Saturday, November 15, 2008

What happened to the Fantasy MMORPG?

Why is my MMORPG's becoming like Quake III? It's a weird statement, but I'm odd so indulge me on this one for a minute. While I love my FPS, I can't help but weep at the direction this, the MMORPG genre, is going. I've been playing MMO's since the release of EverQuest, stayed with it until Gates of Discord, then moved on to others. City of heroes, World of Warcraft, Vanguard, Eve, Warhammer, EverQuest 2, etc. While some of these have some endearing qualities, none of them have held me the way EverQuest had. I pondered this, and I think I have found the answers.

One of the missing elements I think is both the reason World of Warcraft is making so much money, and the reason I can't say I've ever enjoyed it as much as EQ. Difficulty. World of Warcraft is easy. Now hear me out before you start posting about how " Raid encounter A is NOT easy ", and so on. I've raided every single encounter in World of Warcraft minus whatever came out for Wrath, and there is no encounter that rivals the challenge in older MMORPGS. If it was just the raid encounters I would be ok, but the overall game is the same. To find anything that was not mindless grinding , you have to find group quests or red quests and go solo them if you wanted any type of challenge. Dying is also meaningless in today's MMO. You respawn and go back on shooting in the Quake III MMORPG. That's it. There was never any excitement or danger in any encounter. Walk up, smack, repeat until dead. This seems the trend these days as opposed to when encounters were dangerous. You had something to lose should you mess the fight up, or if you didn't prepare properly. Nothing was more exciting then getting an add and killing them both with 50 HP left.

Another element is the GM event. These were special little quests the GM's of the game would participate with. So you would actually be playing with the Gm's during these events, instead of just true NPCs. These could be small quests, to game story changing campaigns. One such was when Firnoia Vie was captured by Venril Sathir not long after Kunark was release. Now while WoW has seasonal events and special ones when expansions are released, that's it. Perhaps GM events are impossible considering how large the player base is compared to EverQuests, but I still miss this interaction.

So you die, you lose nothing. Each encounter feels the same. While World of Warcraft drew me deeper into the Warcraft story that I've always enjoyed from the RTS series, it never had me in a choke hold. Even today's PVP encounters are based upon the playbook FPS wrote years ago. If I wanted to play Capture the Flag with a bunch of people, I would plug in any number of shooters. Make me feel like I've achieved something, and you'll have a golden MMORPG. Until then, nothing beats going to the Plane of Fear by yourself to get your Paladin Epic 1.0.....

and bringing it out in one piece.

This was something I wrote for, but I brought it over here to try and get even more feedback on the subject. Also, I'm lazy.

Initial Thoughts: Perfect World

One of the MMORPG's I haven't played but will review in the near future is Perfect World International. This is a very....anime-ish MMORPG that has, so far in my experience, ups and downs. While the graphics are NOT extraordinary, there are certain times where they truly sparkle.*Especially the water effects* However it plays just like WoW, but the leveling up system is slightly different with needing to level your character and receive stats * IE Diablo * and level your " Spiritual " self to increase ablities. I'll have a final review in about a week, which I'll then review Eve Online, the only space game that is worth anything at the moment. Also, I'll get all the data for a preview of a MMORPG I'm looking forward too. Star Wars: The Old Republic Online, being developed by Bioware, the Gurus behind Baldur's Gate/NeverWinter/Mass Effect, etc. I'll post some pictures of what they have so far!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Going afk while the rest of you fight

Taking a cue from my Mage days back in EverQuest, I want this post to be about you my viewers. I know in my years of playing MMO's, since the release of Kunark expansion, I have a ton of hilarious stories. I'm sure that no matter what game you play you do too. So, be brave and step up to the imaginary E-plate. Post a comment and describe some of the most amusing situations you've found yourself in. You don't have to sign in if yer embarrassed.

While you do so, I'm gonna send my pet in and go afk..I mean..I'm medding up...really.

We've been invited to join the guild , Google!

Hmmmm, I really am too nerdy to exist I do believe. Anyway, we are now indexed with the almighty search engine Google. So I hope to start climbing those ranks and getting more and more people here. At least that's the dream, I would love to see dozens of comments and such to the reviews I make, be them positive or negative. So invite your friends! Tell em to check out my reviews! Try some free trials! Do it...or..suffer...some type of torment I cannot deliver on.

Vanguard : Saga of Heroes

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was a game I was told would take me back to my EverQuest days. With a legion of World of Warcraft clones swarming the world in a frenzy, I was very uplifted by this bit o gossip. However to anyone that got a little glint in their eye from hearing a " spiritual" resurrection to the good ol days, Vanguard doesn't live up to that hype. Frankly, it doesn't live up to any hype really. Do not get me wrong, Vanguard isn't some horrid game like Matrix Online! * I can't wait to get to THAT review! *
However I cannot stress that while Vanguard isn't bad, it doesn't really stand out in any way, shape, or form.

It first started out as what is called by several publications are the worst launch ever. Plagued with glitches, lack of BOTH low and high level content, and inability to run on some system. *Even if they were high end* This of course made for a huge loss of people after the free month went up, if people even played that long. *Hint: They didn't.* However, in recent months several of those issues have been fixed and more content added. They even added a free trial trying to get a higher player base starting on a brand new area made just for fresh characters. However, after I made a brand spanking new character to romp back through the hills, I was still sad. Why was I mourning in sorrow?

Someone stole Blizzard's playbook when it came to gameplay. There is nothing new on the basic fighting, be it PVE or PVE. You have all your standards here which I suppose isn't a sin. The UI is generally clean and crisp, serving it's purpose well. While as I said it looks stolen from WoW, every other game is doing it too so that makes it ok....right?

Vanguard does improve on a few ideas of MMORPGS however. For example, nearly all the classes are hybrids, so no one class has a solitary role. Each of the classes * There are 15 in total * have primary and secondary abilities. The Cleric, for example, is mostly for the healing feeling, but has some tanking prowess. However all 15 classes are what you are probably already familiar with. The Monk and Disciple class both get a point counter called " Jin " that they use as currency for other abilities, which is really identical to a Rogue's combo point system from World of Warcraft.

However there is a world outside of combat. What I didn't explain before was there are four areas in total your character can level in, independently. Adventuring, Crafting, Diplomacy, and Harvesting. Adventuring is exactly what it sounds, the typical grind/quest/loot. Crafting is the same as well, as is Harvesting. You can however level each of these fields separate of one another. So your adventure level doesn't cap your harvesting or crafting level, unlike World of Warcraft. Now Diplomacy is a bit different, and kinda gimmicky. However for all that I applaud them trying to add this type of play into a MMO. Diplomacy is basically a card game where you play against someone using a deck of cards. Diplomats can give city wide bonuses that are very neat * Think the zone wide bonus of killing Onyxia *. They are also needed for guild houses and certain flying mounts.

Probably my favorite feature was purchasing my own boat. I can't really say why, I just thought it was a touch of interaction left out of other games that really made me feel removed from the game. Anything that adds to the ambiance of the game to make you feel immersed is the keystone to a successful online game.

Now it's time to come to the nitty gritty. You've probably already seen to some extent how the game looks. I'll admit that at times it's truly breathtaking, however there are also some hiccups that completely ruin the effect. Even on a high end machine you will see some pop ups, some distortions, and I had the occasional " water disappearing " glitch. Still, it's a very pretty game and VERY open. If you see a place you can go there proving you have the means. However it's not a game I recommend to someone with a below average rig, the huge open areas can get your comp into a death lock very quickly.

Sound is also an issue with me on this game, and I really don't have some secret agenda *That you know of* against Vanguard, but the sound to me was just bland. Effects seemed stapled on and what music existed was really generic, even for this type of game. I never experienced any type of epic music as I have in Lord of the Rings Online or in World of Warcraft. Sound is a huge part of the atmosphere of a game! If I swing a huge halberd at someones head and it gives a weak little whack, I will blink in puzzlement. It's just what I do.
  • Graphics: 8/10. It's shiny pretty.
  • Sound: 5/10. Plug in your Ipod or turn on Winamp.
  • Gameplay: 6/10. Plays ok, but you'll be hard pressed to find anything new here.
  • Innovation: 6/10. Diplomacy and Boats!

Overall, I don't recommend this game. Not with established giants such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings out there. Even if someone had played these and got tired of them, you won't find anything new here. Still, there IS a free trial for the game, which you can find on their official website, so you don't lose anything to try it if you are bored.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DoTs suck.

I sadly didn't post yesterday, and it was not due to the case of the screw its. My wife, my daughter, and myself caught some kind of epic illness that has put us all three out of commission. Even now as I take the slow agonizing dot that is...what ever this disease is, I feel like death. However I got the template working fully, apparently Blogger fixed itself. I hope you like the new graphical changes. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes tomorrow for real this time. After that, I'm going to start with full page reviews starting with the giant World of Warcraft. After that I'll go through each of the games I've posted, then continue with more and more MMOs!

Monday, November 10, 2008

WoW! A new look delayed!

Yesterday I mentioned that I would be bringing full fledged detailed posts about the games I review, and other goodies. Well today I wanted to help with the look of the page. It's just too blah for my taste. However, blogger seems to deny any template I try to upload, so I'm kinda stuck until this gets resolved, graphically speaking. I'm one of many facing this problem and I'm no novice to HTML *I am however, lazy*. So I'm gonna keep working on this and posting on my other blog *which is The Psychic Exodus. Just some of my own experiences with the paranormal.* Tomorrow begins my review of Vanguard, which...which will probably receive the lowest score to date!
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