Showing posts from February, 2010

Sunday Reading: MMO Leveling

If you are looking for some Sunday reading I would highly recommend checking out Klelith's analysis of the MMO leveling conundrum.  It dives deep into the problem that occurs when friends out-level each other.  Klelith does a great job of explaining the different models currently in place in the MMO world.  If you've ever wondered about solutions to this problem make sure to check out the post .

Impulse Buys

The app store for the ipod touch (and iphone I suppose) is so quick and easy to use that sometimes I have trouble not buying games. Today I saw that Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II released for the ipod with updated graphics.  I ended up buying them without really seeing the price.  I remember they were under $10 each, but I honestly couldn't tell you the actual price that I paid.  I did the same thing with Plants vs Zombies the other day.  I think that one was more reasonably priced but I still don't remember the specific price point. The ipod isn't the only place where I've seen fast buying of digital goods.  Amazon has one-click buying on almost every page of their site.  Steam constantly updates me on sales, specials, and current releases.  Kindle makes buying books online a breeze.  As more content goes digital I think we will continue to see more one-click buying. I think the selection and fast downloads are great for consumers, but I may need to learn to

Fallback Games

As Klelith over at  Lost in Neurons points out, some games stand the test of time.  I like to call these my fallback games.  They are the games I turn to when I beat a new game and have nothing else to play.  Or when I need to break up the monotony of playing just one game. These games change over time for everyone.  For me, my fallbacks used to be StarCraft, Warcraft 3, and Counter-Strike.  They are still fun games to visit occasionally but they have all become dated. My current fallback games are Team Fortress 2 and Modern Warfare 2.  They are such solid skill based games that I cannot recommend them enough.  If you haven't played these two games you are doing yourself a disservice. I'm extremely excited for StarCraft 2.  Starcraft has always been like a futuristic complex game of chess... in video game form.  I'm pretty sure that once SC2 releases it will join TF2 and MW2 in my list of fallback games. What are your fallback games and why?


Achievements are awesome.  Last night I beat Mass Effect 2 and today I'm starting over not only for a new story experience but also for the achievements I missed.  I looked through the achievements and I'm only missing 5 of them.  It makes me want to get them all. I love achievements.  For me, anything that makes a game's appeal last longer is a good thing.  Something that makes you play a game in a new way helps extend the life of the game.  Achievements can also push you out of the boundaries in which you were playing the game, or teach you new techniques that you would otherwise miss. Achievements are here to stay and I like it that way.

Types of Storytelling

There are many ways in which games try to tell a story.  Most MMOs use text and quest logs to tell their story.  I think this is a disservice to players.  MMOs are almost all MMORPGs but many have had the RPG elements taken out.  Without the concentration on storytelling there is simply the leveling game left over.  Text is becoming antiquated in video games as the medium grows up.  We should move beyond this A step up from using text is the use of cutscenes.  Older RPGs would use text for most of the story and then reward players with the occasional cutscene.  Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX are all good examples of this trend.  MMOs are finally adding cutscenes, but they aren't widely used.  They usually show up at the very beginning to introduce the world and your character's place in it.  With Wrath of the Lich King Blizzard also injected a cutscene half way through Northrend. Moving up to a higher level of storytelling leads to full voice work.  This requires an immen

I Miss Story in My MMOs

I'm having a strong tendency lately to lean toward single player RPGs.  MMOs simply don't tell a story as well as single player games which have been created around a story.  MMOs feel like the leveling system is central and the story is tacked on.  Single player RPGs feel like the story is center and the leveling system is tacked on. The secondary aspect (whatever has been tacked on) isn't necessarily bad .  But, it is secondary and I can definitely tell while playing the different types of games. It makes sense from a business standpoint for MMO devs to concentrate on the leveling, since this is what will determine how long it takes before a player reaches endgame.  Unfortunately for them, I am sick of the grind without any reason.  Reading text and hitting the accept quest button is no longer enough for me.  I am burned out on it. Compare that to Mass Effect 2.  I am absolutely in love with this game at the moment.  I haven't had as much time to play it as I w

PSA: StarCraft 2 Beta is Live

The StarCraft 2 Beta is finally out.  It seems that there is no NDA, so information can actually be found about the game.  Check out some live streams of SC2 being played or read the impressions from Joystiq. Hopefully more beta keys will become available soon.

Server Structure

The other week Syp asked if there were any ideas from MMOs that people would like to see attempted again, even if the MMO they are currently in isn't that great. Although yesterday I gave reasons why I have had trouble playing EVE Online there is one thing that I absolutely loved about it.  The server structure.  EVE is one world.  If you are playing EVE you are in the same world as everyone else playing EVE.  This has huge ramifications because it means all 300,000 people who play EVE end up interacting with one another indirectly. Compare this to a game like WoW where you have a separate world on each server and no way to interact between worlds.  To transfer to another server actually costs $25 every time you want to do it.  I have friends who have been playing WoW since it came out who I have never actually played with because they happen to be on a different server.  World of Warcraft is actually Worlds of Warcraft. The other server structure that is becoming popular l

Eve Online.... or What Do I Do Now?

Before I say anything else I want to preface this by saying I may be the problem instead of EVE Online.  What I expect from my gaming may be different from what Eve is trying to provide. Having said that, I want to know what to do in Eve Online.  I have tried on 3 separate occasions to really get into this game, but by the end up the first month I am only logging in to queue up skills.  Since I am no longer actually playing the game I end up canceling my subscription. I remember how much fun I had the very first time I played the game.  I did all of the tutorial missions and the epic storyline that took me all around the galaxy.  I was having a ton of fun.  After I finished the epic questline I was dumped into space and basically Eve said, "Go" without any further instruction. At this point many people say it's important to get into a good corp.  I did that each of the 3 times I played EVE, but it only increased my enjoyment a little bit.  Maybe I needed a better

Bioshock 2 Question

Is it just more of the same?  I loved Bioshock but everything I have seen about Bioshock 2 makes it seem like the exact same game with a new story.  It all looks so similar. So, does anyone know if there have been improvements or new (and hopefully interesting) systems added to Bioshock 2.  I'm looking for a reason to play it, but most reviews I have seen say it is extremely similar to the first game.  If someone can give me a reason to pick it up I gladly will.

Releasing an Unfinished Game

I can't believe that companies still release games that feel so unfinished.  There is a lot of shovelware out there in the gaming world, but I'm seeing it happen more and more with MMOs.  Since an MMO inherently needs an internet connection, companies know that they can push out patches after launch to fix things up. Some companies, like Cryptic, do a great job of patching on the fly.  The recent release of Star Trek Online has already had many patches to fix up the game and it hasn't even been out a month yet.  On top of that, they are already doing content patches to expand the game.  I will acknowledge their good work in this respect.  I wish their games were better tested before being sent out into the world, but at least they work like crazy right after launch to patch things up. The other side of the coin is when a game is actually released unfinished.  These games don't need minor tweaks or quick fixes.  These games still need chunks of their main content to

Why Should I Wait for Endgame?

After Tobold's post   and Seraphina's post this week I've been thinking about MMOs and their endgame content.  Namely, why do I have to grind through so many levels to get to the "real" content of an MMO? This is the main reason I have trouble picking up any new MMO that comes out.  I don't mind learning a new game for the first 10 levels, but after that why do I need to grind through 40 more to actually play with the big boys?  This is extremely discouraging for me, especially when new MMOs often feel like re-skinned or old MMOs with a new gimmick thrown in. Why should I invest a huge amount of time in your new game to hit the level cap when I already have a max level druid waiting for me in WoW?  I haven't played WoW for over nine months now, but at the drop of a hat I can be back online and on my max level character. Please make a game where I learn the system for the first ten levels (which hopefully don't take more than 6-8 hours) and then

Quick Multi-Player Gaming

This is something I feel that MMOs are lacking.  It is very difficult to log into and MMO for 10-20 minutes and feel like you have actually accomplished something.  The way most MMO progression systems are laid out you have to spend longer then that to acquire another level or a new piece of gear. I think other games, especially first person shooters, have a leg up in this field.  It is easy to play a complete round of Team Fortress 2 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 15 minutes.  It helps that you don't necessarily have to make progress in a FPS.  Generally, people play them simply to play them.  Although MW2 has changed this somewhat with the introduction of achievements that give experience, it is still pretty easy to get a few kills closer to your goal in a 15 minute sitting. I hope we see more short session options in MMOs in the future.

Japanese Game Industry

An article caught my eye on Joystiq the other day.  Basically one of the creative leads from Final Fantasy XIII said that FFXIII will resurrect the Japanese gaming industry. Can you believe that someone actually has the audacity to say that their game that will single-handedly save their entire industry?  The Japanese gaming industry needs some serious work. I just looked at my gaming shelf and realized that there are almost no Japanese developed games there.  The only two I see are Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 5.  Neither of which are original IPs at this point, being in their fourth and fifth incarnations.  Honestly, RE5 wasn't even worth the cost of the game.  I ended up with it because my brother and I were looking for a way to fill an empty weekend. Western developers seem to be the norm these days.  Of course, this is coming from someone who lives in the United States.  Maybe things look differently if you live in Japan.  Maybe they are still making games that app

The Power of IP

Star Trek Online is one of the newest MMOs on the block.  There is a ton of coverage in the blogosphere and there are so many people playing it at the moment.  When bombarded from multiple fronts it is a hard game to ignore. But, how great would this game be if it had to stand on its own without the power of the IP behind it?  Would it still hold up as a decent MMO or are people overlooking flaws because they get to finally be in the Star Trek universe?  I think much of the current appeal is seeing your own character in a star fleet uniform.  Hearing the sound of a phaser (which has been burned into the fanboy mind) in battle is hard to resist. At this point it is impossible to divorce the game from the IP, but it is still interesting to think about how many people would have bought STO if it didn't have the power of the Star Trek license behind it. STO isn't the only game this applies to either.  Just look ahead to next year's launch of The Old Republic.  Star Wars h


So many games have vast potential when they are announced.  It's hard to criticize fans when they get worked up over games that are on the horizon, because the grass always seems greener when dealing with a game that hasn't actually been played yet.  As a video game fan you hope that the next game will be bigger, better, improved, new, fresh, and innovative. But, How many times have you seen developer interviews that announce features which never pan out?  Peter Molyneux comes to mind.  Feature interviews that occur years before the game is released contain so many great ideas.  Time after time these great ideas never make it to launch day. Then again, you can't gripe on developers for talking about what they hope to bring to their game.  They want to innovate and bring the gaming world something new too.  Unfortunately, more often than not they end up re-creating what has already been done. As a gamer I can only play the same game re-skinned and re-packaged so many t

First Post

First Post, the most awesome post I have ever placed upon this blog.  Mostly this post is here to take up some room while I format the page.  How exciting it must be, to be this very first post.  Oh the joy, the wonder, the excitement.