||The Super Special Holly Jolly Overstuffed Christmas Extravaganza
|December 26, 2008
First off, I really need to apologize for the unexcusable amount of time I let go by between updates. November was an unpleasant month with three close relatives ending up in the hospital, plus traveling for Thanksgiving. But everyone is fine now and life has settled down, so I feel better about getting back into the groove of things. This monster of a column is kinda me playing catch-up. Some old news along with the new.
So, Christmas has come and gone. I feel that the older I get, the faster December tends to go by, which is sad since I like Christmas time. But I feel mature enough now to embrace the family and good-will aspects of Christmas, rather than viewing the whole month as a countdown to free stuff. But I still wanted Persona 4 (and got it!). So for the this Christmas column, I've added a special section of special events that several MMOs are holding. So let's move on.
It's tough all over. Besides the U.S. and its own economic woes, Iceland is going through its own difficult recession. Its banking system and currency have gone down the toilet; things are at a point that newspapers "are struggling to afford the paper on which to print the news."
Iceland also happens to be the home of CCP, developer and publisher of the space MMORPG EVE Online. The company, despite having a hard time with currency restrictions, still manages to earn income. EVE Online's virtual economy supervisor, Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, says, "The present currency restrictions are putting us in a straitjacket. We are in talks with the government, but if we can't let capital in, we might be compelled to leave Iceland, even though this would be against our wishes."
An article in the Guardian lays the situation out much better than I can. I may be way off, but it makes the U.S.'s financial problems seem mild in comparison.
Seriously, did anyone actually think that Wrath of the Lich King wasn't going to sell like 80 bazillion copies? After managing to sell over 2.8 million units worldwide just on the first day, WoLK also set a new record for monthly PC sales by selling over 4 million copies in its first month. Now Blizzard's expansion shows its complete and utter dominance over the MMORPG market by gaining over 11.5 million subscribers.
Pretty crazy sounding on paper. WoW players could go and found their own small nation if they wanted.
Dungeon Keeper is an unknown franchise to me. Never played it, never seen it, and I'm only vaguely aware of the title in general because I recall seeing that evil red cow/demon creature on the front of the game box way back when. Anyway, Dungeon Keeper is joining the slew of IPs that are gaining a MMO. Right now there are not many details about the game besides the obvious guesses you can make from the original game and the fact that it's going to be an MMORPG.
Unfortunately, you better be living in the Greater China region if you want the chance to play it. EA licensed Dungeon Keeper to the Chinese developer NetDragon Websoft Inc., and they will be operating and distributing the title. Mr. Liu Dejian, Chairman and Executive Director of NetDragon, does hint that if the game does well, there may be considerations to release it overseas, but I wouldn't expect to see Dungeon Keeper: English Edition anytime soon.
Was Dungeon Keeper a big thing in China? I wasn't aware of any kind of following for it over there. It must that "last one to know" curse I have kicking in again.
Also poised to enter the blood thirsty arena of online MMOs is publisher True Games Interactive and developer Petroglyph. A press release states that the two companies are planning to create a new micro-transaction MMORPG called Mytheon. The game will merge role-playing, action, and strategy in a fantasy realm that is colored by mythologies from all over the world.
The standard MMO fare will be there; real-time combat, PVP, group and solo play, and a social network. Gameplay seems to be tied in closely with items called "Power Stones", which the player collects in the game to cast spells and summon creatures.
I like the concept of using many different mythologies rather than focusing on one as the staple theme or setting. The game is said to begin in ancient Greece, but I'd be excited if you were given the option to get immersed in the lore of the Aztecs, or one of the American Indian tribes.
We already knew that gaming in Asia is something of a different monster than it is in the states. Just look at Korean professional gaming teams. But they tend to get a lot more of video game related luxuries, and I’m not just taking about the standard merchandise like figurines, clothing, and the occasional soundtrack. Maybe those countries are more willing to cater to their geeks.
Getting to the point, a new restaurant has opened in Beijing that is wonderfully decked out in World of Warcraft finery. Walking in the front door will treat diners to a recreation of the game's opening cinematics. You can sit in the "Hall of Snow Storms" dining area where a large plasma screen TV shows WoW gameplay. Along the walls, suits of armor, in-game images, and display cases full of paraphernalia add extra flair to the overall ambience. The menu is loaded with food items named after certain game denizens. The restaurant owner himself is a WoW enthusiast who wanted to create a gathering place for other WoW fans.
Man, we don’t have fun themed restaurants like that here. Not good ones, anyway.
Free 14-day trials are available for new comers to Pirates of the Burning Sea. Anyone interested just has to go to the website and submit their e-mail address to receive a link for their trial key. Yet another chance to stick it to those ninja lovers.
The Mac beta for City of Heroes is now open for business. People who are interested should head to the above link and submit their e-mails. The page also has information on game features, system requirements, screenshots, and in-games items exclusive to the Mac edition for those who wish to familiarize themselves with the game first.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning's patch 1.0.6 was released, ushering in the arrival of the Black Guard and Knight of the Blazing Sun careers. Also of interest are mastery point refunds to certain careers and improvements to the auto-attack animations. Soon after, patch 1.1a came out on Dec. 11th, making the two new careers available to all players.
Two stories from Warhammer novelists Nathan Long and Mike Lee are on the Warhammer Online website. Three chapters are already posted for reading. The stories are intended to delve into the two new careers in Warhammer Online. It's not quite fanfiction, so you don’t have to feel weird about reading it. If you have a problem with fanfiction, that is.
Warhammer Online has a buddy program for bringing new players into the game, appropriately named "Recruit a Friend". When you start your subscription, you'll get 3 recruitment notices (think of them like trial vouchers). You also get a new notice every month you are a subscriber, but you can only have 6 at a time. Send recruitment e-mail to interested friends wishing to play the trial, and the e-mail will allow them to create trial accounts for 7-days of free play. You'll receive 30-days of free play for each recruit that decides to join the game for real.
If you don’t want to buy a physical version of Warhammer Online, the game is up for purchase at Steam, along with a slew of other EA games. But they’re not MMORPGS, so let’s move on.
Things seem to be picking up for Final Fantasy XI. The powers that be are giving the "Return Home to Vana'diel Campaign" another run. Simply put, if you've played FFXI before but stopped for whatever reason, you can join in the event and having any character you created restored again. Once you've logged in with your character, you will be given the opportunity to pick up an Anniversary Ring. But the rings are only available to players who didn't get one in the "Adventurer Appreciation Campaign" in May 2008. Your character will also have to have been created before Wednesday, May 28, 2008 and have been logged into the game at least once since then. The campaign runs from Dec. 18th and ends April 15th, 2009. Click the link to get further details, though I find the way the article is written a bit unspecific.
Tabula Rasa has Deployment 15 out of on their public test servers for players to try out. The FPS camera is now officially added into the game. There's also a new instance map for players level 50 who meet the Logos requirement for it.
Originally set for next month, Tabula Rasa is now free for anyone to play before the game ends on Feb. 28th, 2009. It's a nice gesture, but I wonder if there’s more to it than that. Maybe NCsoft is gearing up to try to keep Tabula Rasa alive as a free-to-play MMO. But no, that seems pretty unlikely.
Guild Wars has released the 2008 Guild Wars "Game of the Year" edition and a Guild Wars trilogy set. In celebration of these releases, NCsoft has added two new helpful NPCs to the game that aid players level 20 and lower; M.O.X. the golem hero and the Fire Imp combat ally. The specifics and requirements can be found at this link.
Oh, and remember all those server merges in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures that were supposed to happen this month? Those have been pushed into January. One reason for this is an issue with making sure that players’ items survive the merge. The article about can be read here.
The sixth Alliance PVP Tournament has been announced for Eve Online. Signups will start on Dec. 19th and last until Jan. 9th. The tournament will run for three consecutive weekends, on Saturday and Sunday, for six days.
Eve Online's new buddy program has generated so much success that it has been extended to January 5th, 2009. Rope your friends into trying out the free 21-day trial, and if they become subscribers, you'll get 30 days of game time for your account. Here's the report from the main website.
The Quantum Rise 1.0.3 patch has gone live. Fixes have been made to improve the graphical and overall performance of the game. Also, the beta version of EVElopedia, Eve Online's Wikipedia, went live Dec. 10th. It's said to already have over 6000 pages of content. Thrusters to full, and all that.
The new Tales in the Desert MMO has been officially released. This is the fourth version of the game and people wishing to try out the game can download the game client for free. You’ll be required to subscribe for a monthly fee after 24 hours if you wish to keep playing. I've not heard too much about this game, though I understand it has a devoted, albeit small, fanbase. Anyone reading this know if it's any good?
World of Warcraft Miniatures Game Deluxe Edition is now available from the Upper Deck Company. The set comes with 6 miniatures, matching dice, and UBases. You'll also get a map of Ashenvale, Tanaris, or Winterspring. There is also a loot card from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game "Drums of War" expansion included. Once again, Blizzard presents more goodies for us to go bankrupt for.
Next up, patch 3.0.8 is now on the public test realms. Among the changes, racial restrictions on mounts have been removed, over 60 new graveyards have been added to Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, and death knights can be created on any realm once the player has reached level 55.
Players can also now change their character's appearance for a flat fee of $15 (except for class and race). The Character Re-Customization service is available at WoW’s official website on the Account Management page. So now you can have that hair style or color change you've been wanting, or get that sex change for your Tauren.
If you're one of the few people who play WoW but aren't sure you want to bother with getting Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard is now offering players who have or had subscriptions to World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade a free 10-trial of WoLK. That's ten calendar days, mind you, not ten days worth of time spent actually playing the trial. All the content available in the WoLK expansion is available to trial players, including being able to create a death knight out of level 55 and up characters. There’s a pretty extensive FAQ page on Blizzard Support, if case anyone would like more information.
And finally, if you really want to prove just how obsessive you are about WoW, you might want to set your peepers on this little number; the World of Warcraft Mouse. Not only does the mouse look sweet in general, with a metallic gray top and dark gray body, but it was made specifically for playing WoW. This thing has 15 programmable buttons, customizable lights for the spaces in-between the buttons on the top of the mouse, and macros up to 160 characters. The mouse can be purchased at the SteelSeries Professional Gaming Gear website for $99.99 (ouch). You can also purchase a mouse and a mouse pad bundle for $134.99 (that had better be an excellent mouse pad).
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures – A month long give-away of in-game items, Kosalan talismans of clarity, and goat killing.
Eve Online - Man the snowball torpedoes!
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning - The Dwarves know how to party with Keg End.
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes – The Festival of Gloriann, where Frosty wants to kill you
World of Warcraft – WoW tries to outdo everyone, as usual, with the Feast of the Winter Veil.
Dungeons & Dragons Online - The Festival of the Twelfth Moons has you protect Stormreach by collecting coins.
City of Heroes – The originally named Winter Event gives players free gifts, a new mission, and skiing. Seriously.
Guild Wars – Celebrating the season with Wintersday.
Lineage II – Save Santa by battling an angry turkey in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Final Fantasy XI – The Starlight Celebration is the only Christmas party with moogles.
EverQuest and Everquest II – Frostfell reigns supreme for both the old game and the new(er).
Star Wars Galaxies – Even during the festive Wookiee Life Day, the imperials and rebels can’t get along.
No Travel Log this time; I'm pretty exhausted from typing and Christmas. I need a day or two to come out of my Christmas dinner coma. But we'll be back to a regular schedule come January. Thanks for reading.
Sarah Williams (Feed me mail!)