Posts Tagged ‘mmorpg’

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…

Age of Conan Goes Open Beta May 1st

22 April 2008 | 4 Comments » | LHStaff

For all of you that have been dying to get into the Beta, you’ll only have to wait a bit longer. On May 1st via FilePlanet.com you’ll be able to signup to open beta which is mainly to stress test and get ready for the May 20th launch. Being mainly a stress test, Funcom is limiting the content that will be available and will be limiting characters to level 13. So while you won’t be able to do any of the cool stuff, you’ll at least get a chance to see something.

I was able to get into the beta a few months ago, but I didn’t really get very far. I think I reached level 16 with my highest character, then there was a character wipe and I only replayed to around lev 6, which is where I’m now. I haven’t played in over a month, but I’m updating my client right now and will write a preview of the game soon. Its less than a month away and with open beta coming the NDA will be lifted soon if it hasn’t been lifted already.

4 MMORPGs That Should Have Been Great

15 April 2008 | 5 Comments » | LHStaff

Starwars Galaxies

Probably the biggest disappointment in MMORPG history. The Starwars universe just screams MMORPG, how can you possible mess up a game like this. Well we all got the answer when the game was released on June 20, 2003. No Jedis, no space combat and boring quests. Seriously, are you sure this is based on Starwars? It would be 7 MONTHS before the first player unlocked the Jedi class and another 9 months for the first expansion, Jump to Lightspeed, allowed players to finally jump into the pilots seat of an X-wing or TIE fighter. Future changes to the combat system and a reduction of playable professions would completely lay waste to what was so far a decent game. However there is no arguing that even it you consider Starwars Galaxies a good game, it should no doubt have been one of the best MMORPG of all time.

Matrix Online

What can I say about the Matrix Online, another franchise that should feel right at home being a MMORPG. However when The Matrix Online launched it seems Agent Smith was wreaking havoc because the game was extremely buggy. Reports of crashes, random disconnects, being stuck in walls and falling through the world are just a few. Aside from the bugs the missions were painfully repetitive. Go here, find something or someone, perhaps kill them, come back. Rinse and repeat. To make things worse all the buildings looked similar and were very boring to explore. However the biggest disappoint was that you don’t actually fight the machines or agents. Seriously that’s like Starwars with no Jedis, oh wait. :?

Planetside

This is one game that definitely did not reach its full potential. Hundreds of players in a FPS fragging each other for territory with a crap load of weapons and vehicles to choose from, whats not to like. Unfortunately this game wouldn’t be on this list if there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Planetside’s problem was that the terrain was boring, all the bases looked the same and no one ever won. It was just a three way tug-o-war battle that would rage on forever. Future expansions added new mech vehicles that altered the games balance and not in a good way. Planetside unfortunately never recovered and is a dying game. Perhaps the upcoming Huxley or Earthrise can fulfil all our MMOFPS desires.

Dungeons & Dragons Online

For many D&D fans, this was the MMORPG they were waiting for, too bad for them it was just an average game. D&D Online concentrated on group play, the problem with that is many players that were looking to solo couldn’t and unless you were in a large guild or had a lot of online friends you would spend almost as much time looking for groups as you would playing. Lack of content and repeating quests is also a major issue. It doesn’t matter how good the dungeons look, after a dozen times your going to get bored. Speaking about dungeons I think they should have called the game Dungeons & More Dungeons Online.

Is World of Warcraft a Corporation?

14 April 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

According to Mike Smith, of Yahoo! Games, World of Warcraft may just be the largest corporation on the planet. Many of you, of course, are looking at that statement and quietly laughing to yourself, but does it actually hold any merit? When you look at WoW from afar you’ll notice that it shares very little with corporations. In fact, much of the article seems to point WoW in the direction as being compared to a nation, as opposed to a corporation. So where does this logic come from?

Well, as Mike states, you can actually invest in the game from a character side of things. This basically means that when you create a character on a WoW server you are actually investing time into what could become a potentially profitable margin. Look at it this way: the World of Warcraft is the largest and most successful pay to play MMORPG ever. As such there is a high demand for the game and for the game’s commodities. Even now you can go to any number of websites and buy gold with dollars, euros, or pounds. This means that the WoW gold actually has a worth value amongst regular society. So, when you are out farming for gold in the Burning Steppes you are actually earning, essentially, money. Anything that can be converted into money as as good as money after all.

However, that said, the article faulters on actually convincing me that WoW is more of a corporation than a nation. You see, in WoW, the players are more like citizens. They live in a world and pay a certain amount per month (just like citizens who pay taxes every year). Also like a nation, the WoW community makes and sells things to each other; just like the grocery store down the street, who gets it’s vegetables from farmers a hundred miles away, will sell you those same vegetables. In a corporation, the entire workforce is making/producing items to sell to an outside entity. The World of Warcraft players are not selling anything to people who don’t play. Based on these observations, you’d be hard pressed in convincing anybody that WoW is a corporation…

Regardless of what WoW actually is (corporation, nation, game), the article is still a fascinating read. I urge you to check it out and to comment back here with your own ideas and thoughts on the matter. Is it completely silly to be comparing WoW to any of these extra-bodily organizations? You tell me…

Thanks for reading!

You can check out the full article HERE.

Hello Is Anybody There?

10 April 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

There are a whole lot of MMOs out there today. WoW, EQ2, EVE, Final Fantasy XI… the list goes on and on and on. Of course, an MMORPG is nothing without it’s players. Which begs the question: what do you do when you can’t find anybody on your server to play with?

This may not seem like a huge issue with some of the aforementioned MMOs but with many others it is a considerable cause for concern. Games like Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Matrix Online, and even City of Heroes (some servers) can suffer from a severe lack of players. I don’t know about you, but when I can’t find anybody decent to play with on my current MMO of choice I usually abandon the cause. There is no reason to play, let alone pay to play, these games when you aren’t getting the most out of it (i.e. multiplayer). Never fear though, by following a few precautionary steps you can very easily avoid wasting money and time on games that have too little of a population.

  1. Do your research. If you read about any possible financial trouble for the company that usually doesn’t spell anything good about the population levels for the game.
  2. Starting near the beginning of a game’s life will usually ensure that a healthy population will be around for at least a little while. Case and point, City of Heroes had a much larger population back when it launched as opposed to today, as is typical of most MMOs these days.
  3. Friends help. Can’t find anybody to play with in-game? Drag some of your buddies in with you!
  4. Finally, the rule of thumb is that if an MMO is over five years of age chances are there won’t be a solid “newbie” population to play with. More than likely everybody will be at the higher levels at this point. There are servers on WoW that suffer from this.

So there you have it. I’m not trying to keep you guys from playing any specific MMORPGs out there. I am just attempting to help you avoid situations as such. If you are primarily a solo player then disregard this entirely. Just remember, if there is one thing that can ruin an MMORPG faster than buggy gameplay it is the community, and when there is no community there is no game.

Thanks for reading.

How MMOs are Killing the Single Player RPG

5 April 2008 | 29 Comments » | LHStaff

Single player RPGs are few and far in between these days. Even those RPGs that do come out, most now have online game play, which it seems is where gamers want to be. So what’s an RPG do? Unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done. The online revolution is in full swing and has been for some time. Gamers not only want an immersive storyline, but they want to be able to interact with real people while playing and single player RPGs just can’t deliver.

Since Microsoft launched Xbox Live on its console, casual non PC gamers have had the opportunity for the first time to game online with friends and more importantly strangers. With its success Sony has followed with online play and even Nintendo is joining in.

Not only does it seem that gamers want real interaction, but there really isn’t much incentive for studios to make a single player RPG. RPG’s are massive undertakings to create, requiring years of work by huge teams, unlike FPS where you can just pump out a sequel ever year. No, RPGs need characters with voices, thousands of quests, a crafting system, training systems, as well has dozens of cities and towns that all must seem to be alive. With all the work to create an RPG, why NOT make it a MMORPG, where you can generate a stream of revenue for years to come? There are still some very succesful single player RPGs out there, but I wonder how long will it be before they too cross over to become MMORPGs.