||A Rare Beauty in the North
||January 22, 2005
Those of you who recognize the title have probably guessed that I got to see House of Flying Daggers recently. What a freakin' awesome movie. I had my doubts that it could be better than Crouching Tiger and/or Hero, but I'd have to say it tops them both. Myabe it's just that "I just saw a really good movie so I'm overly generous in judgment," feeling, but I doubt it, as I still have the coherence to realize it's still not as good as 1978 Spirits of Jeet Kun Do: Once Upon a Time in High School, so I think my call is accurate here.
In trying to figure out how I could describe this to you, I thought to myself, "with all the movie-based games coming out, I wonder if someone could pull of a movie-based MMORPG." Then I was like "oh, wait...Matrix Online. Dang." So much for original ideas.
Turbine Entertainment's Asheron's Call series has been partially adopted by Sony Online Entertainment Inc., now set to be marketed under Sony's new "Station Publishing" label. Station Publishing will focus on distributing interactive entertainment products licensed from external content providers for the PC and game console market. The first titles due from Station Publishing will be Turbine Entertainment Software’s Asheron’s Call: Throne of Destiny and Asheron’s Call 2: Legions. The game's Senior Producer, giving himself the superadult name "Argus," seemed pretty excited as he said, "What this means for Turbine is that as a developer and publisher, we can take advantage of SOE's clout as a distributor in retail and marketing channels. This is great news for Legions!"
He then reiterated that Turbine is still the developer and Publisher, but SOE was just assisting in marketing, and went on to point out, "Our arrangement with SOE is great news in terms of getting AC2: Legions to retail and getting maximum mileage out of our marketing dollars. Better distribution and support with marketing means greater exposure." One would probably not be far off to assume that stiff MMORPG competition had something to do with the move, as it likely did with the recent price drop to $9.99.
In other news, just two days ago saw the official unveiling of the Legions playable race, the Empyrean. Learn more at Turbine's website.
So get this: some woman in Fukushima took "revenge" on her ex-boyfriend by illegally using his name and password to delete his Lineage data. Starting at the beginning of this not-quite-"Tokyo-Love-Story," the two reportedly met each other within the game and started a real-life relationship, going so far as to meet each other and become a couple. After the breakup came the data deletion. She has confessed to violating a law banning illegal access. "I did it as revenge for breaking up with me," police quoted her as saying. Her ex was not financially affected in a direct way, but one must remember that this is an MMORPG, and the deleted items and equipment took time to acquire during which the man would be subject to monthly fees. The woman is now facing charges.
On this same note, I'm reminded of a case back in late 2003 in which hackers deleted a Chinese MMORPGamer's items and game money, which resulted in a legal battle. Here's a snippet from an article written by yours truly: "An online gamer in China decided he'd had enough of hackers stealing his hard-earned items in the Chinese MMORPG Hongyue, and decided to sue Beijing Arctic Ice Technology Development, blaming them for his lost goods. The gamer contacted the company about the matter, but they refused to help him to 'protect player privacy,' and local law enforcement would also not lift a finger to help him. Beijing Arctic Ice's case was that things in the game had no real world value, but seeing as the man had been playing the game for 2 years and paid the US equivalent of $1,200 to do so, the court decided he was in the right to place personal value in his weapons and items." He won. How about that? One must wonder what will now happen with the current case.
After a rather long beta-testing period (especially when compared to North America's short time), Korean MMORPGamers can finally pick up the finished version of World of Warcraft. According to Korean correspondent Eric Dalmedo, WoW server problems began as early as the fall, and even hindered the beta test. For those that don't recall his initial report, he described the server problems as being of the nature that only a small number of people would be able to play the game. This may have been a factor in Blizzard taking such a long time to release the game in Korea.
|Korean Fans check out World of Warcraft (click to enlarge)
"Officially launching World of Warcraft in Korea represents the achievement of a very significant milestone for Blizzard," said Mike Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. "The Korean gaming community is extremely important to us, and we believe players in Korea will be pleased when they discover everything that World of Warcraft has to offer. With fully localized content, a regional network infrastructure, and local, round-the-clock customer support, we believe that World of Warcraft will provide Korean gamers with an unparalleled game experience." Jungwon Hahn, managing director of Blizzard Entertainment Korea, added, "After receiving amazing response from the Korean community, we look forward to the official launch of the highly demanded World of Warcraft."
Blizzard has assembled a local team made up entirely of Korean employees to provide the best possible customer service to its newest audience, in their native language. These same people will also assist in maintaining the Korean version of the game by constantly checking translation of updates and managing the synchronization of content updates. More information can be found at World of Warcraft's official Korean site. And for a good bit of World of Warcraft humor, there's a video going around called "Why surrender, when you can resurrect?" I know Fileplanet has it, but they require a membership to download, so I'll link you to Korean game site Game Meca, which has it streamable at no cost or sign-up requirement. Just click that link to see it. It starts out with some rather horrific Celine Dion music playing, but you'll soon see that's part of the joke.
The second phase of Front Mission Online's beta testing will mainly focus on improving the PlayStation 2 version of the game. In doing so comes the introduction of the voice chat, utilizing the PS2'a USB headset accessory. The functionality of this feature and response from the beta testers will determine whether or not this feature makes it into the final version of the game. Right now, it is being called "highly experimental." Square Enix has not said what particular obstacles the implementation of voice chat faces at this time. With other games such as Champions of Norrath, SOCOM, and several sports titles already using voice chat in their final versions, fans have reason to remain optimistic, although one never can be too sure.
Mythic Entertainment's latest expansion to Dark Age of Camelot is set to release in Europe soon. The pack will be available in French, English and German in add-on box sets this March. For new players, a downloadable version including the original Dark Age of Camelot plus the first two expansions Shrouded Isles and Trials of Atlantis will be available at the same time. The Italian and Spanish versions of Catacombs will be available in complete box sets, including the original game and all three expansions.
With DAoC currently being the most popular MMORPG in Europe, this expansion is certainly arriving to the anticipation of many.
MMORPGamer got reader-submitted screens from ROSE Online and City of Heroes.
First, here are the ROSE ones, submitted by Stefan Teijgeler. He sent many more than this, but I picked some of my favorites to post here. The rest will appear in later coverage. Check those suckers out.
And JC Fan sent in a six-pack of City of Heroes screens, with descriptions down below. Most involve the "Winter Lord," who has settled into Paragon City for the season. JC said, "Snow balls are a new temporary power granted by defeating the Winter Lord or one of his minions. Also, as a special gift from the grateful citizens of Paragon, defeating him also nets heroes a special present. The contents are a surprise, but they include: temporary attack boosts, defense boosts, and items that heal Heroes back to full HP."
JC Decribed the screenshots as well. From left to right, starting in top left:
Screen #1) A pic of Kid Frigid taking a bit of
time off from a mission to do some ice surfing.
2) My second encounter with the mighty Winter
Lord! Winter Lord: "Over there! A snow bunny!" Kid Frigid: *turns around*
"WHERE?!" Winter Lord: *stomp* "Moron." Kid Frigid: X.X
3) Battling the Winter Lord with my trusty
sidekicks, um... What's-their-names. (Hey! It was a pick-up party.) Many
people fell that day. Luckily, I know how to run. >.>
4) My Second Winter Lord battle was long and
arduous, but we finally emerged victorious! Thanks,
random-level-50-controller-guy-whose-name-I-don't-remember! Look at his fire
5) A Snowball fight in an abandoned building.
6) Battling it out with a mighty Tsoo
sorceror. Man! I gotta get me onea' those hats... The upside down dude is
one of his bodyguards gettin' trounced.
Screen submission is a good time. Hopefully JC and Stefan have influnced some others.
Seems this week went with a real City of Heroes feel. Appropriate we got those screens sitting above, I guess. Still a last couple straglers on the FFXI topic, too.
Everyone Loves a Good Hero
Hey there, It's me again ^.^
Interested in City of Heroes eh? Well if you want another opinion on it, here it comes =P
I bought EverQuest 2 as soon as it came out for retail. Played it hard for a solid 3 weeks straight. Picked up World of Warcraft, played that for about a week before it got way too old (As a hardcore gamer, let alone MMORPGer, I found It a bit simple, PvP was unbalanced, and was far too easy.). Went back to EQ2 then. Early December I saw City of Heroes and bought it on a whim. I since then, I've yet to stop playing it, and also canceled my other 2 accounts. With the addition to Star Wars Galaxies to the station access, I think I'm going to re-subscribe to that and get EQ2 back, and purchase SW:G.
Anyways, to the point. City of Heroes is a unique blend of MMORPG and action... It doesn't have the mundane tasks of finding the right equipment and looting enemies and such, however they have enhancements that you can buy or that mobs give you when they die to make your powers stronger in different ways. The game also has a extremely wide range of options during character creation, not only in the way you make them look, but in how they play. There are 5 Archetypes to begin with (2 epic ATs that just was released), each of which have about 4-6 main power sets, which you pick one of. Then you pick a secondary set, which you choose from another 4-6. Sooo with 5 ATs with 4-6 primary and secondary powers, imagine the different types of characters you can create. Yet it doesn't stop there. At level 6 you can begin selected from the power pools. These are powers that are available to all archetypes, such as Flying, Super Jumping, Super Speed, Teleportation, Faster Health and Stamina Regeneration, and so on. From the power pools, you can pick up to 4 different power pool lines, each with 4 powers of their own. Yikes! And now with the recent addition of the 3rd issue (Free expansion), They threw in the new Anciliary Power Pools. These are AT specific, and I -believe- there are 4 new APPs per AT, each with 3 or 4 powers each. I'm not very clear on the APPs as of right now because I don't have the required level to have any of them yet (41), but this adds even more customization, strategy, and depth to a character. I'm enjoying the game very much.
The community is also excellent. There is usually always someone willing to help you out on where to find something, help you gain levels, and do missions with you. I've made some really good friends and almost always party with the same people making amazing progress. I highly recommend CoH. Not to mention, once CoV comes out, there is about double the content compared to what just the original has to offer, AND PvP!!! Holy crap. Super groups will get bases, there will be base raids, villains and heroes will be able to combat against each other in special missions, so on and so forth. I can't possibly imagine how cool a base raid would be. 20+ heroes fighting equally power villains on land and in the sky, defending their base. How cool.
I hope I gave a bit of input into CoH, and I highly recommend it. Hope to talk to you again soon! Take care, Heath.
Thomas Sirovey, A1C, USAF
Applications Developer, 81 TRSS/TSUI
Well, now I have to find a way to get City of Heroes. I confess, the message boards I've read, articles I've written, and letters I've received have made me quite interested. But I wouldn't be, if it weren't for you meddling kids and a that dog of yours! Now I need to find a way to scrounge up $40. Actually, the hardest part will be cancelling an existing MMORPG subscription to make space of CoH. Even though I realize and am not afraid to publish my recognition of FFXI's flaws, I am a very nostalgic person, which makes any game difficult to finally delete. Well, everything's gotta end some time.
Most people who write in post complaints and hate messages about various
RPGs, but I'd like to post a love message to all the people in City of
Heroes regarding their excellent customer service and devotion to loyal
fans. (Do you accept posts like this..?)
Recently, they released their third free expansion (the fourth is in the
works and includes new areas and special arenas for PvP among other goodies)
and many of the changes they made severely altered gameplay. These changes
were put in place to promote group play. Many fans complained. They said
it would be the ruination of the game. They were right in some aspects.
Solo play did become all but impossible for some of the less solo-friendly
combinations. While it wasn't the end of CoH, it did make the game
significantly more difficult...
People were outraged. They the whined and hollered and threatened to leave.
This went on for over a week with only one response from a single PR
person. It said that they were reading people's responses and that the
players shoudl be patient. They had no changes at the time. Having played
in only a few other MMORPGs (FF XI and iRO) and seeing the way players were
ignored by the companies entirely, I just decided to suck-it-up and deal
with the new changes. After all, nothing would change, right? I had
thought it was like all of those bands or whatnot who say, "We care about
the fans," but won't slap their hands at a concert and still charge $20 for
an autographed picture. I couldn't have been more wrong.
On the 14th of this month, Statesmen (the lead dev for CoH) posted this. I was shocked. Not only did they actually read every response, they
actually did something about it...
The outpouring of love was tremendous. Now I know why their small (roughly
60,000) player fanbase is so loyal. I really am glad they're getting my $15
Anyway, just thought I'd share a happy story for a change. It's cool if
it's appropriate for the column. Just wanted to get the message out that
some companies really do care about their customers. It takes all the
others to make us really appreciate them, I think.
Yeah, I have total disrespect for a development team that doesn't give ear to its subcribers, so it's good to hear the heroes maintaining City of Heroes are looking out for your best interest. The guys that operate Tatsumaki Online and Planeshift are pledging to do the same, but both of those games are pretty young, so we'll have to wait and see. They're both open-source, so that's a sign of non-greedy creators, but you never can be too sure....
I also applaud free expansion packs. What a great bunch of guys. Oh, and 60,000 isn't small. EVE Online and City of Heroes have about that many each and they are still two of the most talked-about MMORPGs out there.
Damn, when I read that news on their home page, I was soo depressed.
that was definately one game that apeared to have promise. But since
I bairly played it, I don't really know why it was canned. Could you
lend a little more indight into why they may have canned the project
after just starting an open beta?
Indeed. I can't say too much, but you'll be wanting to check out our editorials section next week for my theories on the cancellation, and furthermore, on Mutable Realms. Ohohoho...the gloves come off, and I just can't be stopped. It's far beyond just some kid rambling about the death of Wish sucking--I use fancy language to make myself sound smart.
Being the busy little thief I am sometimes I can't
write in(Hey equipment and food cost money...not to
mention several RL problems). When I statred FFXI my
plan was not to level really fast, but to take my
time, do missions and find a few old friends that I
met playing beta.(If you get too obessed with just
getting levels you don't really have any fun with
FFXI.)As of yesterday(Jan 17) I just completed the
first chapter of "Chains of Promithia" and I have to
say that from the cutseens I've gone through this is a
very involved story for an MMORPG.(no spoilers from
me) I'm lvl 53 but getting to lvl 75 isin't what
"endgame" means to me. What "endgame" means to me is:
"did I finish what I set out to do?".
Some people complain about the cost and I do admit
that FFXI is eating all my game money right now.(it's
like one of those old arcade machines to me...I just
can't stop putting my quarters in) It doesn't really
bother me becase I'm having fun and meeting some cool
people. Some people just don't see things like
this...and if you don't get it...well that's your thing!
Lvl 52 THF|lvl 17 WAR|lvl 15 RNG|lvl 10 WHM|lvl 10 Summoner|lvl 37 NIN|lvl 5 BLM
Webmaster of "Jon's Final Fantasy Homepage"
You win the "Keeping it Real" award. Seems all too often in any given MMORPG, I have to say to the party "Guys! ......Am I the only one here who's even trying to keep it real?" Pfft.
As for fees, I can't stand when people complain about those. It's like, you know they're going to happen before you get into that mess. I have about as much sympathy for people who wait till after-the-fact to whine about fees as I do for that one guy in my town who drives a huge SUV and has Dish TV and a pool, but wonders why he can't pay his rent or afford to live somewhere with more than one level. That guy's sure not going to cure cancer. It's different when you have a handful of college classes, plus a job, plus a family, and son't get IN to MMOs because of the fees, but to get ino it and THEN whine is stupid. Stupid.
Good letter, John. Good to finally hear from you again ^^
I was reading and saw my good friend mike's (Zanadul) email and I just felt
compelled to respond. I am one of the members of Reflection. A 74 Dark
Knight, I have nothing nice to say about the community so I guess I will
leave it at that.
What I will Talk about is the HNM/High end content or should I say the lack
there off. In FFXI there is no end game. You work very hard to get to 70+ to
only find out that there are 4 HNMS worth hunting but guess what? you will
NEVER be able to kill them unless you cheat. Fafnir , King Behemoth and
Nihdog are won by people who bot and speed hack. Without question the
cheating in ffxi is more rampant then any mmorpg I have ever played. So you
cant kill those big time HNMS so what's to do? You can kill the little HNMS
but guess what? the Gil Farmers camp them now. Those same Gil farmers that
ruined making gil in Zi'Tah and Beaduex are now killing Serket and Bune and
using the same cheats. You can go to Sky and kill the gods but there nothing
but rehashed mobs you have fought before. Get enough seals from these gods
and go fight a basic mob you can solo in the Valley of Sorrow (kirin). After
beating kirin you get gear that only certain jobs can use. sure you can get
stuff like ABJ but then you have to go farm another 1-2 mil per piece to
make the item. Also everything in FFXI is glitched/kited. you do things to
kill mobs in FFXI that I would have been banned for in games like EQ.
Bottom line , playing video games is about having fun.
lvl 74 Dark Knight / 37 Thief / 32 Ninja / 37 Warrior
Valefor / Remora
Thanks for the letter, noble Dark Knight. Like I said last week, I don't have much to say on it anymore. All I can do is smile and nod. *smiles, nods* ^_^;;
I've been reading alot of the letters that have been sent in recently...most
of them bashing Final Fantasy XI. Now if there's one thing I know from
experience (I have played quite a few MMORPG's), all of them have something
in common: THEY ALL HAVE NEGATIVE POINTS. So stop picking them apart, pick
one you enjoy and play it! I myself am currently playing Final Fantasy XI,
yes it does carry many problems, but I play and enjoy it while I play. It
doesn't get me angry, doesn't get me annoyed, no one aggravates me, so I
play it and enjoy it. You enjoy WoW? Good, play it, nevermind what Mr. X is
doing on Everquest, or what Miss Z is doing on Final Fantasy XI. Just quit
whining and play the one you enjoy the most...cause let's face it, every
game has a problem, it's a matter of finding the one that suits you best and
that doesn't irritate you, cause afterall, games are made to be fun. They
shouldn't be something to stack on the stress you have from school, your
job, your wife or whatever else....So point of the story, if it pisses you
off, stop playing it, you obviously aren't having fun, move on to something
Ah, yes indeed. But, editorializing and reviewing are half the fun of the internet! Add in healthy debate and hohoho, this is a great way to spend time.
Seriously, though, we talk about what we like *and* don't like. All over the web, here being no exception, you'll find a plethora of good reviews and bad ones. How much fun would such sections as this, Q&A, reviews, or editorials be if we were only allowed to talk about flowers and butterflies and rainbows? I see your point that things sometimes go overboard, as people occasionally end up going after each other and forgeting the actual points (one Miranda Slone comes to mind), and that's bad, but overall the opinion-exchanging ability on the web is the lifestream behind all of the columns I mentioned before.
I was one of the people that practically cried for Final Fantasy XI to come out. And after playing so many hours I barely did anything in the game. I am a fan of the Final Fantasy series (but not really any other square games except the old ones) and I was really dissapointed with this game. It didn't really feel like an online Final Fantasy (I thought that’s what they would be going for). There was supposedly a great story (I never even knew there was a story).
The leveling was too slow, I don't care what anyone says. I devoted my whole life to Final Fantasy XI and I only reached level 20. That is just wrong. I don't have all the time in the world like some uber-nerds, and I hate wasting 5 hours finding a party and walking to our destination. There was barely any armor or weapons in the game considering I could tell what level someone was just by looking at their armor set or weapon. I don't care about the menu as much as I care about the speed of the game and the content and quality of it.
The crafting in the game was sooooo bad. You waste money and lose crystals just trying to make a stupid nugget that sells for nothing and your skill barely goes up to make anything actually worth while.
I played WoW since the first day it came out, and I have a level 40 Night Elf and a level 13 Undead. I've been taking many breaks since I don't have to devote my life to the game just to gain a decent level and it is so much more practical. All these breaks I'm taking don't make me feel the guilt of calling out sick from work because there is the whole rest system. The crafting is actually practical and most of the things I make I can actually use for good. The quest based system is great. People say they just want to kill things, and that’s good. But why not get rewards and feel accomplished for what you're going to do anyway. Making a party is quick and easy and because of the quest system it's easier to find a party because all the players have a certain section or dungeon they want to do. At level 40 you get a mount which makes a huge difference in traveling time, and you actually get to keep it.
(I quit Final Fantasy XI before I could get a chocobo because all you could do is rent one and it would ditch you once you ran out of time). Getting to level 40 in WoW takes time but not the time it takes you to get a masters degree in rocket science.
Getting to level 20 in Final Fantasy XI was literally a -from morning till late night- to not even gain one level. Every time you died you lost so much experience and you lost more time running back to where you were to get something done. And the raise magic in the game was so scarce nobody could really revive you. People always had to find high level people and annoy them to raise their friend. What really bothered me the most was the penalty in Final Fantasy XI. Seems to me everything was a time penalty. When you died you lost experience which was about an hour of gameplay and then you lose another 40 minutes just trying to walk back to where you were.
Fishing must have been the worst thing I ever took up in Final Fantasy XI. Sometimes I wouldn't catch a stack of fish to sell for two real life days. I would just sit in town and talk to the other annoyed fishers waiting to catch something. The reason why I didn't just leave and go fight was because then I would have had to get a party and walk my way to some place. (About 4 hours). The reason why finding a party took so long was because there was such a big experience penalty for partying with someone 2-3 levels higher than you. I don't understand what the point of that was. I doubt a level 13 could help a level 10 kill an epic monster or something just because hes a little higher level. Getting levels in that game barely made a difference in power. And the fact that you HAD to get a party made it worse.
Some would argue it's meant to bring you together don't understand that what makes a game good is...."Choice". Choice is the number one thing. Maybe somebody wants to play 2 hours before he has a date or something (I doubt it, but just follow along). He can't do anything but walk around town or fish (and not catch anything). That’s my problem with this game. You literally have to make plans just to play this game.
Some fanboys defend the game, but they are probably just lucky enough to have all this time.
Forgive my short reponse, but my commentary is like unto a broken record...or a foreign convenience store owner.
Thank you. Come again!
So yeah, I wrote this fierce editorial and submitted it earlier this week. It's all about the cancellation of Wish--a new angle on the matter. Oh man, I go insane--editorially insane! Watch for it early next week.
On that note, keep sending letters about Wish--I only got one. And hey, the "What's your MMORPG Beverage of choice" topic got minimal love. Share, people! You're not dead from dehydration, so you must be drinking *something* out there.
Hrmmm, what else can I ramble about? Oh yeah, this new layout is pretty aprropriately timed, because MMORPGamer has just turned sweet 16, which is to say, this is our 16th column. Huzzah!
Mutable Realms might be remembered by some with pity and respect, but all they'll ever get from Heath Hindman is the middle finger