person reading or listening to your complaint thinks you’re a drama queen. At worst, you’ve just gotten your case escalated not to problem solvers, but to company lawyers. If you have a problem that you want to escalate past the person you’re dealing with now, keep asking politely for supervisors. Filing BBB complaints or suing is your last resort, for when all other avenues have been explored. It is the proper place for these things to go sometimes, but it is never a place to start.

Which you may think obvious, but if it were, they wouldn’t feel the need to growl about it on a blog. The tone’s actually generally far less annoyed, however. For example, consider the notes on notes on kids on MMOS and real-life death in the world of MMOs.