Tenfold Hate

The Excitement is “Mounting”
November 30, 2007, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Age of Conan, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning

Okay, worst play on words ever. But just as I was about to call it a week, what should show up in my mailbox but the latest monthly newsletters from both Age of Conan and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Aside from the usual spin, hype-building, and non-information, there’s some stuff worth looking at in both publications.

The AoC newsletter provides some further detail on their mounted combat system that looks very promising. The WAR newsletter reveals another ‘hubba-hubba’ dark elf career (the sorceress) along with a beta update and some concept art for their own mounts (dwarf ale powered mount for the win!) Enjoy your weekend.

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T.G.I. Rambling
November 30, 2007, 11:36 am
Filed under: Gaming, MMORPGs, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Tabula Rasa, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Looks like a slow end to the week–and the month–MMO news-wise. After a largely PC-less 2007, I scraped up my end-of-the-year savings and ordered a new gaming rig with what scratch isn’t going towards Christmas gifts.

I work for a college out here, so we have a built in week off between Christmas and New Year’s. My plan? Spend as much of that week as possible making up for lost game time. I’m talking skipping showers, ordering takeout, phone off the hook, chainsmoking, tinfoil on the windows, trucker speed taking, Depends undergarment wearing-style gaming. Okay–not quite that obsessive, but I’m excited nonetheless.

First on my agenda is taking that second crack at Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. The upcoming revamp alluded to in the SOE producer’s letter will either provide the game with an overdue jumpstart or sink it altogether. Either way, I want to give Vanguard the old college try before it’s finally cast out of the limbo it’s lingered in through 2007 and either crash lands or sprouts wings. I’m all too weary of SOE’s promises of the great things to come in the “future.” Guess what? The future is now. Poop or get off the pot.

January brings PoTBS, which, coupled with Vanguard, would give me cause to get a Sony Station Pass for the first time in my MMO career. I had this one on preorder from Amazon but canceled after sinking a bit too much change on this new comp. Looks good, but I’m back to holding out until the initial round of “first impression” reviews hit the net.

If Sony’s incapable of holding onto my subscription dollar I might even give Tabula Rasa a shot. Despite my love of Lord British’s Ultima saga, my irrational disinterest in sci-fi MMOs has kept me from this one. But a lot of bloggers and podcasters whose opinions I really respect seem to be having a lot of fun with this game. At the end of the day, I can’t help but feel that whatever games get me through the winter are just filler to pass the time before WAR and AoC go head-to-head in the spring.

Mostly though, I’m enthusiastic to get back behind the keyboard to write about playing games, rather than the long-winded, theoretical pining and speculation you’ve had to contend with so far from me.

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Static Worlds Kill RP
November 28, 2007, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Fantasy, Gaming, MMORPGs

Static worlds kill role-playing. I’m not talking about spewing Middle English in group chat or the slew of other silly stereotypes many a modern gamer equates dismissively with RP. Ideally in an RPG, you can do anything within the realm of possibility (and in MMORPGs, within the constraints of game physics): incorporate elements of your environment into a brawl, dig a ditch or sack a city, plant rose bushes or hack down a forest, become a noble cavalier heralded by the peasants or a murderous cutpurse hunted by the town guard.

Donkey Kong was never considered an RPG. Your avatar in Q*Bert or Crystal Castles never evolved or left any real footprint on the game world outside of advancing from level to level until you got bored or ran out of quarters. You followed a scripted course of play to save said princess or clear said board of adversaries. Sound familiar?

In an RPG, your character not only advances in level, but you “write” his or her story alongside your fellow players. You create a character, not a cog. You are adopting a role for the two or three hours you spend in game, not simply racking up dancing cherries or in the case of MMOs—blue or purple items. Did all the level 60 magic-users in your pen-and-paper campaigns parade around in the same robes? Nope. Because everyone was not pushed and prodded down a near-identical path.

Single player games have given us glimpses of the types of worlds we can leave a stamp on. It’s just a matter of time before our video cards and processors allow for this on a massive multiplayer scale. I for one would forsake multiple continents and vast oceans for a smaller game world if it indeed felt like a world, not the façade of a movie set. But will game studios be up for the challenge, or should we brace ourselves for another decade of hovering yellow question marks and grinding repeatable content?

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