Browsing articles by "Wodge - MMO Symposium"
Jan 3, 2014

Between a Rock(star) and a hard place.

Parachuting down Mt Chillidog.


I’ve been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto: Online lately, and I must say, it’s rather good, if flawed.  I even persisted through a stint in the Bad Sports lobby, which happened because of disk read errors, nothing to do with me, hence why I was given a reprieve, and left back into the general population.

It’s fun, in a “make your own fun” kinda way, the picture above was taken after challenging my friends to get buses up the top of Mount Chiliad, then parachuting down from the top.

Lately, it’s got considerably more fun, why?  Hackers giving out Billions of dollars to everyone.  Yes, I am a (virtual) Billionaire!

Ordinarily I frown upon any hacking, glitching or exploit abuse, anything that gives you an unfair advantage that wasn’t earned, but this is different

First, a bit of information:  There are 2 main forms of progression; RP, which is your level, and cold hard cash. RP comes relatively quickly, but cash is slow to gain unless you’re using this patches exploit of choice.  The fact of the matter is, you need to be grinding missions to make money in the game, at the time of writing, Coveted is where it’s at, but it’s still a measly $12,000 for less than 10 mins work, repetitive and boring work.

One day, I was randomly given $2,000,000,023 dollars, and the game suddenly became fun!  The grind disappeared, and I could play the game for enjoyment, rather than a sense of duty towards the grind.  I modded some cars for my mates, bought all the upgrades I’ve been tirelessly grinding for weeks towards, got some new cars, and I’m having a blast.

Unfortunately, Rockstar is seriously clamping down on this, hackers are getting shifted to the bad sport lobbies, or just plain old banned, people who received illicit funds will have their money, and possibly assets bought with the funds, removed.  This will be a very testing time for the game, there are those that want the “cheaters” punished, and those “cheaters” want to have fun without the very tedious grind.  What makes it more interesting is the fact Rockstar is doing the RMT thing with “Shark Cards” so they’re losing money over this, but I feel the hackers would never spend extra money on in game cash anyway, and the exchange rate is frankly terrible, for $20 you get enough for a mid range house/garage and maybe a half decent car, I guess that’s Rockstar’s way of showing the world that the creators of GTA are the masters of robbery.

I hope Rockstar doesn’t give up on the MMO genre, but they need to learn from their mistakes, and maybe the game will survive the cash purge.

Oct 4, 2013

Second Class Internet Citizen

Nowadays, if you’re playing an MMO, chances are, it’s being run by a company based in the US.  With the prevalence of high speed broadband, latency is no longer an issue, so why do non US players still get the short end of the stick?

Case in point, SOEs recent unveiling of EverQuest Next.  In Europe, the game is run by ProSiebenSat.1, which I really don’t like at all.  I decided I was going to sign up through SOEs site, to avoid all that rubbish, but alas, I was met with popups informing me I was in Europe (with an EU flag, which doesn’t apply as I’m currently in Switzerland, not part of the EU,  I digress, this isn’t about politics); it asked if I would like to venture to ProSiebenSat.1′s site, or remain on the SOE run, US site.  Obviously I picked the SOE site, as thats where I want to keep my game account.  Did it work?  Nope.  I was sent into an endless loop of confirming I wanted to remain on the US site, logging in, applying for beta, then reconfirming my wish to use the US site…  I eventually beat the system using a proxy.  This simply isn’t good enough, SOE have stated they have no problem with EU players using their services instead of ProSiebenSat.1s, so why the problems getting it to work?

Another example: TERA Online.  In the States, it’s run by En Masse, who seem to be doing a sterling job.  Content updates, loads of free stuff, an instant level 58 promotion going on at the moment, an actual CS team helping out any players in need.  Unfortunately for me, I decided to go with Gameforge’s version, hosted in the EU.  What do I get for my trouble?  Weekly server maintenance during daylight hours, not primetime, but there is usually a lot of disgruntled players, several versions behind the US version, and owners of the game before it went F2P got a fraction of the stuff their US counterparts got.  The short end of the stick it seems.

After being a bit burned by Gameforge in regards to TERA in Europe, I decided to persevere when it came to Dragons Prophet, and insist on a US run SOE account.  Oh boy, did I make a mistake…  Infernum in the EU are updating the game constantly, free stuff codes being handed out, Raptr Rewards in place, and an actual playerbase.  SOE’s servers on the other hand are dead, very little has been done with the game, no attempt to fix the controversy with the housing (founders got a house, which sounds excellent until you see the price of the land you must buy first).  SOE have sent the game out to die, and I was going along for the ride.  Very disappointed to say the least.

I think these game publishers should put a bit more effort in.  There are no “borders” on the internet, language barriers aside, so games should be released without IP blocks and all the other nonsense which makes people feel others are getting a better deal.

Sep 2, 2013

Why would you even call yourself THAT?!

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV for a week or so now.  It is good.  Very good, infact.  Unfortunately, some of the players have a less than active imagination when choosing what to call themselves in game…


I’m no roleplayer, but your name should your name. It is kinda immersion breaking to go on a quest to vanquish a great evil, and your party of brave adventurers includes someone called Epic Dave.  Above is just a small selection of the odd names people have selected, there are many more… I wish there was an actual person employed to check character names are at least names, and not something worse (which has since been fixed).  On my travels I’ve seen a load of truly awful/unoriginal names.  I now make a point of asking any Lannister I meet “Are you paying?” to which there is often a puzzled response, to which I reply “I thought a Lannister always pays.”  Oh god my sides!  There seems to be a lot of Lannisters and Starks, it was the same back in EverQuest 1 after the first Lord of The Rings film came out, every other character you saw was called Legolasss, Legalas, Legoolos etc. (also, I recall a fair amount of people changing their surname to Evanescence, after the pretend emo goth band, there is no accounting for taste it seems.)

Unoriginality seems to be rife, I’ve seen hundreds of Tifaa Lockhhart, Tiffa Lookhearts and other spellings.  The Striffe family seems to be huge.  Square Enix has actually locked out people being called Cloud Strife, Rinoa Heartilly et al, but they didn’t manage to stop people from deliberately misspelling those names. There is also a trend for vaguely Japanese sounding names, this trend is puzzling.  I get that the game is developed in Japan, but Final Fantasy 14 is resoundingly Western in it’s Medieval High Fantasy setting.  So far I have met 1 Samurai style NPC, and 100s of heavily armoured Knights.  Those Japan-esque names don’t really fit the style of the game.

I leave you with this:  Why did you think this was a good name? WHY?


Aug 23, 2013

PSA: Final Fantasy XIV Early Access Tomorrow!



Just a reminder that Final Fantasy XIV is starting early access tomorrow, 24th of August, at 9am GMT (please note: the UK is currently in British Summer Time (BST) and that’s an hour later than GMT).  Hopefully the login errors have been fixed, as well as issues with legacy character transfers I’m aware some people have been troubled with.

Myself and some people from Nexus will be rolling on the Ragnarok (EU Legacy) server, hope to see you in game! (and isn’t that the most adorable gif you ever did see?)

Aug 21, 2013

TESO: Subscription Based – UPDATED

Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks announced that The Elder Scrolls Online will have a subscription fee.

Personally, I think this is tremendous news. As someone who doesn’t like the Free-to-Play model, I hope this begins a trend back towards subscriptions and the Buy-to-Play model used by Guild Wars 2, The Secret World and Defiance.

After playing Final Fantasy XIV in last weekends phase 4 beta test, I can tell you how refreshing it was to have all your inventory available without having to delve into a cash shop, with Wildstar also having subs, I’m hoping developers move towards constantly adding engaging content to keep people playing, rather than going for the quick buck with cash shop fluff.

It’ll be costing around £9 a month, so not bad at all. Here’s hoping the game lives up to The Elder Scrolls name.

UPDATE: It seems TESO will have a fluff item cash shop in addition to a subscription, this screams of a cash grab and laying the groundwork for a switch to F2P at a later date. Disappointing.

Aug 15, 2013

Thieving Buggers: MMO Edition

Apart from Crimecraft and APB, there hasn’t been many Criminally orientated MMOs.  In APB’s case you can see why (it’s a horrible, unbalanced mess, which happens to have the best character customisation of any MMO ever).

Now there is a third contender, and lets face it, it’ll be the best one of the three.

Yessir, it’s Grand Theft Auto Online.

If it has half the content of GTA: San Andreas, it’ll be amazing.

Shut Up And Take My Money now, Rockstar.

Aug 5, 2013

What I want from EverQuest Next

Since SOE Live is now over, and Everquest Next has now shocked the MMO world with it’s new art style, and big golems smashing the place up, I feel like I should share what I want from the new game.

I want the art style to stay exactly how the art people at SOE want it, don’t bow to pressure from the MMO community.  The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was a radical new art direction for the Zelda games, at first, people hated it, now it is fondly remembered for how awesome it looked.  Please don’t compromise on your “Vision.”  There is a reason you people are making successful games, and we’re at home playing them.

I want diversity of character builds.  Yes, there is multiclassing, but I don’t want there to be only a few viable builds, this is a problem Rift had, some classes were pretty useless, and only a few builds actually worked, yes there was minor tweaks you could make, but it was not very open in what you could do.  People who specialise should be better at certain things than people who spread their skills across several classes, the specialists simply can’t do as much as the generalists, there is no need to balance unless there is a definite exploit going on.

I want no Endgame, or if there must be one, can it not be “Endgame = Raiding.”  You should be having the same amount of fun, and have the same amount of content available to you at low levels, as you do at high levels.  As you level, or in EQN’s case, “Tier up” into new content, leaving old content behind, there should be an equal amount of new content for you, no “funneling” into a certain zone, Paldual Caverns from EQ1 for instance, choice is paramount, it adds replay value for the alt-o-holics and gives others an opportunity to explore.  I’m hoping that once you hit the end Tier, you have more to do than raid.  Raiding is a barrier.  Raiding takes a lot of development time, and only a small fraction of players get to experience it, lets have the devs working on content everyone can experience.

I want epic journeys in the name of epic loots.  The game supposedly has a massive area of land to explore.  Can we please have quests that make use of it?  Think the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings, or one of the Viking Sagas.  It should be possible to get a band of likeminded adventurers together, and go on a quest to some far off place, where the journey is the majority of the fun.  A “caravan” system like seen in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, where you sign up to join an adventuring band, and when you have to leave, you can log back in where your party is, and not where you logged out.

I want to have to travel, the hard way.  EverQuest 2 had a huge gameworld, especially after the numerous expansion packs, did it feel huge?  No, it felt quite small with the myriad of travel options available.  My house had access to 9 different zones through teleport items, my guildhall could teleport me everywhere else.  I was never further than 3 zones from anywhere else.  Bring back ships, maybe add trading caravans you can hitch a ride on, and if you don’t want to pay the full price, you can sign up to be it’s armed escort, a la Age of Conan.  In the footage from SOE Live, I saw the Spires making a return, and they looked pretty intact, bring back Luclin while you’re at it.

I want crafting to be challenging, and rewarding.  I also want it to take time to learn. I want a player skill based mini game to get through.  No click and wait progress bars, a system like Final Fantasy XIV before the cataclysm (read: A Realm Reborn).  Crafted items should also be a lot more than just items to wear when you’re leveling up, the very best crafters should be able to make items on par, if not exceeding, with drops from raid bosses.

I want GM’s doing stuff.  In D&D, a Game Master is someone who reacts to what the players are doing, someone who creates content.  In EQ2, it’s someone you file petitions to, someone who gets you unstuck, and undeletes items you lost accidentally.  SOE should employ loads of people, and give them the “Big EverQuest Lore Book” and let them run wild with what’s contained in that Tome.  Keep things vaguely RP, but always interesting and fun.  A GM should be able to shapechange to a Lich Lord, and raise an army of undead to attack a village, players will then rally to defend the homestead, and will talk about it for weeks afterwards.  This is the stuff that keeps people playing, not scripted quest lines.

So, there we have it, just a few ideas on what I want from SOE’s latest.  I really hope it turns out to be so good, MMO’s in future are questioned if they’re the “Next EQN Killer.”  Thoughts? Any other ideas?  By all means, let us know in the comments below.

Aug 3, 2013

Say no to ProSiebenSat.1!

As I am someone from Europe, registering interest in joining the rather blogged about EverQuest Next is becoming an issue.  If I wanted to, I could go to the EU site, and register there and be done with it, but unfortunately, SOE seems to be offloading EU players onto ProSiebenSat.1, who happen to be awful.

I’ve heard tales of items being lost in EverQuest 2, and GMs not doing a thing about it; characters being deleted after patches, servers going down unexpectedly and other general bits of crappery.  I personally had the pleasure of having money in my shared bank going missing after a patch, didn’t get it back, luckily it was just a few gold, but it’s not good enough.

If you play an SOE game, and are in Europe, and are not happy with this (and if you are, you are mental) please click HERE to sign a petition to allow EU players access to SOE’s superior support for their first party games (we won’t talk about how they handle other developers games).

Aug 3, 2013

Some EQNext Details

Taken from Reddit user mons00n, who had a few drinks with Darrin, EQNext’s lead designer, and dropped some juicy details on this post over at the lovely /r/EQNext.


  • Seamless world – no zones
  • The land mass shown was not Antonica, it was just a land mass. I asked if Kelethin existed and he shrugged as if he could not answer. BUT IF THEY HAVE CRUSHBONE (concept art) THEY MUST HAVE KELETHIN RIGHT?!
  • I asked about the limitations I had read about with the Light Forge engine in regards to water (rivers) and square-ish maps, his response was that it was a heavily modified version so there will be fluids in the game.
  • No oceans, ‘yet’.
  • There will not be 2 factions (ie alliance/horde), or 2 sides (evil/good).


  • There will be 8 starting classes, the one you pick you basically get for free. The other classes you will be able collect. I am assuming these 8 will be a part of the 40 planned classes (more of which will be shown tomorrow in the classes panel). Their plan is to release new classes as the years progress. It was also mentioned that some classes will be extremely hard to obtain.
  • No levels – referred to as `tiers’, the ‘zones’ will be tiered with certain level mobs and usually will be higher tiered the deeper you go in that specific area. In order to tier up you will have to complete certain objectives; one example given is say completing a specific set of armor would tier you up.
  • 8 max total abilities at any given time. 4 per weapon, and 4 per class. He mentioned something about all 8 being from weapons if you were say duel wielding, but I may have misunderstood him here.
  • There is NO XP from mob killing, no grinding, etc etc. Essentially what we’re looking at is a set of objectives and how we go about completing those objectives will be up to us. It was said that one may be able to tier up without even having to fight.
  • Cannot progress both a paladin and a shadow knight at the same time. Basically you have to do bad things to get friendly with the SK people so you can up the SK skills, but you have to do good things to get in nice with the paladin folks to get trained in paladin things. You can however, do bad things and get the SK class, then redeem yourself and get the paladin class, but in doing so you may no longer be able to talk to the SK people and continue your progression with that class.
  • I asked about death; they cannot talk about death. All he said was “it’s cool and we think you’ll like it”.


  • All items will be bind on equip (or pickup, not sure). He said that he loved the idea of non-bind weapons but they ruin the economy.
  • the game will be heavily based on gear, he loves gear and loves the hunt for gear. One example he gave us is say you were a Rogue that wanted to get the wizard’s teleport spell – well once you obtain the teleport spell and use it, you most likely would not have enough stamina/mana/whatever to do your backstab, so you would want to gear that class specifically for this task by obtaining a weapon that returned stamina/mana/whatever on teleport.
  • Crafted items and dropped items (say from raids) will be of equal value many times. This is all dependent on the class, spec, etc though. He basically said there is a big emphasis on crafting and they want their goods to be competitive.


  • NO AUTO ATTACK, I asked if was similar to NW’s combat system and he said it was similar, but more advanced.
  • The demo shown was more of a `tech demo’ for the destructible environment. None of the NPCs were even pathing (the small ones were not even attacking back).
  • BOWS are in the game (more on that tomorrow apparently).


  • I asked if there was a large majority of the game that they were not showing us (maybe due to lack of polish etc etc) and he said yes.
  • Crafting was compared to SWG, but better
  • There are currently 70-90 devs (don’t remember the exact number) on the dev team for EQN.
Aug 2, 2013

SOE Dead 2013 – Dragon’s Prophet

SOE announced that Dragon’s Prophet would be “launched” in September during the first keynote of their SOE Live convention in Las Vegas.  My question is; will anyone actually be playing by then?

A bit of background: I managed to get a Dragon’s Prophet beta key (after signing up for a chance at a key with SOE and Infernum, the European publisher) a few weeks before it went into it’s current phase, open beta, and thought the game showed a lot of promise, a couple of translation issues and it would be there.  SOE and Infernum, started offering Founders Packs, so having enjoyed my time in the beta, I decided to drop some coins for the middle tier package, the Dragon Master pack.  I’m a sucker for melee pet classes, and all the classes fitted the bill…

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