Saturday, December 20, 2008

New format is up..kinda...maybe...well..

As you can see the new template is up! I found one I really liked, but I hated the header for it. Since I'm in no way, shape, or form an artist it took me a while to try to think of SOMETHING I could make that would function until I could figure something out.

Also you will note some key elements are missing, such as my blog roll*Other MMORPG blogs/gaming website that I personally enjoy* I will get those up as soon as possible. Anyway, tell me what you like/dislike about the new format. If everyone thinks its crap, I'll find something new =).

Until then...Sleep!

ZzzZzzzzzz

Author's Note - Another addition to the website will be our very own forum! It's made, just not linked to the main site just yet.

Update - Due to family gatherings, it may take some time to finish the new format than planned. I apologize.

Update 2 - The new format is nearing it's epicness. The site should be easier to navigate, and we have our very own forum! While there is no posts there, nor is the forum done*I'm SO lazy* it will be tomorrow. Sorry for it taking so long!

Tabula Rasa goes free early!

Sometimes NCSoft is just a big ol softy. After releasing Deployment 15 and adding a bunch of neat content AND talking about adding mechs with Deployment 16 , they have decided to make Tabula Rasa free for current, new, and returning players a month early!

So head over to Tabula Rasa's homepage (here) and get to playing! The fact Tabula Rasa is going out with such a party is enough of a reason to show your appreciation to NCSoft for being such benign souls in these wintry months.

Who knows, maybe if they show off how well they've fixed previous errors they will get enough people to NOT shut down.

Just a thought.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Site will be under some construction..

I'm quite tired of the current template, and I've decided to change it completely. So until that gets fixed*I would say the site will be back up in full tomorrow*, updates will be light.

I have a very good read for you however, click here for a great article about video game journalism.

In its current format, being any type of video game journalist is difficult. Especially with such large Blog sites such as Destructoid.com*which I'm proud to be a member*, Kotaku*Which sucks*, and other such "big" sites. You may *or may not* know that I'm also a writer for NegativeGamer.com*I'm too lazy to make links at the moment, bad day at work, it's over there to your right however with the rest of the cool web pages*. While I would love to see NG flourish for the sake of seeing a great idea flourish, I would also love to see The MMO Experience flourish as well.

Do I want to be as big as Kotaku, MMORPG, or Massively? No. I rather have an intimate audience that wants a more laid back and personal way of enjoying their news and just hearing interesting stories. That, to me, is what an experience is. While I will post about upcoming MMORPGs, especially if I think they are interesting, my idea for this blog was wanting a place where people could share their own experiences along with my own. I haven't accomplished that goal yet, but I indeed to.

So, since I'm currently about to back up all the links I have and other such things, I would like to hear from you. What are some feedback from you? How can this site improve? Both visually and with those weird symbols called "words". I would dearly appreciate any feedback.

Thanks,

Danshir


Thursday, December 18, 2008

MMORPGs are Evil


Are
MMORPGs evil? The answer may surprise you.

With the recent articles about torture in World of
Warcraft(read here) I have decided to investigate what other vices MMORPGs indulge themselves in. If MMORPGs can stoop so low as to have you torture a fellow virtual human being, than I doubt there is no low that the developers will have us sink to. Probably for their own nefarious plot of "world-takeover" proportions. I haven't got any proof yet, so until then I can only show what proof I DO have.

MMORPGs ARE evil.

First I'll start off with one of the more tamer vices, Drinking. I don't mean drinking water or
kool-aid, which is all well and good, but liquor! Beer, ale, whiskey, and other intoxicating drinks are everywhere! Especially Ironforge, the city of the Dwarves in World of Warcraft. Apparently this entire "race" of people are nothing but drunks. Why would Blizzard design a game for our children that has an ENTIRE race of potential AA members? They even joke about it with the little quip..

/silly "I don't have a drinking problem. I drink, I fall down, No problem!"

THEN these games actually SHOW your character drinking and the effects of intoxication. The screen gets blurry, and your character starts to weave back and forth. Even your characters speech becomes slurred to where you can't ever understand what someone is saying. This is completely and utterly unacceptable. Yet I wish this was the largest problem I had with my experiences in games like
WoW, EQ, EQ2, WAR, and a whole large list of vile, evil, malicious games!

If a whole race of midget drunks didn't throw you off and ban your children from ever touching a "PC" again, this may ban your child from even saying the words "Exp". The entire game revolves around one fact. To get anywhere, to "level" up or whatever, is you have to KILL other people! These games encourage violence. It teaches them positive psychological reinforcement that if you kill someone you can take their clothes and their money. It doesn't have to be people either. My son, Billy, was smashing a squirrel in the face with his "staff of
jordan" saying that he could sell the squirrel's teeth to a "merchant" for a couple of bucks. I'm scared to walk my little fluffy wuffy Mittens down the road, afraid someone will maul him for his paws or whatever body part is lucrative that week.

There are other subjects too, like racism. These games were MADE to PROMOTE racism! What are our children to think when they are playing a game that tells them " You must kill all the Night elves you see because their Alliance! "? You are encouraged to kill other people JUST because of race. How can video game companies get away with such obviously misguided and twisted views and encourage our children to think the same? I know that immediately after writing this warning letter I'm going to write to my congressmen about all this. You shouldn't kill gnomes just because they are short! or Night elves because their eyes glow differently than a Blood elf's.

So please, keep your children away from these games! The more they play it, the more likely they will start thinking since your a human, your filthy alliance, and you have to die. Then they will take your clothing and money, and sell your ears to some "merchant"! These games, and ALL games, are evil. If there were no video games we wouldn't have violence! Before television we were a perfect society!


Author's note for the stupid - This is a satire. Enjoy it or Hate it. Post comments if you want, Just me expressing some rage over recent news about yet another human being blaming Video Games/Television/Movies/Music because they cannot take responsibility for their own filth. We need to stop pointing fingers at everything but those who are to blame when we take such horrible actions.

Ourselves.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Star Wars: The Old Republic Update

Video speaks for itself. It looks amazing =).

Check it out here.

Author's note - Due to the new template, I could no longer have the embeded video on the website, plus it was getting annoying.

Danshir talks to Aeria Games!

I'm somewhat surprised that someone actually bothered to talk to me, let alone someone that works on a game I've reviewed/play. However Spencer Chi, Producer of Aeria Games & Entertainment responded to a few questions I had about Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine regarding some of my suggestions and complaints.

While it's not a ton of information, I was still pleased with my answers.

I had asked questions about the run speed, explaining it was too slow considering the size of most play areas, and that it needs to be tweaked to some extent. While my answer here wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear, I did get some nice information.

SpencerC -You'll be able to increase your run speed with the Item Mall item, Orb of Speed. If you don't want to spend AP, you can also get to level 20 and get a mount. When you have a mount, you'll travel faster.

Apparently also you can let your mount auto-pilot you where you want to go by clicking on the mini-map, which I thought was kinda nice.

Then of course, I had to ask about the disconnect issues. I know myself and a few others were constantly getting booted, especially if trying to do an instance.

SpencerC - We're working on the disconnects and we almost have it fixed--probably within the next 2-3 days.

Lastly, I had asked about the alt+tab glitch. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, when you alt+tab out of MegaTen while playing in full screen mode you can't go back into the game without it crashing.

SpenserC -As for the alt+tab issue, you're right that playing in windowed mode avoids this. We'll see what we can do about it not exiting in full-screen.

You can view the very brief posts between us here.

EVE's Starbase Exploit Reachs Cosmic Proportions

As many EVE players probably already know, there is an exploit within the game that has been used on a massive scale. However what many probably don't know is that this exploit has been in the game for about 4 years. Now I won't go into detail on how the exploit is performed. Suffice it to say it has generated well over 3 trillion ISK according to Scrapheap Challenge. While this amount is roughly equal to the amount of ISK traded daily, that's a huge chump of change.

CCP games, the developer for EVE online, has started up an investigation and had meetings with the player elected officials known as the "Council of Stellar Management"(CSM). Some Q/A was released from this meeting and made known to the public. If you wish to read the minutes of the meeting please go here.

It is interesting to note if you read the main points of the discussion CCP isn't ready to whip out the banhammer. While there will be obvious punishments toward those that participated in the exploit, what about the players that purchased the exploited items? With over 35% of the Ferrogel market coming from this exploit, how bad have these players hurt the economy?

According to the 4 banned players(please read the minutes of the meeting if you have no idea what I'm talking about) they reported this exploit years ago and nothing was done about it. While this hasn't been verified, if they are telling the truth should they even be punished? Obviously they have hurt the game to some degree. However if CCP games did NOTHING about it after being told about an exploit, is that not a silent nod to continue said exploit?

Here is a few of the more important questions/answers..

A banned player posting on the unofficial EVE Online forums, Scrapheap Challenge, claimed the exploit had been running for four years. Is four years an accurate timeframe?

CCP's Lead Economist Dr. EyjoG (Dr. Eyj├│lfur Gu├░mundsson) stated he's able to confirm that the exploits started in March 2008. The minutes indicate that 'the bulk of it' became operational in May and June of 2008. As to how far back this exploit actually reaches, the minutes state that "CCP is in the process of restoring older data and will mine that data for information over the next two weeks." Furthermore, CCP Games knows that the exploit itself existed before March 2008, but (thus far) hasn't found evidence of players using it until March. (Note: EVE developer CCP Diagoras stated that the exploit was possible, code-wise, from at least February 2007, but until the older data is restored the devs do not have a definitive answer on whether this truly began four years ago.)

If this market manipulation was happening on such a grand scale, why wasn't it detected until now?

Dr. EyjoG said the exploit wasn't used on a grand scale until this year, and thus the economic effects were gradual. Also, not all of the materials gained through the exploit were sold on the open market. Indeed, most of the materials were either used directly for production (manufacturing) or traded outside of the market. He also added that CCP is reviewing how they operate in terms of Quality Assurance, market monitoring and data mining to see if there's more they can do to detect exploits in the game.

How much of EVE's resources were produced through the starbase exploit?

Although the full extent of the damage to EVE Online's economy still isn't known, CCP Diagoras gave a rough estimate of the share of overall production the exploit accounts for: 35% of the Ferrogel market, which was the most exploited material. Other materials were produced with the exploit, but to a lesser extent than Ferrogel.

The forum poster on Scrapheap Challenge claimed the exploit netted between 2.5 and 3 trillion ISK. Is that figure accurate?

CCP is holding off on breaking the exploit down by ISK amount estimates for the various materials, namely to let the market speculation die down, and of course because they don't have the full picture yet themselves. However, Dr. EyjoG believes the exploit did generate a few trillion ISK. He noted that the daily trade in EVE is about 3 trillion ISK, downplaying the views of the impact as being catastrophic, but he reiterates that it is significant.

What impact did this amount of ISK gained through the exploit have on the outcomes of 0.0 warfare?

Dr. EyjoG said this is unknown, and in all probability cannot be estimated.

Which alliances and characters were directly involved, or benefitted from the starbase exploit in some way?

CCP Games, specifically CCP Arkanon, said the company policy is to not release information about a player or a player's account to third parties. As such, there won't be a name-and-shame of the players, corporations, or alliances who knowingly took advantage of the POS exploit. It seems they're aware of the fact that this will not sit well with some of the playerbase.

What guarantees does the playerbase have that the guilty parties were punished, and that innocent parties (those not directly aware of the exploit) are not punished?

This is a tricky issue, and one on which CCP Games is asking for input from the CSM. Essentially, CCP is wondering how far they should go in terms of punishing people who may have unknowingly benefitted from exploit, or otherwise helped the exploiters profit. (Such as those who purchased the materials produced by the exploit.) CCP Games appears to be taking an "innocent until proven guilty" stance on their investigations, rather than issuing blanket banhammers.

Was this truly petitioned by the now-banned player(s) 4 years ago and disregarded all this time?

CCP has not provided a definitive answer on this yet. Dr. EyjoG said they're still trying to verify this. The petition system has changed and CCP apparently outsourced customer support at that time (specifically, with an outsourced email system according to CCP Xhagen), although they are looking through the old databases.

Were CCP employees connected with this exploit in any way?

CCP Arkanon said that there is no indication that a CCP employee was involved, but stated that investigations are ongoing, particularly as they dig deeper and they get a more complete picture of the situation.

Grab something to drink, sit down, and lets discuss this. What should CCP do toward those that simply purchased items from the exploiters? What actions should be taken to try to fix the damaged economy?

Shadowbane, World of Warcraft, and The Evil Tyrant SOE

A few posts ago, when I was talking about my dream MMORPG(You can read it here) a comment by DulakQuickleaf suggested I may enjoy Shadowbane by Ubisoft. I decided to give the game a whirl, after all it's free now. After the initial install, patching, and other minor updates I was ready to have a blast...

I was betrayed.

At first I was intrigued. There are several races to choose from. Human, elf, minotaur, centaur, vampire, demon, half-elf, etc. However once the game started I knew there was no chance I was going to enjoy it. This isn't Dulak's fault however. Shadowbane just instantly shut me off due to several issues such as UI, playing perspective, and just overall polish.

In other news..

Apparently job recruiters(some) are told NOT to hire WoW players. While I'm sure this remark is aimed toward all MMO players and not just WoW, this is a funny little fact. Why not hire the MMO gurus? Most employers find that MMO players are too focused/playing their MMO of choice*which is mostly World of Warcraft* instead of actually working. I know that at my previous employment there was generally a large group talking about WoW instead of working pretty much the entire time.

The rest of the time they were playing it in their offices.

Oh, and people still apparently hate SOE. I don't. My hate is now for MicroSoft

*glares at his bricked Xbox*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A sad author..

A few minutes ago, my happy Xbox 360 died. It had lived a good...year. A month just after the warranty ended actually. Instead of forking over $100+ to repair a system that died in a year..* COME ON, my Nintendo Entertainment System aka NES still works to this day...* my wife and I decided to go over to Sony.

Yup, a Playstation 3.

Go go built in blu-ray and free online play.

Subscription MMORPGs Hate MT MMORPGs?

With the recent addition of Station Cash by SOE for EverQuest and EverQuest 2 most fans are split into two groups. Those that HATE IT and those that are fine with it. After observing the kind of flame wars between these two on the forums of websites such as MMORPG.com I can't help but wonder..

What's with the rage?

A large number of the MMORPG community*not the website, but overall* are passionate one way or the other about these two types of systems. A large portion of subscription based players*Those that pay a monthly fee to play their game* detest and positively hate the idea of a Micro-Transaction model.*Game is free, but you pay real cash for fluff items, gear, and other such thing* Why do they hate it?

Most players find that it takes away from the game. With a game where the only enjoyment is what achievements you can achieve, having a system that lets you achieve the same thing with their wallet ruins the game for them. Even if the items gain in the MT are nothing but fluff items for unique graphics for armor/weapons/etc a good chunk of them will still protest. Why? Perhaps due to the "rich" kid having access to something they do not, despite it being nothing but aesthetics? You see it all the time in real life. Jealousy over someone having a sports car when you have an average car. Even though they both function the same and the advantage is only aesthetics, it's generally the same principle.

There is also the stereotype that F2P and MT games have a lot more children or people with child-like mindsets as their player populations. "If you play this cutesy game you must obviously not be hardcore like me for playing Warhammer" kind of attitude. I disagree with this attitude completely. In my experiences I've seen more immature attitudes in subscription based MMORPGs than MT/F2P. This could be due to an admittedly lower player population, but I think there are a lot more adults/mature people playing these games than people realize.

I made a small post about SOE's Station Cash(You can view it here ) a few days ago. Yet from then to now the total venom people have toward any payment method other than subscription has me in awe at their vehemence. There was also the recent incident with Star Wars: The Old Republic(You can view it here ). Another example of players going in an uproar over the thought of a MT system.

So how do YOU feel about either system? Leave a comment, lets discuss this.

SOE announces Station Cash a success

Apparently adding Micro-Transactions to EverQuest and EverQuest 2 was a smashing success for Sony Online Entertainment. How much a success? Enough to start hiring a larger staff JUST for the Station Cash program. There is also talk of adding even more items. Now even though SOE once claimed in a blog to NEVER have any type of MT system...

Here it is. For better or worse SOE is keeping AND expanding it.

However most games that use MT have no subscription fees, yet EverQuest and EverQuest 2 do. They also charge per expansion, etc, etc. I really think that unless they switch to a full MT system*Where there is no subscription fees, etc* then this could hurt more than help.

You can read the full post by SOE here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Earthrise - About the game and beta announcements


As if someone heard my prayers, an MMO set in an apocalyptic world called Earthrise will soon be entering Beta stages. The game is made by Masthead Studios , a developer I haven't heard a word about until just recently while looking for new MMORPGs.

So what is Earthrise about?

Earthrise is a post apocalyptic science fiction MMORPG set in the distant future.

In the aftermath of the Third World War, mankind has managed to survive and build a new society: the prosperous city of Sal Vitas. Cloning, nanotechnology and quantum engineering are part of a new reality. Thanks to these technological advances, the human species has become immortal; each individual’s consciousness is stored in a data vault, ready to be uploaded into a cloned body as necessary. New energy sources have been discovered. There is a unified government that takes good care of those citizens who abide by its strict laws. Paradise, it appears, might really have come to Earth, and the people have embraced it.

But not everything is as perfect as it appears. By exercising full control over the cloning process, Sal Vitas' government decides who will live and who will not, playing the role of God on Earth. Insurgent forces have accused the city's rulers of crimes against humanity. Armed factions fight for resources and power within the new system. And from the waves of discontent, a rebellion has fomented and formed a shadow government: Noir.

Featuring a unique skill-based advancement system and player-driven economy, as well as extensive, meaningful player-vs.-player combat, Earthrise gives you innumerable choices to forge your destiny. Whether you're a noble soldier in the raging conflict between the Utopia and the rebellion, a criminal hiding from the law or a world-renowned engineer whose power extends into intricate trade and politics, your actions will echo throughout the game world.

Sounds wacky. After reading further about the game there are several things worthy of note. There is no "class" system for one. You build what you want to play from a selection of over 100 skills/abilities/tactics. Since I just recently spoke of the whole issue with classes in MMORPGs, I feel like my mind is being read...which is spooky.

Also is something most people love about EVE online, the ability to progress with something even while logged off. How Earthrise will do this I'm not entirely certain, but it will more than likely attract subscribers with that alone. Yes subscribers. It IS a subscription based MMORPG. So I'm really hoping it comes with a free trial so players can try before they buy. I've wasted quite a few bucks buying a MMORPG only to find it was horrid.

To close I'll show off some purity pictures I found of the game. Enjoy! And discuss...or suffer.














MMORPG Group Dynamics

Sony sure knows how to make people mad.

In a typical MMORPG, there are two types of characters that rarely have to LFG for long. The tank and the healer. With most players playing some type of DPS*Damage Per Second* class there is nearly a constant demand of tanks and healers. However in the latest expansion for the age old MMORPG EverQuest, that has changed.

Mercenaries.

To those new to this idea or just new to EverQuest entirely, mercenaries in this context are NPCs*Non-playable characters* you can hire to join your group like a normal PC*Player character*. In need of a healer? Hire one. In need of a tank? Hire one. DPS classes are now always able to hire these npcs in a pinch instead of possibly waiting for hours to find one ran by a human being.

This is a bad thing.

In EverQuest I now see a steady stream of Clerics LFG for hours on end. No one wants them now as they bring nothing to the table. A mercenary is far more reliable than a random person that could go afk without saying anything, be a loot hog, be an idiot, etc. Why take the risk? So we have an expansion that completely shuts down a complete class. But wait...they can just hire a tank mercenary too right?

Yeah, IF they have the latest expansion.

It seems SOE tried to fix its low player population with NPCs that simply encourages people not to group up with real players. I've joined several groups where around half of the group were Npcs. The ol days of a fun filled group chat filled with different personalities is long gone for EverQuest it seems. However this was simply a failed fix to a problem many MMORPGs suffer from. I know in my personal play time I was constantly LFG in World of Warcraft when I wanted to do a heroic instance. That or in a group that was looking for a tank and/or healer.

This could go on for hours.

So what is the solution to this? This isn't fun for the players of the DPS classes to be waiting for hours on end to snatch up the first healer/tank to make a whisper in the LFG channel. I frankly find it's time to abandon the classes that inspired MMORPGs, Dungeons & Dragons. While the archetypes concept worked very well in the table top scenario due to a large number of "friends" being there, it doesn't work online.

So, Hybrids. Classes that can function in several roles at ONCE. I'm not talking about WoW's current Hybrids such as a Priest can switch talent specs to dps or heal, or a Warriors tank or dps. The ability to perform BOTH tasks at once. Warhammer Online has done something akin to this with their classes.

So what do you think? Should MMORPGs stick with the D&D inspired ideas or adopt "classes" that can fulfill multiple roles? Or is there another solution besides a very bad one by SOE by using NPCs to replace PCs?

Leave a comment. Do it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A City of Heroes Experience: Evil Teleport

This is a little nugget of true malice I thought I would share. A few years ago, when City of Heroes was first released a friend and I decided to go on a break from our other MMORPGs and give it a shot. However we didn't want to play as heroes, we wanted to play as some messed up evil guys.
Sadly City of Villains was no where in sight at the time so we did the best we could*Which was surprising in how well we did...*

So was born Marhault*my friend* and myself, Ahrimin. A bunch of whacked out evil guys deciding we would TRY to actually roleplay in a genre of games that encourages it in one hand and slaps you for doing it in the other. So there we went, boldly scaring kiddies with our evil characters and slaying bad guys like crazy.

However we got separated at one point. By separated I mean Marhault was in some alley way fighting a large group of enemies and I was on top a roof fighting a few. While I finished mine on without a problem, Marhault was in trouble. He had pulled wayyyy too many. So I offered to teleport him to my location to safety.

The evil starts now.

He agreed, so I clicked his name, and was given a little circle radius cursor to pick where he appeared. So I did what any evil being would do. I put the cursor in thin air over just the edge of the building.*Note - I think NCSoft made it to where you can't do this anymore..but back then..you could!* For a brief second he just floated there, on the precipice of his own demise...then he fell a loooonnnnggg way down.

To those that have never played City of Heroes, falling can never kill a character. It's just not very heroic to die from a fall. However it can put you down to 1hp. Which was the case for Marhault, then a level 1 NPC walked up and slapped him, ending his life. It was quite possibly one of the funniest*and more evil* things I've done in an MMORPG.

I wonder why he doesn't call me anymore..

Author's note - This happened some years ago, which is why I don't have any great pics to add to this story. However if you wanna give out City of Heroes a try, you can use a free trial here...

City of Heroes® Be a hero... and crush crime

Myst Online - Real Innovation

I got to hand it to Cyan Worlds. They have truly done something that may very well cause a revolution in how we play MMORPGs. Cyan Worlds, the creators of the famous Myst series, released some time ago Myst: Online. This was to be an MMO version of their popular series. However recently the company has hit it pretty hard financially. The game was first dropped by Ubisoft and then by GameTap.

Once Cyan Worlds got their IP back, the hardcore fans of URU(Myst Online) decided to stick around as Cyan Worlds held only one solitary server up for its fans. They called this project MORE(Myst Online Restoration Experiment). For the longest time, due to even more financial setbacks everything was quiet.

Until this bit of news. Myst Online Goes OPEN SOURCE! Click here for their official announcement.

So what does this mean for YOU as a gamer? Expect a lot of mods and addons by players to an MMORPG. For some this is simply a dream come true. All the freedom of player/fan modification to an MMO is truly mind bloggling when it comes to possibilities. However this could also be the destruction of URU. Depending on how the modders swing it, it could either be a breath taking achievement...or a complete disaster.

I'm really looking forward to see how this project develops. Depending on its success we could see more MMORPGs releasing their sources, truly changing how we play the genre. Don't believe me? Go check out the large variety of "maps" in StarCraft and WarCraft III. While the game is an RTS*real time strategy*, many of the custom player-made maps range from RPGs, Defense Maps, and other unique maps that really don't fit a genre like Aeon of Strife.

I'm really looking forward to this.
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