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World of Warcraft Fights Honorably I Bigwigs Care What You Think I Imaginary Numbers to Make Real Game I Ragnarok Online Whites Out I Anarchist Shares Success Secrets I Short Stories I Media Place I Readers Speak I Freakin' Hot Rena Tanaka Picture of the Week
MMORPGAMER
Issue #23 Rewrite March 12, 2005


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Today I encountered this Fullmetal Alchemist/FFXI crossover joke, and felt it must be shown to you all. So take a look if you haven't already. On with the column...



 World of Warcraft Fights Honorably
WoW

According to World of Warcraft's official site, many gameplay improvements are on the horizon. The highlight feature will be "Honorable Kills." An Honorable Kill is when a player defeats other players or aggressive, PvP-enabled NPCs close to the same level. The Honorable Kill credit works just like experience points, meaning all players in a given party also get credit for an Honorable Kill when a member of the groups commits one.

The official site also explains, "If multiple groups team up to kill a player, all groups will earn a percentage of honor based on how much damage they dealt to the defeated player. For example, imagine that an enemy player is killed by two other players. Player A was solo and did 35% of the damage, while player B was in a group and did 65% of the damage. Player A would get 35% of the honor from the kill, and Player B's party would get 65% of the honor. That honor would then have a group honor bonus applied to it before being divided amongst the group. Rest assured that even players that did not engage the enemy player (perhaps because they were healing instead of fighting) will get honor points; as long as you are in a group that helped kill an opposing player, you'll get honor. The amount of honor you gain is based mainly on three factors: 1) your target's level, 2) your PvP rank, and 3) your level."

"Dishonorable Kills" will also be introduced. A Dishonorable Kill is added to a player's personal record when he or she kills another player or NPC of a much lower level, who posed no big threat to the killer. To make it easier to identify a potential Dishonorable Kill, such NPCs will be labeled as "civilians" in their tooltip. Again, the official site says it best when it tells players, "As it stands now, when you accrue a Dishonorable Kill, it will not have a negative impact on your current honor ranking. You'll still get to see what the system considers a Dishonorable Kill, but you won't be assessed a penalty for it. At the moment, we don't want to penalize Dishonorable Kills because on normal (PvE) servers, the primary way to instigate PvP battles is through the attacking of NPCs. However, should enough PvP combat occur in Battlegrounds or if the number of Dishonorable Kills escalates to such a degree that it hampers general gameplay, we may well step in and institute a penalty for Dishonorable Kills."

At the end of each week, players will be ranked based on how much Honor they have gained. Obtaining a high enough rank yields rewards. Such reward include access to the officer's barracks as well as the ability to purchase very rare and coveted items. The full list is below.

All of the details, as announced by Blizzard, are here.




 Bigwigs Care What You Think

Play Ultima Online, you fools

Now is apparently the time when MMORPG developers ask players for opinions. In addition to that Final Fantasy XI survey I linked you to last week, an anonymous company developing a next-generation MMORPG is now using Zoomerang services to collect results from this survey. The company claims that the results of the survey, estimated to be ten minutes in length, "will be used to shape the game design and game features in order to create an experience that is designed for what you want out of an online game."

Joining in the trend is Australian website Aussiebox is hosting this survey to test the waters for a potential Xbox MMORPG. The emphasis point probably lies in the survey's last question, "Are you willing to pay extra on top of Xbox Live to gain access to a MMORPG?"




 Imaginary Numbers to Make Real Game

Independent studio Imaginary Numbers is hard at work on its upcoming Tactica Online. The Australian studio describes the game as, "a fast-moving turn-based strategy RPG set in the conspiracy and intrigue of Leonardo da Vinci's world." The game's focus will be squad vs squad combat, presumably similar to the versus modes in certain handheld TRPGs (altered, of course, to fit the combat of Tactica).

"There has been a void in the turn-based strategy RPG category," said Luke Carruthers, CEO of Imaginary Numbers. "Thousands of dedicated players love these kinds of games and Tactica Online brings that immersive, engaging style of play to the online world."

From my own observations, I can say that this idea is coming at the right time. I see people all over the place--myself included--wanting tactical RPG play online. Those digging this idea should check out the official site, where you can sign up for the official newsletter, read the Developer Diary, browse media, and more. The game is due out this fall.




 Ragnarok Online Whites Out
RO

"White Day" is a Japanese-invented holiday where guys give "thank you" presents to the girls who gave them chocolate on Valentines Day. From March 11-14, Ragnarok Online will be running a special event in honor of White Day. This event entails two special characters appearing at random and giving free, rare items to whoever talks to them. What these characters will look like, and where they have a greatest chance of appearing (is anywhere is favored at all) has not been disclosed.




 Anarchist Shares Success Secrets
AO

PC Game Zone recently interviewed Terri Perkins, Online Product Manager for Funcom, the maker of Anarchy Online. The topic of the interview was not the advertising we discuss in our letters portion this week, but instead what it takes to make a successful MMORPG in today's competitive market. Here's the full text:

Question: In general, what do you feel it take to make a successful MMO?

Terri: Very good question. The first ingredient is a great game. While this alone wonít sustain you, without it there is no hope. Second, you need to add in a healthy dose of community care. You have got to keep the game dynamic and alive by constantly adding content and bringing in new players. Mix all of these things together with beautiful art and music, fold in determination, good management, good business leaders and hard work. Sprinkle the creation with good timing and a pinch of luck. Test the creation for ďstickinessĒ and donít be afraid to add in new ingredients. Make versions that appeal to people on varying diets and serve it up with love, honesty and fairness.

Q: There have been a lot of new games released in the last year. Even more games have been scrapped before they made it to the stores' shelves. With competition on the rise what does it take for an established MMO to maintain its fan base?

Terri: A great game, great community, a lot of tender love and care and a willingness to listen to the players and adapt as needed.

Q: With so many games appearing on the market and then failing the impulse of many gamers is to buy a new game hoping that it will be "the next big one." What are existing MMO's doing to cope with this attitude?

Terri: Well I think that your hard core gamers are going to try most every game that comes out, myself included. I donít think this will change and that most games will be the ďBIGĒ one for someone. An MMO isnít just a game, itís a place to call home and it takes a bit of looking around to find the home thatís right for you. I think existing MMOs will continue to strive to be the best they can be and try to make their communities ones that people wish to be a part of.

Q: Specifically looking at Funcom's classic Anarchy Online, what do you attribute its longevity to?

Terri: See above..the ingredients were all there. Anarchy Online is a great game. The community around the game is amazing and as people find they enjoy the world, they tell a friend and it keeps the world renewed with new members joining on a constant basis. The ongoing content additions keep it all fresh and the very hard working crews behind the scenes have a fiery determination to keep our customers happy.

Q: Now that online games are becoming more mainstream the MMO industry is starting to attract new gamers in large numbers. What is Funcom doing to try and take advantage of this trend?

Terri: We have contributed to this trend! (Or so I hope!). We have definitely seen tremendous numbers of new players in the past several months and have put a lot of energy into creating a new player experience to accommodate these players and ease their transition into the world. Our community has truly helped with this and itís been very rewarding to see veteran players assisting all of the newcomers and our greeters going overboard to make new players feel welcome. We will continue to listen to our players and find out how we can make the game more newbie friendly, without losing sight of meeting the needs of our long term players.

Q: Given the number of games that have been canceled before they hit the shelves in the last year do you feel that the MMO industry is becoming more cautious? And is that a bad thing for online gaming?

Terri: I think the MMO industry is maturing and this is a good thing for the industry. Itís a more competitive world and you have to have your game in order or youíll be laughed off the court so to speak. I think that this makes it much more difficult for newcomers to get a game to market, but I think the quality of what does make it to the shelves makes for a more enjoyable experience for the players. Yes, weíre all more cautious but itís because the players demand it and deserve a more polished product and the technologies have improved. Itís sad to me to see a game cancelled as I know the work that has went into it, but it happens for good reasons most of the time and is a necessity in the business world.

Q: Many gamers hop from game to game instead of staying with a single game. Reasons for this range from unhappiness with their current game to a new game coming out that they want to try. What do you think about this trend? Again, is it good or bad for online gaming?

Terri: Iím one of these people and really donít think I know many that donít at least try any new game. I think itís a positive. It keeps game developers on their toes to constantly improve and educates players about whatís possible. If your game is really good, you have no worries as people will find their way home. Weíve experienced this with the release of several new games and it makes it that much more rewarding when the players do return. I believe itís a good thing.

Source: PC Game Zone



 Short Stories
Matrix Online

Sega and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment have announced The Matrix Online has gone gold and will meet the previously-announced ship date of March 22, 2005.

MMORPGamers wanting to delve into the secrets of The Matrix Online before the game hits store shelves can check out a Sneak Preview event on Saturday, March 12 at 12:00 p.m. PST and ending at 9:00 p.m. PST on Tuesday, March 15. Full details on this preview are at the official site.

Guild Wars

ArenaNet and NC soft have made a Guild Wars preorder available to gamers in Europe. "Caring about our fan base is something we take very seriously here at ArenaNet, and this is reflected in our decision to go with a simultaneous European and North American release and with multi-language support," said Mike O'Brien, co-founder ArenaNet.

European fans can preorder Guild Wars at the following websites, organized by country:
UK: gameplay.co.uk
Germany: 4u2play.de
France: alapage.com
Spain: centromail.es
Italy: dvd.it, multiplayer.it, internetbookshop.it




 Media Place
MxO

Jeff Walker has delivered some sweet screens from The Matrix Online's beta play.

Wanna show the world some highlights from your adventures in MMORPGs? Send those shots to rage@rpgamer.com.



  Readers Speak

Last week, I did an awesome investigative report on Anarchy Online and the beginning of advertising in Rubi-Ka. In it, I posted the reaction of other MMORPGamers from around various places on the internet, then asked for the opinions of my readers. Here's what turned up.

Very Insightful Letter, This


MMORPGamer,

I've played Anarchy Online for over a year, great game. I play on the Alien Invasion expansion level of content and love it. When I first heard about the devs making the original version free, I liked it because it would show a ton of new people how good the game is and eventually they'd get into the expansion content and stuff. I still feel that way. Now I hear about advertising being in the free version and I think that's fine too, since they're saving money by playing the free version of the game, which is plenty good by itself anyway. There's not much reson to complain about the idea of advertising in just the free accounts.

What scares me is the idea of it spreading to the other accounts too. Money does a lot of talking.......what if the advertisers make Funcom an offer they "can't refuse"? I like what's been done to bring people into the game so far, but I'm starting to worry a little bit. I just hope it stops where it is and doesn't eventually affect me as a paying customer.

And that's my feeling,
Jetty Matthewson


HEATH

Yeah, I was kinda getting on a similar track last week when I brought up the EverQuest II "/pizza" thing in relation to this. It starts with one thing, then leads to another...and another...and two years down the road things are completely different and no one quite remembers the exact point of change. You make a good point when you say that if Funcom is offered enough cash by corperate bigwigs, will they be able to pass it up? Cause you know darn well that if this advertising to the free players is any measure of success, the advertisers will want more...and more...and more, because that's how big business works.


No go


This is definatly a bad thing. First it's billboards, then it's pop-ups, then they're sending SPAM mail to the address you used to sign up for your account. Even free accounts have to give an email address to sign up. Soon the ads will start piling up even worse then they probably already are. It won't stop here and that's what bothers me. This is NOT good at all.


HEATH

And the four elephants of apocolypse are marching through the streets!

This seems to be on the same theme as the first letter, but a bit more of a fearful of immediate dangers. I'm guessing you're one of the free account players, and don't want things to get out of control?

I can see where you're coming from though, as I indicated in the other answer. And Jetty made a good point that "Money does a lot of talking." At first, Funcom might decline an advertiser's idea of having a pop-up window (I assume you mean this pops up right as you log into the game? Correct me if I'm wrong), but a few thousand bucks later, the idea might not appear so bad.



Does anyone really care?


Heath,

Who cares about the ads? AO is completely free in its original form. There are lots of other free MMOs, but none are close to as good, deep, or fun to play as AO. Funcom letting people play for free is one of the collest things I've seen from a MMOG maker. Don't you think having all those fr00bs running around on the server costs a pretty penny, or at least requires a bit of maintenance work? Now they can be compensated for the extra work by advertising funds. It all makes perfect sense. Every other free product in the world comes with ads. Heck, most PAY products come with ads. No one should complain. AO is still a good game and this is a smart move by Funcom. It'd really be nice if they made enough money to lower the fees of paying customers though! :)

-D Man


HEATH

Hahaha, I'll bet. You know, those comments get me thinking...the free version of Anarchy Online kind of IS and advertisment. Isn't any free trial of something? The free HBO weekends, demo discs, all that junk on Fileplanet--I could go on. But so far, Funcom has just been following standard business proceedure. One could even say that this should have been expected. In light of all this, I'm now surprised more of the older MMOs haven't made their orignal versions free for a long period of time, such as what Anarchy Online has going for it.



 Log Out

If you'd like to comment on Anarchy Online (or ads in games ingeneral), fire away. But let's talk about that Tactica Online, too, shall we? Would you play a game like that, which sounds kind of like an online tacical RPG?

And that's it for now. Thanks for reading.


Heath Hindman is so tired that he can't sleep.


rage@rpgamer.com




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