Risk and Uncertainty

Posted by on February 2, 2010 - No Comments »

orca_5I am currently working on a post that talks about ways to create risk in MMOs and how designers might make that risk palatable to an otherwise risk-averse themepark gaming population. In the meantime, Callan S. made a comment I felt was interesting enough to discuss. In response to the idea that Eve Online is a game that incorporates risk correctly, he says:

As far as I’m aware, in terms of risk Eve suffers or fails in that in more dangerous space you have no idea of the risk (you have some idea in poker, for example) since people who will kill you aren’t regulated in any way. Is it thrilling when there was a zero change of being ganked, cause all the local gankers were on bio break?

I think there are a couple of points in this small quote. First, I think core to the idea of risk is that of uncertainty, the idea that you are not sure of what is going to happen beforehand. If you are certain that you will easily defeat any enemies you might meet, or that you will reach your destination without meeting any enemies, then there is no risk. Likewise, if you know you are going to die when you leave your base, there is no risk. The concept of risk implies that you are betting on an unsure outcome.

On the other hand, if you take your character on a spin through your favorite MMO world and are suddenly struck down and then told your character has been perma-killed, that isn’t risk either because it is arbitrary. For our purposes, risk also implies that you know you are betting and you know what you are betting.

Given that explanation, I think Eve works because as you move from highsec space to lowsec space, you know there is an increasing chance that someone will ambush you. When I take my ship out in Eve and make a trade run through lowsec space, I am betting my ship, cargo, implants and skill gain that I can make it through without incident. It does not matter if, on a particular run, “all the local gankers were on bio break” because the point of risk is NOT to ensure that I face challenge, but to present the possibility of danger and then force me to bet accordingly.

Well I guess that raises the question that if you don’t know you couldn’t die, but you felt as if you could and that was exciting, whether it the truth of the situation or the feeling of the situation that matters. Personally I’d go with the truth.

If there is a chance I could be presented with failure and lose something, regardless of whether that situation occurs or not, I would say yes, that is the essence of risk in an MMO. Say you are playing poker and your opponent makes a $1000 bet. You have a good hand, but not an unbeatable one, and this is a sudden, large bet. Is it a risk to call? Sure it is. Once you call and find out that your opponent was bluffing, was it less of a risk? No, because when you made the bet, the outcome of the hand was uncertain.

I think what Callan is talking about here goes back to the difference between risk and challenge. I am deliberately separating the two because I think there is value in doing so. When Callan says, “Personally, I’d go with the truth” he is saying that he wants there to be a real chance of death or failure and that is how we defined challenge. Risk on the other hand, is what you lose because of that failure — your bet. My trip through lowsec space wasn’t challenging at all, but it was still risky…

Alright, enough of this; I didn’t mean to beat the dead horse further into the ground, but that comment made me think and I figured it was worth discussing. Next post, let’s talk about systems that will put some of the risk back into the themepark.

Mortal Online Beta Opens

Posted by on February 1, 2010 - No Comments »

If you weren’t able to get into the Mortal Online closed beta, now is your chance as the open beta for Mortal Online starts today.  To go along with the open beta, a new trailer was also released which you can view below.

For those of you unaware, Mortal Online is a first person fantasy MMORPGs and is geared more towards the hardcore crowd as PvP will be the main focus of the game. You can go here to signup for the open beta, however be aware the server is located in Stockholm, Sweden, so there might be lag issues for some.  There is also a limit to the amount of players that will be able to join the beta on a first come first serve basis, so hurry up and signup if you’re interested.

TERA Developers Condemned for Plagiarizing Lineage 3

Posted by on January 29, 2010 - 8 Comments »

TERA_Screenshot_01

Bluehole Studios, the newly formed developers of TERA are to compensate NCSoft for the sum of 2 billion Wons(approximately 1,721,836.820 USD)  for plagiarizing Lineage 3′s source code. This decision was made by the Seoul Central District Court after they found the former development director of Lineage 3 guilty. According to Bluehole, they are not satisfied with the judgement, and will lodge an appeal immediately.

It is still unknown whether this will affect the development of TERA, or the existence of Bluehole, and NCSoft have yet to make an official statement on the case.

The reason behind the case is the fact that Mr. Kang and Mr. Yo, former developers for Lineage 3, used some of the technologies copyrighted by NCSoft after the project’s cancellation, in their latest game – TERA.

Dear NCSoft, My Aion Account was Hacked and I Lost Everything. Please Refund My Time.

Posted by on January 29, 2010 - 15 Comments »

I know that it is not possible to travel backwards or even forwards in time. We are not going to have a metaphysical conversation here. What I feel would be good customer service and would heal relationships between NCSoft and its customers is by taking care of the victims of the latest hacking spree going on in Aion Online.

Backstory.

In recent posts I gave a good friends story of how her account was hacked and how badly she was treated by customer service. The first thing I asked her was, “Did you get your gear back?” and the second after she told me no I asked, “How long will it take you to earn it back?” Her answer was “Weeks.”

As an MMORPG gamer and veteran I know how long it takes to get endgame gear in the first place. Now to have to regrind all that back is annoying to say the least and time consuming. She told me that a few of the dungeons are at least 3, 6 to 9 hours to complete! There are no insurance policies for virtual goods.

You are not alone.

Is what I said to comfort her. I simply googled ‘aion accounts hacked’ and got a slew of forum complaints from other victims of their Aion accounts hacked. Here are the links if you want to read some of the other horror stories I found.

Account hacked! What will NCSOFT do?

My wifes account was hacked today.

Account hacked second day in a row.

NCSecurity: Phantom Hacker Steals Aion Account

Account hacked, what do I do?

Husbands account hacked…

Can you see a trend here? It seems that the same cause and effect is happening while the company does nothing to help the customer other than restore their accounts. And in some cases even slow to do that.

A worst case scenario.

Imagine you come home to your house/apartment to find your front lock is changed and your key does not work. After finally breaking the door down you walk it to a ransacked apartment. Your electronics are gone, so are your jewelry and even your old microwave.

It has to be one of the worst feelings in the world to find out you are robbed. You may be lucky to have insurance on your stuff; you call the police, fill out a report and hope for the best. It still doesn’t remove that gross feeling of being invaded and you cannot even begin to calculate how much you lost monetarily.

The bottom line is you could have protected yourself as best as possible, if someone is determined to rob you, they will. And it’s not your fault you were robbed. The best you could do cut your losses and move forward. But what did you really lose?

You lost your time. When it comes down to money, you have to look at the time it took to make the money to buy that DVD player and Xbox you lost. The jewelry might even be heirlooms that are irreplaceable. It will still take a long time to build it all back. I think your first investment would be of course new ways to secure your home so it never happens again. At that point any help is a relief.

My proposal.

I’m willing to fight for you. My dedication to the honest paying game player like myself, is why I write mMO MONEY.

In my opinion I feel NCSoft should give at least 2-3 free months of gametime subscription to anyone who had their account compromised. As well as Aion customers they can also be held accountable for customers of Lineage and Lineage II,City of Heroes/Villians and Guild Wars as well. If their security is bad for Aion, it has to be for their other games too.

I think it’s also very important to improve their security too. They removed their gameguard before going live and maybe it wasn’t a good idea to do so. I also know that it created many technical issues, but I would rather have that than lose weeks or months worth of my efforts because of faulty security.

Here’s my strategy.

There is a website that offers a free online petition service: http://www.petitiononline.com if you, the MMO community would be kind to collaborate with me for this cause, or are a victim of NCSofts’ faulty security and would like some retribution. Then give me some feedback and your support, please. In the meantime I am going to write a thesis on WHY they should be giving their customers the time to replace some of the equipment they were robbed of from these terrible hackers. I think they least they could do are to give 2-3 free months of subscriptions to their customers. Don’t you agree?

I’ll post it and I will start a largescale petition to rally the community to stand up for themselves against NCSofts weak response to this problem. What do you think? Any and all feedback is welcome. This is not the first time an online game account was hacked so this is  going to send a message to NCSoft but hopefully change the way that all MMO distributors will approach their games security and most important how they treat you, loyal customer.

It’s you loyal customer, who pays his $14.99 a month not matter what, and who is the most important person at the end of the day. Don’t you think it’s time these game companies started treating you like one?

I am starting a forum post here for your feedback. Thanks in advance =)

Play safe,

Frank Inktomi

WonderKing Launch Trailer

Posted by on January 28, 2010 - No Comments »

Today, Ndoors official launched their new 2D sidescrolling MMORPG, WonderKing.   With the official launch of the game of course come the official game trailer which also has been just released today, which you can view below.  But be warned, it’s loud, so if your speakers are turned up, turn them down.

For those of you not familiar with WonderKing, it is a free to play sidescrolling MMORPG that features PvP, an item mall and your normal MMO questing.  More info can be found at the official site where you can also download the game for free.

Age of Conan: Wolf Mount Revealed

Posted by on January 28, 2010 - No Comments »

wolf_mount

As the release date for the first expansion of Age of Conan draws ever closer, Funcom have decided to shed some light on one of the new mounts that Rise of the Godslayer will introduce – the wolf mount.

The wolf mount is just one of the many new mounts Rise of the Godslayer will feature, including the tiger and Hyrkanian horse. In order to receive a tiger or a wolf mount, players must enter a long and difficult quest-line, starting with capturing them as. The idea behind this is to create a bond between the players and their mounts. Next comes training and raising them to full grown animals.

“Some of the thinking behind this new system is that players will create a connection with their new mount,” says Lead Designer Joel Bylos. “Raising the mount from a cub and teaching it how to hunt, track and fight is a long process, and by the time players have proven themselves worthy of riding it a bond has been created. When you see players riding a tiger or a wolf you’ll know that it is not just a right to do so, it’s an earned privilege.”

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited New Screenshots

Posted by on January 27, 2010 - No Comments »

Turbine is getting ready for the third major content update to Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, and has released a set of new DDO screenshots which depict a new night time mode.  More information about the update was posted yesterday on Ten Ton Hammer and I’ve quoted some of the juicy stuff below.

First, no more leveling sigils. This means all players on all types of accounts, including free accounts, will be able to level up all the way to maximum level without having to hunt down leveling sigils or buy anything from the DDO Store.

Another change in accessibility is a new dungeon challenge level of “casual.” This difficulty setting replaces the “solo” setting in many dungeons, and is a new option to almost all higher level dungeons. And the best part? This setting is available for all quests right up to level 20, except those that are solo- or raid-only. Previously solo content started running thin around level six but this will no longer be the case and players will now be able to enjoy all the content despite their group size.

four new quests for high level characters. The cool thing this time is that these new quests are all free content as well and won’t need to be purchased through the DDO Store.

Earth Eternal Review

Posted by on January 26, 2010 - 17 Comments »

I think it would be best to start this post of with a few small, but vital details – Earth Eternal is a browser based game and yes, Earth Eternal is a real MMORPG. Not just a text adventure, with some graphics here and there. And last but not least – Earth Eternal is a World of WarCraft clone. We all know WoW wasn’t very original to begin with(don’t hate me), but it’s been a tendency lately to change the name of the game world, make a few graphical updates/remodels here and there and copy/paste everything else. But if you were to ask me: Is Earth Eternal any good?, then my answer would be: yes, definitely. Why? Read the Earth Eternal review below.

A Technical Feat

swamp_creaturesI already mentioned that Earth Eternal is an free MMO, and it’s time to pay the developer Sparkplay its respects. The only thing you need to play Earth Eternal is a small browser plugin called Spark Player and you’re good to go. Being browser-based has its advantages, which Earth Eternal squeezes to the max. First – the web community. At any given time you can edit your profile information, signature, avatar, etc and other players can see them. And of course, you are in your browser, meaning you can just open up a new tab and google something while your character is resting. Graphically, the game is as pretty as it gets and is well designed in a comic-style. The soundtrack is fairly simple, most of the time its just static background noises.

Gameplay

castingRemember how I said the game is a WoW-clone? I meant it. Anyone whose ever played the hit MMORPG by Blizzard entertainment will feel at home, as the controls, interface, quests, professions, everything is practically a remodeled version of WoW. One of the few noticeable differences are the game’s races who are, but are not limited to.. anthropomorphic animals. The game has 22 races in total, allowing for vast character customization. We see a lizard, a rabbit, a raccoon, an owl, a robot, a cyclop, a yeti, a demon.. and many more. Unfortunately the only thing each race provides is a different look and thats all – no race exclusive classes, no racial skills, no nothing.. Moving on you customize your avatar a bit(colors mostly) and you’re ready to hop onto the newbie zone that is a small mushroom island. You do a few quests, repair your boat and are taken to the island to Corsica, where you can meet friends, explore, pick plants, kill plants, or do quests. Here is our next conclusion: the gameplay of Earth Eternal is not very advanced, but suits the job. It takes a surprisingly long period of time for you to get bored. The interface is taken to a minimum, everything is explained as simple as possible. But hey – the game is a browser-based WoW-clone where you can play as a goat, you can’t expect Baldur’s Gate. Skills are obtained by using skill points.. All in all, Earth Eternal offers a bit simplistic gameplay that is packed with repetitive content and does its job well. The game also lacks any kind of PvP, which only serves to declare that, it’s not hardcore even more.

Community

mad_cowOne of the strongest sides of Earth Eternal are its community tools which not only take complete advantage of the platform, but continue both in-game and out. The game’s popularity is growing and on your way you’ll meet many people. The bad side to the casual goodness that is the game is in the form of the credit system, where at a certain point you will have to start wasting money in order to keep up with the pace. The game also has a clan system, where you will mostly make new friends. I imagine you already got it but in case you haven’t – Earth Eternal depends a great deal on its community.

Sayonara

Earth Eternal is a wonderful and simple MMORPG for anyone. The game has its flaws, but the fact that it can be ran on practically anything and that its easily accessible only serves to tighten its casual style. You, as a hardcore gamer, may not like Earth Eternal, but you could point it to someone whose never played an MMO and just wants to kill a few hours.