M M O R P G A M E R
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I spend hours upon hours combing the internet for stories, screenshots, and free trials of online games. Every day I have to go to at least one or two websites I am completely unfamiliar with (many of which are in a foreign language) and find my way around. In all that work, it's kinda fun to randomly see a large cleavage shot just *ahem* bust out of nowhere, right on a certain MMO's official site. Thanks, Asia.
Festivities Commence in EverQuest Online Adventures
EverQuest II may be getting the bulk of the attention right now, but Sony Online Evtertainment hasn't forgotten about the loyal players of other EQ titles. The PS2's EverQuest Online Adventures will be holding an in-game Thanksgiving event called the "Famine Event."
Sony needs adventurers to assist in fighting the famine in the town of Stormhaven and the Chiktar and Slith Tar hives. Every couple of hours, Evil Eye dominators can be seen in the areas, commanding the now enslaved Chiktar and Slith Tar races, with plans to ultimately attack Tunaria.
The Seekers in Forkwatch and Anagogical Society in Qeynos are working non-stop to find out a way to weaken the Evil Eyes, and this leads them to request the help of all possible players. Your assistance can come in the form of fighting evil henchmen/monsters, finding the quest items that will break Evil Eye enchantments, and even fighting the dominators yourself.
Rewards for the quest are just what you'd expect--powerful items, some gold, and of course, experience points.
Dark and Light Fills Gaps
NP Cube recently revealed some new content that was added to the upcoming Dark and Light. The company reports that over 30 new spells, along with new races to cast them, and technical improvements such as new sound effects are now available to the closed beta testers.
The press release words it like this: "The new array of spells, with their impressive visual effects, can now be used during fights assuming, of course, players have invested a few skill points. New spells for Fighting include Snake Attack spells (Glue, Mamba Attack, and Python Power), and Weapons Expertise spells (for Swords, Crossbows, and Critical Hilts Expertise, among others). The Healing axis also includes new spells for Healing Fundamentals Skills (such as Self Healing, Quick Healing, and Instant Healing), God Gifts Skills (God Armor Shield Expansion and God Abilities Expansion, and others), and for Guardians Invocation Skills (spells for Wolves, Bears, and Pets Healing).
New spells for 'anytime' use are also included for Energy Power, Molecules Control, and Spirits Appeal Skills."
Frederic Caille, CEO of Farlan Entertainment said, "“We created these new spells with two goals in mind: to have maximum power and to be the most fun and outrageous. We expect our beta testers will enjoy these new spells and how they 'look' on the screen when they are activated."
Dark and Light's closed beta is currently set to run into "very early" 2005, with a target release in April. No word on open beta yet.
Dungeons & Dragons Online Shares Story Love
Executive Producer for
Turbine Entertainment Software recently posted her monthly letter on the Dungeons and Dragons official site. In it, she discusses the game's story.
A snippet of the letter reads "In many ways, role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons are the ultimate extension of [reading a great story and sharing it with friends], which we call "shared stories." RPGs go a step further than communal book-reading or movie-watching, because the participants don’t just share the experience of the story – they take the adventure provided by the DM and run with it, creating a unique shared story as they progress. The fact that these stories are created by and unique to the players gives them more ownership of the story (their story) than a group of people who are just reading the same book or watching the same movie."
"Is shared storytelling really a vital part of the Dungeons & Dragons experience? If so, how can we make the most of it in Dungeons & Dragons Online? I spent a lot of time thinking about these questions last month – I wasn’t sure if I’d stumbled on something interesting and poignant, or if I was just losing it. So I decided to get some input from the rest of the team.
"The first person I talked to was Nik Davidson, our Online Community Manager and the DM of one of our weekly Turbine D&D games. I told him about shared storytelling, and he pointed out that in D&D and other role-playing games, players take care of one of the hardest challenges in storytelling – making people care about the characters. He said that the trick is to make sure that the players have enough motivations to work with; you don’t want them to go on a quest just because 'that’s what they’re supposed to do.' If we can come up with a general story hook, and some believable set pieces, the rest should just happen.
"When it gets down to it, he continued, it’s just all about relationships – relationships between party members, between the party and their allies, their enemies, and their world. 'Make for interesting relationships, and the shared stories will unfold,' he said."
Hoffman's full letter can be read here.
Additionally, we've got some screens for you. Some are from the official site and the rest are from Gamespot.
When games catch our attention here at MMORPGamer, we like to tell people about them. Recently an email came to me from Joel Pan, one of our staffers living in Singapore, saying he heard some people talking about Eternal Lands. Upon going to the official site, I found out that Eternal Lands is more than just your average free, downloadable MMORPG. You see, most MMORPGs have a rough time attempting a functional storyline, so perhaps with that in mind, the creators of EL just decided to let players write the story. On the official site's storyline page, a message on top reads, "Here are different categories of stories written by fans for the game. They are all part of the official stories for Eternal Lands." I don't know how often things like this are done, but I personally haven't seen much of it.
The game plays in full 3D, with the third-person camera adjustable on the z-axis to enable full exploration of the environments. Said environments will be lit differently depending on the time of day, as EL runs on a day/night cycle that takes 6 real-life hours. Morning starts at 0:00, progressing to full daylight by 1:00 and dimming into evening at 3:00. By 4:00, it's fully night time. The light changes very slightly every 60 seconds to make these transistions as gradual as possible. Other features, as described by the site itself include, "...total character development freedom, many quests, religion, a lot of NPCs, animals and monsters. If you are a PKer, you can fight other PKers in special maps. If you are not a PKer, then you can stay on the non PK maps, where you don't have to worry about being attacked by other players." Once again, the site is here.
With perhaps intentions of becoming more powerful in the same way as those Power Ranger robots do when they link together, Japanese electronic giant Hitachi joined forces with South Korean game makers Hanbit Soft to form "Hanbit Ubiquitous Entertainment." The new company's first project is to localize two South Korean MMORPGs for the Japanese market. Namely, Neo Steam and Granado Espada are on their way to Japanese PCs.
The world of Neo Steam is one in which there is a three-way power struggle going on. Players will align themselves with one faction and team up with players who have chosen the same side in order to secure dominance for their state. Giving reason for its title, steam plays a big part in the everyday world, powering most of the existing machines. Check out the official site for more.
The other game of this duo, Granado Espada places gamers in a world similar to that of the American frontier times. Players control groups of three people at a time on a quest to settle newly-discovered lands, and all that such an undertaking entails. All that's on the site now is some borderline erotica, but you can check the official website for updates.
We're in a very visual mood this week, so here are some images. The first three shots are from Granado Espada while the next six pack is from Neo Steam.
We'll have more on these games as soon as I can get ahold of a few certain Koreans.
The topic of "your ideal MMORPG" continues to populate our letters section. This was a spin-off from the original question of which currently offline RPG had good online potential. Here are a few more ideas on how to improve the genre.
Fight the machine!
One of the biggest complaints about MMORPG's is the lack of story in them and the conudrums presented to developers when trying to create one. My answer is to FORGET IT! and leave the scripted story to offline RPG's.
Instead developers should create a world where gamers can create there own stories and adventures. The players can be the villians or the Hero's or the villians henchmen all dependent on their actions with other players.
Heh, I think they've pretty much already taken the "forget it" advice. At least most of them, anyway. FFXI actually has a decent story that just takes about 1,000 long and painful hours to see. Meh, for the most part, I'm fine without a real "story" in my online games, but you gotta admit it's at least nice to have around as a bonus if nothing else. At the very least, it could give you some extra motivation to play more.
As for choosing sides, there are already a number of games that let you do that in one way or another, such as Priest, World of Warcraft, and others. And that last part sounds like Fable, sadly. And while that'd certainly be great for an MMO game, it seems like it would be pretty hard to do in an online setting. I don't know a whole lot about developing though, so I could certainly be wrong. Now if you're talking about stuff outside of the gameplay, that game Eternal Lands above here did something like that. I'm not sure how close that comes to your vision, though.
The Perfect MMO Sure Does Require a lot of Emails
I may be a little late for the perfect mmo discussion,
but I still feel the need to tell the world about it
The most obnoxious thing that I see about most MMORPGS
is stat-whoring. It's present in almost every MMO and
can be catostrophic to anyone who wants to create an
original character: groups only let certain types of
characters hunt with them, guilds won't admit certain
types of characters, and it gets increasingly
difficult to compete with people who build their
characters from a stat guide for players who want to
build their characters originally. Name a MMO game and
I can point out an instance when stat-whoring has
altered the trends in types of characters found and
difficulties for original players.
How to fix this, you might ask? Quite simple: Give
players minimal control over their stats.
Now, before you start flipping out and calling me
*Flips out* Your are INSANE, man! Heh, I'm kidding. I'm kind of enjoying this =)
...imagine this: Take the
oh-so-ambitious-yet-poorly-executed character building
system from Fable and improve upon it a bit. The only
way to increase your character's ability in skills and
stats is to practice. Each race has a natural ability
in certain skills and stats (It makes sense that
Dwarves are naturally better at mining and smithing
than, say, an ogre, although Ogres are naturally
stronger and more adept at brute-force combat), and
certain races are capped at thigher or lower skill
capacities than others. Also, if a player fails to use
a skill or ability for a long time, the character
begins to forget it, but it would take a much longer
time for someone at a higher skill level to forget a
particular skill than someone at a lower skill (If you
were a professional off-road biker and stopped biking
for a while, you would preform better on a bicycle
after a year than, say, someone who had only ridden a
bicycle a few times).
I know that constant repetition of a skill seems
tedious, but that's where the apprenticeship and
schooling system comes in.
Wait what? School? There are a lot of boring things in MMORPGs already...and you want to add a school? This had better be good...
Players would be allowed to
form an apprenticeship with other players or attend an
NPC school for certian skills. While they're in this
bond, a character will increase ability in the skill
that they're being tought at a modifier set on the
skill of the master they're learning from. For PC
teachers, this may be the only way to increase their
skill beyond that of their natural racial limit,
encouraging players to help younger players with
skills and to increase interaction between players. Of
course, NPC schools might need to be paid for or
unlocked through quests, increasing the rarity of
certing master types as well as adding a handy money
sink to the game.
...And you seem to have delivered. See I like that because I really like team cooperation in all games. Something like this, which would reward helping others, would increase the spirit of teamwork between players. I love it.
For me, this system has infinite possibilities for
character creation and interaction. Skills don't need
to be limited to tone action per skill. Take
blacksmithing. While you smith, you increase your
skill in smithing at a certain modifier, but also are
inadvertantly increasing your strenth stat as well as
hammer weapon skill at a slightly lower modifier (and
start to look a little more buff). Or, if you run
everywhere instead of riding a mount, you increase
your agility, run speed, and begin to look a little
more lithe, but you also end up decreasing body mass
and something else. And without the end-all "CLASS" to
quantify your character with, each player could bring
multiple skills to a group or guild, and would
intensify the interaction dynamic. Someone who's good
at both nuke damage and crowd control could team up
with someone who can tank and heal and two-man in
places that would, in other games, take four or more
But, alas, I'm beginning to think that players WANT
stat-whoring, so I doubt that this would ever come to
pass. But It's nice to dream, right?
See you on Kithicor,
Kithicor? I don't play much EverQuest. Heh, thanks for the invitation though ^_^
And yes, it is nice to dream. That's the whole reason video games were created--to entertain us and challenge our minds; to dream. And it sounds like you've been doing just that. The sheer length of that letter is evidence of real thought involved here, which is great. Now is when I got into encouragement mode: To all of you who have sent in letters of this nature or ever thought of really killer ideas to greatly improve games as we know them, don't settle for just shouting to some internet Q&A author like myself--tell some bigwigs what's going on in your head (...but still tell us, too, of course ;) ) And if you're really ambitious, get out there and make those ideas into games, and let the world partake of your creativity. *The more you know*
You know what's cool? This animated gif from Neo Steam:
Okay so there have been cooler things. Shut up.
In any case, the steady flow of South Korean MMOs continues to pour out upon the rest of the world. I, for one, like it...and hate it. But it's kind of a good hate, because there's just not enough time in the day to get very deeply involved in *all* of these games. You just can't do it. That kinda sucks. But hey, whaddya do?
Thanks for reading, and have a great Thanksgiving, USA.
-My name is Heath Hindman, and two pills just weren't enough. The alarm clock's going off, but you're not waking up. "This isn't happening..." It is!