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Showing posts from March, 2009

Guild Wars Factions: Out of the mouths of babes ....

... comes an unexpurgated stream of excrementally puerile drivel, at least it would so appear in games. My Guild Wars appetite has not been sated by completion of the Nightfall campaign but I don't really feel like going over the same missions again in hard mode or in pursuit of skills or titles. Therefore I have instead started a brand new assassin character in Factions. After a brief tutorial I was set loose in the starter town of Shing Jea Monastery. Having spent the last few weeks in the sparsely populated end game regions of the Nighfall campaign it was at first heartening to see a lively stream of banter in the local chat channel. Heartening at least until I made the mistake of trying to read some of that lively banter and discovered just how nauseatingly puerile that banter was. The general timbre of the conversation may be judged from the topics covered in a the few brief minutes that I observed. The most commonly applied epithet was to call someone or something "gay&

Guild Wars Nighfall: To kill a god ...

I have just finished the main pve campaign of Nightfall for the first time. Viewed simply as a single player RPG I found it very entertaining with a good story line and challenging quests. I did get bored in the middle of the Kourna section of the game and and put it aside for two years but once I restarted and got over that bit the game went from strength to strength. The big bad fellow in the picture about is an evil god you must slay to complete the campaign. The difficulty certainly ramps up a bit in the last few missions set in the netherworld known as the Realm of Torment but I never found it as challenging as the latter missions of the original Guild Wars Prophecies Campaign. I suspect this had much to do with the availability of heroes in Nightfall plus the fact that the Paragon is a rather more robust character than the Mesmer I took through Prophecies. Where to next for my gaming? I don't feel the need to repeat any of the Nightfall content in Hard mod but I do still have

Guild Wars: Worm Fight

Guild Wars Nightfall remains my main gaming habit at the moment and I am delighted to report that the game gets better and better. I have just completed the Gates of Desolation mission which lets you ride inside one of these brutes. They are called Junundu and you can not only ride them you can direct them into battle. As might be expected they are ridiculously powerful. Too powerful in fact. Every worm has a skill called Junundu Wail which resurrects all fallen colleagues with full health and energy. It's a kind of I win button. In the screenshot above my worms (greenie black fellows) are being attacked by a wild worm (brown guy). He loses. There is one elite skill on the worms bar I haven't unlocked yet. I can't imagine what would qualify as elite for a worm given how powerful the normal skills are.

What Will happen after the Copyright Model is Gone?

Despite my occasional rant about the immorality of stealing digital content I do realise that our current understanding of copyright is probably incapable of surviving the new digital reality. I stumbled across a terrific blog article this morning dealing with that very issue. Clay Shirky 's piece deals specifically with journalsm and the newspaper industry but just about everything he says applies to media publishing in general. Its a long piece but some of the key things I got out of it are: The "positive returns to scale" which gave rise to the growth of large scale publishing have been destroyed by the internet. Therefore the publishing industry has become irrelevant. Attempts to preserve existing structures with DRM, new payment models and through aggressive legal action are doomed to failure because a revolution has come and the industry they are trying to preserve is "visibly going away". The society of the future won't need publishers but it will

Can you explain Runes of Magic Death Penalty to me please?

I am aware that the the death penalty in Runes of Magic gives you an Experience Point debt but I don't really know the details. The forums are down in preparation for launch so I can't find out more but I am hoping that some helpful passing reader can enlighten me. What I have been able to scrape together is that the debt applies to both experience and talent points. I have also seen reference to a kind of corpse run which reduces some of your death penalty. Do the penalties for multiple deaths stack up? How severe is the penalty and how long does it typically take to work off in game? Can you actually lose levels and skills or does the debt simply prevent you form advancing further? How does the corpse run work and what happens if you die in an instance? How do players treat the death penalty? Does it make for very conservative play where people are afraid to risk dying? Having an experience point death would appear to shift Runes of magic towards the hard core end of the M

Game Piracy and the Indie Developer

Via Slashdot I came across two interesting articles with sales figures for indie game developers one for PC and one for Iphone. The PC game was developed by an experienced indie developer. It took a team of people about a year to make and has racked up sales of about $110k after two years which they reckon is just about break even. The Iphone game was a one man effort which took about six months but it has only achieved sales of about €535 after a month despite good reviews. It looks like this game will never generate a decent return to the programmer for his time. What really struck me about these articles is that both games were cracked almost immediately at launch. You can sense the developers' bitterness that many people may be playing their games without paying a cent. I also know that there is no proof that that piracy resulted in a single lost sale of either game. Perhaps the games were crap. Perhaps a few folks who pirated the game even went out and bought a copy after try

Something strange happened in Runes of Magic last night.

Despite my earlier grand plans for a shared Runes of Magic gaming experience I had pretty much decided not to even bother asking my wife to play. A few hours messing with the game left me with a sinking realisation that it is too rough around the edges, too combat focused and not cutesy enough to hold her attention. Then, last night she came over and asked me to show her the game. This isn't really the strange thing by the way. She did it because she knew I want to play games with her. She did it because she knew I had spent a few hours over the last few days setting up the game on two computers and testing things out. She did it because she loves me. This isn't really the strange thing but it was still very nice though. She chose to play a Mage, partly because she fancies the idea of controlling elemental magic and partly because it is the only female starting character who covers her knickers. The 60 seconds (seriously) tutorial was enough to teach her the basics of movement

My thoughts on RoM's business model

It was Saylah from Mystic World who put me on to Runes of Magic in the first place and in a recent blog post she has expressed concern that Frogster may be shooting themselves in the foot with a couple of changes to their micro transactions based business model. The two things she queries are the fact that an increasing amount of rmt shop items are becoming available for purchase in game using in-game gold and also the proposed introduction of a currency exchange where players will be able to safely exchange in game gold for rmt shop currency (diamonds). Saylah is concerned that by allowing players get rmt shop items without paying real cash Frogster may throttle the very revenue stream the game needs to survive. I am not so sure. I think Frogster are trying to be very clever with the RMT model and in particular I think they are looking at ways to adress one of the biggest dissadvantages of this type of game: In a game where most of the pouplation play for free then the small number

Top Ten Money Making MMO's

I missed this when it came out last month but Gigaom have spilled the beans on a study by DFC intelligence of the top ten money making MMOs of 2008: 1. World of Warcraft , DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $500 million-plus 2. Fantasy Westward Journey , DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million 3. Maple Story , DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million 4. Shanda (includes Legends of Mir and World of Legend) DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million 5. Lineage I and Lineage II , DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million 6. Runescape DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million 7. Club Penguin , DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million 8. Lord of the Ring Online DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million 9. Warhammer Online DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million 10. Age of Conan DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million World of Warcraft was a no brainer but it doesn't have the lead in revenues that I expected. If the $500m figure is to be be

Runes of Magic update

I have spent about four hours in the game over the weekend advancing my novice mage to the heady heights of level 8. First impressions: The good stuff: This is a very "big game" for a free to play. It has everything you would expect from a A-list MMO and then some. In my first few hours I have already encountered a short tutorial, levelling, skill training, crafting, fast travelling, mounts, player housing, background lore, looting, upgradeable weapons and equipment, an auction house, bank vaults, a postal system, a day/night cycle, daily quests. I have heard about but not yet tried grouping, instanced dungeons, guilds, multi-classing. You name it this game seems to have it. The good news is that there seems to be little or no restrictions on what you can do for free. Of course the game developers need your cash to live on so there is a range of convenience and vanity items that will cost you real cash. The housing system and the travel system are the most obvious real mone

Runes of Magic Server names translated

EDIT: Now with pronunciation. I don't understand phonetics so I have done my best to indicate pronunciations using common English spelling. Here's a pleasant surprise - The names of the servers in Runes of Magic (international version anyway) are all Irish Gaelic words. I come from Celtic stock myself and we have a very rich tradition of magic and heroism in Celtic mythology that is perfect for an mmo setting. It is quite a few years since I learned Gaelic at school but with the help of an online dictionary I will have a go at translating the server names: Smacht (Smockhd): Discipline or Grip Macantacht (Mackanockht): Honesty Siochain (Sheeockhawn): Peace (Yes this is a PVE server) Tuath (too..ah): Country Cogadh(kug..ah): War (PVP server of course) Laoch (Layuckh): Warrior or Hero Muinin(Moo..inin): Confidence Aontacht(Aye..on..tockht): Unity

Runes of Magic: I know this well end badly but ....

I am downloading Runes of Magic with a kind of half notion of creating accounts for myself and my wife to see if we can play together. All previous attempts to introduce my beautiful other half to virtual worlds have ended in boredom on her part and frustration on mine. Runes has been described as a World of Warcraft clone which is a good thing. Of all the mmo's I have played WOW was the one which most nearly caught my wife's eye. I am still highly suspicious of the free to play pay to progress business model but I don't see the point of taking buying two subscriptions for an experiment that is quite likely to end in failure. Plus the ability to buy a fancy outfit with real money is just the sort of thing that would appeal to my fair lady. Actually getting the game is proving a bit awkward by the way. When I first registered for an account I was vectored to some completely separate web site and asked to log in. Its not clear whether my Runes of Magic login will work for th

What have I been up to? Guild Wars mostly.

My poor blog has been neglected this week. Not much to report. My gaming time has mostly been split between Guild Wars and Left 4 Dead. I am surprised how easily I have slipped back into Guild Wars. I am strictly in single player mode and haven't even applied to rejoin my old guild but playing solo suits my current mood. Previously I found parts of Nightfall a bit drab. It think that is partly why I quit. But now working my way through Vabbi I am constantly struck by how beautiful everything is. Just tonight I did a quest in a hidden city buried underground and protected by powerful Djinns. Right in the heart of this underground metropolis I came across this treasure trove: I am even beginning to like my Paragon character. After playing around with his skill bar I have more or less settled on an adrenaline focussed set-up using Focused Anger and For Great Justice to give me constant double rate adrenaline generation. I use the adrenaline for some nasty spear attacks and since I do

I pay my money, How come I don't get to make my choice?

The "I Win" button proposed in my last post was perhaps too extreme - effectively boosting you straight to the end of the game. However I do see a role for other time saving options that would allow players to bypass content if they wish. Why not allows players to start a game at any level they want? Why not give players alternative "easy routes" to unlocking difficult parts of the game? Such features would be very liberating for players - allowing each individual to choose their own level of challenge and time commitment. I think it would also enhance the longevity of a game. How? Because it allows new players to jump into a game at the latest liveliest part and not have to wallow in deserted five year old content. Ok so you have some objections. I will try and deal with the ones that come to mind: 1. You need to grind through levels 1 to 80 in order to learn how to play your character. I'm sorry but I don't agree. I think someone who has played mmos befo

Would you press the "I win" button?

Let us imagine you are playing an mmorpg and that there is a button on the side of your screen which instantly, legally boosts your character to the max level fully equipped with max armour, max stats, max rep, max everything and all unlocks in the game. Let us further assume that once you press it you can never go back. You can go anywhere and do anything you want in game as a max level character but you skip all the pain and joy of levelling up. Would you ever press that button? Are you sure? If you said no, do you really think you could avoid the temptation to press that button as you spend hundreds of hours grinding your way through the game. If you said yes, what do you think you would do next? Inspired by this post from Tobold. I will give my own answer in the comments.

Guild Wars Again - Playing with a Paragon

Without really planning it I appear to be taking a break from Lotro. I am sure I will return soon, I have already been tempted by the goodies coming up in soon to be released book seven. In the meantime I have been shying away from heavy mmorpging - sticking to single player games and a bit of online fragging. Guild Wars is a game I have always intended to return to and this sojourn has hopefully provided an opportunity to do so. Previously I did pretty much everything there is to do in Tyria (original Prophecies campaign) with my Mesmer but I lost interest about half way through bringing a Paragon through Nighfall. Getting back into an mmo like game is always intimidating. There is just so much to do and to learn. Inevitably lots of new features will have been added. Although Guild Wars does not have the rich imersive world of a full blown mmo the meta game is very complex, more so than any game that I have played outside of EVE. You could spend years collecting skillls and refining

Audio books on my phone

I have discovered a new use for my phone. It allows me to listen to audio books while travelling to and from work on Public transport. Struggling to read a real book while trying to maintain your balance in an overcrowded rocking train carriage can be a challenge so audio books make an excellent alternative. Of course listening to someone reading a book is quite different to reading it yourself. You cannot choose you own pace. It is not easy to flick back and forth at will. You cannot quickly glance back at a just read sentence to clarify its meaning. This means a good audio book needs to be punchy and plot driven. The narration adds a whole new dimension. Writer and reader both contribute to your enjoyment of the tale. When it all comes together, when you get a good tale read by an good narrator it can be an extremely satisfying experience as any child clammering for a bed time story will tell you. I know there is a bunch of controversy going on at the moment about audio books on the