Friday, November 21, 2008

Star Wars : The Old Republic MMORPG

Yeah, that's right. Prepare for Biowares latest use of their Star Wars IP. Tired of watching Blizzard, NCsoft, and Sony cashing in on the MMORPG piggy bank, one of the giants of story telling has decide to step into the online ring. While Bioware has a rock solid reputation for giving some of the best games for our noggin, can they handle the additional pressure of dealing with an online community? Can they deliver on a promise that, if true, could topple the current king, World of Warcraft?

In case you've been living in a cave and systematically blinded yourself, The Old Republic is a storyline Bioware created for their successful Xbox series, Knights of the Old Republic. The timeline for these games are thousands of years prior to the movies, which really left Bioware free reign when it came to story. This is a time when the Jedi are a dime a dozen, as are their foes the Sith. To any hardcore Star wars fan, this is before the Sith rule of there only being two Sith at any given time. I won't go into the storyline of KOTOR I and II, but they are well worth getting into if you like RPGs. If you are familiar with it, the MMORPG of The Old Republic is three hundred years after the last game. So while it will more then likely contain nods to the previous games, enough time has passed for it to be fresh.

While a lot of people are quite unhappy with the graphics, I'm very pleased with the results that Bioware has taken so far, especially considering the game is still in early Alpha stages. While a lot of fans are foolishly wanting photo realistic graphics, it's simply not the way to go if you want any hope of getting a gargantuan playerbase. Hardcore gamers aside, the majority of MMORPG players want a game that runs smoothly. Given the average MMORPG's computer isn't some $3000 machine, keeping the graphics more " animated " is just good business sense. World of Warcraft has a very cartoon like art style, yet it seems to dominate over the more graphical powerhouses. If you're still complaining, please keep in mind these pictures are taken from the ALPHA stages, so expect improvements and changes.

However, the thing that Bioware claims that its MMORPG will deliver is truly the more epic and unique take on the genre. There will be a story. Ok, let me give some clarity here. While other MMORPG's have a story, the players really can't change anything despite interacting with it. No matter how many times you've defeated Thermaplugg in Gnomeregan, the gnomes are still being freeloaders in Ironforge. However, Bioware claims...

" Star Wars: The Old Republic will be similar to other MMOs but with several key innovations. Traditionally MMOs are built on three pillars; Exploration, Combat, and Progression. We at BioWare and LucasArts believe there is a fourth pillar: Story. Our mission is to create the best story-driven games in the world. We believe that the compelling, interactive story lines in Star Wars: The Old Republic are a significant innovation to MMOs and will offer an entertainment experience unlike any other "

So what does this mean? By the wording of this and other information on their website, your character will have his own story, and the actions you take will actually affect you. While you pick between the two factions, The Republic or the Sith Empire (Horde and Alliance anyone?), actions your character takes will shift your allegiance. So you could start out as a Jedi Knight then shift over to the Dark side. These kind of behaviors are exactly what I was talking about in an earlier post about the lack of reasons given to MMORPG players to roleplay. If they live up to this promise, I foresee The Old Republic to be the first ACTUAL Rpg among the other MMO games.

So far, Star Wars The Old Republic has decent graphics that seem to be able to run on most machines, an almost guarantee on a great soundtrack ( It's Star Wars...), and being ran by a company known for their interactive storyline prowess. While it seems a combination for the perfect game, there are other elements to consider. The online community itself might tarnish the title into it's own destruction. With such a powerful following, one small flaw might turn away the fanatical fanbase of Star Wars, and that's pretty scary. Also, other issues such as class balancing, Player vs Player content, and other online issues are untraveled horizons for Bioware. So until then, we can only wait, and hope that the final product will live up to our expectations.

Or exceed them?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hunter LFG...

I'm really wanting to hear from you, my readers. I'm constantly rambling about my own experiences and my opinions, so for a change of pace I want to hear from other players. What do you currently like about your favorite MMO and what do you dislike? As we the consumer shell out money from our pockets there has to be things in these games we wish they would fix. Boring Quests? Glitches? Better graphics? Shed the light on these subjects and lets get some interaction going!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Online Community has changed...badly

While I try to stay on topic of just MMO games, this really applies to any online experienced I've had in the past year. After being reminded of one of the greatest roleplayers in a video game, Fansy the Bard, I had to reinstall EverQuest. It's been sometime since I've romped around Norrath, so I was kinda startled to recall something else as well. The players in EverQuest were always more serious, more honest, and just generally nicer then the people playing more modern MMORPGS.

There isn't any Chuck Norris jokes, there isn't any linking items together with foul language. It's as if all the immature kids, or adults, died off. was a utopia of gaming. Everyone I spoke to, even though I haven't spoken to anyone on EQ for years, was helpful. All the new gadgets and gizmos released in the new expansions were quickly explained from a player's point of view. I was quickly given directions to new zones so I could farm AA's faster. I could go on and on about this kind of reaction.

So where are these people in World of Warcraft? In Vanguard? All you can find in the ooc chats here are stupidity on such a scale that for a brief moment your soul implodes from horror. Have any of you seen the OOC chat in the Deathknight starter zone? Most of these people are losing their minds in all CAPS because Questhelper isn't working and they cant solve a quest and they DEMAND HELP NOW. When how to do the quest exactly, exact directions to where they need to go, are in the Quest Log.

Is this just the way of things because of such a larger amount of players? Was this the accidental birth of Blizzard making a game appeal to a mass audience? Atmosphere is what can hook a player in, but having a great gaming community can make you feel right at home as you slay orcs and goblins. While I think WoW is here to stay and this will not cause it any lasting harm, I think the mature players will move on...or move back, like I did.

Monday, November 17, 2008

To Ebay...or not to Ebay?

Something I've wanted to rant about while shaking my head in a fit is account auctions. I can't find which side of the fence to stand here without being a hypocritical jerk. Is it ok to buy character accounts, game currency, and game items? Well it's obviously against game companies policies, that fact isn't stopping websites from making millions of dollars from fictional wealth.

Part of the problem is one every experienced MMO gamer has been through. You get a group, and the warlock doesn't know what your talking about when you tell him to summon his Imp for Blood Pact. Maybe you've grouped with the hunter who blinks at you when you tell him to CC a mob. These are, more then likely at least, people whom bought their accounts over Ebay or some other website. They come to the game brand spanking new without a CLUE how to play their class. This hurts the entire group that has to suddenly give out RPG 101 lessons. There is such a huge learning process as you level up with your character.

Then there is buying in-game currency. This can be a pain as it can hurt the game's economy. If your wondering why that even matters, check out the inflation in some games like EverQuest. On new servers an item would be like 1000 platinum, while on an older server it would be 100k platinum. This kinda slaps a newcomer in the face until he either gets lucky with an item drop, or goes out to buy gold. Players wanting to raise their professions in World of Warcraft have a hard time having to compete with people only farming mining nodes/herbs/etc with people farming to make gold which they turn around and sell.

So what's the solution? The business of selling game accounts/gold/items isn't going anywhere as long as how the games we play stay the way they are. No matter what, I think it's the players right and choice here. I also think if a player decides to buy a character account, don't be a jerk. Look up your character on the web, look up play guides, experiment with your character for a few hours to get the hang of all those shiny spells. It will make your first impression go from people shunning you to people's silent respect.

A MMO Experience: The Lone Halfling

A little incident that I wanted to share, and hopefully get some similar stories from you as well. Way back in the days of yore, I played EverQuest. To those too new to the MMORPG scene, EverQuest had a quest for each class called their Epic. Basically it would be a long series of quests taking a person from long spawns, raid encounters, and collections where the reward would be a powerful item. This item would only be usable by said class, have a unique graphic, and be all around the symbol for that class. These quests COULD take months to over a year to complete just by the sheer difficulty of them.

I played a lil halfling Paladin, and did my epic quest. It took about..I would say 7 months to complete. However I was stuck at the very end, a run to Plane of Fear. To give some idea of this part, Anyone attempting this would have to zone into the Plane of Fear, run near where the God of Fear is, and turn in a few items to receive the epic sword Fiery Defender. However as soon as you zone in, you're being attacked. Most raids can fail at this initial part just from all the chaos.

However, I plopped in solo, after several failed raids. As soon as I zoned in I got on my AA horse and ran like crazy around the zone. With about one hundred monsters on me where one hit would equal my death, it was pretty nerve wracking. However, I got enough of a lead on them to turn in my items, get my sword, then run like crazy out of there. It's really hard to describe how much of a blast it was.

So I want to hear your story. Be it a strange set of circumstances that would be considered hilarious, or an epic encounter that had you on the edge of your seat. Post em up here...Now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who took the RPG out of MMO's?

To any newcomer, the term MMORPG is very misleading. Take any successful RPG out there, and the key elements are almost always the same. An engaging story, not just in the world, but between the characters themselves. Exploration. Adventure. Challenging combat. All these factor in to why Final Fantasy VII has such a huge following, why people are jumping for joy over the re release of Chrono Trigger for the DS, and why Fallout 3 is such a blast to play. The recent blockbuster Mass Effect, which brought controversial topics such as racism, religion, etc and MADE the player roleplay Shepard was a work of art.

So where in the WORLD are these in any of the MMORPG's? Half of the bloody genre's name is taken from a story driven gamebase. While I am guilty of it as well, I would say 80% of the population doesn't roleplay in any given sense of the word. I can't blame them either. It would take some serious interaction from the game companies to get that glint in my eye that wants me to roleplay a character. If there is no story in the game itself, why should the players bother?

Now, there ARE roleplayer servers on many of these games, but they are at best a joke. My experiences in all of them are the same. A huge " cyber " fest. That's it, people cybering in the tram between Ironforge and Stormwind, or making lewd comments over shouts. It's more of a strange flirting, creepy, and just plain childish way to act.

Come on game developers, shell out a few bucks and make your GM's get creative. Let them run quests to get players to interact, and encourage them to roleplay like it's Saturday night and its time to D&D. Of course it shouldn't be forced down player's necks. There are times we one doesn't wanna roleplay, or doesn't ever. However, until something like this comes around, RP servers should be avoided like some plague from the abyss.

Until then, when I load up my pirate ship on Eve, the roleplaying only goes on in my mind. However I think if such a mindset existed on a larger playerbase, where even admins participated, then game companies will see the crowd that despises MMORPG's for the lack of the RPG will start to flock in.

Need money to afford Wrath of the Lich King?

Winter is coming. Sorry, my inner nerd has kinda busted out for a bit there, and 100 points to anyone that gets that fantasy literature joke. Anyway, with all these great MMORPG expansions coming out, I decided to list a few ways you can make some extra money. They range from free surveys to type at home deals. I know, surveys are mind numbing and horrid. However, these actually pay somewhat decent, so I thought I would spread them along. Anyway, I hope they help get you all the " phat " lewts for whatever game you enjoy!

Get paid for your opinion.

Type from Home

Web Colleagues

Those two keying at homes do take a sign up fee. Now while MOST* I would say 90%* key at home sign up deals are horrid scams, any with the Scam-X logo are safe. Which these two have..I checked. I do know the latter one is 100% safe, as my wife has tried it.

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