Browsing articles in "The Old Republic"
Mar 8, 2012

Themeparks are no fun.

Lately, I’ve not been playing much in the way of MMOs.  Hence the lack of posts by me.  There is 3 reasons for this.

1: They’re F2P, which usually means you do have to pay, and pay a lot more, to make the game remotely fun, and not just an epic grind.

2: The developers have actually ruined the game (see EQ2, which has had a spectacular fall from grace; from almost Sandbox open world joy, to quest hub ridden WoW wannabe)

3: It’s a dull themepark which holds my attention for the first month then I give up.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is the latest in a long line of MMOs that have not delivered what they should be able to, in my opinion.

What I wanted was a MMO where I could wander around the Star Wars universe, getting caught up in skirmishes, exploring, trading and other adventure-y things.  What I got was small “Planets,” limited exploration and the dreaded “Quest Hubs.”  The fact that 99% of my time is spent soloing with my companion is shocking, this is an MMO, Massively Multiplayer Online.  It does the Online bit right, Multiplayer every so often when a quest is deemed “Heroic,” Massively; Nope.  The game is essentially a Single Player RPG with a chat box, now excuse me, I can do this using steam and any other Single Player RPG, doesn’t have a monthly fee either.

Developers, please listen.  Quest Hubs are crap, story arcs are crap, we want to make our own adventures, not your scripted ones, which everyone else will do anyway.  We want to explore, not run to the next quest waypoint. If I want an epic story with cutscenes and all that stuff, I’ll play The Witcher or something, I WILL MAKE MY OWN FUN DAMMIT.

Indie MMO’s like First Earth are far more interesting to “Seasoned” MMO players, who are more likely to stick around, rather than quit and go back to whatever MMO they played before (WoW).

If you want to retain subscribers, and not loose thousands before the first month is up, fill it with content that is freeform, not scripted.  It’s easier for you to do, and we get more fun from it. Simples.

 

Dec 1, 2011

Star Wars Old Republic

I’ve always been a huge fan of Star Wars and so as you can expect when they announced another MMO for Star Wars I was all over it.  I’ve consumed vast amounts of information about the game as well as the Star Wars world, I have the films (multiple times over on various formats) and in general can be called a Star Wars Geek (and proud).

If you’ve been living under a rock, you won’t know that last weekend was the Old Republic Open Beta weekend, it was the weekend the whole of the MMO community swooped on the game to draw the servers to its knees and make the developers and engineers cry.

As a developer I know what release days are like, I’ve had 3 in my 15 year career where I’ve had to deploy software, not on the scale we see this weekend, but it’s still scary when you’re the only one who can solve any issues that appear.

So I hope you all game a thought and a thanks to the developers and engineers, they’ve been working tirelessly these past months and years to bring you a game that will no doubt rock from what has been put out there.

I didn’t play the beta…

You see in the past games I’ve done beta’s and lost the mojo for the game that gets built up because of the failings of the software.  Everquest 2 did this, I got so into the beta that I forgot that my character would be reset and I would have to start over, this wasn’t too bad, but when I got into the Live version I found I was bored because I’d already done that content and it was a chore to play instead of a joy to play though.

The same happened on EVE Online, having played the beta I decided not to play it from release, because there where that many issues with the game in beta.  This was a mistake, as although you can soon now get up into the realms of being a veteran destroyer in a team, you can never ever compete with these guys because their skills are so far more advanced.

I’d also like to say the reason I also quit EVE for the first time (after going back after beta) was the fact I ploughed through the 800,000 skill points and then they made that change that gave new starters 800,000 skills at the start…  I got no recompense for my wasted time and so I quit (I did go back a little later, but the excitement soon waned).

So the question’s are, who’s played the beta and how was it?  What class are you going?  Are you looking forward to playing?

Sep 26, 2011

EverQuest 3 (to Play)?

Sorry for the bad pun, but John Smedley of SOE Fame, or infamy if you’re not a fan, said something this week in an interview on GamesIndustry.biz that got me thinking;

“In my opinion this [The Old Republic] is going to be the last large scale MMO to use the traditional subscription business model.” 

Now call me curious, but aren’t you, Mr Smedley, developing EverQuest 3?  Isn’t that a “large scale MMO”?  Of course it is, it has to be, it better be!

PlanetSide 2 going Free to Play should’ve set off my spidey senses, but I’m now thinking the venerable EQ3 will be launching sans Sub.

F2P is all well and good, but this is SOE, I can’t help but think that they’ll be fleecing the players for every penny they can get their grubby mitts on, to me, the difference between subscription and free to play is the same as the difference between those awesome Theme Parks like Alton Towers and Oakwood Park; where you pay to get in and the rides are free, and those rubbish “Fun Fairs”, if they can be so-called, where you get in for free, but pay for all the rides.  SOE would like to have you pay to get in, then pay for the rides, as they did with EQ2.

I’m also quite annoyed with F2P actually costing you more than a subscription.  I like knowing how much a game is going to cost me before I play, call me old fashioned, but I certainly think spending real money on pretend things is still a bit odd.   A Massive game like EQ3 would have loads of things to do other than questing and grinding exp.  Crafting, customising your home, trading with other players etc. Imagine, if you will, that you had to pay a fee every time you did that, or were severely limited in what you could do until you coughed up the cash for a “Traders Pack” or maybe an increase to your “House Item Limit”, which wouldn’t be permanent, would only be a 7 or 30 day “rental” until you needed to top it up.  NO! THE HORROR! ARGH!!

Obviously, this is a worst case scenario, but if SOE moves EQ3 into the F2P arena, as they will be doing with DC Universe Online; and with SOE’s track record for telling their players the truth (the RMT in EQ2 thing still hurts!)  it doesn’t bode well for players’ value for money.

Sep 24, 2011

The Old Republic Release Date!

Oh yes, 22.12.2011.  The Old Republic finally has a launch date, according to an email I just got.

After much speculation and “we’ll release it depending on how the beta goes” it’s actually coming out this year, just.  Obviously the beta testing went smoothly, so here’s hoping for a Rift-esque launch.  I feel sorry for the CS staff over Christmas, an MMO launch so close to Christmas day is a bit of a crazy move, but with Diablo III being pushed back into 2012, it’s the best way to maximise sales.

Something to do over the Festive period I guess!

Sep 12, 2011

The journey is half the fun

Recently I’ve tried a number of newer MMO’s and I have been decidedly disappointed in the journey. I like to play a game that allows me to adventure, where I can decide the outcome of my game.

This is something that I feel Rift by Trion World didn’t truly allow me. For those who have never played Rift, let me elaborate.

The game is linear, oh so linear, in fact until you hit around level 40 there is only one route for each race, then you have a choice of two zones and then for the last 2 or 3 levels before you reach end game you’re back into the last zone.

Well gee… I wouldn’t really call it an adventure, being led by the hand through zone after zone of quite dull quests to reach an end game that requires you to grind rifts that appear randomly doesn’t really appeal to me, I’m not saying first encounter with huge watery tentacles coming out of a funnel are not exciting, it’s just when you’ve done the majority of them they become a little dull.

So what makes a really playable game? For me the world has to be sufficiently big enough so that you can get lost in it, I’m not talking Star Wars Galaxy lost where you can wander for 10 minutes without seeing a soul, let alone something to attack, but somewhere you can adventure and it’s a novelty to see another player go past on their own little adventure.

The game world has to have multiple areas for you to adventure at your current level. I’d prefer 3 or 4 zones that look good than one zone that looks great, dungeons! What is it with outdoor zones? Some of the best zones in games I’ve played have been indoors, I’m taking you right back to the original Everquest now, but some zones that I enjoyed and where indoor, Befallen, Solusek’s Eye. Step forward to Everquest 2, you had Ruins of Varsoon and everyones favourite Stormhold.

Sometimes when you play a game you can be a few weeks in and suddenly you reach the end. It can be quite disappointing, I know I felt disappointed when I reached the end of Rift, because I knew that all I had then was to return to the zones where I missed quests and achievements, end game, grind out equipment (that is pretty disappointing) and those oh so annoying world events. Oh and crafting (easy, even I maxed out crafting…).

Rift’s levelling is far too easy, in the early part of the game you can put on 2 or 3 levels per 4 hours game play and in the later levels 40-50 you should be able to must a level in a 4 hour game session.

Everquest, Everquest 2 and Vanguard where 3 MMO’s that I played/tried that required you to adventure, quest and grind your way through the levels. Vanguard was certainly one of the games that I found tough to level, mainly because it wasn’t quite finished and when reaching the higher levels quests dried up a little, but the game was fun and interesting with multiple routes to the end level, stunning graphics for the time and it was very shiny, this made the game fun and created re-playability.

For me Star Wars The Old Republic looks to have that unique quest element that I will enjoy, the world looks a might disappointing at the moment from gameplay I have seen, I just hope it will have the adventure that I have been looking for.

My only gripe is that it is Star Wars, I have yet to enjoy any game in the Star Wars Genre more than Star Wars Rebellion (Ok it’s not an MMO but hey, I can have other passions).

Star Wars Galaxy was initially fun but they spoiled it and the dynamic quest system annoyed me as well as the ease that could meet characters like Darth Vader, which turned it into quite a dull encounter.

Like I said I have high hopes for SWTOR and with that I hope that Sony Online Entertainment take note for when they put together Everquest Next (Everquest 3), I want to return to Norrath and see what is in store for me, lets hope they don’t dumb it down like many of the MMO developers are doing these days.

Aug 15, 2011

No, I am not the Hero!

I recently forked out some Brit Coins on a Star Wars: The Old Republic pre order, not the super swish collectors edition, as I am not made of wonga, but the Digital Collectors Edition off Origin.

After making my purchase, I decided to watch every official video on the official TOR channel on the YouTube.  I had ignored most of the information coming out and bought the game on the whim of a madman, so I thought I’d best have a bit of prior knowledge before it all kicks off at some point in a gala… no, not doing that!

It all looks really good fun, exciting and full of drama, adventure and the most important bit, choice.  One thing stuck out, the fine Doctors Muzyka and Zeschuk kept mentioning that they want the player to “feel like The Hero,” “make decisions to change the entire course of events on this planet” and other grand things that all Heroes do.

No! You’re doing it wrong!  I do not want to be a Hero, or Anti-Hero, or whatever.  One person, contributing to a cause,  this is what I want.  Being the Hero is fine in a singleplayer RPG like Knights of the Old Republic, but it doesn’t sit well with me in an MMO like The Old Republic.

My personal Star Wars fantasy would be carving out an existence on some outer rim planet, and hearing rumours about battles several hyperspace jumps away, maybe the battles come to my own system, then I would take up arms, and then maybe, just maybe, become the Hero of [Insert System Name Here], or maybe, the battles don’t come my way, and I continue doing whatever it is that I do.  The original trilogy of Star Wars films had loads of very rich Oral History, just a few words from the great Sir Alec Guinness had you thinking of far off worlds.  I have an imagination, hearing about great events performed by others is cool, I don’t need to be at every major event in the history of that Galaxy that’s far, far away…

In making You, the Hero, the centre of attention, it takes away from the importance of certain events.  If everything you do is “Heroic”, because it will be, as you are the Hero, then what distinguishes your “normal” activities from your “Heroic” ones?  Moreso, in a Universe where everyone is also a “Hero”, what makes you “Heroic”?

Everyone being the Hero works in Fantasy MMOs, daring deeds is a staple of the genre, and those Superhero MMOs like Champions Online and D.C Universe, but Star Wars is full of people getting by, smugglers and pod racers.  Not everyone is a Sith Lord fighting for the Empire, or a Jedi Consular saving the Galaxy one Cantina at a time.  I don’t need every action I take having far reaching consequences that are felt for generations to come, or somesuch blurb.

Really, I want Recettear as an MMO, in a Star Wars setting.  Who’s with me?!

Yep, just me.