One Mr Bock writes, a little sad there's no external discussion of Estiah other than a thread on the Penny Arcade. I feel the same about the Neptune's Pride Beta, so decided to have a quick nose and... yeah, it immediately has a couple of mechanics that look quite interesting. It's a limited-actions-per-day thing, but there's a neat Guild Wars-esque twist in terms of how combat operates. Worth a look, if you fancy that kind of thing. And a few thoughts about both this, and this kind of thing below...
Firstly, the Guild Wars influence. You're able to select a number - increasing with level - of weapon/spell abilities called Charms. Or something. Point being, you can select about 18 or so. After it goes through them all, you lose the combat. Some are melee. Some are magic. Some are melee-defence. Some are magic-defence. So, depending on who you're facing, you mix-up the selection. In an arena, finding myself fighting some 'orrible thing, I realised that the melee-armour was pointless, so threw them all away and concentrated on the right damage and... guy goes down. So while the combats play out automatically ala MyBrute, there's actual mechanical thought. It's only a smattering to start with, but to actually figure something out - hell, anything out - within the first few minutes of a MMO. Which is a terrible statement about the genre, of course, but something to be applauded. Throw in flashes of humor, Kingdom of Loathing-style and some Princess-Maker influences, and it's the sort of thing I can certainly see myself checking in once a day, have a little prod, and get back to work. Much like I am with Neptune's Pride, but without having a fight with Quinns and PC Gamer's Graham.
But the other thought generally... well, I was talking some browser-developers today (Littleloud, who I'm writing a game-script for. The Curfew. More anon, I suspect, but there's a thread where people speculate about it if you want to chat). You may know Littleloud from their previous BAFTA-award winning Bow Street Runner, which The Curfew is a kinda-sequel to. As in, it re-uses its tech. It's basically an FMV-adventure game with production-values which match whatever John reviews. It's also browser game.
What I was talking about was that you can tell that the Browser is getting interested, because it's getting a backlash. I've spotted an increase in comment-threads of people dismissing Browser games as "not real games". That's always a sign that something is important, because it's annoying reactionary and/or judgmental elements who feel threatened. As this grows, they gaming they like is being taken away. And, of course, that's not always wrong.
I suppose this is my way of actually opening the floor. What actually is our readership's take on Browser games? We seem to have a mental divide between in the indie-flash games (which everyone likes, bar people who dismiss them for being pretentious) and the more commercial actual games (which are more commonly seen as corporate-evilness). Compare and contrast Captain Forever (A game I suspect is dismissed too often because it's in a browser and not downloadable) and VVVVVV (Which is downloadable, but seems to be dismissed all too often because it resembles a style of play which are often seen in a browser). And do look at Bow Street Runner, because it's basically a whole new model for funding professional games (i.e. By commissioning bodies - in this case, Channel 4). LOTS OF STUFF HERE. IT IS VERY EXCITING.
Thoughts, gentlefolk. I'm looking for angles.