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10161  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Penny Arcade burns CliffyB on: February 28, 2008, 03:41:47 AM
Honestly, might as well start a thread entitled "PC Gaming Is or Isn't Dying" and throw all these links into it.  drillsergeant

I mean, when CGW digs up numbers showing the ballyhooed Crysis (you can bet EA is not going to allow the dev to do a PC-only shooter title again) and Unreal Tournament's latest PC incarnation each couldn't top even 80,000 copies sold in the U.S. while comparable console shooters sell 1-2-3 million in a few weeks time (or in pre-orders in Halo 3's case), even a PC gamer like me can't wave my sign with any rationality at publishers and developers and tell them not to give up on my favorite platform.

Hell, some underselling cult-PC-games that I did fan sites for like Incubation and Darkstone were considered flops for selling 35,000-50,000 copies in the U.S. Today that would apparently almost be considered successful given the dwindling interest in the platform for games not named World of Warcraft or The Sims. I'll give LOTORO a shout-out because it apparently topped 100,000 subscribers at least for a time.

I'm trying to look on the bright side. If PC gaming and the idea of games actually made for PC (it seems like every big release will be multiplatform eventually) sink into the abyss and my hobby becomes a ghetto that people remember fondly like point-n-click adventure games and space combat sims, then perhaps the few surviving PC developers will go back to basics. They'll go underground. Maybe you'll see the kind of originality and gameplay fun that small dev teams did in the early to mid 1990s. Maybe shareware will make a comeback as a means of PC gaming survival.

I'm all for it. I'm all for not doing the 77th iteration of Battlefield 1942 and Team Fortress and Counter-Strike, I'm all for not doing the same MMO that does what the previous 73 did, not for continuing to attach roman numerals and numbers to the same RTSs all over again. Maybe PC gaming's real hope is thinking small instead of making high-sys requirement games that the majority of gamers out there just don't seem to want or have (esp. not the way the economy's going).

OK well that's all my insane thoughts for the day. I always find Penny Arcade's thoughts amusing but it's not something I worry about. smile
10162  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa 1.5 patch AI changes video on: February 27, 2008, 10:16:14 PM
Well, I guess it's good we're avoiding the botched 1.5 lauch:  Roll Eyes

On Tabula Rasa respecs and resolutions (from Massively.com today)
http://www.massively.com/2008/02/27/on-tabula-rasa-respecs-and-resolutions/
Quote
Evidently, the developers actually paid notice and took a rare opportunity to break their usual Monday/Friday announcement schedule to address these concerns.

They're working on a hotfix for the resolution problem, and suggest in the meantime that players run the game in windowed mode. Not that doing so addresses the fact that the resolution resets every time you load the game, but at least it doesn't crash.
10163  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Perpetual Entertainment cancels Star Trek: Online (sorta) on: February 27, 2008, 09:29:29 PM
Hey Star Trek Games (supposedly they were involved with the game a bit) is beginning a pretty cool inside look at the dead project now that it appears that Perpetual will have to totally liquidate. One of the strange things is that Bioware was apparently licensing Perpetual's engine -- or at least some sort of technology from them -- for its upcoming MMO project so it'll be curious to see what their technology's fate will be. Who knows, perhaps the Perpetual engine/tech will fall into public domain and we'll soon see fans making their own MMOs and even filing for bankruptcy on their own!  Tongue

This is the first entry (a photo of the MMO design document's cover):
http://startrek-games.com/startrekforum/showthread.php?p=116567
Quote
Starting today with this announcement and on each proceeding Wednesday we will publish a portion of the book for all to see. You'll have the first inside look at the games design, storyline, character progression and more. Every Wednesday until the entire book is published.

Prepare to be amazed (or maybe aghast) at what you learn. You'll find out why Mad Doc Software, in creating Star Trek Legacy (a game I served as a developer on), actually butted heads with Perpetual regarding the MMO. Loads of never before revealed information awaits
Interesting. I'd love to see someone do something like this for Perpetual's other canceled MMO Gods and Heroes.

Blue's News mentioned this, it was kind of buried between various other items and caught my eye.
10164  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa 1.5 patch AI changes video on: February 27, 2008, 07:41:40 PM
It's cool, though as I babbled in our main TR thread, the game needs more content (just imho) if it's going to draw people (whether new players or people that have lost interest). I just don't think jump-jetting AFS mechs and exploding Bane corpses is going to do much in that regards. I suppose every bit helps, I just hope they aren't skipping content upgrades in favor of this sorta thing.

I haven't canceled yet but basically haven't played for a week or so now.

Is 1.5 already out? I guess what confused me is the Juggernaut "suction" power is already in the game. I wasn't familiar with seeing the other things. icon_confused
10165  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: February 27, 2008, 07:34:06 PM
I hadn't visited the forums in a while for this, this fan's parody is pretty funny smile (note: it uses a few embedded images of humongous size so you may need to give it a little time to finish loading them).

If Turbine wrote Lord of the Rings instead of J.R.R. Tolken  icon_lol
http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?&postid=1545763#post1545763

It might easier to visit the fan's Web page for it:
http://www.whatthehelliswrongwithyoupeople.com/lotro/TLOTROC.htm

I can attest from failing the Epic quest repeatedly where Legolas constantly gets his arse in trouble that he truly does something too much, though I don't know what "DF" means.  saywhat
10166  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Companies EA bought then closed on: February 27, 2008, 02:53:41 PM
This is why I think Bioware is naive to think EA will "leave them alone." God help them if one of their games isn't a smash hit. Something modestly successful like Jade Empire would probably bring EA's "Men in Black" to the Bioware offices with a summons...  paranoid "Your new, original game has failed to meet EA revenue projections. Beep. We require that your next game be: "Mass Effect: Sims Spore 3". Beep. This represents the best opportunity for continued corporate growth. Beep. If you refuse, you shall be terminated. Beep. And development will be transferred to our new studio in Botoswana where labor is much cheaper."

I tend to compare EA to The Borg, but when I think of EA I also tend to hear the Darth Vader music from The Empire Strikes Back...

DAH DAH DAH da da DAH da da DAAAAAAAAAH (repeat ad nauseam)  eek

10167  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battlefield Heroes...its a free Battlefield game on: February 27, 2008, 02:49:48 PM
The CGW that had the article about this is on stands now, fwiw. I might actually be interested in it when it releases or goes into open testing (I haven't bought a Battlefield game since the original BF1942).

They kinda make it clear in the interviews they're going after a more casual gaming audience. Characters have deep health pools (no one shot kills to worry about), and spawning points are faster, often with vehicles nearby. The goal seems to be a more forgiving game, that gets you into action quickly, and with less "dead time" waiting for the next spawn opportunity to occur.

Whether they think it's going to broaden their market to appeal to a more casual set, or be a subtle way to draw people into team shooters who stay away because they suck at them (hey, it's me! Tongue), not sure.
10168  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 27, 2008, 04:24:21 AM
EurogamerTV has an exclusive video about some creature AI changes in patch 1.5...
http://www.eurogamer.net/tv_video.php?playlist_id=7437

But wait, TenTonHammer has the exact same video, slightly smaller. Hmm, perhaps not so exclusive afterall ...   Roll Eyes
http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/27347

All I can say is, "Content Dammit! We the fading player base need that, not AI tweaks and "optimized armor resources."  disgust
10169  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Red Baron..is this new or old? on: February 26, 2008, 04:42:57 AM
If you really want a snappy, cheap ($14.99, though the demo may be all you need) Red Baron game, try Small Rockets' "Masters of the Skies: The Red Ace":
http://www.smallrockets.com/pc/baron/

I was nuts about it some years ago when I passed briefly through a "flight action game" phase due to FPS burnout. That one was my favorite, and it plays just fine with mouse and keyboard. icon_cool They're not the most modern looking games (Party like it's 1993!), but play's the thing.

Or the new multiplayer-focused update, Red Ace Squadron Pro (I haven't tried this $19.99 game, I'm kind of glad this thread reminded me to check back at their site, I didn't think this would ever get released):
http://www.smallrockets.com/pc/redacesquadronpro/

Small Rockets is a very tiny independent dev in Surrey England (I think they generally only have one or two devs working on each game they publish, it's really a throwback to the days before PC gaming became a corporate thing).
10170  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: February 25, 2008, 10:19:56 PM
Yes there's a new "Experience Smoothing" introduced in the latest updated, and in theory is supposed to make certain levels (I forget the exact numbers, but it's in the patch notes) go by much faster than before.

For me though it's still a case where if I enjoy the missions and what I'm doing, then leveling isn't something I worry about. Imho way too many people in CoX felt like leveling was the only reason to play (indicating that battling through the same environs to click clickies wasn't too satisfying), which is just inviting people to power level, "bridge," pull 50 enemies with a tank, or comb the system for exploits because they're not interested in anything else in the game. I think Emmert is basically admitting that in the Gamasutra piece.

In Tabula Rasa I really enjoy the missions but to me there simply isn't enough of it in the 30s, and by that time you've learned all the powers you're going to, so "just playing to level" doesn't do it for me in TR.

I think just about every MMO I played could've benefitted from 3-6 more months work on content (I know that's unrealistic, games cost money and you can't wait forever for revenue to roll in), because you really can't ever have enough of it. imho way too many devs underestimate their potential launch popularity (so many end up swamped, with account creation and login problems at launch), as well as how fast ravenous fans can burn through their PvE content (so you end up with players complaining of boredom just weeks after launch).
10171  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: February 24, 2008, 07:20:26 PM
I'm told that the busiest servers these days are Freedom and Virtue. You can now pay a "micro transaction" fee to transfer a character to another server, or purchase a "rename token" to change the character name.

I agree, I loved the teamwork aspect of the game and I think part of the reason I left is I just found it too hard to find anyone to team with (even though imho the game has the best "LFG" search engine/tools out there). Plus, once you hit the 40s, it seems all anyone wants to do is bridge, power level or other tomfoolery.

I can attest Pinnacle seems mostly a wasteland now, though the one person on my global friends list still playing tells me it's busier on weekend afternoons. [oops, revised from "weekdays"]

Oh while digging around the Champions Online forum, found a link to an interesting Gamasutra piece about Jack Emmert's (now no longer involved with COH) comments on the COH experience:

GDC: Cryptic’s Emmert: ‘You Are What You Are At Launch’

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17549
It's very candid, and you can tell he feels bad about certain decisions he made or helped make with the game over the years.

Some interesting tidbits:
Quote
By 2004, the game's subscriber base had grown to 180,000 in North America. "But on our first update, we did nothing to address the game's weaknesses," said Emmert. Focused on bug fixes and content past level 50, the team overlooked those content absences that resulted in a loss of players. "If you don't have [PvP] at launch, you can never add it," warned Emmert.

"We tried to address the weaknesses that we had, but we really did it in a way that simply re-used content that we already had," he continued. "It didn't change the fact that there were repetitive instances; it didn't change the fact that there was nothing to do besides leveling... Anybody who was turned off by those weaknesses, we were doing nothing to help them."

Quote
And six months later, WoW hit the scene. "It's conceivable that the players would have stuck around if not for the fact that WoW came out. When WoW came out, we lost about a third of our subscriber base," Emmert explained.

In 2005, City of Heroes saw its European launch, soon followed by City of Villains. But, Emmert said, "What I really delivered was a City of Heroes experience with a slightly evil twist." He neglected to connect to what players might want from being a villain. "If they didn't like City of Heroes, there was nothing here for them... I can't even tell you the disappointment I have. It hurts."
It was neat to hear him talk about numbers. I guess non-disclosure of that sort of stuff was not some condition of selling the CoX property to NCSoft.
10172  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO)-dev posts on: February 24, 2008, 06:33:32 PM
I dug around the official Champs forums for some dev posts (their community content writer Kestrel said they'll have a 'dev tracker' post up soon). I know it's early, I just kinda like knowing what they're thinking about. And other than Emmert, we don't know anything about these guys (this isn't the COH/COV dev team). I know Emmert is big on letting dev team members interact on boards (was/is really a hallmark of COH/COV), and it seems the same way with this early on. smile

I'll keep updating this with useful posts I find so check back often. I just like digging up stuff like this and trying to make it easy to read fast. smile

* Classes of heroes
-Player post about possible classes, based on the Champions RPG types:
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=15235
-Dev reply:
Quote from: dev Jackalope
A few might not make it at launch because of tech, and the names above (and concepts) aren't 100% on, but it's definitely close.

Remember that players will be able to select ANYTHING in the way of powers. A class gives some added advantage to some powers, but otherwise, you're free to select anything you want. And, given the way our design is going, that just might be a good idea...

BTW, my absolute favorite characters to create were speedsters and metamorphs. Loved 'em.

* Beta test etc. [nothing to report, just seems to indicate there'll be one eventually]
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=3334
Quote from: community rep Sporkfire
When it comes time to sign up for Alpha and Beta, you can bet that we will make such a big hoopla about it that you won't possibly miss it

* Why teams are limited to 5 players [multi-team raids are definitely part of the game though, he says]
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=19071#post19071
Quote from: lead designer Arkayne
Five person teams are the optimum group size based on our data mining. Keep in mind there's a lot more complex and reactive gameplay going on in Champions Online. Having larger groups makes things difficult for our content team to balance and keep fun and is also cognitively difficult for players to keep track.

That being said we're planning on having multi-team support (a command group consisting of multiple teams of 5) so you can take down larger threats!
This seems to suggest it certainly plays differently than COH (8 player teams).

* Underwater environments
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=19104#post19104
Quote from: lead designer Arkayne
We will have underwater missions. As for powers, TBD (it's pretty specialized).

* Loot
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=19154#post19154
Quote from: dev Arkayne
"Loot" is definitely part of Champions Online but characters are not nearly as dependent on it as in other games. It's there mainly to allow additional powers and costuming customization to characters and to provide tangible player goals.

Certainly players can be happy with saving the world from villainy but sometimes you might also find use in repurposing Mechanon's robotic blaster into your upgraded suit of power armor!

* Number of available powers [player question was concerned about a limit of 10 powers per hero, but these seem to refer to direct-attack/activation things, not passives]
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=19171#post19171
Quote from: lead designer Arkayne
Keep in mind that there are passive powers and triggered powers in the game based on conditionals. The keymapped/button-mapped powers are only the direct trigger powers.
This seems where the console-focus comes into play. You've only got so many buttons on an XBox360 controller, and they're not going to exceed the # of attack buttons you could comfortably do with the controller. A keyboard doesn't have those limits, but the game's got to work on both.

* Crafting
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=24106#post24106
Quote from: lead designer Arkayne
There will definitely be crafting, focused on the main aspects of creation in the supers genre.

* Bases/housing etc.
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?p=19261
Quote from: lead designer Arkayne
Lots of awesome ideas on bases/housing here! While we do have designs for this type of feature, it is not currently planned for launch.
Not really a surprise. COH didn't have SG bases until loooong after launch.

==========
Oh it seems like Canada is a major, large zone in the game world. smile

The dev/staff types so far there seem to be:
-Arkayne (lead designer)
-Jackalope (dev) (Jack Emmert)

-Foxbat (board moderator, seems pretty funny)
-Kestrel (community content coordinator, female fwiw; seems to be in charge of the official Web site and content)
-Sporkfire (community guy, helping w/ the boards/site I imagine) [Note: this is the same Sporkfire who was once moderator/community guy for SOE's Planetside]
10173  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 24, 2008, 05:27:34 PM
Get thee all to the D&D Online thread while the discussion's hot:  Tongue
http://www.gamingtrend.com/forums/index.php/topic,9243.0.html

For my part, I did a brief trial of it early on but didn't find combat much satisfying (LOTORO was much more my style, even if it supposedly used a revamped D&D Online engine).

As for this, well, after having an enjoyable team the other day, the experienced reminded me how I much I missed City of Heroes' more social aspect (well, if you can get on a busy server, only a couple really seem to qualify as that now), it's "LFT search engine" and other polished features I liked, I moved back in there for now. DR is free though and I'll definitely float back to it now and then. I just wish, as I babbled, that they'd find a way to vary the enemy AI a bit.

Oh, and I was reading a fan site interview about TR, and it had about 150 people on its dev team just around launch time. So you can see the difference between that and DR's team (13 people or thereabouts). Still, I can't see that DR is pulling in any sort of profit. I never see more than maybe 300-400 players scattered around the various servers, and they only seem to have one paid in-game advertisement (a Carmelo Anthony basketball shoe ad that gets annoying more because they don't have any other non-NCSoft ads, and the sneaker add plays obnoxiously often  disgust).
10174  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: February 24, 2008, 05:15:39 PM
They've not said anything about pricing yet. I think they know the console market's a different beast. I'm curious to see what kind of pricing SOE's going to do with The Agency on PS3 (there though there's no regular free for the online stuff, albeit it's not as polished as XBox Live). I'm sure that's something Cryptic will be sort of watching out of the corner of their eye.

Like RTSs, I think you can certainly *do* MMOs on consoles if you adjust to the controller and playing on a big screen TV and all -- the question is whether the audience wants or needs it on that platform (other than perhaps the Final Fantasy MMO, there's no proven demand for it there imho) and whether they want to pay more fees if they already are (though that's unique to XBox Live for now). I think to some extent there's this "Well if WoW is going to blot the sun in the PC MMO market forever, then we've got to move to a platform Blizzard isn't on and see if the market's there" attitude.

If I was a publisher I'd be a little wary of all the mmorpg devs bragging about how their game is "better than, different than or not just another WoW," cause most of the ones labeled as such have gone nowhere. As Emmert said in the GDC roundtable, LOTORO's the only mmorpg to top the 100,000 market in years other than WoW, and a cynic would say it's not a whole lot terribly different than WoW (though I warmed up to LOTORO, and not WoW).

Oh well I'm rambling like always, sorry. smile I wasn't really wowed by the combat in the Champs trailer much, but it's early. COH old timers like to reflect on how that game looked/played during beta, and I gather that a year before launch it was very different from the game that launched. But I can understand they need to get the hype wagon moving early (it's their first self-published game, and I imagine to some extent Cryptic's future existence depends on this being a hit (he said in a melodramatic, comic book narrator style voice  icon_lol)

I thought it was very interesting Emmert and COH's Lead Designer (Matt Miller/Positron) were on the same GDC MMO panel. I wonder if they're still on good terms, or if it's more of an Obi Wan Kenobi/Darth Vader type of relationship.

Jack: "So we meet again, Miller."
Matt: "Once you were my teacher. Now I am the master!"
Jack: "Only a master of evil, Matt. I see you're offering sculptures of Statesman now. How duplicitous."
Matt: "Don't make me use an energy blast on you..."
10175  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: February 24, 2008, 06:22:21 AM
I feel like I'm weeding through a conspiracy video or something, but I used a free screen capture utility (EasyCapture) to capture some pixeldy screens from the Flash game trailer.

Near the end they spritz a bunch of heroes along the screen so fast you can hardly see them, so here they are caught in the act (I reduced the size a bit and adjusted color to try to make it more viewable):


This one gives a better view of a couple more alien-looking heroes on about the left half of the screen.

Note: The "glowing" guy is not a "glowing" hero -- they just glow as they get "zapped" onto that group view in the trailer. I think that one is a kid in a T-shirt and jeans. Not a real test of the costume builder.  Tongue

From the trailer footage (sorry again, awfully pixeldy)
10176  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: February 24, 2008, 05:45:04 AM
Oh, I missed the debut trailer for this. It has a few glimpses of gameplay stuff, but it's "small" and kind of hard to judge how it'll play.

Anyway, here's the link (you may be prompted to get the latest Adobe Flash player, as they released an updated version in December '07 - it's a pretty quick, painless install process fwiw):

Champions Online trailer (at IGN):
http://media.video.ign.com/ev/sv.html?dlURL=xbox360movies.ign.com/xbox360/video/article/854/854253/champions_022208_01_flvlowwide.flv&object_ID=844880

If ye don't want to mess with updating the Flash player, can watch within the embedded player (even the official site is basically linking to IGN):
http://www.champions-online.com/trailer

I do think the cel shaded look is a risky decision if only because Silverfall and XIII flopped in N. America (though I'd say for a lot of reasons not having to do with the cel shaded look).

While I'd like to say that a cel shaded look can be less resource-intensive, Silverfall (which I did get and play quite a bit) wasn't what I'd call a low sys reqs kind of game.

All they'd have to do to intrigue me is have more "comic booky" interaction with the bad guys, and have mission objectives more interesting than "clicking glowies," escorts and rescues. My beef with COH for some time was "why as a super hero do I have nothing more interesting to do than beat up purse snatchers and click glowing objects?"  Tongue I think that was more a limitation of the engine, than a limitation on the dev's imaginations.

If this ends up a brainless beat-em-up done as MMO, I'll be sorely disappointed and I'll be calling for Emmert to turn in his cape.  disgust icon_lol
10177  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: February 23, 2008, 01:19:50 AM
Out of the blue, just this second, I decided to Return to City of Heroes. Well, at least for a month. smile I haven't canceled TR (I had so much faith I'd gone for a 3 month plan there, so I'll stick around another month or two). They make it really easy to reactivate and cancel, so we'll see if I can recapture my once all-consuming affection for this.

I still run a message board for the now mostly defunct Supergroup I was on, and my characters are:

PINNACLE (HEROES)
50-Silverknight (broadsword/invulnerability Scrapper)
47-Crusasder (assault rifle/devices Blaster)
44-Blackjack (martial arts/regeneration Scrapper)
43-Metal Mandroid (energy blast/energy manipulation Blaster)
39-Kato Katana(katana/super reflexes Scrapper)
38-Igloo (ice blast/ice manipulation Blaster)
38-Fat Hammer (invulnerability/stone melee Tanker)
32-Molly Cat (claws/invulnerability Scrapper)
30-Dr. Barium (empathy/radiation blast Defender)
29-Blue Graviton (gravity/force bubble Defender)

=======================

PROTECTOR (VILLAINS)
21-Fallen Soldier (mercenaries/traps Mastermind)
20-Sting (katana/ninjitsu Stalker)
14-Gunslayer (thugs/force field bubbles Mastermind)
10-Pyro (flame melee/fiery aura Brute)
4-Out of the Blue (electrical melee/electrical armor Brute)[/u]
4-Bullet (assault rifle/traps Corruptor)

Needless to say, I was a nut about COH; about COV, not so much, but it's something I can work on if I can get back into it...

Although I hadn't uninstalled (LOTORO was much more of a hard drive gobbler so I'd uninstalled that), I've got months of updates to download so I'm still waiting on all that.
10178  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / MMO keynote roundtable discussion at GDC on: February 22, 2008, 01:33:30 PM
I guess some comments from this have been mentioned in passing elsewhere (esp. comments along the lines of blaming WoW's runaway success for slowly destroying the MMO genre, which sounds more like sour grapes to me - and I'm not even a WoW player or fan), but the news site Massively has a transcript. Thought it'd be worth posting:

GDC08: Massively is Live at the Future of MMOs panel
http://www.massively.com/2008/02/21/gdc08/
The guests were:
-Cryptic Studios' Jack Emmert
-NCSoft's Matt Miller [aka, Positron, COH/COV's lead designer; seating him and Emmert at the same table now is like seating a husband next to his wife's previous husband smirk]

-Nexon's Min Kim
Nexon is a Korean company that makes several more casual MMO games including MapleStory and Kart Rider.

-BioWare's Ray Muzyka [no, he wouldn't say a peep about a KOTOR MMO, but since BioWare doesn't have an MMO at all, it begs the question why he would be invited unless... Tongue]

-Blizzard's Rob Pardo

It's a lot to comb through. Thought I'd cherry pick some quotes, er, some "paraphrases"...
Quote from: MMOkeynote speakers
*Jon tosses out: "Do MMOs need to go to consoles?"
Emmert: "YES! It's insane to think that creators could ignore this. It's ridiculous to think that MMOs won't migrate there. I just want to discourage Blizzard from going there. Is it true that you're going to buy the continent of Africa?" [Note: Champions Online will be an XBox360/PC game though it appears like SOE's The Agency to be console-focused.-blackjack]

Miller: Heck, yes, big audience.

Ray:Ray sees players spending time in different ways, and the play habits of console and PC being separate markets. If you want to go to sports fans, you might want to hit console gamers. If you want to hit a broad audience you can take on the huge challenge and technology issues of a cross platform title. You have to understand who you're selling to. You can be competiteve on any platform.

*Jon's new query: RMT/microtransactions or no?
Emmert: "MIcrotransactions are the biggest bunch of nonsense." I like paying one fee and not worrying about it - like my cellphone. The world's biggest MMO isn't item based, "even though the black market item GDP is bigger than Russia ... microtransactions make me want to die." As a developer and a player, it's the way to go.

Miller: The accountants like to see x players times y dollars. They like subscriptions, but if you only sell through microtransactions, what if nobody buys it this month? Subscriptions allow for some reliability.

Kim: Kim is understated, saying they pioneered the business. When they started they were the little brother; now they are bigger than NCsoft in Asia. Free to play goes beyond core gamers. iTunes has allowed one-off purchases, makes players opt in. They're just not targeting the core users. Kids can't afford a subscription, and subs are not a great fit for all players. It's a viable model depending on who you're targeting.

Pardo: East vs West question, according to Rob. They didn't want to change the design of the game to fit with another culture, but it's not the magic bullet. Your business model won't make your game great; there are ways to make money on the side (charges for server transfers and name changes), and that was more of a social thing than anything else. Opportunity for add-on services, making a hybrid model. Subscriptions aren't going anywhere either.

Ray: You have to understand what you're making. Why are the players going to be passionate about it? If microtransactions facilitate that, if it's a pull instead of a push, it's viable. It's the dominant form in Asia. It's not viable here yet. Could it be there yet? Some games would be a poor fit. Know who you're selling to.

*Jon's last question: MMOs are getting more expensive, can you make one without multi-millions?
Emmert: "There will be two tiers, because the major publishers are afraid to try. WoW offers an alternative to your game-play, and you need to look at what you can reasonably expect for subscribers. There are a few that are going to try to "pass WoW's numbers", which is insane. And they have the money to back that up."

Miller: If low-budget games need 50k subscribers, that's all they need. 100k is vacations in the Bahamas. [Most estimates put COH/COV somewhere in the 50-100K category at this point -blackjack].

Kim: Kim says the AAA MMO is unsustainable. Nexon has never tried to launch a title with big budgets or teams. $230 million in revenue and no team is bigger than 100 people [that's "small"? saywhat]. Kart Rider started with 2 people. You need a smart team with a product the consumer is looking for.

Oh well, if I paste anymore I'll have to request reprint rights. Just some interesting stuff.  icon_smile

I'd have to say Ray (Bioware) comes across as the most thoughtful of the bunch. Although you could argue, with no MMO as of yet, he doesn't need to take a big stand on these issues just yet.
10179  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: is Warhammer Online dead? on: February 21, 2008, 10:11:26 PM
This and Conan: Hyborian Adventures have been leap frogging each other in constant announced delays, but I don't think either game had an honest-to-goodness specific release date -- generally Gamestop and the like will list arbitrary dates, and the publishers (EA in this case) might toss an estimated date so their investors can get excited. I'm sure the devs themselves are still "it'll release when it's done."

My gut feeling is the more polished they are, the better. And if they can wait a little longer to see if the WoW steamroller finally slows down, all the better. But if they wait too long and end up releasing at the same time as a WoW expansion, than woe be to them. paranoid

I don't share any malice towards Mythic (actually I live in the same region that they're located in, in Virginia), but I do think some recent videos I saw on Gametrailers meant to hype Warhammer Online were overly flippant, had little footage from the actual game and spent too much time trying to make their devs seem funny (they weren't imho) instead of trying to make us viewers excited about the game. That might well reflect the arrogance kronovan cited earlier.

I don't think the game's in any cancellation danger, but EA isn't known for its patience. I couldn't see them pulling the plug on it, but I could see them sticking a "line in the sand" release date and forcing Mythic to release at some point.
10180  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: PC games you want to love but can't on: February 21, 2008, 06:37:35 PM
Sins of a Solar Empire

I got it. (bought it)

I just don't "get it" yet. Not giving up yet, but for now, it falls under this topic for me.  icon_neutral But I was trying to be brave and venture into a territory (4X) that I never had before. Maybe it was a dumb notion (most of the time, if I buy a game too far out of my comfort zone, it just doesn't work out), but I really am tired of the same old thing and this seemed like something refreshing to me.

I bought one of the Sid Meier Civ games, but I never could get into it either. I had 999 gamers telling me it was the best game ever, but I just didn't "get it."

And of course WoW, which I bought, played the free month, never had any desire to play it or try it again. And about 8-9 million people disagree with me strongly.  Tongue

I have spotty luck when it comes to trying games because others are crazy about it. I got Hellgate and TR due largely to some positive things here and had a lot of fun, but I'm not currently playing either of those (I couldn't get Hellgate to update properly with the last patch and gave up on it for now). I tried City of Heroes and LOTORO late in each game's beta process because some folks I knew were excited about it and got me into the beta, and fell in love with both (3 1/2 years for COH, maybe 6 months for LOTORO). In both cases I think I actually ended up more excited about the game post launch than the people who got me in.

Blah, blah, I'm rambling. Well anyway, neat thread topic idea. I commend three, Canuck. smile
10181  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 21, 2008, 02:28:14 PM
I haven't gotten to use the more garish items just yet. (some are higher level reqs).

Some I've seen...


Rifles are available at higher levels in various styles.


This "reptilian" rifle seems very popular.  saywhat


I guess this is for Guitar Hero fans. Not sure if it's a ranged weapon, maybe it's a hammer?  icon_smile

NCSoft cooperated with TenTonHammer on adding a new TenTonHammer hammer in the game. Not sure if it's in yet. I think the upcoming update brings that, and adds new summoning skills (a summonable snow man who has various powers).
10182  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 21, 2008, 02:21:44 PM
My main issue with this is that they don't vary the creature AI/reaction enough. I mean, it's like a bad FPS where the moment you enter a certain "radius of detection" in an area, 25 baddies glom on you like gnats. I don't expect great AI, it just needs a wee bit of varying (have some things run away from you, or take different patterns to reach you). Other than ranged attackers and spellcasters standing in a spot and firing, there's nothing.

But it's free. And as a dumbed down Diablo (not that Diablo was rocket science  Tongue) MMO-wannabe, it's a perfectly entertaining time waster. smile I would never suggest this should drag anyone away from $15 a month MMOs. Just, sometimes it's a good breather to get back to basics. And I like the concept of a small (12-13) development team putting out updates on a clockwork-like (every 2 months) schedule and gradually hammering something that seemed disappointing (well, imho smile) at launch into something much more polished and likable. But guys, c'mon, some AI variety please. There's gotta be a way.  nod

As far as quests go. Although they added gobs of them, most are still "kill 25 blah blahs and return" or "get scrolls off corpses at levels 2, 4, 6 of the dungeon" etc. Some of them require more backtracking to earlier levels to turn them in, than I'd like, but overall it's very easy to move around in the game. Also, I really miss the quest tracker that's in almost every mmorpg of note of late. Here quest updates do pop up on the right side briefly, and completed quests are checked off on the 'L' list, but I miss having them on-screen all the time (at least the option to do so).

Reached 14, and turned in some Kings Coins for decent-er Ranger equipment. BlackjackGT almost looks classy now. smile
10183  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: February 21, 2008, 02:27:14 AM
Speak of the devil -- I got the new Game Informer in my mailbox today, and they have a hands-on preview of this.

Some of the tidbits mentioned in the article:
-Cryptic has purchased the actual Champions pen-paper RPG, so while they're presumably going to follow its rules to a T, they don't have to be beholden to another company owning the IP rights (as they would've with Marvel).

-Cryptic is moving into publishing, and this will be their first "self-published" game. I can't help thinking that somebody (SOE perhaps?) else would handle the actual gruntwork of distribution if they intend to sell this in retail boxes.

-Combat is said to have more in common with Marvel's Ultimate Alliance console game, while supposedly keeping some of the skills/development etc. of mmorpgs. They got to play it a bit.

-This is a multiplatform title for XBox360 and PC. Apparently it's already up and playable on each system, and cross-platform compatibility is already working and also planned for launch day. So a Spring 2009 release seems genuinely possible if true.

-Microsoft now owns whatever work Cryptic did on Marvel Universe Online, so this game's engine has nothing to do with MU, or with City of Heroes

-Cryptic apparently got quite a bit of money for selling City of Heroes to NCSoft and this is helping fund this project and their two other mystery projects (Mystery #1 is really just inscrutable from the concept shots the article has; Mystery game #2 appears to be sort of a "caveman fantasy" MMO with loin cloth wearing players riding reptiles and battling dinosaurs.  saywhat

-You'll be able to create a secret identity for your character, and then set whether you want that to be revealed to the public or not. The choice affects what types of missions you get.

-The goal Emmert says is to make most of the game soloable and avoid the idea of forced teaming altogether, though it sounds like it'll be fun to team up.

-There will be loot and gadgets, and equipment you can wear. All will be toggle-able, visuals wise, if you have a look you wish to keep costume wise.

-Heroes will have customizable animations. So a robot-like hero might have a "robotic walking" animation you can select for default; a werewolf might have an animal-style animation etc. The goal seems to be to take everything about the COH costume builder to the next level as far as being able to customize everything.


**Yes, I'm still cynical about all this. I'm cynical there's a console market for MMOs, I'm cynical about how this'll play on PC because they're obviously focusing on how it'll play on an XBox360, and most MMOs that try to "break the mold" are simply not finding a mass audience so far. Still, I like what I read. smile

I played COH (COV to a lesser extent) for 3 1/2 years and loved it. But it is basically a 4 year old game with probably a 5-6 year old engine at this point. It's done a great job of keeping a steady playerbase all these years, and that's impressive.

I'm less excited about the console-ness of this than the fact it seems to be doing so many things that COH fans pleaded and begged for, but were -- repeating myself from above sorry smile -- repeatedly told it couldn't be done for whatever reason. That includes the customizable power colors, customizable animations, the idea of secret identities etc. I remember reading all of those suggestions at the COH boards over the years.

So I'm kind of keen on what they're trying to do here, but I'm just as interested in seeing how far NCSoft will go to deliver more things fans wanted but were told couldn't be done. Some of that (including the recent addition of customizable swords and assault rifles) finally went into the game.

Given this is a console-focused title and it's shooting for a far different combat feel than COH, I'm not thinking it's the COH-knockoff that my initial reaction suggested.
10184  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: February 20, 2008, 08:21:21 PM
Cryptic launched the Champions Online site today (tentative Spring 2009 release):
http://www.champions-online.com

Screenshots here:
http://www.champions-online.com/screenshots

Jack Emmert [aka Statesman before Cryptic sold CoX to NCSOft] has a "Why Champions?" blog entry at the new site:
http://www.champions-online.com/devblog/2_20_08

The artwork seems grittier (at least one seems to suggest some sort of blood spray?), and graphically it reminds me a bit of cel shaded stuff like Silverfall and the shooter XIII.

I don't really know if this is what Marvel Universe was going to look like, and then they just shifted it to the Champions universe when Microsoft backed out.  icon_confused Perhaps this was a second project, as there never were any screenshots to show of MU.

I read pre-release features lists with a massive grain of salt, but here's what they promise. Keep your cynical hat on for now I say, especially when a features list is full of exclamation points!!!!!! Although that's in keeping with my favorite comic books!!!!!!!!!  smirk
Quote
The First True Action MMORPG
Hi-Octane Excitement: Champions Online delivers furious, fast-paced encounters previously reserved for action and fighting games. No more boring auto attacks and lengthy recharge times. Champions Online combat is instantaneous — and electrifying!

Brains required: Every enemy and super-powered threat in Champions Online has its own unique abilities and combat specialties. Use your head — or wind up dead!

Bring friends, make friends: The Champions Online universe will be jam-packed with thousands of heroes, facing thousands of threats. Join up with other heroes, create your own superteam, and prepare to take on the ultimate threats!

Be the Hero You Want To Be
Total customization, at your fingertips: Choose from hundreds of different costume pieces, colors and body types to create your character's one-of-a-kind costume and look. There are billions of possible combinations, and in a universe brimming with the fantastic and the unforgettable, you can still be completely unique!

Your powers, on your terms: There are a multitude of astonishing powers to choose from in Champions Online, and its flexible character creation system gives you total control over your hero's abilities. You can even pick the appearance of your powers. Do you want purple force fields? Green fire blasts? Jet black claws? In Champions Online, you decide! [This was something much asked for by COH fans but the answer was always that it would require too much manpower, cost too much or would require reworking the game engine - if I'm recalling it right]

Keep your enemies close: Every hero must have an archenemy. In Champions Online, you design your character's supreme adversary, choosing a name, powers and costume for a superpowered foe to bedevil your hero throughout his or her career. [pretty neat]

Bigger and better: Vanquish evil, and your successes will be rewarded with costume pieces to enhance your powers and abilities. Then customize the appearance of those rewards to your vision of your hero's look and abilities!

Vast Universe
Endless exploration: The battle against evil in Champions Online rages across the world into outer space and alternate dimensions. No other MMOG offers players the chance to explore such diverse realms — from the shining skyscrapers of Millennium City and the frozen wastes of Canada to the interstellar gladiatorial arena on the moon, the hidden underwater city of Lemuria and the foul mystical dimension known as Qliphotic.

Evil most foul: Battle supervillains, aliens, giant monsters and secret, sinister organizations. Doctor Destroyer is launching new plans to conquer the world. VIPER lurks in the shadows, seeking chances to strike at humanity. The ancient Lemurians are plotting a return to power. And Mechanon won't stop until it has wiped all organic life from the planet. Can you stop these heinous threats to humanity?

Make your mark: The story of Champions Online is constantly changing, continually evolving. Villains are defeated. Heroes rise and fall. Cities transform. Your actions may decide the future!
10185  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: PC gaming alliance (industry effort) on: February 20, 2008, 06:25:20 PM
Yeah. Great. "Skullrail" will probably cost what all Voodoo brand PCs cost ($5,000).  saywhat How's that going to help the PC gaming industry? Part of the problem is, you can't really ask the average gamer to keep buying $2,000 gaming PCs every other year when a $300-$400 console game now looks as good (in HD in particular) and doesn't suffer all the same compatibility problems. Creating some new 8-core monstrosity and expecting devs to actually develop for it (I doubt you can make a game scalable enough to run on that and a PC like mine) seems like more of a technical exercise than a reality check.

"Skullrail" is fine as far as wet PC dreams go, but it doesn't do a thing to help a fading industry imhwo (humble wet blanket opinion).  disgust

To me it's been something of a conspiracy (sometimes unintentional). The PC hardware makers don't want you to be able to have an affordable $500 gaming PC. The videocard makers don't want you to have to stop buying $250-$600 videocards just to get a playable frame rate. Microsoft doesn't want you to remain happy with Windows XP forever (they'll force you into Vista kicking and screaming, sooner or later); and they couldn't care less if you mothballed your PC and played XBox360 games forever.

Gamers have no problems at all with a non-upgradable XBox360 or PS3, but if you ever broached the subject of "fixed" gaming PCs (so that developers all had one consistent set of PC platform specs to develop for), they would scream bloody murder and say you'll pry customizability from their cold, dead fingers... even while most of them are giving up on PC gaming because they don't want to mess with that crap anymore.  disgust

So I go back to my original cynical-as-hell post, which is that none of these companies really have any valid reason to care about PC gaming's status cause nearly all have their fingers in the console gaming pie. And all would blanche at anything that would make it cheaper for people to play PC games in a way that didn't involve hundreds and thousands of dollars on upgrades. I don't even say that with malice. Only with cold, sad, rationality.  icon_neutral
10186  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Monitor Question on: February 20, 2008, 03:34:13 AM
Last spring (2007), I mistakenly thought my 1998 era 17" NEC monitor was done. So I bought my current 19" Samsung Syncmaster 931BF (highly super duper recommended, get the widescreen version if you prefer smile). In my case the NEC kept dropping out after a certain amount of time (image went dead), and I'd have to fiddle with the connector cord on the back, or reboot.

But. It turned out the connector plate on my video card was messed up (an HSI-brand X800XL Pro).  saywhat So in the end, I don't think anything was wrong with my CRT at all (I donated it to a computer recycling center). When I was tugging on my monitor's connector cord, I think it was just pulling the card's messed up plate back into place.  mad

It's just, of course, when I asked about it on message boards everyone said "Oh it's your monitor. It's toast." It's similar to how if you tell people your computer's acting strangely, everyone automatically assumes it's virus or spyware. My only experience dealing with a computer technician (a small Va. company called Erol's in 1993) was "Oh, it's probably a virus. We'll have to reformat your computer." I think that's all their training manual had in it: one page that said "It must be a virus" and one page that said, "We'll have to reformat your computer."  Roll Eyes

So I'm going to sound one note in the minority stirthepot: Dig up an old video card, any kind that'll work on your system, and try that in your system before you give up on the monitor. If it still does the same thing you describe, then you know it's your monitor; if the problem is suddenly fixed, then you know your video card is kaput instead. Learn from my mistakes. It'll make me feel better.  thumbsup
10187  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 19, 2008, 05:32:25 PM
NCSoft cries "foul" and then seems to say "well, sure, maybe we will start laying off TR team members, but it's normal!"  saywhat

NCsoft: Tabula Rasa Report "Inflammatory"
http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9184&Itemid=2
Quote
“Yes there’s a possibility that there could be downsizing with the TR team. Some of that is due to the cyclical nature of game development (product is out and the team downsizes). Some is due to the fact that the product could have done a little better. But there is a lot going on with the TR team. They are working on more updates. We are planning a Japan launch later in the year. And the company is planning on investing millions into the product, so it’s not going away and in fact we have plans to grow it.
It is true sales have been humdrum, and that most developers pare down from their huge launch teams after launch. But I can't help thinking this will bring whispers of "Auto Assault Part II" from the MMO public.  paranoid If they're going to speed up the update process for TR and have updates more often (which they've talked about doing), I don't see how paring down the staff will help that.

One of the reasons NCSoft seems pleased as punch with Dungeon Runners is that the dev team is so small (apparently about 12-13 people at this point), there's very little overhead. Of course DR's a free download, and boxed retail sales aren't something they have to worry about. It wouldn't surprise most people if they start focusing more on Guild Wars and Dungeon Runners type games instead of continuing to do $50 retail box games with $15 a month fees.
10188  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 19, 2008, 01:41:43 PM
Hey, this is pretty cool - they made character info "fetchable" as XML, so a couple fans have set up "viewing sites" where you just type in any character name to see their stats, what they're wearing etc. (I suppose this will bring up privacy concerns eventually  icon_lol).

The two fan sites display the XML differently. One shows everything in text verbatim. The 100webspace.net version uses "mouse overs" for your equipment and skills, and makes for a neater display.

Here's links to my character (BlackjackGT):

(The tidier version with mouseovers; is missing the "poison shot" bow skill, probably because it's assigned to right mouse button)
http://demosthenez.100webspace.net/displaychar2.php?charname=BlackjackGT

(The text-verbatim version)
http://threeplanetssoftware.com/software/dr/profile.php?character=BlackjackGT
10189  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 18, 2008, 05:30:06 PM
I read a little update. CuppaJo is actually moving up to a game-development focused associate producer role, so that's why Critters (Amy), who handled message board related stuff for Auto Assault for a while, is now the community coordinator for TR:
http://tr.ncrage.com/news.php?extend.11

I'm still not really convinced not having official forums is a good idea. One of the things I liked about COH/COV, and LOTORO was how active actual devs/producers etc. were on the official boards. Without that, you tend to get limited to occasional one-way Web site updates and fan site interviews, and there's little actual interaction between the TR devs and the fans. I can understand that if something's as ravenously popular as WoW (you wouldn't want Blizz devs trying to converse with a few thousand people in a board thread) -- but TR isn't that popular, and I think more actual interaction with fans would've been helpful to the game.

Yes I agree, they put no effort into a searching-for-group function in TR. Why they didn't look to their own publisher's other games (COH/COV has very helpful searching/advertising-for-group functions, as does LOTORO -- sorry I only mention those they're the only MMOs I put any real time into smile) instead of basically just having people free-for-all shouting in an LFG channel, I'll never understand.  disgust

Even Dungeon Runners has a nice little matchmaking function (right clicking your health/mana bar provides some basic options), like so:
10190  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 18, 2008, 02:51:21 PM
A few pics. For a change, it's a game that doesn't bring my old PC to a wheezing halt to run. smile



The combat is more like Diablo or even Hellgate than an MMO, mainly because everything (aside from a few bosses) just charges and clumps on you (a little more variety in how creatures respond to you would be nice).


An exception, this "rifle boss" at least fights you a little differently (runs away to fire at you, and summons some weird "trophy pets")


You can certainly argue whether equipment looks "good" (they're purposely going over the top for the most part) in all cases, but I see very few characters who look identical.  icon_cool

10191  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 18, 2008, 02:43:02 PM
Put a lot of time in it over the weekend. There's no shortage of loot (perhaps they've better balanced the ratio of free- to paid-loot). There are lots and lots of quests now, albeit still too many "go kill 25 things" quests for my tastes. The occasional exploration-type quest or really anything that's more interesting than a kill quest, feels like a beer in the desert.  icon_lol

It looks far, far, far better than the crappy looking beta I played long ago. I do think the engine still has serious limitations -- arrows have to fire perfectly horizontally so at some camera angles, it looks like you're firing above things, for one. The AI still basically makes any other MMO seem like the Half-Life marines. Hit anything in an area and they all just come flying at you in a huge clump.

All the dungeons are basically big outdoor or indoor mazes (TAB key brings up a handy, opaque overlay map).

I'm more annoyed by the ads you have to sit through when doing routine things (portaling back to a town, logging out of the game), than the in-game stuff (which is really just a non-animated "ad strip" at the top of the screen, technically above the game screen). It's rather sad the only non NCSoft ad they seem to have is for some Carmelo Anthony (NBA Player) sneaker. Doesn't really make any sense to advertise that in a game a bunch of us computer dough boys are playing.  Tongue

In spite of any reservations, I played til about 3 a.m. smile Got a Ranger to 12.

Think I mentioned they decided to give some paid perks to free players, and then boost those perks for the paid folks which seems to work OK. Free players now have a stash (just the one inventory "page," but it's quite a lot of room) at the NPC bank in town.

There are several different servers now, including one that's only for paid members. Usually the first server on the list is the more crowded one. It's not crazy popular but it seems busy enough and there are quite a few people in the upper, upper levels (60, 80, 100).
10192  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 16, 2008, 01:57:29 AM
I haven't played Dungeon Runners since beta, and it's been quite a while. I thought since I'm sort of losing interest in TR, I would give it a whirl and post some updated impressions...
http://www.dungeonrunners.com/whatis.html

It's one of those "free to play," $4.99 to get various perks kind of games. Back in December, they added in-game advertising for free players, which of course sounds like hell -- but this did allow them to provide previously Premium perks to free players and then boost/improve those old perks to higher levels for the $4.99 a month crowd (and some new stuff).

They seem to be updating it consistently about every other month now. They didn't have instances back when I was in beta, and now there seem to be a lot of those available. Well anyway I'll give it a whirl and post some thoughts. I'm not heading back in expecting much, but I thought it was worth a try. smile Back in beta, I honestly thought Delphine's 1999 game Darkstone looked better and was more interesting, to be honest. We'll see if it's improved since then, in my cynical eyes.  smirk
10193  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Gaming Trend's MMO Blog on: February 16, 2008, 01:52:48 AM
If you guys are still seeking MMO Blog fodder, NCSoft released its quarterly financials (in Korea they have to reveal a bit more about MMO sales than in the U.S., from what I recall):
http://www.plaync.com/us/news/2008/02/ncsoft_announce_27.html

There are no hard sales numbers, but some interesting year-to-year comparisons. You can sort of tell Tabula Rasa didn't set the sales world alight because it had the same share of NCSoft sales as the 3-year-old City of Heroes/City of Villains (6% each). And you can tell Lineage and Lineage II sales in Asia are still what keep the company profitable. Since Dungeon Runners is a free download, there's no mention of it, and Auto Assault is of course kaput. Guild Wars had a pretty steep drop in retail sales but it's been out quite a while so it's understandable. Guild Wars 2 is not mentioned (the general scuttlebutt is that won't likely go into beta 'til late this year - the gaming mags have had some features on it).

NCSoft only mentions Aion (I put a little update in the thread on it here) as far as new MMOs they'll launch this year. Otherwise it seems like they're focusing on some casual titles for release in Korea (Point Blank™, Punch Monster™, Dragonica™ and Love Beat™).

There's your Blackjack Analysis!  smirk
10194  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Aion MMO on: February 16, 2008, 01:42:25 AM
Thought I'd dig this up. NCSoft's latest financials ballyhoo this as the only new MMO they're launching in 2008.

It sounds interesting enough but certainly not my cup of tea. The link Daehawk mentioned in August no longer works, btw. This page at NCSoft gives some basic info:
http://www.plaync.com/us/games/aion/
Quote
Believe in Aion™ [I'm not ready to, yet  Tongue]

Aion™ is the most visually stunning MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) ever made. Cutting-edge graphics redefine your expectations of online role-playing and reveal a true fantasy world where divine beings wage a war that will determine the future of the world.

Your role in this war is pivotal. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders as you and your allies participate in brutal warfare, devise brilliant strategy, and claim political power.

Soar to New Heights

Glide effortlessly through the skies in Aion™. Flying is not just a means of transportation – flight is an extension of the combat system and can be an integral part of taking on your foes in battle. Clash swords high above the ground and use flight-specific skills to defeat your rivals.

Aion™ adds a whole new dimension to combat as you pluck your enemies from the sky, rain down destruction from above, toss your opponent into the air, and more. This isn’t your usual MMORPG combat – you will need to form new strategies to slay your adversary.

PvPvE [Don't they know, MMO junkies don't like things to get complicated?  paranoid]

Combat in other online role-playing games consists of PvE (Player vs. Environment): fighting computer-controlled monsters, and PvP (Player vs. Player): human-controlled characters fighting each other.

For the first time in the MMORPG genre, Aion™ brings these two game features together in an evolving and seamless system. PvPvE manages the complex relationships and alliances between realms, races and guilds; it also controls the mighty Dragons, a non-player faction and a common enemy to all players, regardless of faction.

Blending Fantasy and Reality [It's not real! saywhat]

Aion™ delivers a new level of graphical detail and world interactivity. Climb sheer cliffs, fly through moving clouds, see water ripple from the downdraft of your own powerful wings and leap gaping chasms. A supremely powerful graphical engine brings the world of your fantasies to life like never before.
I dunno, sounds like Joust.  stirthepot
10195  Non-Gaming / Political / Religious Nonsense / Re: What the hell is wrong with America? on: February 15, 2008, 06:47:16 PM
You won't find an easy answer to these things in Internet arguing now, any more so than when Columbine happened back in 1999. My best friend and his sister took many engineering classes at Va. Tech's Norris Hall (now closed as far as classes go) back in the 1980s, and you can imagine how aghast they were last April. Several victims were from the N. Va. area where I live, including one who graduated from my brother and my best friend's high school.

I don't know what schools can do. They can't afford to have armed guards in every building, metal detectors at every entrance, security cameras in every corner of a campus. Even if you did that, maybe the shooters just move to other public places off campuses.

The recent shooting spree at a town council meeting in Missouri scared me because how many times as a newspaper reporter did I sit through boring town council meetings where some local resident/businessman ranted against the council? (which is what this guy did for years before blowing a gasket).

I'm single, but my niece and nephew will probably be attending college in 6-8 years. Is my brother going to have to enroll them in "what to do if a deranged gunman attacks your classroom?" classes? Maybe schools will have to start having drills for that just as they do for fire drills.

Gun control arguments tend to miss the heart of the matter, which is often either mental illness (Va. Tech), not meditating a long festering dispute before it becomes violent (the Missouri town council shootings), not taking warning signs seriously (Columbine) etc. In other cases it seems like teenagers not realizing that by the time they're 25 or 30, the things that torment them at 16, 17, 18 won't matter at all. I'm 42 now -- I wish I could go back and tell my 16 year old self to not be in such anguish about so many things.
10196  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: *Spits out drink* Bioware working on new KotOR!!!! on: February 15, 2008, 01:08:44 AM
EA told Blue's that the investor relations presentation slide was misinterpreted and no new KOTOR game is planned at this point:
http://www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewthread&threadid=85143
Quote
"The slide in John's presentation is titled 'Best Creative Talent' -- it addresses future and past titles. KOTOR, Black, Boogie, Skate and some other titles on the slide speak to past portfolio releases and the pedigree of the studio but do not specifically address future sequels. The MMO in development at Bioware Austin is listed a 'New MMO'. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused."
So we can all now retract our respective speculations, me included.  smirk

The conspiracy theorists will of course parse EA's language and say "do not specifically address future sequels" is a mealy-mouthed way of saying "well if gamers get so hot and bothered about the idea maybe it's not such a bad idea." But right now I'd put it in the Rumor Mill bin along with the "SOMEbody has GOT to be working on an X-COM sequel" wishful thinking rumors. Me, I'm still waiting on a sequel to Shattered Steel. Come on, Bioware, you've got to wallow in the past at some point.  unibrow
10197  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 14, 2008, 06:51:47 PM
Have fun. smile When I was playing LOTORO, I liked it enough to mail a City of Heroes supergroup buddy (he was on dialup) my game discs so he could try the trial version without having to download gigabytes of data. smile He enjoyed it (and mailed back my discs promptly), but his older system/card had a lot of troubles displaying certain textures at a decent clip.

I still haven't found an MMO that solves the problem of making your second go round through a game a fresh experience. I played LOTORO several months but after a couple of characters reaching 40, I really couldn't bear the thought of trawling through the same content again. There the different races have some different, unique stuff early on, and some of their own storyline quests (I did like that), but it wasn't enough to keep me there. Same problem here, even with the clone options.


I'm not sure what would solve that for me. More truly branching quests and rewards? Races with their own completely unique series of quests? More areas meant for players at the same skill level, so with one character you do *this* zone at 30-40, and with your next character you do *that* zone at 30-40.

TR just needs "more." It needs more areas, more content, and crafting needs a total revamp. I'm not ready to yell "doooommmm" but it needs a lot more than what seems to be promised in the immediate future. Just imho.
10198  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dead Marvel MMO Transforms Into Champions Online on: February 14, 2008, 06:40:31 PM
It's a new team (according to some dev posts at the COH forums at the time of NCSoft's acquisition of the City of Heroes IP, only one COH dev team member declined the offer to move over to NCSoft to continue working on it). See that announcement link: http://www.plaync.com/us/news/2007/11/ncsoft_acquires_1.html

But they've still got Jack Emmert (formerly "Statesman"), and I'm sure it'll be interesting. I know they were hiring and posting want ads like crazy for Marvel Universe. I don't think NCSoft actually acquired the "tools/technology" behind COH so it'll be interesting to see whether this uses some of that (though since MU was console-focused, I'd doubt it).

I do think though, if you think of some popular games where most of the development team scattered to other projects after its release (think maybe of all of 2015's "lead devs" forming Infinity Ward to create Call of Duty, after Medal of Honor: Allied Assault's breakout success in 2002), the ensuing games by teams of new employees under the original developer's name generally didn't match the initial success (in 2015's case, Medal of Valor: Vietnam was the company's epitaph). Sorry I can't think of an MMO comparison instead of an FPS one.  icon_redface
10199  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Mass Effect for the PC on: February 14, 2008, 04:09:28 PM
IGN has a mess of screenies at:
http://media.pc.ign.com/media/704/704283/imgs_1.html

Most fans seem to think this is "best game ever" or at least "Game of the Year." There are enough who think it's overrated, not up to KOTOR's standards, or what have you (although any site that dared not to give this a 5 star, 10/10 type review seemed to drown in piranha-like flaming  mad icon_lol), that I don't really know what to think. I hope there's some sort of playable PC demo.

I assume the PC won't have the loading time problems even the ravest reviews have complained about (wasn't it because they decided not to use the XBox360's hard drive to alleviate that?).

Most PC ports I've played still suffer from "console control-itis," (I liked KOTOR OK -- I even recently reinstalled and try to play it -- but I recall certain menu options still seem better designed for a joypad/thumbstick than a mouse) so color me skeptical on the promise this will be "optimized"  disgust for PC.
10200  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 14, 2008, 04:34:48 AM
TR's "meh" sales get a brief mention in interview with NCSoft's president Chris Chung (near the end):
http://www.gametrailers.com/player/30565.html

I'm puzzled as to what happened to April Burba (aka Cuppajo when she was the COH forum moderator), as she was replaced by "Critters" (who I seem to recall handled forum moderation for Auto Assault for a time) recently as community coordinator for TR with no explanation.

I think my time with TR might be nearing the end soon. As much as I like the game, the server is starting to feel more and more empty, and I am in the early mid 30s running into too many times where I've burned through all the missions I'm allowed to do (meaning I'm running into lots of NPCs with "broken" walkie-talkie icons), the instances require help I can't find (due to servers feeling empty at least in the level 30s), and I guess the game really is too much of a grind in the 30s simply because there isn't enough to do and enough alternate zones to go to. And like LOTORO, once I've got a couple 30s in this game (as I do now), the idea of working back through the same content over and over (even from my clones) isn't all that appealing.

My Exobiologist's at 33 with literally nothing non-instance to do, and I don't find grinding half a level of base defense/assault all that appealing.

I guess my disappointment is that the earlier areas like Palisades, Divide etc. seemed to do a better job of spreading massive numbers of quests over a wide level spread. In the 30s, it's just too easy to burn through the moderate amount of content and hit a dead level or two before you can "unlock" more NPCs for more stuff to do.

Plus, I've never really been able to play two of these things at the same time (I need to get going in Pirates soon). But I will probably stick it out until I get a new PC soon.
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