Monthly Archives: September 2009

To help celebrate Ultima Online’s 12 year anniversary, today EA has announced the Return to Britannia campaign.  The new campaign will make Ultima Online free to play until Oct 16th for all players, closed accounts in good standings will be re-activated so they can partake.  Below is the press release with more information about the Return to Britannia campaign.

New content available to returning players through the Return to Britannia Campaign includes Mondain’s Legacy, the 7th UO expansion which introduced the playable Elven race and dangerous, new dungeons to explore. Mondain’s Legacy was made available at no charge in August 2009 to existing subscribers and to new players as part of the Ultima Online 14-day free trial.

“We’re hoping that, as part of the Return to Britannia Campaign, former players will once again rediscover the joys of Ultima Online,” said Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer for Mythic Entertainment. “UO was the first love of many MMORPG players, and it still holds a special place in their hearts after 12 glorious years. I think returning players will be pleasantly surprised to find a thriving and vibrant community from around the world ready to welcome back their former compatriots and include them in their ongoing adventures.”

Players returning to Ultima Online through the Return to Britannia Campaign can download and install the UOclient for free at: http://www.uoherald.com/trial/. Players who no longer have access to their Ultima Onlineusername and password can retrieve their account information at: http://support.ea.com.

Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss, the 8th expansion was released earlier this month and revolves around the introduction of the playable Gargoyle race. Players will also find expansive new areas to explore, including Ter Mur, the Gargoyle homeland, and the Stygian Abyss – the largest dungeon area ever introduced to Ultima Online. This sprawling dungeon contains new boss monsters of unparalleled difficulty, including the Medusa, Primeval Lich and the Stygian Dragon, as well as Player vs. Player zones where adventurers are turned against one another. Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss is now available at UOGamesCodes.com and the EA STORE for $29.99.

The 0.0 or ‘null security’ area of EVE Online’s universe has always been where the game’s action has been and where most of the intriguing stories of the game come from. Most of the corporate intrigue and large tactical battles have been set in the game’s so-called ‘outlaw space’ area.

In Eve Online, different star systems have different security statuses. ‘High sec’ is the most secure, where the game’s NPC police force will respond and destroy any outlaws quickly. In the ‘low sec’ systems, only stargates and stations in-game are protected by weak NPC turret systems, and in the ‘null sec’ systems, there is nothing between you and that pirate gate camp. Null sec systems are not owned by the game’s NPC empires, and instead, player alliances are allowed to claim them through a sovereignty system.

When a player alliance controls a system’s sovereignty, it allows them to control it. There are several large player alliances that fight wars against each other to control these star systems, but EVE developer CCP is introducing some changes that will drastically shake up the status quo of EVE Online’s null sec space.

The most obvious change is in the way that null sec space is claimed by player alliances. Previously, the ability to claim a null sec system for your own alliance revolved around the use of player-owned starbases (or POS). The more POS’s you held in a system, the higher ‘sov level’ was on that system, showing the level of control on that system. Higher sov levels allowed you to add more useful things to that system, such as jump bridges that allowed you and your allies to travel large distances easily.

This old style of sovereignty based claiming sov. on POS warfare. ‘POS bashing’ as the EVE userbase called it, was the main way of capturing a system, and involved large fleets, and capital ships called dreadnaughts. Capturing even a loosely-held system from your enemies took a large amount of man hours and time of watching your ship fire at a starbase’s shields. Under this system, only the largest alliances could take large swaths of space.

Developer CCP has announced that an upcoming (free) expansion will seriously change this sovereignty system of EVE Online. This isn’t just an overhaul, CCP is blowing up the sov. system and completely rebuilding it from the ground up. Sovereignty will no longer be connected in any way to the number of Starbases you have in that system.

Instead, the new sov system will be similar to EVE Online’s Faction Warfare system (where players fight each other in the name of EVE’s NPC empires, which is considered sort of a training mode to ease mission runners into null sec). Starting with an unclaimed system, an alliance who wishes to capture it has to drop a ‘claim marker’ in the system. This anchor will take 24 hours to be activated, and if the 24 hours pass without being destroyed, that area will be the property of the alliance who dropped the marker. Once the market finishes this day-long ‘securing’ process, it becomes invulnerable to attack.

Attacking alliances who want to capture a secured system now have to drop a ‘disruptor field’ which, after a 12-hour null period, will open up the original alliance’s claim mark for attack. Once the original alliance’s claim marker is destroyed, anybody is free to place their own sov marker. As previously said, the old sov system was dependent on POS basing, which would take capital ships, and large fleets of battleships that would shoot at POS’s for hours. This new system encourages more small and medium-ships to engage in battles over these markers.

Mostly, the EVE community has received these changes well, with the most noticeable complaints coming from the game’s large 0.0 alliances. The current null sec power houses are afraid that they will be unable to keep some of their more remote systems secure and that small gangs of players will be able to easily and quickly take remote systems from large alliances. CCP has promised that the system will be well balanced and that small frigates will be unable to capture and hold systems.

Other changes to the game’s sov. system come in the form of nerfs and boosts to the game’s capital ship class. The Titan is EVE’s biggest ship class. It is a large, slow, expensive capital ship that takes years of training to fly and build. They are often built in secret (lest an enemy alliance discover where you are building your titan, and attempt to destroy the ship while it’s being built). The only direct weapon of the Titan is the Doomsday device, which fires a large energy sphere that does intense damage to any ship caught in its wake. During a large fleet battle, a well timed Titan doomsday can turn the battle by easily destroying large numbers of the enemy fleet.

CCP has announced that the titan’s doomsday will change from an ‘area of effect’ weapon to a single-target weapon, which the game’s community has assumed will be a ‘Death Star’-style blast. This single change, which may seem slight for those not involved in the game, will completely change the usefulness of Titans. Instead of taking out large numbers of smaller fleet ships, the Titan will now be used to take a single high-priority target. So far, the game’s community has speculated that these will be used to take out other ships in the capital class, such as dreadnaughts or carriers.

Balance is the key to keeping an online MMOG community happy, and CCP is balancing the Titan nerf (or boost, depending on how you look at it) by introducing a new class of fighters that are equipped on the capital-class carrier ships. Carriers are large capital ships that have no primary weapons, but instead carry fighters. Fighters are similar to the smaller drones that some ships in the game can equip, except fighters are the size (and cost) of player-flown cruisers, with increased firepower.

CCP has announced that a new class of fighters, called ‘fighter bombers’ will be introduced, which will fire smartbombs, which are area-of-effect weapons that damage any ship in their wake. It is presumed that these bomber fighters and their smartbomb attacks will be able to attack large numbers of ships, balancing the changes in the Titan’s role.

The final, and most yet unknown change to the sov. system is the upcoming FPS game called ‘Dust 514′, which is set in the EVE universe and console FPS players will fight for the player alliances in the PC MMORPG. Again, CCP is withholding information about Dust 514 until their Fanfest, being held in Iceland later this year. How Dust will tie into the newly changed sov system has the entire game’s community on pins and needles.

The 0.0 null sec sov system has long been in favor of the game’s current alliance power houses, like the Goonswarm. Many have complained that the previous system made it almost impossible for inspiring alliances to break into their own slice of 0.0 without a larger ally. The sov capturing system changes and the titan/carrier changes will be added in an upcoming expansion, entitled ‘Dominion’ that will be released in November of this year. No release date for Dust 514 has been released, ostensibly more information will be released at CCP’s EVE Fanfest later this year.

There’s a World of Warcraft blogger – who I won’t name here, although many of you know his name – who drove over 400 miles this week to Blizzard’s headquarters in Irvine. Armed with 40 page full-color booklets on his raid design, each of which has cost him $27 to print (which, at a count of 32, is over $800 in printing costs alone), he set up a table outside Blizzard headquarters, begging for people to take his booklet. His goal was to get inside Blizzard’s headquarters, and present his ideas for “the perfect raid dungeon” that he had designed, and hopefully nail down a job where he could begin designing the game itself in the process.

This blogger isn’t an ex-employee of a game company, or a student of game design. His first MMO was Final Fantasy XI, and his professional experience is completely outside the gaming industry. He’s a regular MMO gamer just like you and I. Although, maybe a bit crazier; most of us wouldn’t spend over $1,000 to camp outside an MMO’s company headquarters in hopes for a job interview.

MMOs have been around with us for over a decade, and consume a lot of our time. According to the Daedalus Project, players spend about 22 hours per week in MMOs. Comparable to a part-time job, those hours are spent doing something players enjoy and pay for through games, subscriptions/item malls, computers, and internet connections.

So it should come as no surprise that these days, it seems like every MMO player is a critic. If you work a job twenty hours a week, every week, sooner or later you’re going to learn the infrastructure of the business, decide what you like and what you don’t, and develop opinions on what could be better, and what clearly doesn’t work. While you may not share those opinions with your boss, you’re bound to share those opinions with friends or family.

Playing an MMO is only moderately different. Instead of a work activity, playing MMOs is a leisure activity, one we pay to do instead of getting paid. We are also far more removed from the infrastructure, and rely on the words of those inside the industry to reveal what’s going on behind the scenes. Even then, we are often left yearning for more transparency and a little less rhetoric.

The main difference between a part-time employee and a part-time MMO gamer, however, is experience in the field itself. The employee is not the customer; they know how to serve the customer and know the operations of their business. The gamer, however, is the customer – most have never done graphics, programming, scripting, or development. In terms of customer service, our opinions as gamers are nothing more than comment cards in the suggestion box: data collected, glanced at, and only the exceptionally insightful looked at.

And it’s no wonder; read any forum long enough and you’ll see that outside of the “QQ” crowd who follow the adage “Nerf everyone else but me,” many suggestions are coated in too much selfishness and optimism, and not enough understanding of balance and core game mechanics. It’s true, gamers have an intimate understanding of game play; we have the best understanding of quality.

But can that make up for a lack of knowing how to make an MMO? Honestly, it’s hard to say. While it’s clear to see that some companies value player data and communication highly, there’s no solid proof that quantifies how much player feedback they use in their decisions. And let’s face it, we’re going to give companies our opinion whether they like it or not.

The point that I’m getting at is that all MMO gamers are critics in varying degrees, and that includes me. Like most of you, I haven’t ever worked at a game company, and that makes putting my opinions in front of thousands of like-minded, opinionated people daunting. I’m just another player, one who’s been immersed in the MMO lifestyle for over a decade, playing, testing, and reviewing MMOs. Throughout beta tests and live feedback, I’ve learned the tricks of how to be heard.

Want a better chance of being heard? Here are a few simple tips:

  1. Write intelligibly. Not only is good grammar and spelling extremely helpful in communicating your point, but so is thoughtful writing. Re-read your message aloud before you send it off via email or a forum post. Offer counter-points to potential opposition. Speak logically – don’t talk with your head in the clouds. A well-written post will grab attention, even if its ideas are poorly developed.
  2. Don’t assume your ideas are easy to implement. There are things behind the scenes you may not understand, like how server loads work or how complicated it is to program a customizable three-step dance routine. Admit what you don’t know, suggest what you may think work, and be open to feedback that gives you more insight. When you do get more insight, revise your ideas to a new working model.
  3. Think of the “big picture.” It’s hard to keep everything in perspective, and the more minute the change is you want to suggest, the probability you’re going to overlook related issues grows. A change to one class can affect every other class; a change to a single PvE or PvP mechanic can completely alter the way people play the game. Consider the consequences, and address them.
  4. Treat every MMO individually. If MMOs were children, you wouldn’t spank your second child, Billy, because he doesn’t want to paint rainbows like his older sister Sarah. MMOs should be different, and they should be treated as if they are, even when a lot of similarities are present. Just because one MMO is more popular, more profitable, or in other ways “better” via your point of view, doesn’t mean that another is worse because it is built differently. Draw comparisons to other MMOs only when it enhances your argument, and explain why the other game’s system is better or worse, and what lessons can be learned while keeping individuality.
  5. It’s never personal. Don’t take a lack of response to your suggestion, or a response you don’t like, personally. While this is the internet, game companies are businesses and your feedback is treated professionally. Don’t be the customer who storms out in a screaming huff because you didn’t get your way.

As for the blogger I mentioned? He was politely turned away, reminded that his best avenues were via portfolio building and resume submission, and that player content submissions are shredded for legal reasons. Keep that in mind if you were thinking about packing up and knocking on the door of your favorite game company.

Earthrise: Exploring the Lowlands

On the eastern side of Enterra, just off the northern coast of the island, lie the barren, desolate steppes of the Lowlands. These somber prairies are constantly subjected to the violent sweeps of harsh, dry winds and the cracked soil is mercilessly baked into a rugged patchwork of dirt that expulses noxious clouds of choking fine dust, which without the proper filtering can prove deadly. Shallow canyons and low prominences offer a small measure of shadow for the wary traveler, otherwise there is no refuge to be found from the scorching heat of the day as very little vegetation exists in the Lowlands. Hosting only a handful of brambles and twisted yucca trees and supporting only highly adapted hostile mutant life forms, the Lowlands are the part of Enterra that most resembles the original state of the island’s nature before the terraforming efforts were undertaken by reemerging humanity.

The Lowlands form a natural crossroad between the spheres of influence of several important factions and by virtue of this fact alone, they serve as a theatre for a multitude of armed conflicts; some open and some not as readily apparent for those ignorant of the subtle behind-the-scenes world of politics and intrigue. To the northwest, the steppe reaches the Autonomy – a breeding ground for treachery and ambition, whose denizens would readily spill into the Lowlands under the vicious will of their leader Shepherd, if not kept in check by force of arms. To the northeast is the Arboretum – the lush tangle of bio-engineered forests and gardens that the people of Natura call home. To the south a clutter of small mesas and foothills slowly transitions into the imposing ranges of the Cascade Mountains whose stout profile projects the security and protection guaranteed by Noir’s very Core. To the southwest a narrow pass meanders through the rocky ridges and connects the Lowlands with the Eastern Garden where the seat of power of Her Eminence Governor Mao is located. And to the West, against a substantial and unapproachable mass of granite, the overgrown ruins of Arcology II are huddled with the Kodiak’s Den nested amongst them.

By far the most pre-dominant, albeit far from undisputed, power in the Lowlands are the Kodiaks. Their main base is not in the prairie itself, but hidden beneath the treetops of the great forest that sprawls over the picked remains of the Arcology. Nonetheless, they maintain substantial recon and assault forces on patrol throughout the Lowlands at all times. Having once been wrestled out of the Nest, they are ready to defend their new home at all costs and are constantly aware of the territorial aspirations of the many raider bands – such as the infamous Rukh – that infest the steppes, as well as of the sporadic incursions of adventurous Syndicate smugglers. The Kodiaks maintain a permanent boot camp in the Lowlands, where their newest recruits are being pit against the hostile creatures of the wild in order to hone their skills for the time of real battle.

Amongst the landmarks found in the Lowlands, several deserve a specific mention. Perhaps the most prominent structure erected in the steppe is a great Noir compound, complete with several resource drills used to excavate precious resources needed for the war effort around the clock. Further north one can find the abandoned terraforming facility which has settled in its final repose buried beneath tons of dust and rust – at least, until someone finds a way to bring it back to life. A recently established encampment of the Alpha dominates the northern-most edge of the area. Perched on a small plateau above the ocean surf, it is staking the Sisters’ claim to a permanent presence in what has always been, up to this moment, exclusive Noir territory. Last but not least, an abandoned pre-war bunker is hidden amongst the rocky crags occupying the eastern shore of the Lowlands, ready to reveal its long-forgotten secrets to any of the several factions vying to gain entry into its depths.

Already a highly inhospitable and hostile area, patches of mutated plant-life have begun springing up around the steppes of the Lowlands bearing the specific visual signature of the bio-phenomenon known as “The Hatchery”. Mutant creatures, altered even further from their initial deformities, were soon to follow; but whatever the future of the Lowlands holds for its human explorers and inhabitants, one thing is for sure – it’s neither going to be safe, nor pretty.

Conquer Online 2: Steed System II

Mounting

A skill is required to mount or “get on top of” the steed to be able to ride it around the Conquer Online maps. This skill is called “Riding”. Players learn this skill from the Mount Trainer located to the west of Twin City at (388,386) just outside the portal to the Stable. (The Mount Trainer stands beside the Zebra, one of the 5 rare breed of steeds and possibly the rarest.) Learning the skill isn’t free, it costs 50,000 silvers.

Once you have learned the “Riding” skill, it will be displayed in the skills menu by clicking the “Skill” tab at the bottom of the screen. It is represented by an icon showing a horseman. Select the skill and right click on the ground to mount the steed and right click again to get off. A steed must be equipped to mount it.

Riding

The movement of the steed is similar to that of a player. Clicking a point on the map with the cursor moves the mounted player toward that point. Holding Control (Ctrl) while clicking makes the steed move faster.

Quick movement of the steed is restricted by the vigor, which is the stamina of the steed. The vigor is shown as figures under a picture of a horse on the bottom-right corner of the screen while mounted. While moving the vigor gradually decreases and on reaching zero (0), the steed begins to slowly trot. The vigor, however, slowly regenerates when the steed stops moving. Therefore, the more vigor a steed possesses, the greater the distance it can cover before having to pause to regain stamina. The maximum vigor increases as the bonus level of the steed increases

A Steed can’t only be ridden on the outside of the cities. If a player wishes to ride his/her steed within a city, such as Twin City and Phoenix City, the steed needs to have a lineage level of four and higher. Players can mount within the Market only if they possess a steed of lineage level six and higher.

Riding Skills

Mount Trainer teaches two other skills to players for a named price. Both skills give players the ability to dismount other mounted players whose steed’s lineage level is lower than their steed’s level. Both skills appear in the skills menu along with the Riding skill.

The “Spook” skill dismounts a single mounted player and can be used once every 15 seconds. The skill can be learned for 100,000 silvers. The “War Cry” skill dismounts all mounted players within a range and can be used once every minute. This skill is taught for 1,000,000 silvers.

The skills have to be selected from the skills menu so that the icon appears in the Skill box.

For the Spook skill, right clicking on the ground of the map changes the screen mode where all players and monster become invisible excepting the mounted players that you are able to dismount using the skill. When the cursor is clicked on a visible player, he/she will be dismounted

For the War Cry skill, right clicking on the ground of the map activates the skill.

Breeding

Breeding is important to successfully improve the status and performance of the steed, which will in turn improve the status of the player who equips it. Breeding is performed at the Breeder in the Stable at Twin City.

Two steeds are required to complete the breeding process (obviously); a Major and a Minor steed. The Major steed is the player’s main steed (the steed the player would like to improve), while the Minor steed is the one to be used to improve the Major Steed.

During the breeding process, the lineage from the Minor steed is transferred to the Major steed, thus increasing the lineage of the Major steed. When the lineage of the Major steed reaches a certain value, it will increase its lineage level. The number of lineage given to the Major steed depends only on the lineage level of the Minor steed.

Place the Major Steed in the square space marked “Major” and the Minor Steed in the square marked “Minor”. The bar that appears below the steed indicates the lineage level and the lineage of the Major Steed if the breeding process is confirmed by the player.

The lineage given to the Major steed by the Minor steed is as follows:

Lineage Level of Minor Steed Lineage Level of Major Steed
0 1
1 10
2 40
3 120
4 360
5 1080
6 3240
7 9720
8 29160

Steeds with a lineage level of 9 and above can’t be used as a minor steed.

The following shows the number of lineage needed to increase the lineage level of the steed.

Progress of Lineage Level Lineage Required for Level Up
0 to 1 20
1 to 2 20
2 to 3 80
3 to 4 240
4 to 5 720
5 to 6 2160
6 to 7 6480
7 to 8 19440
8 to 9 58320

Breeding steeds to progress to lineage level 10 to 12 is done by other means.

Breeding steeds also allows players to acquire a new breed of steed. When breeding, players have a choice to either to maintain the breed of the Major steed by clicking “Original” or to choose a new breed, if any, by clicking “New.” Not all breeding processes allows for new breeds to be produced.

TQ Entertainment left its players with images of over 40 different breeds of steed and a Breeder to acquire the advertised breeds. With no more information provided it is left up to the Conquer Online community to figure out the means of getting all the different breeds of steed.

CyberStep Communications Inc. is very pleased to announce another update with our Item Mall items in HolyBeast ONLINE this week on September 25th. Below will be the list of items for this update, and we are sure that these great items will increase the joy of playing HolyBeast ONLINE.

List of Items that have been updated:

Limited offer until October 8th :

1. Pet Orb for 9 D !

Now the Item Mall prepares various pets for sale price, from cute little Pohtan to big and mighty Suzu
Rokko. Having one of these pets will definitely make your quest much easier, and make your HolyBeast

much more interesting with these unique friends aside of you.

2. Graduation Costume Set for 9 D!

This set of costume will surely make players look more like as they have graduated from fantastic school
of magic or warrior. As well as pets, this unique costume that can have distinguish outlook from others
will only cost 9 D for each parts.

Other New Items: Pizza, Ball Hands, and Microphone!

These costumes should definitely bring laughter to the people around you, if you are very skilled to use
these items. These items would most likely to be seemed as “Gag Equipment” (As a matter of fact, it is),
though these items coming up from this week’s update will maintain its performance as a weapon or
armor at high level, and still keep them as useful item in HolyBeast. For gag and actual use, this would
be one of your selections for to decide whether to buy or not.

There will be more updates coming up ahead. We are looking forward to release another great update next week. If you would like to check offical site for further information, you can check from :

http://hb.getamped.com/home

Nexon America announces that Dungeon Fighter Online has finally entered its Open Beta phase.  The Nexon-developed pseudo-MMORPG (there’s no large scale raiding type of content) is now available to all those willing to test the brawler out.

Each of the five classes – Fighter, Gunner, Mage, Priest or Slayer – is available now.  It’s quite clear that the classes offer highly diverse fighting styles after spending quality time with them at PAX 2009.

In addition to your typical side-scrolling brawler gameplay and boss fights, but controlled with your standard MMORPG User Interface, the game offers PvP challenges.  Players can participate in numerous PvP endeavors including 1v1 – 4v4 skirmishes, and even eight player free-for-all combat.  PvP XP is awarded, rather than your standard XP, and contributes to a player’s Arena rank.

Now that Dungeon Fighter Online has become open to the public I guess those DFO Early Access Beta keys I handed out via Twitter don’t seem as cool.  What with the fact that you can sign-up here just as easily.

There was a lot of talk about Free Realms at AGDC this year. We had the chance to sit with Laralyn McWilliams, Lead Designer on the game and talk about the success and future plans for the F2P MMO.

Laralyn first talked about the live events and how successful they had been. The Dares concert from E3 started things off and SOE has continued to make player events a priority. The concert was followed up with fireworks on the 4th of July. These types of parties go a long way with players and the social aspects of the game have picked up because of that.

Laralyn next talked about how important family play is in Free Realms. SOE is seeing many families play together and more importantly the parents are posting on the forums asking and looking for advice.

Speaking of parents, the concerns are always there to protect children online. Customer service has banned a lot of accounts for inappropriate language or behavior. Even with Free Realms chat system, they are still always on the lookout to keep kids safe. In game, if players are caught breaking the rules, there is a final warning from an NPC dressed like a state trooper. This gives players one last chance to correct themselves before there account is banned.

It is important to note that player housing remains an important part of Free Realms. It is part of the long term goals on the game. Players will enjoy full customization with there houses and expect to have lots of options when decorating their gardens, front lawns, etc.

The other area SOE wants to expand in Free Realms is the mini games. Right now, mini games remain a major part of the world. Free Realms is expected to launch many more in the near future. Currently, card dueling is a very popular area for players and there is even a profession players can learn called Card Duelist. The cards remain an important part of the online store as well, with decks being at the top of the items in sales. Free Realms is also about to launch soccer into the game and hopes to gain members of the international audience by having the world’s most popular sport available to players.

Being a game designer herself, Laralyn talked about how SOE’s goal with Free Realms was to bring the gender populaton to 50/50. Right now 67% of players are male, 33% are female and SOE is doing more to bring that number to an even level. Laralyn explained that they don’t make any assumptions of players. Some mechanics are gender based, but they are layered above many mechanics that work well for both genders.

In his keynote address, John Smedley talked about the age level of players in Free Realms. 51% of the players are under the age of thirteen. 29% are between the ages of 13-17. 12% are from the ages 18-24. The remaining 8% is broken up between ages 25-34, 35-55, and 45 and up. These numbers showed the kid friendly atmostphere of the game, but also how it appeals to adults.

Because the kid population is so high, the game was designed around short play spans of about 20 minutes. John explained that you needed to approach things differently when creating the game for kids. The biggest element was to make sure the game was easy to get into. Especially when asking someone their age. John pointed out that most children know their birthday, but they may not know the year they were born. Change the opening log in to ask how old they were improved the ease of getting into the game tremendously.

Jobs are important in Free Realms, they make up the choices players make fore their characters on style of class they will play. Right now the number one job in the game is a Brawler. The Brawler is a combat class which is more like a traditional MMO class. This is followed by the Demolition Derby driver and the Race Car Driver. The racing and demolition derby games in Free Realms are tremendously popular. Oddly enough the number four and five ranked jobs are the Pet Trainer and the Chef. The pet trainer is fun because pets are very interactive in the game. There are lots of commands and abilities you can explore with your pet. The chef takes advantage of cooking mini games all over the world similar to Cooking Mama styles games seen on the Wii and DS.

When talking about monetization of the game, John explained that 50% of the players have used the store. Of those 50%, 68% were girls. The number one purchased item in the store is card decks for the trading card game with Card Duelist growing quickly as a popular job. Other items that are popular in the in game store are health potions, costumes, and pets.

When it comes to marketing Free Realms, the TV is the best way to reach kids. The peak time is about 5:30 pm in the evening just before dinner and bed time. The channels that reach kids are easy to figure out: Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and The Disney Channel. The game sees huge spikes in traffic after the commercials are shown and within five minutes of a commercial run they can check the new log-ins.

SOE continues plans for more kid friendly and casual friendly games. John Smedley mentioned that they are working on a Facebook MMO and also have another project in the works for the kids market. The chat with Laralyn and John’s keynote gave us a strong insight into the Free Realms world. Not just from the kid’s perspective, but from the eyes of SOE as well.

Article By: Garrett Fuller From :MMORPG

Aion’s Early Start So Far

This is what Aion looked like for those of us who managed to log in at around 12:02PM Pacific time yesterday, two minutes past the servers going live.

If you look closely, you can see my chanter-to-be Caliban, lost amidst a sea of people acting how they normally do when gathered in large groups via the internet. The server is Azphael; the side Asmodian. For the next five hours I would randomly crash three times, say the word “fuck” on at least 120 separate occasions, and eventually make it to level 9, at which point I left the newbie hubbub behind in favor of the more subdued, higher-level hubbub.

we talked about queues a upwards of seven hours long, and while I certainly commiserate with those left waiting, it almost seemed as if the servers remembered who was online in case of a crash, letting them slip right back in as soon as they returned. At least this was my experience. I’m almost positive that at one point my server went down completely, and there were a few instances of severe server-wide rubber-banding (running the length of a road and finding yourself snapped back to the beginning), but otherwise things seemed rather smooth considering the huge influx of players.

My main problem was due to the initial rush. With that many people in your starting zone, quest items will be camped, and quest monsters will be slaughtered mercilessly. At first NCsoft had 10 instances of the newbie area available for players to freely switch between, but each one was packed, causing severe quest bottlenecks, especially when the quest required players to click on one item that spawned every two minutes. It was chaotic.

Later in the day I went back through and completed some of the quests I skipped, and things seemed to have calmed down a bit. I suspect the full launch tomorrow will experience similar problems. My suggestion? Skip quests and grind, or simply wait a bit to start leveling up.

I’ve managed to make it to level 12 so far myself, with Caliban the chanter kicking ass and taking names left and right while searching for a guild that’s a little more about roleplay than most. I know, good luck with that, right? Either way, I hope to see some of you in game. If I don’t respond, I’m asleep with my face on the keyboard.

It has been over a year since I previewed Hello Kitty Online and I wondered why it was still in beta. I soon discovered the reason when I spoke with Executive Producer Grant Wei of Aeria Games who is bringing the Hello Kitty Online world to the North American market. I had participated in the Founder’s Beta – the very first beta run that although was in English, was not the North American Beta. I was playing a version created for the Asian market. Little wonder than, that the GMs I spoke to in-game were based anywhere from Malaysia to the Philippines. This is Hello Kitty for the North American market. Localized, to American spelling, pop-culture references and, I am told, it’s much less of a grind.

Targeted at the 13+ Hello Kitty fan, Hello Kitty Online may not be COPA complaint, but Grant stresses strict chat filtering, strong GM presence in game, moderated forums and a zero-tolerance policy for cheating and exploiting.

Hello Kitty Online is a social world with an overarching quest story line. The Denizens of the world, Hello Kitty and her friends, are falling asleep and you have to find out why. Traveling through wilderness areas to larger cities such as Paris, London, Tokyo, Beijing and New York, you will undertake quests from various NPCs you encounter, learn to harvest, craft items and bake, farm, build a house and breed pets. There are cities and wilderness areas attached to them and travel is via portal. Players have to build enough faction and complete enough quests before you can advance from one city to the next and progression is fairly linear.

Hello Kitty Online is a surprisingly busy world. The landscape is filled with waving trees and flowers and cute little critters that aggro. It’s also very, very pink. So cute, it may make your eyes hurt. Hello Kitty is not a leveling game but a skills and exploration game. Players do not have levels but skills. You acquire skills and better them through practice. You travel and find a fairy in the corner of a wilderness that gives you a task. It is actually a crafter’s dream as the best items and coolest outfits in game are player made. Virtual farming? Check. You plant, water, fertilize and harvest. Put in scarecrows and sprinkler systems, and turn your produce into food and drink through the baking system. Farming can be charmingly compelling. Your crops grow and turn into plump, beautiful fruit and other produce. Lovers of Harvest Moon will especially enjoy this feature. A new day and night cycle feature will send players with planted farms a message when a new day cycles to remind them to tend their farms as fruits left on the vine will wither.

You also get to build a house – which is a social affair, a virtual barn raising. Depending on the plans you buy, you can build the cutest pink, candy-cane (or chocolate donut for the so inclined) house you ever did see and you furnish it with more player crafted items. Other than crafting and growing produce, you collect pets and level them by caring for them. By that, I mean petting them, feeding them and cleaning up after them. Yes, your pets do poop virtually. You can also go to an NPC pet breeder and cross-breed your pets. Merchants in different cities will breed different pets.

“Features have been localized for North American consumers,” said Grant. For instance, North American gamers are more concerned with customization of the avatar than Asian, and different character expressions are available to players, who have to earn them in game. “The mini-games are much easier as well,” said Grant. “Some features are repetitious and that’s not something you can get away from, but it’s not a grind.” Building a house, for example, will still require a large number of different resources, but not quite the number that will seem overwhelming to the gamer here.

What about combat? Yes, there is combat of a sort. There’s no PvP in Hello Kitty Online, nor do you kill critters. Instead, you will whack cutesy little starfish, scorpions with googly eyes and cubical crabs with a magic wand and make them fall asleep. Of course if they don’t fall asleep the first time, you whack them again, and perhaps, again and again. When they are finally asleep, complete with little Z’s floating up from them, they may yield the item you need from them, or drop a pet card. If not, you whack a few more.

Sanrio Digital has built a social space around the game at www.sanriotown.com with forums, Dream Studio that is a tool to create your own in-game video, mini-games and personal blogs. “Bringing Happiness to the World” is Hello Kitty’s motto and Sanrio Digital emphasizes that, declaring that it’s a game that one can play free, trying to keep it away from the connotations of the slew of Free-to-play games out in the market place. Players can also use their software tools and get blogspace for free just by registering for an account.

The North American version Hello Kitty is currently in closed beta, although anyone can sign up on the Aeria Games site. When they go into open beta, they plan to roll it into retail launch, and the item mall will be open at that time. Details aren’t available as to what items will be found in this item mall, but their plans for monetization is more through merchandizing outside the game via their Kitty Shop for Hello Kitty merchandise, and plans to allow players to create their own merchandise featuring their in-game avatars are not far behind.

At GDC Austin, the vice president for product development at Turbine said the next generation of MMORPGs will be on consoles, and if that wasn’t concession enough, he went so far as to say consoles are a “superior” mode.

Specifically, in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, “We really finally have the hardware and the storage capacity to develop what we consider more traditional MMOs with lots of content,” said Craig Alexander of Turbine.

In addition to theorizing that, because MMOs took a decade to mature on PCs, they’re poised to grow the consoles in a similar way, Alexander held forth on development differences between the PS3 and 360.

• Different memory. He described PS3 memory as “256ish MB” and 360 memory as “512ish.”

• Different tools needed for developing on both platforms.

• Migration from 360 to PS3 (Hello, Bayonetta?) is harder than going from PS3 to 360.

In case you were wondering about Nintendo, Alexander said, “The hardware in the Wii more closely resembles the previous generation than the current one. It’s just not there yet.”

Turbine: Easier to Develop MMOs on the Xbox 360 Than the PS3 – Joystiq via VG247

The First Ten Hours of Runes of Magic

The First Ten Hours is a multi-part editorial column by iTZKooPA.  During his journey he will spend a solid ten hours tackling the opening of today’s hottest MMORPGs that he hasn’t played to death.  Be it new game, old game, new faction, or new class, it’ll all be new to him.  All titles are judged on the same basic points as described below.

As the premiere WoW-a-like free-to-play title, it’s only fair that we tackle Runewaker’s MMORPG, and Frogster’s localization of it. The title has been out for months now, allowing me to jump in and take in all that is Taborea on a few different characters – the highest being a level 18/15 Rogue/Scout. It’s also allowed the tandem of Frogster and Runewaker ample time to ferret out any glaring bugs.

Character Creation:  There are many games out there with crazy amounts of character customization.  However, Runes of Magic is not one of them.  The game is severely limiting for your basic choice of race, Humans being the only candidate at launch.  Thankfully the latest Chapter has added a second race, the love-em or hate-em pointy eared Elves.  Although gamers are limited to only two races, and obviously two sexes (look to sci-fi MMOGs to change that one day), to start, once we select our poison the creation opens up.  From hairstyle to bust size to foot size, the game is loaded with thirteen additional multi-position sliders.  The mix of combinations gives Runes of Magic one of the more in-depth character creation systems in the fantasy genre.  But that’s assuming you can look past the extremely limiting number of races at the surface.

Opening & Lore: Diving into this title is incredibly bland. There’s no opening cinematic to speak of, and no opening quest lines to get you started. You just pop into existence and are hit with a minimap full of icons demanding your attention. If one wants to find out what’s going on, then your best bet is to spend time on the title’s official website (perhaps while downloading the beastly package). Played any other MMORPG in your life?  Then expect to be bored to tears with the opening of Runes of Magic. “Kill 10 foozles” and then “Kill 10 foozles” some more.

User Interface: Runes of Magic’s interface is something that MMORPGers will be very comfortable with. The control scheme is essentially a clone of so many other titles and the keybindings match World of Warcraft’s more often than not. RoM has a myriad of buttons surrounding the very busy minimap, most of which take you to useful places like the Item Shop. For better, or for worse, everything is in your face and readily accessible.

Quests & Grinding: Get ready to be bored. Considering that the opening of the game is very uneventful it’s unlikely that the later levels get anywhere near epic. After leveling my Rogue/Scout for a healthy amount of time I have yet to find an interesting quest. Making matters more tedious is the fact that the company employs the idea of daily quests from the early going. And all of them have you grinding a collection of foozles. For those of you who leveled a WoW character back in Stranglethorn Vale, you’re probably familiar with the The Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest. The original designer of the quest has admitted that it’s the worst quest in WoW for numerous reasons. Yet the creators of Runes of Maker copied it, right down to the required page numbers. How’s that for a synopsis of quest design?

Dungeons: Dungeons are everywhere in Runes of Magic. They present themselves through kill quests early on in the game and offer appropriately awesome rewards. They aren’t exactly original or expertly designed, but they offer a good distraction to the monotonous grindfest of the quests proper. It’s worth mentioning that RoM has a ton of outdoor bosses, or named mobs if you prefer. I call them bosses because you have absolutely no business attacking these suckers if you’re around their level and alone. They hit like trucks and possess a healthy amount of hitpoints. Another worthwhile distraction to the awful quest design.

Polish: Polish is one of those things that isn’t often categorized. It’s an ongoing process in every MMORPG, and title’s always get more polished the longer they are around. Therefore many titles are launched in what is labeled as an unpolished state. Runes of Magic is one of the titles where its obvious that the idea of polish is not at the forefront of the developer’s mind. Actually it’s a mixed bag, some of the issues can be squarely placed on the localizing agent, Frogster America. Poor graphics, mixed framerate performance, jerky animations and balance issues lie squarely on Runewaker. Frogster is at fault mainly for the incredibly shoddy job of localization. The company seems to have taken on too much by trying to localize multiple languages at the same time. In all of the languages there are glaring errors including spelling and grammar mistakes and buffs who’s tooltips don’t specify what they do. Instead a player is shown a placeholder message. Annoying gamers further is that both companies seem to ignore the issue, releasing new content without fixing the glaring problems before them. Some problems can be fixed in just few minutes time.

mmoc_runes_of_magic_review3

Uniqueness: Runes of Magic is an admitted WoW-a-Like. It was designed specifically to cater to a crowd that enjoys World of Warcraft, but doesn’t have the time to invest in that title to make them a hero. Or doesn’t want to pay a static fee. At the surface it’s a simple clone, but RoM does offer plenty of uniqueness including the dual class feature (hence why I am a Rogue/Scout), a deeper crafting system, guild and personal housing and a quick content development cycle.

Overall: If you love World of Warcraft, but can no longer afford the time or monetary investment then Runes of Magic might be a good fit for you. It kept me, a staunch WoW lover, mildly interested much further than the intended ten hours of play time. I’ll likely keep it installed as I work my way up to the level cap of 50/50. And why not, it’s free.

This is from mmocrunch view origin  click here

The latest raid dungeon, the Trials of the Crusader, breaks the general rule established by every other dungeon: Access to all the bosses in one lockout period. Pick a raid leader who has experienced the most number of Trial bosses or you could be stuck going through only the first encounter and have to wait a week for the second encounter, another week for the third, and so on until you have access to the bosses and the feeling that Blizzard is just trying to extend the lifetime of a patch that doesn’t even come close to being as epic as Ulduar.

With my gripes done, we can cut over to the first encounter, the Beasts of Northrend. Similar to Mimiron from Ulduar, you’ll have to fight several bosses with little time for rest before actually beating the encounter. Wipe at any point and you’ll have to do everything all over again.

And if you want to start the encounters, talk to the NPC by the door.

Phase One: Gormok the Impaler

Two or three Tanks are needed for this fight. While Gormok has his weapon, he will cast Impale, a stacking damage-over-time effect that will put some serious hurt on the tank. When Impale is at three stacks, switch tanks until Impale wears off. Players with disarming skills should rotate their disarm usage to reduce the number of times Gormok can cast Impale on the tank.

Healers need to worry about two things: Staggering Stomp and Snobold Vassals. Staggering Stomp will interrupt your spellcasting, so shut those casts down before you’re shut down. The Snobold Vassals are much more obvious, sticking to your head and beating on you like a Blackrock drum to interrupt your casts and stun you. If you’re lucky, the Snobold Vassal will stick to one of the DPS classes instead.

DPS should always switch to the Snobold Vassals when they’re out and about. Macro “/tar sno” if you have to, but knowing your hotkey for changing non-player enemies works just as well.

Listen for the “PAFF” of Gormok’s Fire Bomb. You’re more likely to hear it before seeing the ground under your feet light up (depending on your latency), hopefully without you in it. Run out of the flaming area quickly before you’re grilled.

When Gormok goes down, tanks should get back to the entrance gate and be ready for the next phase.

Phase Two: The Twin Jormungar, Acidmaw and Dreadscale

If you hated the worms near Hodir in Ulduar or the ones in the Valley of Ancient Winters, you’ll hate these worms more than just twice as much. And they’re more than twice as huge.

Tanks from Gormok the Impaler should take position on each side of the large entrance gate, close enough to the wall to pull a worm and face them away from the raid to reduce the number of players affected by the worms’ breath attacks.

Acidmaw and Dreadscale have two stances, stationary and mobile, alternating between the two after burrowing. Hunters should mark both worms to track their locations, making it much easier for the tanks to chase their targets. The worms lose their threat tables after surfacing, so tanks should be on top of them by that time.

The tank for the mobile worm will need to kite the worm around the arena to keep any melee DPS from dying to the poison clouds left behind.

Melee DPS should constantly be on the mobile worm. Any melee DPS that attempts to attack the half-burrowed worm will die quickly from the worm’s 360-degree knockback sweeps.

Ranged DPS can choose between the two worms, but if achievements aren’t the raid’s priority, take down Acidmaw first.

Acidmaw will cast Paralyzing Poison on some members of the raid regardless of his positioning and Dreadscale casts Burning Bile. Paralyzing Poison lasts for 60 seconds and cannot be dispelled by any normal means. Burning Bile is a Fire DoT with a much shorter duration, but deals damage to anyone near the afflicted player.

Anyone who is afflicted with Burning Bile should run to players with Paralyzing Poison. If the only person with Burning Bile happens to be the tank, those with Paralyzing Poison should make the run instead.

After one worm dies, the other will enrage, increasing damage by 50%, hardly that painful compared to other paired mobs.

Phase Three: Icehowl

The Tank should get back to the arena gates and pull Icehowl close to a wall to cut any flight time spent after being hit by Icehowl’s knockback attacks. Apart from taking lots of damage, the Tank should expect a lot of stuns too.

Healers and DPS should fan out, reducing the number of players frozen and damaged by Icehowl’s random breath attacks. Melee DPS should be watch their health after being knocked back by Icehowl’s Whirl.

Icehowl will occasionally jump towards the center of the ring, knocking everyone to the walls, dealing damage and stunning them. A raid warning will then pop up. Don’t bother looking for the person in the raid warning. Watch the direction that Icehowl is facing instead and draw a straight and very wide line from him to the wall that he’s facing. You should not be in that line. After the stun wears off, you’ll have a 50% move speed buff to run away and clear a path for Icehowl.

If Icehowl hits the wall and is stunned, all DPS get a damage bonus to the yeti. If someone has a technological or mental malfunction and is trampled, Hunters should immediately use Tranquilizing Shot on Icehowl after enraging.

Seoul, Korea – September 18th, 2009 – Zemi Interactive, a game developer and publisher of 4story, announced that Fantasy MMORPG, 4Story is finally ready to welcome MMO users of Southeast Asia in cooperation with Cherry Credits, a prominent micro-payment solution firm.

“4Story is already being successfully serviced in Europe, Asia, and North America. Our new approach to Southeast Asian market is truly a thrilling experience. In cooperation with Cherry credits, 4Story is available in 3 regions Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines through both online and physical distribution.” said co-founder and CEO, Vincent Hwang.

4Story global service initiates long waited Cash & Prize giveaway event starting September 18, 2009. For more information, you may visit 4story global website (www.global.4story.com).

To view the trailer of Sexy 4Story girl dancing on fire, please follow the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLd52YcFPco

Taikodom: An Introduction to Taikodom

When you think of Brazil, you do not instantly think of video games. You think of soccer and carnival and amazing barbecue. Tarquinio Teles is trying to change that image. We got a chance to sit with Tarq and take a look at his game Taikodom here at AGDC. The game is live right now in Brazil and will soon be going global as part of Gamerfirst with K2 Network. Taikodom is a space fighter game with all the bells and whistles. Not only does the game look cool, this guy even has a book series and graphic novel ready to go with launch.

Taikodom takes place in the twenty third century. You have been woken up after years of hibernation and look to begin your career as a space pilot. There are two factions in outer space, the Spacers and the Belters. The Spacers are a bit more industrial, looking at expansion in a more economic way. The Belters are pure fighter pilots with fast ships and wild weapons. These two factions operate in an ever expanding universe with lots of options to explore.

Characters have the chance to specialize in any skill set they like. If you want to be a fighter pilot or the head of a space mining operation you can do both, it just may take you some time. Tarq mentioned that the game keeps a very strong freedom of choice philosophy for players. You are not bound by class or one specific skill set.

Obviously, space combat is at the forefront and the game plays fast and furious in this regard. Players are not limited by their skills and the space combat is more about your abilities as a player than simply character stats. Players can chose from long range bombers, fighters, or even ships designed as explorers for long expeditions into space. The keys to space combat are mastering the maneuverability of your ship while perfecting your aim with the various weapons on board. In the video we saw, the ships move fast and blast away with heavy fire power.

If combat is not your cup of tea then the mining and industrialization of space is also on Taikodom’s menu. You can start off in your explorer or freighter and go out and look to build up your status in the economic game. Mining elements like gold or exotic materials will help build better ships and give you a strong spot on your team as a crafter style class. The great thing about Taikodom is that you can switch from combat to industrial simply by switching ships. Characters are free to choose in that way.

Another area of the game they are working to enhance is the Tactical Game. Here you are not just flying one ship, you are commanding several in an epic space battle. You are the admiral of your own armada and can direct ships in a huge battle. This feature sounded very cool as players can set up their battle formations and fight it out. Most space games remain on the first person shooter path, Taikodom is taking things a step further by adding this tactical element to space fighting.

Players can also network and build relationships in the huge space stations. If you want to work on team building and creating strong alliances this is the place to do it. The social networking of the game is very important and the stations provide that setting. If you want to simply remain the lone ranger of space, you can fly out there and never come back, the choice is in the hands of the player.

Tarq explained that they really wanted to build a history with this game. The books and graphic novel are there for fans and developers alike to have a source material about the universe they have built. When the game goes global you will not just be able to play, but you can explore the universe on your own time as well. It is critical to a game to have solid source material for your lore and background, Taikodom comes with a rich history that is outlined in its books that players can explore when not online.

Taikodom looks impressive and adds some great new features to the space genre. The game is exciting and fast paced just as space combat should be. With a rich lore and some great graphics, the game should be hitting the global market with a blast. I just want to say that it is also great to see video games being developed all over the world, Brazil is now on the map in the game design industry and we’re happy they are here to stay.

City of Heroes Keeps playing It!

Yep I said it, bringing IT! The game is still going strong, still fun, and now even more fun. City of Heros Issue 16 has made it to live. The main aspect I am excited about is the power customization. We can now customize our powers, animations colors, and sets. A full list of the patch notes can be found here;
Here is a list of the features;

Powers Customization:

Hundreds of powers have been updated to allow new color selections and customization. Players can now pick new Themes for each powerset, adjusting colors, appearance, and even animations for some sets.
Key Features:
• Thousands of Tintable particle and geometry effects for powers, such as Energy Blasts and Stone Mallet colors.
• Customizable Primary and Secondary colors for powersets, with color choices themed to match the selected powerset.
• Powerset Themes selectable for a complete set, or individual powers.
• Powerset Themes selectable at character creation, as well as in the tailor screens.
• Independant Theme selection for each character costume.

New Theme selections:

New Themes of Spines and Thorny Assault available, including themes of Thorns, Metal Spines, Crystal Spines, and Slate Spines. New Animation Themes for Super Strength and Martial Arts.Huge variety of customizable powersets, including Cold Domination, Dark Armor, Dark Blast, Dark Melee, Dark Miasma, Devices, Earth Control, Earth Melee, Electric Armor, Electric Assault, Electric Blast, Electric Melee, Electricity Manipulation, Empathy, Energy Assault, Energy Aura, Energy Blast, Energy Manipulation, Energy Melee, Fiery Aura, Fire Assault, Fire Blast, Fire Control, Fire Manipulation, Fire Melee, Force Field, Gravity Control, Ice Armor, Ice Assault, Ice Blast, Ice Control, Ice Manipulation, Ice Melee, Illusion, Invulnerability, Kinetics, Mental Manipulation, Mind Control, Necromancy, Plant Control, Psionic Assault, Psychic Blast, Radiation Blast, Radiation Emission, Regeneration, Sonic Resonance, Sonic Blast, Spines, Stone Armor, Storm Summoning, Super Reflexes, Thermal Radiation, Thorny Assault, Traps, and Willpower.

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New Character Creator:
• The Character creator and Tailor screen have been updated to be easier to use and even preview the animation and color choices for powers!
Key features:
• Tabbed Character Creator: Jump between Archetype, Power Sets, Costumes, and Character ID in any order without losing progress.
• New Powers Customization screen, for adjusting powers and previewing animations.
• Select colors and themes for each individual power, or apply it to the entire power set!
• Preview live animations of all powers, showing the selected Theme and color choices.
• Save and Load Theme settings for each powerset, saving colors and selections for all powers.

Costume slots: Your active costume slot is stored when you log off will be the costume slot used when you log back in. It will also display that costume in the character selection screen.

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Powerset Proliferation: More power sets are now in the hands of Archetypes who couldn’t use them previously!
Archetype – Blasters
• Radiation Blast

Archetype – Brutes
• Claws

Archetype – Controllers
• Cold Domination

Archetype – Corruptors
• Archery
• Trick Arrow

Archetype – Defenders
• Assault Rifle
• Traps

Archetype – Dominators
• Earth Assault

Archetype -Masterminds
• Thermal Radiation

Archetype -Scrappers
• Electric Melee
• Electric Armor

Archetype -Tankers
• Electric Melee
• Electric Armor

Archetype -Stalkers
• Broadsword

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Enhanced Difficulty Options: The old notoriety system has been removed and replaced with a new difficulty system of independent settings. You can now fine-tune the difficulty levels of the missions you play by telling the game exactly how you want to be treated:
• Choose to fight monsters between a -1 to +4 level difference from the player’s level.
• Choose to set your personal team size (1-8).
• Choose if you want bosses to scale down to Lieutenants when soloing or not
• Choose to have AVs scale down to EBs.

The difficulty settings of the mission owner dictate how the mission is handled. Actual team size overrides any difficulty setting, so you will always get Arch-Villains if the team has 6 or more members. The difficulty setting is per task, so personal team member sizes do not add together.

You can change your difficulty settings at any Hero Corp.’s Representative in Paragon City or Fateweaver in the Rogue Isles.

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Sidekicking Changes: Super-Sidekicking! One player can now sidekick or exemplar the whole team, everyone can always play together!
• Each player in the group’s level is set to the level of the owner of the active team task. If no team task is selected, everyone in the group’s level will be set to the level of the team leader.
• When the team level changes, players will be notified via a dialog and have the option to quit the team or immediately accept. The dialog will time out after 30 seconds at which point acceptance is implied.
• While in the pending state, players cannot receive rewards and any critters they damage will be worth no experience.
• Players can choose to auto-accept team level changes 0 to 50 levels above or below their current level.
• Exemplars will now earn XP and a level capped person will get XP converted into influence like exemplars used to.

MMO Multitasking: Is Focusing Better?

Recently I was having a convo with another gaming friend when they mentioned all the games they were currently playing. There was a closed beta and Everquest 2 mentioned, I said I have been playing EVE steady since I started two months ago. Then she (yes, hot gamerchick, relax) bragged, “You are playing one game while I am playing FIVE!” I quickly defended myself, unsure why, but I started to explain how I am just about to finish up a skill that enables me to fly battleships.

She asked me if I had the loot to buy one, I responded yes. And one of the only reasons why I had that money is that I dedicated time to gathering it. If I was jumping from game to game I might have the hundred million Isk or I might not.

I explained how I am an endgame player and like to see things through, how I wish I had the hours in the day to play five games. Then it occurred to me, that even if I had the time, I wouldn’t. Same aspect as EVE based skills, focusing on one until its finished then start another. I wouldn’t dare take out a skill from the queue until it finished unless I desperately needed another one, or it was a quick level one.

I tailor my gaming hobby in the same fashion; I don’t need another game once I settle into a good one. I usually meet a good group, which I have and try to get the most out of the game and my new relationships. I spoke about my corp, nice core group of guys and I was trying to share her enthusiasm, meanwhile my friend goes on to blab about how her guild in EQ2 is the oldest guild on the server. I was getting nowhere, I chalked it to her being happy about her games.

I know quite a few people that play multiple games, are they really progressing or just playing as a casual gamer with hardcore habits. Not judging. I feel that variety is the spice of life but also dedication is the mother of mastery. Nick Yee over at The Daedallus Project posted an interesting article on the lifespan of a mMO gamer in a chart form. How the discovery period arches up into the mastery portion, simply to nosedive into burnout and ultimately tapering off into casual gaming. And I know this person has left a few well geared top level characters in the dust, so have I.

This could be why many gamers burn out in general, too focused and not diverse enough. I love pizza but would get sick of it if I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week. Why do some not have the same reaction to video games? I could play (insert game here) for one week and still be excited about day eight and nine. I do get to a point in mmo’s that I feel that I’m just grinding to be par with the joneses and just keep replacing good gear with good gear but with slightly better stats.

MMORPG’s are tough games to master, they take time and commitment to progress; there really is never an “endgame” since game companies continue to add content. Once you hit a certain level and think you have it licked, game developers release a patch or an expansion to “keep you on the treadmill”. It’s all about growth and customer retention to them. That is the focus of every business out there, keep your clients and get new ones.

This might be shades of the dichotomy between the “’ardcore” and the “casual”. For me personally, I am a commitment-phobic person, however, when I finally do commit it is for a long time. I have a graveyard of mmo’s that I have played casually, some I just can’t bring myself to delete. I have maybe…five mmo’s installed on my rig as we speak and play one. I am committed to EVE, for now, although I am looking forward to a few games for the future. My skillplan spills into 2010 and by the time it finishes I will have almost every bell and whistle for my fleet of cruisers and battleship. One thing that I loved about EVE from the start is that I don’t have to be online to progress; it just takes time, not pressing W or a mouse. Better yet, I can stack market orders and make money while I sleep, that’s a good thing.