||I'm Wide Awake. It's Morning.
||February 19, 2005
Good stuff this week. Actually, this is a particularly odd column. Pizzas being ordered directly from within games, opinions from chat rooms, through the roof sales figures, cell phone-based MMMORPGs, and kooky fan gatherings occupy this issue. Begin scrolling and/or link-clicking now.
EverQuest games and MMORPGs in general are renowned for being addictive. Now, Sony Online Entertainment and Pizza Hut have teamed up to allow players too lazy to use a telephone an in-game method of ordering pizza. By typing the "/pizza" command, a web browser window linked to Pizza Hut's online ordering service will pop up. When simultaneously asked "what's next" by millions of people, Lucan simply responded by shoving pizza down the throats of many. Check out the official announcement here.
This is probably the perfect time to plug Lord_Klaxor's EsperNet IRC channel #rpgpizza.
I recently stopped by the chat room on realmsofkrel.com, the official website for the upcoming MMORPG Mourning. Since one doesn't often see Mourning in the game news and such (something I'll soon fix, starting with this), one may think that the game has no following. Quite to the contrary, I found very active message boards and an IRC-based chat room full of excited gamers. Thus, I decided to pop a few simple questions. I could not copy and paste from the client I was using, but I manually typed their answers in a separate window. Many of the same responses were given by multiple members, so those are only reported here once.
My question: "So what sets Mourning apart from other MMORPGs?"
"Based on role play."
"More involved GMs in the roleplaying."
"The fact that your clan can siege territory and set laws."
My question: "What aspect of of the game are you guys looking forward to the most?"
"The Master-apprentice system."
"Live roleplay events with GMs."
"Everything is totally sweet."
I then asked if anyone in the chat room was leaving another MMORPG to make time/funds for Mourning. One member answered "I'm leaving Meridian 59" with a hardy "lol" afterwards. Another declared that there were players coming from several MMORPGs, including the ever-dominant World of Warcraft. This was reaffirmed when one person declared that s/he was indeed leaving World of Warcraft, citing being "bored with it" as the primary reason. I was also told that "entire guilds from Shadowbane" would be coming into the game.
After entertaining details of a few of the topics above, the discussion moved to the fact that the non-disclosure agreement attached to the Matrix Online had been recently lifted. One person who claimed to play the beta for weeks didn't have many good things to say. Pros and cons are listed below, indicated by a + for pro or - for con. (Readers should keep in mind that the comments were made by someone in a chat room dedicated to Mourning.)
-Crappy Graphics, lots of lag, combat sucked
-Sure doesn't make you feel like you're in the Matrix
-"Shoddy execution" (I'm not sure entirely what that means)
-Bugs, load times, lag
-Combat complicated and confusing
+Good animations, especially in battle
The closing comments were, directly quoted, "I thought it was terrible."
I haven't tried it myself, but if I get the time to play and give my own insight on MxO, I'll do so. If nothing else, I'll hit up other boards and chats to give you the other side of the story. In the mean time, if you have thoughts on Mourning, Matrix, or any MMORPG, email them to email@example.com.
Hey, remember back in November, when World of Warcraft broke sales and concurrency records, selling 240,000 copies in its first 24 hours on the market? Well, Europe has officially smoked that number, as 280,000 units found their way into the hands of European MMORPGamers. By the end of the game's first weekend of availability, that number rose to 380,000. For perspective, that first number was were previously thought to be the overall cumulative size of the European MMORPG market. 100,000 players were playing the game simultaneously on the first day, increasing to 180,000 by the end of the following weekend, as 290,000 accounts were created.
Not making the same mistake that was made in North America, Blizzard launched 80 European servers right away, with additional servers
on standby as new players subscribe to the game. Retailers from different countries said the game was, "passionately anticipated," and that the launch was "a real event."
In related news, the New York Times recently featured an article on World of Warcraft, which can be here. It's a pretty good read. Would I link it otherwise?
After successfully having a Realm vs. Realm battle with over 1,500 people fighting on one battlefield, Mythic reportedly ran into some minor problems and unclusterd the groups of servers it had set apart for such purposes. The battles was overall a success, but minor technical problems needed to be addressed. It was only a few days until problems were addressed such things were reportedly cleaned up. The main malfunctions listed involved players' cross-server binding, but all is now well according to the Camelot Herald.
Gardena, California Internet PC Cafe will see a Final Fantasy XI fan fest as part of the "iGames Tour 2005."
Scheduled events include, in the official announcement's own words:
- Test your courage and win awesome prizes in our 22 vs. 22 Ballista Brawl and 40+ player Tarutaru Newbie Run!
- Live Q&A community panel with the Final Fantasy XI global online producer, Sage Sundi!
- Final Fantasy XI free-play machines with game advisors on hand to improve your game!
- Get your picture taken with our tribe of beautiful Mithra!
- Participate in Final Fantasy trivia games, raffles, and more!
Pictures from the last event are below! Exclamation point!
Crazy Joe, an Administrator of Stratics and the
owner of Gamers
Charity, posted two grand milestones that the Ultima Online Community
has reached with the Red Cross fund.
The first is that One Billion Gold has been donated to be auctioned
off on eBay. This has been going on for a while, with the proceeds from these auctions going to the Red Cross for
Asian tsunami victims. eBay stopped a few of the auctions, but apparently Gamers Charity is back in business and doing well again.
The second announcement is that donations have exceeded $5,000. This is certainly a feather in the Ultima Online community's cap and has surely helped in the effort to ease the stress of such a disaster as December's tsunami.
You can see Crazy Joe's announcement on the Gamers Charity
homepage. Previously, Crazy Joe promised to shave his head if gold donations exceeded a billion. A look at the website will show he's a man of his word.
According to a press release sent out from Moscow earlier today, Nikita company announced that it will develop a mobile version of its highly successful computer game, Sphere--Russia’s first MMORPG. Development of a complex game for new-generation mobile devices such as smartphones and pocket PCs is a "major technological milestone" in the evolution of Sphere.
"The client version of Sphere is designed for mobile devices using Intel PXA27x processors based on Intel XScale microarchitecture and optimized to support Intel Wireless MMX technology," says Stepan Zotov, manager of Nikita’s game division. "The mobile version of Sphere will be available for MS Pocket PC and MS Smartphone operating systems. It will support Wi-Fi and GPRS Internet connections."
Informa Telecoms & Media (formerly the ARC Group) estimates sales for the smartphone and pocket PC markets will grow to 561 million devices worldwide in 2004 from 482.5 million in 2003—or an increase of 16 percent. The tremendous market potential combined with the strong adoption of the PC-based version of Sphere led Nikita to adapt the game’s technology to run on a hand-held platform. The mobile version of the game is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2005.
Jeff Walker sent in these Guild Wars screens from the currently-in-progress free beta weekend which ends this Sunday. Send in your own, too! I wanna freakin' see them!
A nameless friend-o-mine sent in a huge pack of FFXI screens. They're from Promyvion Dem.
Send screenshots of your adventures through your favorite MMORPGs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to others who sent in screens that have not been posted in a while: I still have them. I'm posting in the order I get them, or in Jeff's case, urgency. Keep sending, and thanks for the great show of support!
Hrm...that one letter with the Chains of Promathia spoiler from two columns back seems to be occupying the bulk of the letters. Most of them are way to lengthy, off-topic, and personally-focused to include here though. I can't print those. Talk about something else, guys :p
Recently it was announced that over 800 accounts were
banned from FFXI(over all the servers) for Monoplizing
NM spwan points, MPKing(mass killing the other players
using area monsters) and RMT violations. I think this
is a good start on our high-level firends'
problems...don't you? (I know it probabaly just made a
dent, but it's a good dent! If you keep reporting
them for this stuff maye we can get more bad people on
the ban list!)
Also some of the fish botters are panicing due to a
certain update that's gonna make fishing more of a
Mini-game rather than just pressing buttons. I really
don't think it will totally stop them, but I'm hoping
it will make fishing fun! Just hitting 2-3 buttons
bores the heck outta me...tugging on a fish...now that
might be fun!
(Who says Square doesn't listen to the players?)
Lvl 54 THF|lvl 17 WAR|lvl 17 RNG|lvl 10 MNK|lvl 10 WHM|lvl 10 Summoner|lvl 37 NIN|lvl 5 BLM
Webmaster of "Jon's Final Fantasy Homepage"
As long as they're not taking away my guns, I'm cool.
Anyway, yeah, banning people that ruin the game is always good.
And you might claim Square is "listening to its players" with this, but seriously, this is one minor thing on like, a list of at least 28.5 million reasonable requests people have made. If Square modifies FFXI in a major way, it's with the motivation of the $bling$. This is true with most MMOs, but in the case of Square Enix, it seems like the company can afford to just let people complain and do its own thing. I could be wrong or slightly off, but come on, how long has this been a problem? A long time, yes? Blizzard started capping suckas right away, and now Square Enix is like "hey, look, I can ban people too!" If they were just waiting around for Vanlentine's Day for hilarity purposes, that's cool, but I doubt they did that.
And let's think about offline stuff. All people wanted was a direct sequel to Final Fantasy VII. A standard RPG, on a console, with a story attached to the original. What did they get? A movie. Then, oh, a prequel! Yay, right? ...But it's for cellphones...and it probably won't even come to America. And then, oh yeah, here comes your sequel! ...Starring Vincent...in an action/shooter/kind-of RPGish game. Maybe the Crisis Core thing on PSP will be decent, but it's too early to tell. Heck, people were going nuts at the idea of a simple REMAKE on PS2. But no no, they had to go and NOT actually listen to people. Square Enix is like that grandma who asks you want you want for Christmas, and then you tell her, and then she say (either to you or in her head) "Oh no, you don't need that" and gets you the "Ultimate Manilow" CD.
This Game Causes All the Talk
Since it is close to that *cough*lamehallmarkmoneymakingusless*cough* holiday, I guess I could share my biggest love/hate relationship with a MMORPG... Final Fantasy XI. I love the game because it plays like a mixture of old school FF (The set classes and such) but of course with the 3D/Online addition. Even putting us on with the Japanese isn't really that annoying. But I have three major complaints, first the two level group req. What is up with that? I mean I can see them wanting to make the game more group oriented, but if you're going to make a game with almost 0% soloability I think they should have made the level gap cap a little larger. Secondly, I think the most disheartening, awful, throw-your-comp-out-the-window-and-drive-over-it-repeatedly frustrating things you could ever see and hear in an MMORPG (Besides perma-death) is that LEVEL DOWN message and sound byte. Exp debt is annoying enough... but being able to level DOWN? Third, although not as game breaking (for me) as the other two peeves, monster models. Okay sure its always been a staple in FF games to use the same monster model over and over with different names, but I think it would have been a little nicer to have just a few more for the MMORPG version.
Sorry about the FF rant, but I needed to let that out. I guess I could round out this letter with a question... um... oh! Do you ever find that get trapped in the MMORPG limbo? What I mean is when you stuck in that place where you keep bouncing from one to the next hoping to either gain intrest in one again or pass some time till that new one comes out. Maybe thats just me... I think i'm way to fussy when it comes to these games, one little flaw bugs the living hell out of me. Maybe I should go try FFXI again and see if it's changed much since 3 months ago...
PS BTW I really enjoy this column, keep up the good work =D
Ah, more about people's love/hate relationship with FFXI. Yeah, the "level-down" thing has been a big complaint for a while. Most MMORPGs handle death way better than FFXI does; that really is a big flaw in the game. It makes the level grind so much more...grindy, for lack of a better term.
Real quick point on monster models: most MMOs recycle. That can't really be held up as a flaw in the game.
As for 0% soloability, it's more of just a balance problem. On levels 1 to about 10, or I guess 15ish in the case of a thief, you do pretty much nothing BUT solo. From then on out, partying is 55,000 times more effective, as soloing will get you nowhere at most junctures. Partying should always be the most rewarding and most effecient way to go in an MMORPG, but sometimes the people just aren't around, or you only have 45 minutes to play before going to work or something. I know I'm not alone when I say I'd like to see this addressed in the next big patch or, at the very least, next expansion pack. Sony addressed this issue by raising the EXP given to soloists and small-groups in a recent patch. Mythic added a whole new kind of solo adventuring to Dark Age of Camelot with their recent Catacombs expansion. Now it's Square's turn. Will they do anything about this at all? We'll see.
MMO Limbo? Well, in my case, it's more like MMO Traffic Jam. This column being my job, and me kind of being the go-to guy about MMO stuffs around here, I'm always wanting to play all the betas possible while still playing the game which will be my next review and also trying to find time for my favorites. Call me greedy, I suppose, but I get in over my head and I'm often left with tough decisions as to what I should play, or if I should sit down and write about what I played. Meh, if this is as hard as life ever gets, I'll be just fine ^_^
Thanks for the letter, the question, and the kind words.
Like the new signature? Cortney made it for me. It's made up of background and in-game shots from most of the MMORPGs I've played in recent times. If anyone can name every single game shown...I'll...I dunno...I'll give you something, I guess. I've got a Dark Age of Camelot free trial disc sitting here. I guess I can give you that--I have the real thing. Pfft, not that you'll win it. That fourth location won't be identified by anyone. But I'll give you a hint and say that all games on there have been covered within the 20-column history of MMORPGamer, and all five shots are from different games. First come, first serve, on the guesses.
Keep sending in MMORPG love stories. I know you're holding back! I have a couple I'm going to bust out next issue, but I'd like more. If you don't want me to use your name, I don't have to. Come on...tell!
Heath Hindman came up with no conclusion