Saturday, January 3, 2009

Station Cash was Just a Prelude. Prepare for MT.

Uttering the two letters MT(Micro-Transaction) in association with an MMO and you'll quickly have a flame war on your hands. While there are several honest concerns about MT and the advantages Subscription-based models have other it, players better prepare themselves for the coming future. I predict that in the next few years subscription models will become a minority to an ever larger amount of MMORPGs with some type of MT.

So first, to those clueless about Micro-Transactions, let me explain. Almost all MMORPGs uses some type of system to finance server costs, additional content, and other expenditures. Most American MMORPGs uses a Subscription based model. If you want to play you have to pay a fee every month(generally) . This fee is roughly around $10-$15. A Micro Transaction model doesn't charge a monthly fee. You can play for free for as long as you want. However you can use real cash to buy weapons, armor, mounts, cosmetic items, and other services. Now before you start screaming "Why even BOTHER with subscription?!" there are a few bits of information you should know.

Probably the biggest reason Micro-Transaction games fuels such hate that one sputters the Dark Speech of Mordor is some MMORPGs that use this system allow players to buy actual equipment. By equipment I mean acutal weapons and armor. Why bother putting in hard work and hours upon hours of play time to get an item when someone can spend cash to get said item instantly? Sometimes the items you can get via cash are even better then anything a player could get under normal game play. It almost puts the message in the player's head that no matter how hard you try, no matter how skilled you are those with wealth will surpass you.

A prime example of this(Though this is vastly different than commercial MMORPGs) is the private server WoWScape.(I play on here occasionally, if you ever wanna find me.) Players can donate money to WoWScape(Which funds keeping the servers up, etc) to receive items called "Donor Gear". These items are powerful enough to enable one to kill end-game bosses without any assistance.(Though this can take hours. Note - My char has no donor gear before you ask.) A full suit of donor gear can range from $100-$400. Considering the price you may be surprised by how many people do this.(Take it from me, A LOT.) Items this powerful ruin several key elements of the game.

Using a World of Warcraft PvP server as an example, normal players would have no chance what so ever against people with gear of "Donor" quality. Imagine fighting a Rogue with 10x more hp then you, 95%+ dodge(I'm not exaggerating), and weapons that have DPS(Damage Per Second) well over 500. Now imagine having to fight an entire TEAM of people with gear of this magnitude in a Warsong Gultch match. Only divine intervention would enable you to have any chance. Mind you, I have nothing against WoWScape(I play there as I stated), but using a system like this for an "official" game is insane.

However it's not insane for game developers. There is an obvious demand to purchase in-game items, money, or other such perks. Just recently an EVE Online player spent $19,000 to purchase ISK.(The currency used in-game, you can read the article about the player about spending THAT much money as well as how he got ripped off at So with millions of dollars going out to leveling services, item purchases, in-game currency purchases why wouldn't developers take a piece of this action?

Well for one they already are. Blizzard offers the service of moving characters across servers, changing characters looks/gender, and giving your character a brand new name for a fee. EverQuest and EverQuest 2 has Station Cash where you can buy potions that give a 25% increase to experience gain for a period of time. SOE also releases a constant stream of expansions to the point it might as well be MT for content(Unlike Blizzard, which constantly releases new content for free.) However this is just what American MMORPGs are doing. Companies in the East are almost exclusively MT, and they make a killing. While these games do not sell players such balance destroying items that WoWScape does, they do sell a large amount of cosmetic items.

Cosmetic items are generally harmless little items that really don't do much besides look neat. It could be a unique mount model, items to place in your character's room/house/guild, auras, or even additional models for character creation. This type of MT system is the safest in terms of game play and retaining balance. It's also still a huge cash in for developers. If you don't believe me, ask yourself if you(or someone you know) has ever purchased an Xbox 360 theme, gamerpics, clothes/furniture for PlayStation Home, or things similar to that. If yes, then you have validated that people will purchase items that have no value other than an aesthetic one.

These are just a few reasons I think MT will replace subscription. Add on to the fact that you(the player) can play these games for free will draw in a lot of players. I know that from my time playing a few MT games that I never had that urge that I had to play every day for a significant amount of time otherwise I'm wasting my money.

After Star Wars: The Old Republic's "misunderstanding" of it being an MT system(Read more here.), don't be surprised if more and more triple-a titles jump on this wagon in some way, shape, or form. I think the community has valid points of why they dislike F2P games and MT games, however I find it impossible to conclude that game developers(And their shareholders) won't keep pushing more and more for this due to the financial gain. If done right, would you enjoy a game that you could play for free AND didn't break game balance with what items one could purchase?

A World of Warcraft Experience: A Story of Lies, Sex, and Laughter

Author's Note - Fake character names will replace the names of those actually in this story to protect all those involved. However this is a true story. Would I lie?

During my early days of World of Warcraft I joined a guild a few "IRL" friends were in after making my soon to be legendary(Due to raid wipes, leading people to their deaths, and other lovely activities) rogue Ceallac.(This IS the real name of my rogue by the way) The guild introduced me to a large variety of human beings. Some of them I still talk to this day despite rarely jumping into the game, some of them I could kidney shot them and I don't mean in game.

There was one member in particular in th
e guild that could have been labeled "The Girl".(Read here to understand what "The Girl" is) Let's call her "Lily".(Remember! Fake name)There was constant humors of her "cybering" the guild leader and various other members for items, guild position, etc. One of these "other members" was even cheating on his fiance with this online dalliance. However since I was roughly around level 35ish I really didn't hear or care for the drama in the officer channel. I was too busy doing the StrangleThorn Vale Page quest(pre-nerf) and just having fun.

I'm a bit fuzzy on the details here, but "somehow" the truth got leaked out. "Lily" turned out to be a guy. All those involved with "Lily" were pretty upset, especially the one who had been cheating on his fiance. Though I wasn't privy to much of the details due to it going on in other chat channels, I sent some tells to other members in the guild and to "Lily" himself. Apparently he had been roleplaying this entire time and didn't see what all the fuss was about. Others didn't feel quite the same way about it. "Lily" either t
hen quit the guild or was removed by one of the officers.

There are other bits of information about this story, but I'm not a jerk. Certain bits and pieces were removed/omitted to protect other peoples privacy. However there IS a moral of this story, especially if you're a huge homo-phobe as was the one who cheated on his fiance. Never assume that someone is a certain gender because of their avatar.

Because, lets face it..
Author's Note, part 2 - Just to clarify. Ceallac IS my rogues name, my main character*My hunter* is name. Also, I didn't have any part in this particular story aside from being on the sidelines watching in awe and horror. Some details are my own assumptions and speculations. Thus do not label this story as 100% fact. That is all.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The MMO Experience..Without the Spots

No longer are we the anymore. We are the slightly more cool! Huzzah!

Sorry for the delay in a post today, I've been spending some quality time with my wife. Once we get back from dinner, I'll throw in some interesting (I hope) topics to discuss upon. So lets all celebrate breaking the shackles of blogspot with free cake*!

*Only I get cake.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

World of Warcraft Online Suicide Threat

Blizzard cares.

That is probably the only positive thing I can comment about a recent story from the MiddleTownJournal. A 17-year-old threatened to kill himself due to being frustrated with, as the article from MiddleTownJournal says, an online game(AKA World of Warcraft, you'll see why further down). The boy was arrested December 29th for inducing panic after officers and medics went to his home.

The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. Apparently the boy was having an online conversation with a Blizzard Entertainment representative.(Thus, World of Warcraft) When the boy typed in that "he was suicidal and that the game is the only thing he has to live for ". The Blizzard rep then called 911.

Once the police arrived, the boy admitted that he used the comment hoping to get his way with the representative. He was then handcuffed and hopefully thrown into a police car where he will never see the light of day.

I would like to say one thing, because the rest of the things in my head are too enraged and filled with fury to be worth saying. Kudos to you, nameless Blizzard employee for doing the right AND smart thing. You did the right thing. However I really hope this "boy" doesn't get off easy for this. ;) Maybe he'll get nerfed?

You can read the full and original story from it's source here.

Shin Megami Tensei (MegaTen)

Recently Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine (Or MegaTen for short) has went from closed to open beta. So now that everyone can come make an unholy pact with demons we might as well talk about it. While I've touched upon Shin Megami Tensei before,(Read my closed beta story here. You can also read Tipa's here.) I wanted to go into even further depth since now everyone can give it a try. While most gamers avoid a MT game, I truly do recommend this one.

Making a character in MegaTen is rather simple. There is no elaborate customizations that games such as Aion uses. You have a few different selections regardless height, face, clothing, hair, Arm Terminal, and weapons. I must stress that these are just the starting customizations. As soon as you get past the initial "quest" and tutorial you can buy weapons and armor from merchants.(Since this is an MT system, when I say buy I mean with cash you get from monsters in game, not actual money.) I honestly wish there was more freedom with customization here, a few more models for face/hair and such.

What's a good demon filled MMORPG without combat? This is where, for me, MegaTen shines.(And took me away from playing Archlord...more on that later) For anyone tired of the old press hot keys 1-2-3-4-5 then loot you should enjoy MegaTen's more interactive combat. While it IS quite simple(a more advanced version of Paper, Rock, Scissors) it really adds some excitement to fighting that doesn't make it seem like a horrid grind. For example, in the picture above the ghoul is charging me. I could just sit there like a moron and take it(Like you would in most MMOs) or you can use a counter/block ability. The strange geometric shapes indicates that I timed my counter correctly and the ghoul will get a nasty surprise when he finishes his attack.

Another element is the action plays more an action title. The demons get knocked by from strong attacks, certain enemies uses an ability called guard which you have to break if you want a chance to defeat them. Add in the counters and you'll find yourself having to pay attention to nearly every fight...unless you want to die horribly. Above is the game explaining my AOE attack...Nothing is more satisfying than seeing enemies fly away from your assault. Yet what is a game if its all action and no plot? This is where most MMORPGs fail at. Due to the medium itself the difficulty of creating AND maintaining an atmosphere, having a strong storyline, and letting players feel like they are part of it is extraordinary. While World of Warcraft succeeds to a degree, Lord of the Rings online even more so, and Bioware claiming SWTOR will finally give that to players you generally just can't find actual RPG elements in most online games.

I wish I could say MegaTen was a triumph in story. During the very beginning it is, but it slowly devolves into a normal MMORPG. However MegaTen does capture ones attention with the initial story and atmosphere. If your any type of fan of the Shin Megami series, you'll feel right at home here.(Unless you just HATE MMORPGs...then you won't.) There will be a few moments where you need to make moral choices for your character. These choices can then shift your character's alignment between good, neutral, and evil. Do you spare a demon's life or do you sacrifice the demon to possibly help others in the future? While that question seems a given, considering the context that it appears in you may need to think about it.

Once your done with the first quest, you find yourself within Home III. This is the starting city(or zone) of the game where you are introduced to the VR training program. This is where a more in depth tutorial of the game is introduced before you are sent out into the wasteland of Tokyo. Something to note, as it's pretty creepy, is the first person you meet upon arriving at Home III.
So give Shin Megami a try. It probably won't replace your "main" MMORPG, but it's a nice compliment if your wanting to avoid the "I'm burned out " syndrome with MMORPGs. It's better than Archlord.(While it IS a pretty game, I quickly quit Archlord and went to play MegaTen. I'm just not impressed by Archlord..but I'll talk about that later.) Regardless, any game that has you making contracts with demons can't be bad....right?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Army of Gnomes vs One Drunken Wizard

Possibly more entertaining than the current "battle" (Read here about the current lawsuit NCSoft vs How this "Vs" thing will work is you(the readers) will vote who you think would win. After I'll write a somewhat brief description of the epic battle. It's silly so please don't expect anything too hardcore. So vote it up for giggles, and I'll post updates in between news, articles, and just my ol gaming experiences(Not done any in some time...time has been limited on my end. My apologies.)

Still no word from about the interview/discussion proposal. I'll give them a few days as I'm sure they are QUITE busy. As I've said I really hope they "step" up to the plate and have a conversation with me. There are quite a few questions that I (and many others!) would like to know, like why wait until 2008? Why NCSoft? There are a host of other questions but I'll leave it for the actual interview if it happens.

Another topic I will go into is my thoughts about Micro-Transactions models for MMOs. There is a stigma to these games(Sometimes rightly so) but I honestly think they will utterly take over subscription based MMOs in a few years. I'll get into WHY I think so, and hopefully we(Myself and you) can get a conversation going about the topic. It's getting hot with SOE using Station Cash and SWTOR(Star Wars:The Old Republic) being "misunderstood" as having an MT system.

However these are conversations for another day! Happy New Year everyone from your mentally unstable MMO news source Danshir! I hope you and yours have a great new year and you don't get TOO drunk. If you wake up in an unfamiliar place please use this check list..
  1. Do you have your clothes?
  2. Do you have any strange scars that were not there previously?
  3. Do people speak the same language as you?
  4. Was it worth it?
  5. Why are you remembering a check list from an MMO website while in a strange alley? RUN MAN RUN!
Happy new year =). See you guys tomorrow! Remember to vote for either the Army of Gnomes or the Drunken Wizard!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Possible interview with

It's been a pretty rough day so I'm gonna keep updates slow for today. However an interesting bit is I wrote an email to today asking if they would sit down with me and have a chat. Basically I was giving them a chance to defend their position about the recent lawsuit against NCSoft. If they do I will post up the transcript here on The MMO Experience for all to read(I made sure in my email this was my intent).

I'm hoping they do. I would like to honestly see what they think about their lawsuit and about the rage the online community has for them now.

On a different note, I've decided instead of making another poll that I would have a little "tournament" much like has done in the past. However this one will be centered only on MMOs(Shock!). That should be up tomorrow as I brainstorm on some funny(It won't be serious..) ideas for contestants. So stay tuned for that.

Finally, I'm installing Archlord. It seems to be entirely free now and I'm kinda wanting to try some new games out. I'll post about that as soon as I've had a chance to tinker with it for a few days. Oh! So today isn't a total waste here are some pictures that gave me a laugh.

Monday, December 29, 2008

MMORPGs Getting Sued

While you may expect good cheer, fun, laughs, and presents on Christmas Eve not everyone is so blessed. NCSoft got something worse than coal, they got sued. According to VirtualWorldNews the developer, an early virtual world developer in the 90s, is filing suit against NCSoft. Why? Apparently had two patents regarding scaling virtual spaces and enabling users to interact and chat in 3D environments.

Considering how broad of a statement that is, I wouldn't be surprised if these patents were filed for the sole purpose of filing suit against someone further down the road. is stating that City of Heroes, City of Villains, Dungeon Runners, Exteel, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage II, and Tablula Rasa all infringed upon the patent. You can read the full details over at VirtualWorldNews.

So what's next? Blizzard? Mythic? SOE? I'll keep you posted as events play out. To read a bit more about this bit of news try out Openedge1's website Simple N Complex. Seems even more people are talking about it too. You can read Tesh's post here and Broken Toys here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Politics Invade MMOs

In recent years advertisements have become more and more common within video games. Sandbox games would have Burger Kings, billboards with name brand companies, and using name brand cell phones. That's how it started. It then proceeded to become even worse, especially within the Xbox 360's NGE where you have several ads per "blade". While we as MMO gamers are safe *So far* from this type of advertisement, another perhaps more sinister is already within.


Yes, Politics are moving in toward the virtual entertainment for advertising. At first it was only mild advertisements in non-MMO games, such as in-game billboards for Barack Obama in Burnout Paradise.(More info here) However now Newt Gingrich(Former House speaker who is flirting with presidential bid) is hosting both real life and virtual workshops. By virtual I don't mean over a website but using Second Life. Second Life, in case you have never heard of it, is a virtual world with roughly 9.5 million members in a 3-D "game". The game is basically "real" life, you can even buy virtual real estate with real cash*$$$, not virtual money here*.

With this news, and several notable politicians also using Second Life(Such as Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul, and John Edwards), and the fact many politicians are becoming open about their own MMORPG hobbies(Like Kevin Werbach, who is a hardcore player in two guilds) it won't be much longer until we see more and more influence in our virtual worlds. Video game companies love money and politicians love to advertise themselves. It's a match made in heaven except for the middle man which happens to be the gamers.

If politicians, or advertisement in general, gets too strong a hold upon MMORPGs then I only foresee disaster for the overall community. Creating a rich virtual world filled with cities, climates, dungeons, adventure, and atmosphere is difficult enough without having /yell "Vote for SoanSo - Level 80 Deathknight LFG". If something akin to that happened, the ambiance of the game will be shot directly in the head and will never be rekindled. Yet it seems this is inevitable. With countries such as the USA and Israel using online games as advertisements(More info here.) it is only a matter of time until someone taps into the huge populations of games such as World of Warcraft.

But hey, while it may be cool to see presidential candidates duke it out (verbally and metaphysically) in Stormwind and then have their "Teams" go at it in Arena, I rather not have to see...

Author's Note - This is in no way a reflection of my own political views. I have nothing against President Elect Barack Obama. I just thought the picture would illustrate my point..and it's funny.
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