Dungeons & Dragons Unlimted : State of Game 2010 Address

Posted by on March 18, 2010 - No Comments »

Fighting it out in Dungeons and Dragons Online : Eberron Unlimited

Yesterday Dungeons and Dragons Online : Eberron Unlimited came out with a state of game address from Fernando Paiz,  Executive Producer of the MMOPRG that covered quite a bit of ground on what is coming up in the months to come.  Here are some of the highlights on what was covered in the letter.

Update 4 is coming out in April and will feature a storyline that involves House Deneith, Searing Heights, a new kind of undead and a nefarious band of pirates led by the infamous Captain Tew with his beloved pet, Ratty.  Other content packs later in the year will involve a fiendish carnival and a new Wilderness adventure that will contain the first quest with underwater combat.

Cosmetically there will be some additions to give your characters a new look as well.  Items are being worked on that will alter your appearance when equipped but keep the stats benefits from the last item you had on.  This will lead to the user eventually getting hats and helms in April,  such as a cute fluffy bunny hat or evil dire rabbit helm.

Guilds are due to get a tune up in the weeks to come with the housing system being revamped.  Players that are tired of playing the same races will get a treat with Half-Orc on its way to the game.  Towards the end of the year there will be a chance to try this race with a plus 2 bonus to strength.  Another class that is being asked about is Cleric Domains. Paiz has this say on the subject

“A few folks asked about Cleric Domains. I don’t have anything to announce for 2010, but I will say that when it gets to be the Cleric class’s turn to get a polish pass, that is when we will consider these types of additions to the class.”

They are also working on some new classes for hirelings to let players better fill out their parties with them.  Look for Favored Souls and Bards to appear first and maybe another class or two later in the year.

In addition to adding new content to the game there are also some improvements and fixes on the way as well.  In the works are Mass Heals working on parties of up to 12 players, improvements to weapon sets and fixing some bugs in key maps.  Bigger requests they hope to get done this year include adding string search to auctions, improvements to avatar animations and doing a polish pass on ranged combat.

In an effort to expand the game to audiences around the globe, plans are in the works to get European players into the game as soon as they can. Paiz states “We are also evaluating how we can bring DDO to players who speak other languages and live in other parts of the world. The localization and rollout work is likely to take some time, but look for some announcements on this later in the year as well.”

So that is a summary of what players should expect in the coming months for this popular MMOPRG.  Keep visiting the website for any future updates as more news comes in.

Global Agenda Dev Chat Recap

Posted by on March 18, 2010 - No Comments »

Hi-Rez Studios held a second Developer Chat two weeks ago (posting the recording days later), and I’ve finally found the time to digest everything in the hour plus conversation.  Executive Producer Todd Harris and VP of Game Operations Stew Chisam fielded the questions chosen from community submissions, with PR Specialist Michal Adam handling the moderation duties.  The second chat was much like the first, long and repetitive.  It’s buried, but there is information in the podcast worth highlighting.

One of the topics of discussion I brought up was pointedly asked by Michal:
Is Hi-Rez going to do something about the advantage that large alliances/agencies have over smaller ones, or is it going to be a free-for-all like EVE Online?

Todd responded that the company envisions Global Agenda as a game that will enable small agencies of talented players to be competitive.  This very concern is why the Theft Mission structure (read about it here) was created.  By enabling any agency to assault production facilities the developer has given smaller squads the ability to hurt large ones.  Todd believes the new mission type will lead to a contraction of agency size; the larger the agency the more vulnerable it becomes.  Defense Facilities (also in the notes) help small agencies as well.

The topic came up later on, at which point we were told that Hi-Rez Studios will “continue to be very, very focused” on agency balancing.

The lack of new content for level 30-50 was the largest complaint of the live chat channel.  The background is that after level 25 there is very little new content for the players to access.  There’s no additional game types (PvE or PvP), and all of the deployable equipment has been unlocked.  The only thing to look forward to is additional skill points for the plain specialization trees.  So it’s a very fair complaint.

In the near term, all Hi-Rez Studios can do is placate the playerbase.  We can expect additional payload options for sections that currently have only one option – boost, jetpack and melee weapons – to roll out soon (TM).  The options would unlock depending on level.  The gear would be focused on versatility as opposed to making a character more powerful.  Adding consumables (like from those “elf” games)  was kicked around as well.  These “potion like” items would give players temporary benefits, act as a money sink and open up additional crafting tasks.

The most talked about point of interest was the lack of an open world.  To date, everything in the game is instanced.  There’s no where to adventure, no exploration, no quests and no ability to leave Dome City besides to do battle.  That is going to change via a “premium” content patch (won’t be available to non-subscribers).

Initially, I thought that the decision was horribly unfair.  After all, Champions Online was taken out back when Cryptic tried to charge for the upcoming content patch.  That being said, the more I heard about it, the more I realized how deserving subscribers are of the addition.  The open zone sounds like it’s going to be rather massive in size, “several minutes to jetpack across,” with much to do.  The patch will come with a new mission structure for the desert area.  Basically, Hi-Rez’s version of a quest hub.  Missions will include PvE and PvP choices.  Hi-Rez is rewarding its subscribers, not charging them extra.

The lack of an open world in Global Agenda was one of my main concerns, so I am glad the issue is being taken to heart.  Can’t wait to hear more about it.

A heart breaker to some will be that there are no new classes “in the short-term plans.”

Todd did most of the talking, but Stew verbalized the most memorable sentence of the chat.  He proclaimed that the developers are “here to earn your subscription.”

I’m still waiting on my pony Stew.

Lost In Mortal Online

Posted by on March 16, 2010 - No Comments »

Trees, mountains, more trees, more mountains and more trees

Normally when I say I’m lost in a game I’m referring to the games atmosphere and gameplay, but this time I literally mean I’m lost.  I’ve wandered out from one of the game’s cities into the wilderness and have been lost for about an hour or so.  I have no idea where in the game I am or how to get back to where I came from.  I haven’t seen a single player, NPC or Mob the entire time other then a few pigs or rabbits, which are scarce at that.   For those of you who haven’t played Mortal Online yet, there is no in-game map, so you never really know where you are or where any city is.  There are no sign posts on trails or at outposts pointing to a cities direction, or at least I haven’t found any.  Considering Mortal Online is set to release this month, within 2 weeks, I’m shocked at the lack of content outside the cities.

I found the end of the world

A few weeks ago I wrote how the Mortal Online open beta was a dud due to the lack of content, however one reader replied back with “I’ve killed minotaurs, lizard men, terror birds, been in giant battles, wear full plate and have steel weapons. Plenty to do in the beta.”  My question to this reader is, where?  I’ve been walking around in all directions for over an hr and I haven’t seen one mob, not one.  I did find two outposts, but they were completely empty.

I now have about 6-8 hrs worth of gameplay in the Mortal Online open beta and while the games mechanics such as fighting, stealing, crafting and other systems are all working very well, I don’t really have anything to do.  I think the main issue I’m having is not having a map.  I don’t know where I am in relation to other cities and I don’t know where any thing is.  Just finding NPCs to buy and sell items takes forever because you have to search the entire city to find where they’re located.  I’m not saying I need a map with NPC icons everywhere, but a map that shows where the market is or where the smiths are located would be helpful.

Mortal Online does have some big content issues, but the game mechanics and rules are a breath of fresh air.  This is the first game where I’ve been able to steal items directly from a players loot bag, yes I’m playing as a thief and love it.  But aside from stealing items from people, I can’t seem to find anything else to do.

Update: I was not offline or desynced, after around 2 hrs I finally ran into a group of people and they pointed me in the direction of  a city.  This is also not a review, we do not review games in beta.

Star Trek Online – Update 1

Posted by on March 16, 2010 - No Comments »

Today Atari released a fact sheet regarding the content for Star Trek Online Update 1; also known as the 45-day patch or Season 1. Update 1 is scheduled to go live sometime between March 18th and March 31st.

More Klingon Content to Come

Lifetime Subscriber Perks

  • Classified Access Codes – A free C-store item.
  • The Captain’s Table – A special social area exclusive to Lifetime subscribers, available to both Federation and Klingon captains.
  • Special In-Game Title – “Career Officers” are those who’ve joined Starfleet or the KDF for the long haul.

PVP Updates

  • Wargames – Federation players can now participate in PvP against one another to better prepare for the dangers of the battlefield.
  • New PvP Map – Explore “Shanty Town,” a brand new Ground Assault map available for both Klingon and Federation players.

Customization

  • Off-Duty Uniforms – Experience Risa in style! Starfleet officers will have the option to change into off-duty outfits to enjoy more casual attire.
  • New Stances and Hairstyles – Further customize your Captain by changing his or her hairstyle, or adopting two brand new stances: Stern and Relaxed.

Ships

  • A New Klingon Battle Cruiser – The K’Tanco Battle Cruiser has been made available to Klingon Lieutenant Commanders.
  • Klingon Ship Customization – Use the ship tailor to customize your Bird of Prey or Raptor.
  • Respec Is Here – Unhappy with your Captain’s loadout? Use the respec tool to change things up.

Missions

  • New Fleet Actions Everywhere!
    • The Big Dig – Available in Romulan space.
    • DS9 Under Siege - The True Way has attacked and boarded DS9. Repel the invasion to save the day.
    • Klingons Can Play, Too – Klingon Captains may now access the Crystalline Entity, Big Dig and Breaking the Planet Fleet Actions

Skills

  • New Skill: Starship Attack Vectors – Improve your ship’s accuracy and critical hit chance.
  • New Skill: Combat Maneuvers – Improve your ship’s evasion and turn rate.
  • New Skill: Starship Battle Strategy – Improve your ship’s critical hit severity and damage resistance.

In The C-Store

  • New Bridge Variants - All new ways to update your Bridges’ look, available for a low price in the C-Store for both Federation and Klingon ships.
  • Federation Ship Variants – New takes on your old favorites, available for a low price in the C-Store.
  • Global Agenda v1.2 Live Tomorrow

    Posted by on March 15, 2010 - No Comments »

    Hi-Rez Studio announces that Global Agenda will be progressing to version 1.2 during maintenance tomorrow.  The second major patch for the squad-based MMOG comes just two scant weeks after version 1.1 went live. I hope the developers at Hi-Rez are fully stocked with caffeinated beverages, because they’ve been busy.

    Patch highlights:

    • Significant updates and new content for the Alliance vs Alliance gameplay, including the addition of Theft missions, defense capabilities, trading and abandoning of territories and a lot more.
    • 4v4 Arena Queues – The 4v4 Arena Queue is for pre-made teams of four players, and offers two new maps built specifically for 4v4 combat.
    • City Chat
    • Numerous bugs fixes and tweaks to PvE (animations), AvA, the AH and mail systems.

    Read the full patch notes here.

    Global Agenda will be down for patch application between 11:00 AM EST and 3:00 PM EST.  Patching should happen automatically through Steam.  No conquest zones will be available tomorrow to accommodate time differences and patch deployment.  Conquest play, including the two new maps, will be available on Wednesday.

    Aika Open Beta – Tomorrow

    Posted by on March 15, 2010 - No Comments »

    Gpotato have announced that their latest MMORPG, Aika Online, will enter it’s open beta phase tomorrow, March 16th. The open beta will include all six playable classes, all the level 1-50 content, a full range of PvP options, and a player-run political system. New and returning players will also be able to participate in a regular lineup of PvP events, including the 1000 vs. 1000 battles. There will also be weekly castle sieges where guilds will battle for political dominance. There will also be a series of mounts, including the Warrior’s war hamster and the Dual Gunner’s hoverbike.

    Anyone interested can sign up for the Aika Open Beta here.

    GDC 2010: Star Trek Online Receiving New Playable Race "Within the year"

    Posted by on March 12, 2010 - No Comments »

    The sheer flood of information coming from GDC 2010 is mind-boggling, and I am sure we are all having trouble keeping up.  I know I am.  I’ve been on the fence about Star Trek Online since its release, so I’ve tuned in to any and all information on the title coming from GDC.

    According to a Massively interview, virtual trekkies will be able to select a new playable race “within the year.”  Better still, the decision will apparently be up to the players.

    Craig Zinkievich said:

    There’s a huge amount of the dev team right now interested in doing Romulan. I think the Borg would be really interesting as just something totally different, totally different gameplay. There are a lot of really cool mechanics, a lot of really cool things you can do there. Really, if you’re in the MMO for the long haul, there are going to be a lot more playable factions, you can’t stop with those two. There’s Jem’Hadar, you’re going to be going to the Dominion, there’s Cardassians [...] so many playable factions that we can and will be releasing with the game.

    July has been selected as Star Trek Online’s next big update, one that is to include numerous community requests.

    We know that we just had a player survey when you first arrive at the site, and, like, ship interiors. [Players] want a whole lot more there, want a whole lot more functionality, why are other players coming to my ship, what’s going on there?

    There’s a big huge outcry for first contact missions, diplomacy missions, more non-combat within Star Trek, so we’re really making sure with that July update we’re really focusing on that.”

    Hopefully Cryptic Studios can deliver what the community wants. More importantly, I hope that Cryptic doesn’t let the community ruin its own game.  What race do you want to see this year?

    Star Trek Online is available at Amazon for only $30 as of press time.  A deep discount.

    Going Rogue Expansion Preview & Power Leveling

    Posted by on March 11, 2010 - No Comments »

    It seems like after months of waiting for any news of any content besides character designs, the new City of Heroes/Villains expansion pack, Going Rogue, is starting to take shape. In the last few months we have been introduced to such characters as the sultry Desdemona, the rugged Maelstrom and the evil dictator Tyrant.  That along with a few select screen shots and backgrounds was the only information being released.  Now as we get closer and closer to July more details are coming out in the form of new power sets of Dual Pistols and Demon Summoning.

    Dual pistols blazing

    Luckily before the Test Server closed down again I got to try out the Dual Pistols power set.  The power set is available as a primary power for blasters and a secondary power for defenders on the Heroes side.  On Villains you can choose it as a primary power only with the Corruptor archetype.  Previously these abilities were only partially available in the thug’s power set for Masterminds.  Much like the dual blades power set, it is a very stylistic power set.  In addition to giving you a wide variety of moves with an almost Matrix like feel, you also get the ability to change your ammo to toxic, incendiary or cold damage.  So in a way it is like being a controller and blaster combined into one.  I tested it out as a corruptor paired with thermal radiation as a secondary power and found that to be a good mix.  In many ways the power set is very similar to an arachnos soldier when it comes to Are of Effect powers.  It is definitely a set that gets better as you get into the higher powers.  As for solo vs. team play I would say that dual pistols could work well as long as you choose a good secondary power to keep your defensive power equal to your offensive power.

    Group of Dual Pistols Fighting

    The additional power set announced is Demon Summoning and will be available for those to try who pre-purchase Going Rogue in April.  From what I can tell it will be an additional power to the Mastermind archetype power set and come with a fire whip as a secondary power.  This should be an interesting combination and I look forward to giving it a try in April.

    I did want to make a quick comment on the issue of power leveling, which has always been an issue for as long as I have been playing MMOs.  When City of Heroes first came out it was very easy for a low level character to join a much higher level team and get crazy xp and level up quickly.  Since those days NCSoft and now Paragon Studios have gone to great lengths to curve this practice.  By making team levels adjust to the highest player in the team the days of one getting higher or no xp  depending on the level gap are over. 

     While I don’t mind the occasional power leveling to get up to a certain power level, there is a limit to doing that.  What I don’t approve of is someone creating a character and then getting them to level 50 within a matter of hours or days by constant power leveling.  Many game developers work hard to great story arcs and content that can only be accessed at certain levels.  By just plowing through levels by power leveling many players miss out on badges or temporary powers that those missions give.  Sure you got your character to level 50 in record time but I ask that player “Did you really enjoy the content of what the MMORPG has to offer while power levelling ?”  I would say chances are no and that I think is a shame to hear someone say that.