Browsing articles by "Hobbit of Consequence - MMO Symposium"

Going Public

Having reached what I believe to be the tenth level of MMO hell, The Plateau of Eternal Soloing, I have decided to give Lord of the Rings Online a bit of a rest and spend some time investigating the merits of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. One aspect of MMO gameplay that Champions Online recently introduced me to that WAR also offers is the concept of the public quest.

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Getting Into Spandex

A couple of weeks ago, MMO Symposium received an invitation from Cryptic Studios to check out their newly released MMO, Champions Online. Although not a superhero and comic book fan myself, I decided that I would temporarily set aside my legendary weapons, flee the claustrophobic confines of Moria and don some very unflattering multi-coloured spandex – all in the name of blogging.

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Getting Mature Again

Age of Conan: Jungle PathwayAdmit it, we all thought the writing was well and truly on the wall for Age of Conan. Its bug-ridden launch and subsequent bad press seemed to ensure that it was headed for the same untimely fate as the Dodo. Even the sales assistant in GAME looked at me dubiously when I brought the box to the counter late last year and hesitated before gingerly asking me why I even wanted to buy such a ‘dead’ game. But with a stubborness matched only by the mighty Conan himself, the AoC Development Team have refused to go down without a fight and I think it’s only fair to give their valiant efforts another chance.

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To Subscribe…

…or not to subscribe, that is my question. Or rather, is the monthly subscription model for MMO’s a factor in an online game’s survival?

About two years ago I would have said no and was dead set against paying a monthly subscription – after having forked out to play Myth of Soma for over a year. In fact, I lapped up the opportunity to play Guild Wars when it was released with its then revolutionary ‘subscription-free’ financing model, and it must have worked, because it kept me playing through the Factions, Nightfall and Eye of the North campaigns. Even now, after trialling some of the more recent MMOs like EVE:Online and Age of Conan, I’m usually put off further playing because it would entail an on-going financial commitment I’m just not willing to make. And I’m convinced that most casual gamers don’t play MMOs for this very reason as they are used to purchasing a game and playing it whenever they like at no extra cost, unless they specifically want to purchase add-on or third party content.

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Two Arms Don’t Make a Right

Can you play your favourite MMO with one hand? Crude innuendo aside, it’s probably not something you’ve ever considered is it? Well, as I sit here with my arm in a sling recovering from a recent snowboarding accident and one-finger typing with my only good hand, I’m reflecting on just how many games I now cannot play. My PSP is rapidly gathering dust and I’m surprised by how short the list is of Wii games I own that don’t require the use of a nunchuck. Happily though, I’m pleased to say that The Lord of the Rings Online is actually one-hand compatible and I’m even starting to re-discover the joys of the RTS genre via The Battle for Middle Earth II.

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Moria Warrior

Mines of MoriaA little while ago I talked about one of the aspects of the Mines of Moria expansion for LOTRO that I was disappointed with (See: Fall From Grace). Now that I have had a chance to delve deeper into the halls below the Misty Mountains, I’m happy to report that the experience was a singular exception.

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Get your build on

As part of their marketing strategy, most MMO’s try to wow us with dramatic visuals and pithy one-liners like “Build an empire!”, “Build an army!” and “Build a unique character to…blah, blah, blah.” After all, they are trying awfully hard to get us to sit up and notice them right? However, you couldn’t really get much better offer than the slogan “Help build a universe!” And when you’re already big enough to have been hard not to notice for years then you’re already halfway towards success when you do launch an MMO. Enter… LEGO Universe.

Yes, it’s not your typical MMO – but then LEGO has never been your typical toy either. And let’s face it, those of us who are old enough to afford a regular multiplayer online game subscription were already buying into the idea for a LEGO MMO when we were desperately trying to authentically replicate a Tie Fighter using just red, blue and yellow bricks – we just didn’t know it at the time.


Mortal Combat

Mortal Online LogoI beg anyone who has played perhaps the greatest single player RPG game of all time, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, not to have wondered what it would be like if it were turned into an MMO. Well, with talk of a possible online future for Fallout 3, who knows what we might see on offer from Bethesda Studios.

But until that happens (if ever), there is already a possible contender for what could be considered an Oblivion-style MMO – Mortal Online. Developed by Swedish developers Star Vault, it claims to be the next generation of MMORPG, with a free-to-roam world that offers real-time, first person style combat with no dedicated PvP only areas. Information is limited at the moment, with only a few Alpha phase screenshots and a somewhat contrived ‘teaser’ trailer on the site. But it’s worth signing up to the newsletter as it provides periodic updates of how the game is shaping up.

Check it out now HERE.


Fall From Grace

When it comes to lore, I am by no means a stickler for strict adherance. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for a little rule bending and more than a dash of conjecture, we wouldn’t have LOTRO at all. Therefore I’m willing to go along with a little artistic licence for the sake of gaming enjoyment. In actual fact, I’d even go so far as to outrightly praise Turbine for their highly successful efforts in developing a wealth of content from what may have originally been a paragraph or sentance’s worth of source material.

So, in all that I’ve experienced of LOTRO so far, I don’t think I’ve once been disappointed with its realisation as an MMO – until now. There is actually a part of the recent Mines of Moria expansion that I’m not sure I’ll ever come to terms with – the Fall of Moria session play instance. In short, it has to be the most poorly interpreted and visually inaccurate player experience presented in the whole game. Why so?

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What’s In A Name?

I thought I’d kick off my MMO blogging by not actually discussing Lord of the Rings Online, but rather by talking about my name – the two of course being inextricably linked.

The magic of Tolkien’s Middle-earth was opened up to me from a quite young age, my earliest experience being whispered references to the Black Riders around an autumn bonfire from a father intent on scaring me witless. But a fear of what might be abroad just beyond the circle of firelight quickly became a fascination when, during the early 80′s, I would lie in a darkened room week after week listening with rapt attention to the BBC Radio 4 adaption of Tolkien’s masterpiece work. And innumerable viewings of Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated film left vivid imagery imprinted on my mind and established John Hurt as the definitive voice of Aragorn.

What does this have to do with consequential hobbits? Everything.

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