M M O R P G A M E R
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Tis the season for franchise milking. Oh, wait...that's pretty much every season. Anyway, the column was delayed a bit by a stampede of new stories yesterday, most of which revolved around sequels, one of which involved an arguably unnecessary spin-off. So I come to you a day late and what is atop the column? BAM! The Matrix, a franchise appearing in nearly every media form known to man or beast.
Meh, that's just me being bitter though. Sounds like the fans will like it, at least. And as usual, we've got news and community whispers for your reading pleasure.
In other news, I finally typed up my Final Fantasy XI Character Journal, but then I realized it was dang boring and all I did was whine, so I trashed it and am going to rewrtie it some time that isn't now. Not to fear, for those of you who had your hearts set on reading about someone else's adventures in Vana'diel, because Firemyst has written up one of, um, "her" own, findable on that right-hand sidebar. Enjoy.
MMORPGs didn't get popular because of their storytelling. In most cases, there really isn't one. But what would anything Matrix be without adding significantly to the mind-bending tale? Fortunately for fans, that question doesn't have to be answered just yet, as The Matrix Online has some pretty important pieces of plot. The game takes place immediately following Revolutions in a time not unlike that of the Cold War. "The truce" has held, but no one is certain how long it will last. All three groups fighting for power are doing what modern-day hero Jackie Chan once suggested: expecting the worst, and hoping for the best. To begin, the game doesn't even have Neo in it...because he's dead. But it is reported that in his sacrifice he insured peace between the humans of Zion and the Machine civilization.
This is all from the Matrix Online Newsletter: "The Merovingian continues to solidify his powerbase in the face of record numbers of immigrating Exiles (machine programs that have fled into the Matrix to avoid deletion). For the Merovingian and his ilk, the continuation of the Matrix is essential. Their very existence is now housed within the code of the Matrix. And while many Exiles exhibit incredible powers, each one has a Killcode; a specific vulnerability that can instantly destroy them.
"The Machines reluctantly allow the recruitment of new redpills, but the sheer number of redpills leaving the body pods is of great concern to them. Without energy from the pods, a power crisis will occur; something that the Machines want to avoid at all costs. In addition, redpills performing rule-breaking feats may be having an effect on the population at large. People rejecting the Matrix en masse may very well be a breaking point for the truce.
"Zion continues its efforts to free those who see past the Matrix, but with more and more people leaving the pods, their organization is becoming fractured. Some believe that the peace Neo secured must be protected at all costs. Others believe that the machines cannot be trusted, and are quietly preparing for the eventual outbreak of hostilities. There are also those who believe that Neo is still alive....
"As a newly awakened redpill, you are thrust into this maelstrom of subterfuge and mistrust. Choose your loyalties but trust no one. The ultimate fate of the Matrix is in your hands."
The Matrix Online is due out in January of 2005. You can preorder, or just get more info at the official website. Those who do preorder are guaranteed a November 18th beta testing spot.
Hudson Says, "Me Too!"
The Online game market is more saturated than it ever has been. Now, Hudson will be getting in on the action. The fantasy-styling of Master of Epic: The Resonance Age Universe will be sampled by a second group of beta testers starting today. IT company Softbank's subsidiary BB Serve will be helping Hudson with development cost.
Formerly titled Resonance Age: Lost Overlord, the game was already beta-tested from March to December of 2003. The testing apparently made Hudson aware of some things that needed changing. One such change was to accomadate the primarily Asian audience in changing to graphics from an Everquest-type look to an anime style. Here are some visuals: Old look, New look.
One must have an account with BBGames to take part in this Japanese beta program. Yahoo BB (Softbank's ISP) users will be the only players allowed to play after the game is released, with the only exceptions being those who took place in the beta testing.
Guild Wars Preview Event Begins
NCsoft and ArenaNet are teaming up to give players a hands-on preview of Guild Wars. The official site says, "The World Preview Event offers two new regions, new cooperative quests, a new strategic battlefield for arena combat, new items and monsters, and the ability to level-up your character. And for the first time you can start forming guilds, experiencing guild warfare, and building your guild rank."
This event is open to anyone interested. While originally scheduled to start on the 29th of this month, ArenaNet has decided to give it an extra day-long "test drive" by strting today instead. RPGamer reported more details here. You can sign up and also dowload the software by clicking the appropriate ad banner or just clicking here.
Square Enix just loves doing special things for the loyal players of Final Fantasy XI. Just like last year, special Halloween-themed equipment pieces are floating around Vana'diel. In addition, players that "trick-or-treat" with NPCs by trading items with them may find themselves temporarily looking like one of the game's many monsters. In my casual roaming, I felt it appropriate to take a few screenshots so as to give our non-FFXI-playing audience a look at the festival. You know that monster in picture 3 as Chris from our programming team. He looks alot like that in real life, actually....
But Square Enix isn't the only gang dressing up their flagship MMO for Halloween. An official newsletter dedicated to reporting the community news from City of Heroes has just been started, and the first issue details the Halloween celebration in Paragon City. Cryptic Studios is raising the bar with their fiesta by holding a costume contest with prizes such as an nVidia Geforce FX 6800 Ultra video card, a digital camera, an iPod, and more. As for special gameplay bonuses, All Hallows' Eve will be the night of "Perpetual Night." In this event, the doors between the two worlds (basically good and evil) are shattered, and the evil forces send a relentless wave of villains charging towards the center of the city. The letter describes the night as an "all out war" requiring "the collective heart and spirit of every hero."
The Short Stuff
RUMOR: Most sites still show the 11/15/04 release date for World of Warcraft. However, The Detroit Free Press's "Game Bits" column reports a modification. The site quotes Phil O'Neil, preseident of Vivendi Universal Games, as saying the game would hit shelves "a week after Half-Life 2," which comes out on November 16th. This story was posted four days ago, and still nothing official has come forth to support the idea. In fact, quite the contrary in that Blizzard denies the release date. This makes things smell like fish. If nothing else, time will reveal the truth.
In actual World of Warcraft news, the closed beta testing ends on October 29th. The official site told testers, "All active closed-beta accounts will remain active, and closed-beta testers will be receiving an email with instructions on what to do to continue playing in the stress test," then encourages frequent checking of the site for the latest details. The only thing about that release date mentioned above was that the game is the already-obvious "closer than ever to release." *sniff* You guys smell that?
Dark Age of Camelot will be expanding again this winter. Entitled Catacombs, the new expansion boasts five new character classes, more customization options, updated graphics, and much more. On the official website, Mythic Entertainment says, "Hundreds of thousands of players all over the world have stepped into the world of Dark Age of Camelot. They have explored the Shrouded Isles, matched wits against the ancients of Atlantis, and now, with Dark Age of Camelot: Catacombs, they will face a new challenge: a mysterious threat from below... " We just posted a dozen Catacombs screens here.
In an apparently successful effort to let the topic of good potential offline-online conversions die, I didn't set a topic for new emails after last week. We got one letter of community complaint, and one last straggler on the old topic:
I play FFXI but I'm not sure if you've run
into this yet. Some of us like to toy with different
workable, but weird sub job combinations. This gets
us no love and no invites to parties. Back in the
beta test (which I played) no one cared as long as you
weren't oh subbing mage with a mele job(the ultimite
no no since you don't get enough MP to do any
good...or something like it that seriously hurt group
dynamics). These picky people get on my nerves(since
I've been playing with friends I haven't run into them
lately) since I can't do what I want(unless it totally
stinks). Isn't an MMORPG about doing what you want
to do? Why can't I get away with doing it in FFXI?
Lvl 37 THF|lvl 10 WAR|lvl 15 RNG|lvl 10 WHM|lvl 10 Summoner|lvl 1 NIN
Webmaster of "Jon's Final Fantasy Homepage"
Why? Because most people who play FFXI are tools. Well, actually, I kinda like the community on my server. Generally, people help each other out if they can. When it finally comes into print, check my FFXI Journal for my story about getting raised by a pack of total strangers...twice. Anyway, I think what's killing your fun is the addiction factor of MMORPGs. People log on with some character goal in mind like "I'm gonna do (insert lame quest) and nuthin's gonna stop me!" and forget that the point of a video game is to have fun. Thus, they intentionally limit their social interaction with the masses available and olnly stick to a certain clique of people who play exactly the same way they do. You and your Radiohead playstyle just won't be accepted by the multitude of addicts on such games. A shame, really. Experimenting is fun.
The worst thing about it is that these closed-minded players try to make an excuse by creating an imaginary divide between themselves and "ordinary" players by calling themselves "hard core." Hard core what? Hard core freaking nerds if you ask me.
The Dream of Evan and Chan
i thought of some other stuff for your Pokemon Online game idea. since other MMOG games let you pick one character and form a multi character party with other gamers, you could do the same with Pokemon but different. keep it like the originals with having 6 in your personal group but only one out representing you in battle and other trainers in your party do the same. then you're in a party can work together just like you do in other games but still keep the Pokemon twist with you personally having 6 in your control, just not at the same time. that brings party strategy and stuff like that into the game then too. i think it would be great.
Thanks for the email, but let's get one thing straight: it wasn't "my" Pokemon Online idea. That would be the readers ;)
Well, I only ever played the Red and Yellow versions for any measurable amount of time, so the party battling sure sounds like a fresh idea for the series to me. I hear they bumped it up to two pokemon in battle at once in Ruby/Sapphire, but, like I said, haven't tried it, so the idea sounds doable to me. Of course, with other people being the ever-present pro and con of online games, you'd get people yelling at you about which of your characters to use when and so forth, and maybe the whole thing would just be too much annoyance for too little fun.
That's right. Not only is there "no spoon" in the Matrix, there's no Neo either. And if anyone thinks that game can survive without Keaneu Reeves, they get a big fat HA! from me.
But on to serious business. If you live in the US, or follow its political news as apparently the whole world tries to do, you're probably aware that Election Day is fast approaching. Well, November also means making another choice for MMORPGamers: Everquest II or World of Warcraft? Which one will you be getting (which we'll call "voting for")? Or will you choose a third party canidate in voting for Ultima Online: Samurai Empire? Will you vote for none at all like the detestable American non-voter, while sitting back and fantasizing of a world where personal differences and insurance claims are settled by a round of Pokemon Online? On Tuesday, November 2nd, MMORPGamer will be holding its own voting, not of the normal on-index variety. We'll post a special edition of the column just for the event. Just like the American ideal, we want you to get out there and vote! Voting begins as soon as the column is posted and ends when we feel like it. Psh.
Keeping with that theme, emails this week should be on that topic: Everquest II vs. World of Warcraft. Failing that, just talk about which MMORPG you are most looking forward to. We're open here.
For the actual news column--you know, the one that matters--I'm looking for folks involved in this world preview of Guild Wars. If you play a bit of it, give us dirty details and your early opinions/conjecture/rants. I unfortnately don't meet one of the system requirements, so I need your help. Help a brother out!
-My name is Heath Hindman, and I can only bend to squares five to six times.