Aug 16, 2012

[Is This the Coolest Housing System Ever?]

In my opinion, going by the info given in this presentation? It really sounds like it!

I keep getting more and more impressed by Rift's continued development. It's truly an example of smart, successful MMORPG management. If I ever go back to a sub-game, it'll probably be Rift. It didn't really appeal to me when it came out, but it seems like every update just makes the game better and better!

Aug 14, 2012

[MMOldtimers: Adapt or Move On]

  From Inventory Full:
"If MMOs were invented today, does anyone really think they'd set out their stall by asking for a hefty payment up front before you could even see the product, then demand another $15 a month just to keep using the thing you'd payed for? How did that ever work?

Well, it worked for a while because, as Wilhelm says, there was an Implied Social Contract, and, crucially, because the producers and consumers all came from the same culture. That lasted as long as it took for the word to get out that there was serious money to be made. Until WoW, in other words. Which, of course, charges a subscription. Because it can.

That brought in people whose dream was making money, not making worlds. They all tried to ape it and most of them ended up looking like monkeys. What works for WoW hasn't worked for anyone else because no-one really knows why it works for WoW. It shouldn't. It just does.
So here we are, we old-timers, leaning on our fences looking out at the tarmac being laid across the prairie all around us and wondering where the wonder went."
  Several years ago I struggled with being dissatisfied with where MMORPGs were going -- World of Warcraft was my first MMORPG, but I had embraced the ideal and concept of a 'virtual world' and wanted to see that ideal grown and built on, rather than the slew of WoW-clones released in its wake. I played several older games during this period (Horizons and Ryzom) just in time to see both go bankrupt and be largely abandoned to 'life support' status. This made me very discouraged. Games that seemed to want to be worlds were losing, while 'game-y' WoW clones kept coming (and WoW itself chipped away at it's 'World' as well).

  Toward the end of WotLK, I found I was mostly unhappy both with where WoW and most other 'real' (sub-based) MMORPGs were. I took a long break from blogging and became a tourist of F2P games, which I once scorned. And I found many fun, creative games in places I would never have given the slightest chance to before because of their lack of 'worldiness' and small scope. Along the way, I think my expectations normalized and I realized that those dreamy days of the past where people imagined a massive living, breathing, fantasy world as the future of MMORPGs were gone. That was not the future of the genre -- the future was going to be something else, something more 'game-y', and if I wanted to keep playing MMOs I'd have to accept that fact and learn to love them firstly as games, and not worlds.

  For some MMO oldtimers (many of whom's MMORPG histories are far older than mine), the future will be bleak. The new games will not offer anything they want, and if their older 'home' games die so will their desire to play MMOs. But I also think many of us will end up adapting our expectations, and learning to love the games we have instead of always wishing they were something else.

Related Reading:
Every Game is a 3-Monther

Aug 5, 2012

[Should 'AAA' Game Studios Die?]

Robert Florence at EuroGamer wrote a piece recently about game piracy and why it happens, which also touched on what he sees as a plague on gaming and contribution to the problem: the 'AAA Game Studio':
"The publishers who make these bloated AAA BLOCKBUSTER games that get booted down our throats at every fake awards show argue that they need to charge a premium price to keep delivering a premium product. But who says we need a "premium product", whatever that is? Did we even ask for that? Is that what we want from games? Massive marketing spend and homogenisation?

'But these giant companies would have to close down. People will lose their jobs!' And yes, that's horrible. No one ever wants to see people lose their jobs. But if these companies can only stay in existence by charging their customers extortionate prices for bland, safe product, should they even be there in the first place?"
  I found the article very thought-provoking, especially in the light of recent financial flops in the MMOsphere and the current feeling by many questioning whether the 'AAA model' may be harming the genre more than it contributes. The issue of budget-bloat demanding 'safe' derivative gameplay over depth and innovation and hype being peddled over substance is not something restricted to MMOs-only, and is a worrying trend in games as a whole.

Related Reading:
Three Things at E3 That Need to Stop, Part 1
What's Wrong With the AAA MMO Industry