Tagged: NCsoft

NCSoft – Killing Them Softly

I decided to take some time off from the new WWE 13 game to relax and read a bit. I hadn’t caught up on the news in a couple of days and for someone like me that is rare. Last I checked Megastorm Sandy was wreaking havoc on the East coast, Democrats and Republicans were still going at each others throats “for the good of the nation,” and the Kardashians hadn’t been burnt at a stake for Halloween.

Good for them.

Randomly surfing the web I came across an article that, as an MMO fanatic, made my stomach turn a bit. I was reminded that City of Heroes, the very first super hero persistent world and one of the longest running big time MMO’s, was very much near its final days. I believe we’re around one month away from City of X closing its doors and leaving many superheroes with nowhere else to go, save for two other similar yet radically different titles.

How depressing.

Not pictured - Ultima Online 2 and Stargate

City of Heroes is one of those games that you just get nostalgic for. I remember reading all about the game back before its release, when I was still very much attached to Star Wars Galaxies. At this point in time I was taking one of many breaks from Ultima Online and just kind of looking for the next big thing to play. I had been in Sosaria for so long I was beginning to tire of it, but I had a hard time finding a new world to belong to. Nothing will ever take the place of the first game that brought you into this fraternity of ours, but I was determined to fill that MMO void in my soul. That is a problem I still have today, and I know a lot of you share that same empty feeling.

I can’t remember if we had given up on ICQ by this point and moved on to MSN Messenger, but either way my best friend and I stayed up into the wee morning discussing the merit of a superhero online game. I was a die hard sword and sorcery MMO fan, and I was afraid a superhero game would be more confined and lack the imagination of an Ultima Online, Everquest, or Final Fantasy XI. At the same time, I was and still am a huge comic nerd, so the thought of having my own superhero brought the kid out of me. It was an exciting prospect, albeit a slightly worrisome one. I told him I had decided to give it a try when it came out, and being just as skeptical as I was he told me to let him know how it went.

And boy howdy did it go. I still get goose bumps thinking about logging in for the first time and being introduced to the character creation, a system which ruined customization for me in all other online games for life. The options felt limitless, the powers felt mighty, and the city was so big and open that I would sometimes just hover in awe at the majestic sight of it all. It also had one of my favorite things to do in a game – get an enemy on a rooftop, hit them with an energy push, and watch them go sailing alllllllll the way down to Kaputsville. Good times.

The game wasn’t without its issues, as few games ever are. The graphics felt dated even at the time of release, especially the faces for the characters. The game was fun, but the combat was kind of boring, especially when you first started off with your epic power of a single punch. I don’t remember Batman ever punching a henchman and then waiting a few seconds before he could do it again. The missions felt interesting at first, but once you’ve run through that same warehouse or sewer a few dozen times you just kind of want to hang up your tights and get a nice job down at the local Best Buy.

Even with those problems, even with its age, I can’t understand for the life of me how a game like City of Heroes closes. It was an original, it has its player base, and more importantly it has all the potential in the world. It may not be in the prime of its existence, but it damn sure isn’t ready to be put down like a sick old dog.

So let me put this plainly – NCSoft, what the hell is your problem?

I let it go when they killed off Auto Assault. I never played the game except for maybe a few moments because I got a free trial code somewhere. It didn’t appeal to me, so I told the guys who did like it how sorry I was for their loss and moved on without losing a wink of sleep. To me it seemed shallow and limited, but that is the nice thing about taste – everyone has their own. Just because I didn’t care for it didn’t mean it was a useless game, and the people who did play it were probably plenty pissed off when those doors closed for the final time. This was before the F2P model became a viable option thanks to examples like D&D and LotR, so it was disheartening but it was vaguely understandable.

Richard Garriott - MIA since the warThen came Tabula Rasa. Here you had a sci fi game in a genre that severely needed diversity, designed by legendary game maker Richard Garriott, featuring a dynamic war and interesting combat system. It felt like a recipe for success, but within two years would you believe that NCSoft closed down this one too? Again, there was no game saving patches, reenlistment campaigns, or that fabled F2P model that can save an IP from permadeath. NCSoft ended the war with the push of a button, and the nukes rained from the sky and destroyed everything in that universe. They even dishonorably discharged General British, but he got a measure of revenge by suing them and making off with a small fortune. He won that battle, but the war to save Arieki and Foreas was lost forever.

And now we have the once mighty City of Heroes strapped down to a steel table while the villainous NCSoft prepares the death laser to cut it in half. And my question remains – why? What is the point of killing off such an important part of this genres history?

Despite the claims of a few, I’m not a fool, and I’m not blind to the way business works. Maybe City of Heroes isn’t pulling in the bacon like it once was, but are you seriously trying to convince me that it’s less profitable than the majority of F2P games that are at best boring and unimaginative and at worst complete and utter garbage? I refuse to believe that there isn’t a plan that can work for City of Heroes, and I frankly believe that NCSoft is either too lazy, too scared, or too incompetent to find that plan. This isn’t a two year flash in the pan game like AA or TR, not to mention other corpses in NCSoft’s backyard like Exteel and Dungeon Runners. This is City-of-Freaking-Heroes we’re talking about, the very first game that let me design my character however the hell I wanted and fight for truth, liberty, and justice along with my best friends.

You’re telling me there is no room in this world for that game?

I play DC Universe Online and I think the combat is way better than in City’s. I played Champions Online for a very long time and I thought their customization edged out City’s. But you know what? Either of those games could close right now and I wouldn’t shed a tear. They’re both good in their own right, but neither of them can compare to the history and progress that City of Heroes made within this industry. And NCSoft, this killer of online worlds, is telling us there is nothing else to do for one of their premier titles. They tried a form of free to play and apparently that just didn’t work out the way they wanted it to.

Rest in peace, Statesman. (Artwork by Steve Goad)Well if the game is going to die anyway I say try something new. Make the combat more exciting. Renovate the graphics. Figure out a new payment model. There are so many options and they chose to just toss this one aside and take a hit on one of the most beloved and influential MMORPG’s that has ever seen the light of day. And whether they want to admit it or not, I know that it can still be fun, relevant, and profitable if given the chance.

But they’re not giving it that chance. COH dies a painful death, while games like Mortal Online is somehow still utilizing a P2P model and Eastern MMORPG #563 releases next month with an adorable pet system and Gangnam dance offs. We’ll be bombarded with dozens of new titles every couple of months that in no way, shape, or form have the spirit or significance of the one we’re watching count down the days until it’s ultimate demise.

Last week was pretty huge for the Guild Wars community. ArenaNet released a flurry of new information: the first profession was confirmed as the Elementalist, followed by the unveiling of details on combat and profession mechanics.

Two items in particular raised quite a bit of discussion in the community: the lack of secondary professions in Guild Wars 2, and the design of the skill bar. As Guild Wars fans, we’ve grown accustomed to the extreme freedom that we currently have. Want to play E/Rt and run a full Rit bar? Great, no problem! It looks like we’re not going to be able to do that in Guild Wars 2, for several reasons, and the immediate reaction was that of concern.

However, it’s a trade-off. Will we gain in the end? That remains to be seen, as we can only speculate with the limited knowledge we have at the moment, but follow along after the jump to see what the possibilities are.
There has been some confusion about the way your skill bar will work in Guild Wars 2, so let’s clear that up first. It’s a very simple system that just needs a clear explanation to be understood. In short, you will have five slots that are completely predetermined according to the weapon you are wielding. The other five are up to you with a few restrictions: one slot for an elite, one for a self heal, and the last three can be whatever your heart desires. Guild Wars 2 Lead Designer Eric Flannum explained it perfectly in a forum post, but if you’re more of a visual learner, Shaun at iloveGuildWars created a diagram that mapped it all out clearly.

So now that we all understand exactly what’s happening here, what do you think? In one respect, it’s a pretty limited setup. You’re wielding a sword and shield? Okay, here are the five skills you get with that setup, the end. You have to use another slot for an elite and yet another for a self heal or a rez. That leaves only three that we can choose completely freely. We only get to choose 30% of our bar? That went over like a lead balloon at first, but upon taking a second look, it’s not so bad.

Let’s take a look at those first five skills, the ones determined by what you are wielding. There were a few concerns here, chiefly that the individuality was taken away. Will the Tyria of the future be filled with so many identical builds that heavily populated zones look like some sort of violent sync dance? Probably not, because there are so many other factors. Sure, you get a predetermined skill set depending on what weapon you are wielding, but that skill set will change depending on your race and class. Every character wielding a rifle in the game won’t carry the same five rifle skills, for example.

This setup brings a lot more diversity on the battlefield as well. As the game stands now, you choose your attributes, build, and weapon before you leave town, and then that’s it. You’re stuck with what you have until you go back to town and change your build. With the setup planned for Guild Wars 2, you are able to use any weapon available to your race and profession, switching back and forth instantly as the situation around you changes. Each switch gives you a fully powered set of skills that are appropriate to the current weapon. The system that seems restrictive at first glance is actually much more open, allowing you to act and react according to your environment in a way that you couldn’t before.

What about the last five skills, though? Two of those are predetermined too, but not very restrictive at all. One is reserved for your elite, and as elites stand now it’s a debatable decision. There are viable builds that don’t use an elite, and players are reluctant to give up the option of not carrying an elite. The slot reserved for a self heal or rez is looked at in the same way by many players who are unsure how they feel about it. The only thing we know for sure about these two slots at this point is that we’ll have a “pool” of skills to choose from for each of these slots, allowing us to tailor them to the rest of our bar.

The last three skill slots are the wild cards, so to speak, open to whatever we want to add within the limits of our individual races and classes. This leads us into the next factor here, which is where it really gets interesting: the way our skills work within the context of a group. There have been pages and pages of forum discussion regarding the concept of synergy between teammates in Guild Wars 2. It can be done now to a point: a Curses Necro casting barbs on a foe as the Assassin attacks, for example. By all appearances so far, it’s going to be much more prevalent in Guild Wars 2, to the point where your teammates can almost be considered your secondary profession.

When you combine this new ability with the preset skills that change with each weapon, profession and race as well as switch those skills on the fly and you’ve got the recipe for something pretty exciting. Is it a trade-off? Sure. We’re giving up a completely open set of eight skills that allow us to use any profession in the game — albeit only one at full strength. But when you think about what we’re getting in return — a set of ten skills that are more dynamic and changeable than anything we’ve seen up until this point, as well as the ability to interact with our teammates and our environment to an extreme degree — it seems like we’re definitely coming out on the winning end here.

Keep an eye on Massively this week — now that the information floodgates have opened I’ll be watching closely for all the latest Guild Wars 2 news and passing it on to you guys right away.

We recently heard that Ghosts of Ascalon, the first Guild Wars 2 novel, is due out this summer. The plot of the book revolves around a group of adventurers traveling from Divinity’s Reach to Ascalon City in search of the Claw of the Khan-Ur, a Charr relic that is the key to a truce between the Charr and the humans. Traveling from Divinity’s Reach to Ascalon City is quite a hike, even in present-day Tyria (which is presumably much friendlier to travelers than the world of Guild Wars 2.) Since Jeff Grubb — one of the principal designers of Guild Wars 2 — is involved in the book, hopefully the tale will give us a look at the land of Tyria 250 years into the future.

While it’s far from certain and some arguments regarding the threat from the Deep Sea Dragon can be made, the currently-inaccessible area north of Divinity Coast is generally regarded as a very likely location for Divinity’s Reach. Our heroes may begin their quest here — if not, it won’t be much farther south thanks to Zhaitan. So assuming our travelers start out in this area, they’ll be traveling east along Watchtower Coast to reach the Shiverpeaks. While we still don’t know much about Kryta in GW2, we do know it’s the last human kingdom in Tyria. While it’s home to people from Tyria, Cantha, and Elona, they can probably expect minimal human resistance in their travels — the ability for players to choose from any of those heritages for their characters is indicative of peace between the nationalities — we can probably assume the local wildlife hasn’t gotten much friendlier. Have the mergoyles evolved into something even fiercer? (As someone who favors the caster classes, I find the thought of souped-up mesmers pretty unnerving.) What about the undead? Did the tidal waves drive them north from the Black Curtain and the Cursed Lands? It’s possible they headed south to join up with the undead Orrian army, but our adventurers would do well to keep a careful eye out just in case — and maybe someone should bring Ray of Judgement.

The current standard route through Scoundrel’s Rise into Griffon’s Mouth is one possibility for the next leg of the journey, although another currently-inaccessible area presents a potential northern path. Traveling the southern route would come perilously close to Dredge territory. The Dredge have evolved into a fairly cranky race after years of slavery in places such as Sorrow’s Furnace, and who can blame them? Whether you feel sympathy for their plight or not, however, is of little consequence to them. They’re now hostile toward all other races and embroiled in a war with the Norn. The Dredge control the Southern Shiverpeaks, while the Norn control the Northern Shiverpeaks, and anyone traveling through the Griffon’s Mouth/Beacon’s Perch area could possibly find themselves caught in Dredge/Norn crossfire. It’s not the most pleasant thought, and besides, the huge unexplored landmass to the north of Kryta presents so much more potential! Traveling north, then east through the northern part of Deldrimor Bowl would steer well clear of the Dredge and into friendlier Norn territory. However, it could be a case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire”, as we have no idea what’s lurking in that region.

Onward through the Northern Shiverpeaks! It’s a pretty logical assumption that our heroes in Ghosts of Ascalon didn’t die horribly at the hands of the Dredge (and nobody remembered to pack a rez), thus ending the novel, so our next stop is Ascalon. This is where it gets interesting. The only human settlement remaining in Ascalon is Ebonhawke, far south of where our travelers need to go. Otherwise, the former homeland of so many humans has begun regaining its Pre-Searing beauty, but is now the most hostile area to them. To begin with, they’ll have to contend with the Charr.

“These Charr are relentless.” They were our first enemies in Guild Wars, and remain some of our fiercest foes. The battle for Ascalon can be considered lost: Ascalon is Charr territory. Even if our travelers were holding a banner along the way that said “We are just trying to get your relic back for you, please let us pass,” it’s doubtful that the information would hold sway over a few hundred years of hostility and bitter fighting. The Charr think of humans as an infestation, and would like nothing more than to see them eradicated, so getting to Ascalon City is going to be a combination of stealth when possible and fighting when it’s not. We know that the Iron Citadel is located upon the ruins of Rin, making a northern route possible in order to avoid a main Charr city. The Black Citadel, however, is a bit more of a mystery. It’s described as a giant Charr keep constructed on the ruins of Ascalon. This leaves a lot of room for speculation, but we can assume that it’ll be harder to avoid along the way, if nothing else due to sheer size. With the Iron Citadel in the area of Rin, Ascalon City occupied by the spirits of the Ascalon Guard, and Ebonhawke to the south, there aren’t many places the Black Citadel will fit other than smack in the path anyone traveling to Old Ascalon needs to use. Hopefully Ghosts of Ascalon will clarify the size and location a bit.

The Charr aren’t the only threat, however. Stories of the great dragon Kralkatorrik say that it flew over Ascalon, and “transformed anything that was in its flight path into a twisted caricature of its former self.” Will we find mutated elementals, devourers, and gargoyles? What about the docile moa birds? Whatever they are, they’re a formidable foe and one that the Charr are in a continual battle with. We can safely assume they won’t be any friendlier than humans.

Here the speculation train reaches its destination, and our intrepid heroes hopefully reach theirs. Putting together the pieces of the puzzle based on current knowledge while we wait for the real thing to arrive is a fun pastime for lore fanatics. Feel free to add your own puzzle pieces in the comments below!

NCsoft: A MMOG BUS Sneak Peek

“I have a dream that one day I could play MMO games everywhere in anytime.”

If you still have a dream like this, I would very happy to tell you that your dream will come true.

Recently, Ncsoft is holding a game tour around cities in Korea for Atrix Online, a new style casual MMORPG.

Atrix Online itself is not a new game for Korean while it’s propagandistic style is amazing for all of us!

Looking the photo below and telling me what you have seen:

MMOG BUS

“There is nothing special on the bus except it’s Kawaii style surface.”

OK,let’s go on…

OK,OK,I know you would say “WTF!” Let’s go on our business…

MMOG BUS
The Same Bus With Two Girls

“Girls? Are they ticket seller?”

“Of course they do not look like bus drivers!”

“Aren’t they passengers?”

MMOG BUS
OMG!

“OMG, A bus with lots of PC!” That’s it. What’s more this a online game bus, that is to say you can play MMOG on your seat in theory. But actually you can only play Atrix Online course of it’s NCsoft’s bus. XD~

MMOG BUS
Indoor

There are many 17-inch notebooks with 3G mobile network in the bus which make your dream comes true. At the mean time, you can watch the CG of the game in plasma display panel hanging on the wall. Players were very happy and told that not only is it a amazing experience in hot summer but also a kind of fashion.

MMOG BUS

Cute Game Teacher.

Atrix Online features:

Atrix Online, a new style casual MMORPG made by NCSoft was brought to Taiwan Online game market on October 22nd. After this move, the game will meet players in China, Europe and US.

The game emphasizing Dynamic Map System for gameplay. A team of adventurers will not face a same map twice by the effect of this system. More details for Atrix Online you will find out in the upcoming Korea GStar 2008 exhibition. We’ll bring you latest information for Atrix Online then.