Posts Tagged ‘mmorpg’

Not a Single MMO in GameRanking's Top 100 (Anymore)

19 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

The MMO genre of gaming is not a particularly young one. In fact, I’d say it’s only a few years younger than the modern RTS and FPS genres (I remember playing my very first graphical MMO in 1997). So, suffice it to say, I was a bit surprised when I found out that not one MMORPG has made it onto GameRanking.com’s top 100 list. I’ve checked the list and I’ve checked it twice (ho ho!) and I’m telling you there are no MMOs to be found which raises the question: why haven’t any MMOs made it there yet?

Believe it or not, despite the genre being over a decade old now there really aren’t that many MMOs in the market. In fact, of the actual “pay2play” model of MMO there are typically only a handful of games released each year, as opposed to the thousands of Wii, 360, PS3, PC games that are released each year. This probably has had some sort of impact as to why there are no MMOs on the list. Let’s face it, when there are so many games coming out every year the MMO is bound to slowly get pushed down the list until a new one makes it back up there. In fact, GTAIV actually pushed World of Warcraft right off the list (who now sits at #101). However, that said, this logic does seem to conflict with the “quality over quantity” saying. Despite putting out fewer games than most other genres, there are still many quality issues that exist within the games upon launch… which brings us to our next issue.

One of the most obvious reasons as to why most MMOs never make it to the top of review scores is primarily due to quality. MMOs are HUGE worlds with many aspects of gameplay all running simultaneously with thousands of gamers. The sheer scope of programmability within these games would probably dwarf about ten single player games of near any other genre. Because of this there are a number of quality issues that must be tested and, unfortunately, the best test usually occurs after the game has gone live. As many MMOGamers know many of the biggest fixes and features aren’t readily patched until a couple months after the games release, which cites the mantra of many gamers today: “An MMO on launch day will be completely different 6 months later.” Perhaps if reviewers would put up two reviews of an MMO there would be a better “leveling off” of the scores…

Anyways, take from this what you will. World of Warcraft still sits at a very respectable #101 right above Zelda: A Link to the Past (one of my favorite games) with the next “MMO” being WoW: Burning Crusade at #142. After that there is nothing until beyond the 200 mark. It’s very clear that GTAIV effectively pushed WoW out of the running, but even before then WoW was only at #99 which is just barely scraping it by. No telling what MMO will make it there next. While Age of Conan looks like it will receive fair scores, I seriously doubt it’ll reach the top 100. Anybody want to take bets on Warhammer Online?

Check out the full top 200 list HERE.

World of Warcraft Getting a Graphical Update?

17 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

In an interview with EuroGamerWorld of Warcraft producer J. Allen Brack stated that eventually there will “probably” be an graphical update for WOW.

“Will we need a graphical update from the ground up at some point? Yep, probably. And I’m positive we’ll talk about it next expansion”

With the successful graphical revamp Eve Online pulled off back in Dec with their Trinity Expansion, it’s no surprise to see more and more MMOs taking this path. Other games such as Ultima Online and EverQuest have also done graphical upgrades to their games, but with mediocre results.

Personally I’d much rather the MMO I’m playing do a graphical update then release a sequel that basically makes everyone start from scratch.

Rupture Gets Bought Out by EA

9 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

Rupture the social networking site aimed at gamers, has been purchased by EA for a reported $30 million. Rupture was founded by Shawn Fanning, creator of Napster and has never gone past the closed Beta phase.

So what does this mean for Rupture and online gamers? We’ll it’s no secret EA is making a push into MMORPGs with its upcoming Warhammer Online and Biowares untitled MMORPG. If EA is able to integrate Rupture into it’s online MMO games, it will give players greater social tools to communicate with guild members and friends when not logged in. Sorta like Steam does with telling you what games your friends are currently playing and giving you the option to chat with them, although Rupture promises to have more features.

Personally, I don’t think this was a good move by EA. I mean this is software that has never gone past closed beta, so it obviously doesn’t work right yet, and they have very few members. For $30 million, why didn’t they just create a new system from the ground up instead of fixing and changing a site that doesn’t really work yet. Can anyone say 2nd internet bubble? After all Shawn Fanning could be the poster boy for the first bubble.

APB Being Sold off to RockStar?

8 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

Remember when Realtime Worlds bought back the rights to their upcoming GTA-inspired MMO, All Points Bulletin? It made quite the flurry of news as people gasped and pondered what would become of the new franchise. Anybody who reads MMOCrunch regularly would know that this blogger speculated that perhaps Microsoft would helm the project for Realtime Worlds given the obvious relationship the two companies have. However, I might have been wrong.

According to Eurogamer, it seems that a “credible source” has told them that Realtime Worlds has plans to sell the game to Rockstar so that it may be redubbed as Grand Theft Auto Online. While this may seem unlikely, it actually makes a whole lot of sense. Rockstar is in need of a way to grow the franchise without infringing on their deal with Microsoft to allow for exclusive DLC. Allow me to put it this way, back in 2007 it was announced that Microsoft paid $50 million to secure exclusive DLC for the 360 version of GTAIV. In that contract there were probably stipulations concerning the advancement of the series. After all, would anybody really care for exclusive DLC is a GTAV were right around the corner? Probably not. In order to expand the franchise something different, but similar at the same time would have to be done. Enter APB, a “crime” MMO that promises GTA thrills but in a massive world.

Of course, who knows if this is true. I still maintain my own speculations that Microsoft will want to publish this game and make it exclusive for the 360, but I guess at this point anything could happen.

Stay tuned for more information on this matter.

CrunchPreview: Age of Conan, The Necromancer…

5 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

As surely as the day turns into night, MMOCrunch was there, albiet somewhat haphazardly, for the open beta of what can only be considered one of the most anticipated MMORPGs ever to be released. With over 500,000 beta sign-ups, it is conservative to say that the MMO is on many gamers’ minds as it fastly approaches it’s release date on May 20th. In order to help you with that decision I decided to take an indepth look at the beginning levels through the eyes of the ever-infamous Necromancer class. Sit back and enjoy the read…

As many MMO gamers already know, Age of Conan is boasting a new combat system unlike any other MMORPG out there. It is fast paced, action-oriented, and near-useless to the mage classes of the game. So where does that leave all the struggling magic-seekers during the beginnings of the game? Probably not as far from World of Warcraft as you’d have hoped, but that doesn’t mean the game hasn’t developed some well-crafted mage classes anyways.

Washing up on the shore of an unknown beach, you quickly find yourself in hostile territory. As an escaped slave there are few friends and even fewer options available to your character. After speaking with a distressed woman you have but one option, find your former slaver (who also survived the ship wreck) and kill him. Then and only then will you be free to do whatever it is that you wish.

Of course, as you soon will find out while stampeding through the wilderness, this feat is easier said than done. Not five minutes into the game you’ll have to begin fending off ruthless scavengers and would-be pirates attempting to look whatever they can find of the shipwreck. This is, of course, where the newly designed combat system takes place. As a Necromancer you shouldn’t get too connected with this style of fighting, but because it’s the beginning of the game you will get to use it for at least a little while, after all, the low level spells aren’t that great.

The melee combat system works in the manner of three buttons, which can be applied to the number keys or not, your choice. These buttons signify three arrows: up, left, and right. Upon clicking the buttons your character will perform an overhead swing, a right swing, or a left swing. From what I could tell, depending on what the enemy was doing would also depend on whether they were hit by your swing, or if the blocked/parried it. While the system may seem a bit basic, it’s actually quite fun. You will not be sitting there waiting for stuff to happen like you would in WoW. Of course, that is about as complex as the system gets for mages on the lower level (the higher end may get something more).

As a mage in a game which is so focused on the new melee aspect, you may feel like you are getting left out in the cold, rightly so, too. The mage abilities, from what I have scene, are fairly typical of an MMORPG. You get spells as you level up, and you assign those spells to a numbered slot. If you want to cast a spell you simply click on the number and watch as it gets cast. Nothing too spectacular, however, that doesn’t mean the classes are flawed in any way. On the contrary, the Necromancer class was quite fun to play, even if it was a bit more traditional. Upon level two I got my first damage spells and at level five I was able to summon my first undead creature. From there I was causing havoc and torment to all enemies that crossed me. Again, this was nothing out of the ordinary but it was still a fun time.

Overall, Age of Conan is shaping up to be a very good game, despite some installing headaches. The level of detail in the cities and forests were very intricate and the detail in the combat system definitely helps to liven things up. Tie all this together with a unique world and a unique way of talking to NPCs (think KoTOR) brings together one extraordinary MMO experience. If FunCom can get some of the more major loading and black screen bugs out of the way it will be very hard not to recommend this game to any MMO fans out there… even die hard WoW fanatics.

Stay tuned as we bring you more updates from Age of Conan throughout the week.

Sequels for MMORPGs = Death

30 April 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

A few months ago, last Dec 2007,  Eve Online underwent a huge update with their Trinity expansion. This free expansion not only added new features, ships and items, but was also a complete graphical update to keep up with the next generation of MMOs. Eve Online as far as I know is the first MMO to completely revamp their current game instead of creating a sequel which not only keeps all your current members, but creates enough of a buzz much like a sequel to boost membership numbers.

Taking a look at some past sequels, Asheron’s Call 2, Everquest 2 and Lineage 2, none of these sequels were able to match their predecessor’s in terms of members. Not only that, but if you combined the numbers from both games after a year, they were less than the original game at its peak.

So why can’t MMORPG sequels succeed?

Starting over – After playing an MMORPG for 2 years, do you really want to start over in what basically is the same game with updated graphics? Regaining your levels and items, finding a new guild and friends to quest with? From the numbers it doesn’t look like many do and they end up sticking with the original.

It’s basically the same game - Making a sequal for a MMO is not like making a sequel to Halo. Many, many things must remain the same. Races, maps, towns, ect. Sure there will be new areas, new features, possibly a new race or two a maybe a new skill system, but for the most part your playing the same game with updated graphics.

Dying game - When a sequel to a game comes out, it basically feels like the original game is on its way out. For those members that stay with the original, it feels like your the old man at the bar and eventually you’ll stop going there.

New games – Once a sequel comes out many gamers do not want to make the switch for reasons stated above. They also know that eventually there going to have to move on as the original game begins to die. So if they’re going to have to start over, why not start over with a brand new game with brand new stories and atmosphere.

Not only do subscription numbers plummet after a sequel, but you have to put in the cost of creating the sequel. It will be interesting to see if GuildWars 2 follows in suit with the games mentioned above.

Going back to Eve Online, I think the studio was fully aware of the track records for MMOs sequels when it decided to do a complete update to the current game instead of making a sequel. I’m sure all Eve Online players also prefer this method especially since the expansion was free. Way to go Eve!

Exclusive: Interview with CEO of Masthead Studios: Earthrise

24 April 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

I recently had the chance to interview Atanas Atanasov, CEO of Masthead Studios, about the upcoming MMORPG Earthrise. We were also able to bribe Mr. Atanasov into providing us with a new exclusive screenshot of the Eastern Gardens in Earthrise. (right pic) Your son will be returned by midnight.

For those of you not familiar with the game, Earthrise is a sci-fi MMORPG that takes places after the Third World War where society has split into many factions, but the two major ones are Continoma and Noir. Earthrise is based completely off skills so there will be no leveling here. The combat system will use dynamic targeting much like any FPS, however this is not a MMOFPS as other skills will require players to use them as they would in any other MMORPG. Earthrise will also feature PvP and territorial control points where guilds will be able to battle over certain areas in the game to extract resources and impose there own power and rules in that region.

For more information on Earthrise, check out the site play-earthrise.com

Onto the interview:

1] In your FAQ you mention that skills are never permanently foreclosed, does this mean at any time in the game I can reallocate my skill points to change my characters skill set?

Players in Earthrise can learn all skills, but they cannot reallocate skill points. The skill usage will be limited by the equipment, which means that the player has to learn the skill first, and then equip the weapon, armor and other devices that go with the skill. All abilities and tactics, which are not supported by the equipped items will be grey (not usable].

2] Staying on topic, you mention that Earthrise is entirely skill based. Given that there are two factions, how many skills will be shared and how many will be unique?

There are two main factions in Earthrise – Continoma and Noir and many smaller ones. Players can play for one of the two factions or they can choose to be neutral or criminals. All of those choices will not affect the skills they learn, which means that no matter which side you have chosen to fight for, your skills will be the same. Faction items are another story. There will be weapons and armor, which will be available only to members of a certain faction.

3] I read that there will be full looting in Earthrise? How does the looting system work? In what scenario could someone loot all my equipment?

Full looting in Earthrise will be possible, but for players who are careful or willing to spend money, it won’t be a problem. If player A kills player B, player B is resurrected at a resurrection site. If player B has insured all of his items, his former body is empty and player A has nothing to loot, but player B needs to reinsure his items, which costs money of course. If there are uninsured items in player B’s body, he will have several seconds time to pay at the resurrection site and get his items back. This decision will cost much more than a simple insurance. It is for those people who have forgotten to insure their items or are willing to take the risk and go in the wilderness with uninsured items. If player B doesn’t pay for his uninsured items or the waiting time passes, player A can loot everything which remains in player B’s corpse.

4] Considering Earthrise is set in the future, how does it handle transportation? You mention personal hovercraft’s in your FAQ, but will there be air transportation or a quicker way to travel?

Many variations of personal hovercrafts will be available in the game. There will also be teleportation points scattered across the island that will need money to operate. We are also considering some skills and items for faster transportation, but there is no final decision on that yet.

5] Since characters in Earthrise will not gain levels, how will this affect what type of armor or weapons players can use? If I pump all my skill points into weapons, will I be able to use the most powerful weapons within a few hrs of playing?

Players in Earthrise will have wide choice of weapons and armor, but their use will be limited by their character’s genetic code, or their physical attributes – Physique and Intellect. Players will be able to modify their current genetic condition anytime, and it will cost them money depending on the amount of the change itself. Small changes will have affordable costs, while turning a battlefield brute into Einstein will be a massive investment. That being said, it will not be possible to make a new character, and be immediately approached by a guild that shoves the most powerful weapon in the game into your hands and sends you on the field. That would throw the balance of the game off the scales in favor of whoever has the most money or weaponry to entice newbies. Instead, we make sure that players are able to use moderately powerful weapons after a small gaming investment, and everything else onward requires players to actually play to unlock the features of the game.

6] Will newbies be able to kill veteran players with a lucky shot or if they catch them off guards? Or will the skills learned greatly improve veteran players making it so beginners have no chance?

Absolutely! Earthrise is a PvP-centric game, and that means that players should always have a chance to score a successful kill on other players, given that they have the skill and strategy to pull it off. The way we allow that is by emphasizing a variety of options and combinations, thus tactics themselves, over power level. Players who advance their characters will not grow so powerful that newbies won’t have a chance no matter what they do; instead they will have more options. More options means better combinations, but only if the veteran player can use these combinations wisely. If they don’t, one or a couple newbies who use their limited set of abilities in a smart way have a greater opportunity of taking that veteran down.

7] You mention that players will be able to have careers that advance while offline? Is there a limit to how much a player can advance? What part will careers play in the big picture of Earthrise?

The offline advancement system has a more social approach. Players can educate and have a profession in Earthrise, which will give them social standing and constant income. The income will be significantly less compared to the one they can make during online play, but it will be enough to compensate all those people who don’t have the time to be online for hours and hours every day. The social standing of the players will allow them to gain some rewards from the factions they work for.

8] Territory control is a big part of the PvP in Earthrise allowing guilds to extract resources from the territory. However do you think there is any danger to 1 or 2 very large guilds controlling and holding most of the territories in the games?

The vast open space on the island of Enterra where territory control will take place will have hundreds of locations for building a base. The more territories the guild has the more vulnerable it will be. It will be very difficult to control such a large territory where smaller guilds will fight for their chunk of the pie and mutants will try to reconquer what was taken from them. The situation, which you mention in your question may also reflect the real world, where many empires have fallen due to tribes and smaller nations invading their borders, riots and internal problems.

9] From the screenshots I’ve seen, the game looks absolutely amazing. Will Earthrise use DX10 technology? Will there be real world physics in the game?

Yes, we are planning to implement DX10 technology and real world physics, although the physics will not be as advanced as the modern 3D shooters.

Thank you for taking the time out to answer these questions for us.

A Look at Microsoft and MMOs: 3-0 Cancels

23 April 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

Many of you may not know it, but Microsoft has actually had their hands in quite a few MMORPG projects within the past few years. No stranger to the videogame marketplace in general, it only seemed to make sense that one of the largest providers of consoles and games would also begin to dabble in the increasingly profitable (for some!) MMO business. However, after attempting to take on three separate projects over the last five years one was sold off, and the other two were killed off and left what could only be described as a very shallow grave. I am, of course, speaking of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Mythica, and Marvel Universe Online.

Announced back in 2002 Mythica was Microsoft’s first attempt at making an MMORPG. It was actually quite a neat sounding game at that. Based on the legends and lore of Norse mythology your character would actually be a “demi god” that was able to wipe out multiple enemies at once. Something that still hasn’t been done today. Unfortunately, just over a year in development, Microsoft was sued by Mythic Entertainment due to the name, Mythica, being to close to Mythics own name. Worries that the consumer would get confused were the primary reasons for the lawsuit. Then on May 25th of 2004, Microsoft officially canceled the title citing a competitive MMORPG environment as the main cause, although rumours still swirl today that the lawsuit was what actually cause Microsoft to call the game quits.

Microsoft’s other fantasy MMO, Vanguard, was not to be killed off but rather sold off. Beginning development in 2002, Sigil Entertainment and Microsoft entered into a partnership that had Sigil developing the game with Microsoft publishing/owning the rights to the game. However, due to Brad McQuaid’s inability to show Microsoft what they wanted on the original timeline provided they eventually began bickering about the project. Then in May 2006, Sigil acquired the name back from Microsoft, much to Microsoft’s joy, and proceeded to work on the game in their own manner  securing a publishing agreement with SOE instead of Microsoft. In the end, however, not even SOE would continue funding the game and as such it was released in a “beta” stage that has forever cursed the game to oblivion.

Finally, we have Marvel Universe Online. Perhaps Microsoft’s most ambitious MMO project to date and yet still it could not be escape it’s inevitable cancellation date. Announced back in 2005, Marvel and Microsoft, in association with Cryptic Studios (devs behind the famous City of Heroes MMO),  began work on the “next gen” super hero Marvel MMORPG. Stating that the game would cover over 60 years worth of marvel comics it really comes as little surprise that the game was canceled in less than 3 years. At this point Microsoft was already creating quite a reputation for its MMO business and after a year with no new information people already began development of this project. Like Mythica, in 2008, Microsoft canceled the project due to “an inability to compete with the current MMO marketplace.” Today most of the same work done on the Marvel MMO can be found in Champions Online, Cryptics newest super hero MMORPG.

So that pretty much wraps up Microsoft’s MMO history. They also helped in operating the Asheron’s Call games, of which one was canceled, but beyond that there really isn’t anything more to add. It’s actually quite odd that Microsoft has given up on every MMO they have personally pursued. Especially considering that every MMO seems to have been given up on as a result of Microsoft not having enough faith in the franchise for it to be successful. Sounds like somebody might need to start talking to a counselor…