Hey Diddle Diddle, Nero and His Fiddle I This is SPARTA
Vampires and Werewolves and Mages, Oh My! I Becoming Elite in the New World
Checks and Balances... In SPACE I Weekly Web Updates

Issue #78 Time Waits for No One
June 7, 2007

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It's June! I've survived my first full month as columnist with only a few threats upon my life!

I'm still neck deep in Ragnarok Online 2. I'm having a blast with it, despite rumblings that the end of the public beta may be right around the corner. Also, an enticing business prospect revealed itself to me recently, and I've been working like a dog to try and get that rolling. I'm also trying to get everything together for school this coming fall semester. And all of this is on top of my regularly hectic schedule.

But don't worry, MMORPG fans (all two of you), I'm still working hard to bring you best MMORPG column I can every week. So, without further ado:

  Hey Diddle Diddle, Nero and His Fiddle

Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising

Perpetual Entertainment is looking for a few good beta testers for its upcoming Roman MMORPG Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising (G&H).

Deviating from the genre norm, G&H allows players to develop and control their own squad of heroes and mythological creatures for battle. Players will also be able to gain favor with the Roman deities, allowing them to call upon the aid of the gods as they rise from gladiatorial slave to hero of Rome. The game promises an active combat system and a story driven progression.

Anyone looking to join the closed beta test need only look here.

  This is SPARTA

On the other side of the Adriatic Sea, we've got Gods War, a Hellenistic MMORPG from Internet Gaming Gate, known for the popular MythWar Online, Voyage Century, and Tales of Pirates.

Taking place during the silver age of Greece, i.e. the Age of the Demi-Gods, Gods War invites players to explore the ancient world. Players will have the opportunity to meet with the Hellenistic pantheon and interact with legendary Odyssean heroes. Though not much is known about gameplay at this time, IGG. promises action-packed combat and vaguely alludes to several different "systems," possibly hinting at political and crafting systems. Greece is the birthplace of democracy, after all. The inclusion of a religious system is a no-brainer.

The game has been kept under wraps for some time now, apparently due to IGG hiring some of the top gaming artists to work on bringing ancient Greece to life. The game promises to capture the design and feel of the Hellenistic world and reflect that through its locations, offering the city of Sparta as an example. It's unknown at this time how accurate a representation these locales will be, but given the emphasis that IGG has placed on this aspect of design, it will be interesting to see how close they actually come.

A website was launched alongside the announcement, but it currently contains nothing but a splash page and some hype blurb.

Now all that needs to be done is to mix this with Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising, Slikroad Online, and the apparently defunct Africa to create Western Civilization 101 Online. All the action without your instructor's crappy jokes! Perhaps then I can learn about ancient cultures without falling asleep.

  Vampires and Werewolves and Mages, Oh My!

When CCP acquired White Wolf Games last year, fans of the World of Darkness tabletop role-playing game (including yours truly) wet themselves with glee at the prospect of an MMO equivalent of the popular macabre franchise. Unfortunately, it looks like gamers will have to stew in their own juices for a little while longer. Say, four or five years longer. Gross.

During Eurogamer's recent visit to the CCP headquarters in Iceland, CCP's marketing director Magnus Bergsson took the opportunity to talk about the game. Bergsson first quelled rumors that the game is not in development, stating, "[World of Darkness] is one of the reasons we were so interested in White Wolf. It's a very mature IP. It's a great title for us to take and make into an MMO."

Then he dropped the bomb:

"We don't know [about a release date] yet. We're not really hiding any information about it, we just don't know yet. The actual design and exactly how it's going to be is being created right now, so when we actually know all of that we can guesstimate how long it's going to take. These games typically take four to five years to make. I don't think this is going to be any different."

This is some bittersweet news for gamers eager for some hot Kindred-on-Garou action. Sure, we're getting the game, but we'll have to wait half a decade before playing it. So it might not be a good idea to pack away those ten-sided dice quite yet.

  Becoming Elite in the New World

Sword of the New World: Granado Espada

Though the Sword of the New World: Granado Espada special closed beta test is currently underway, Elephant Entertainment is still trying to convince gamers to pre-order the retail version as opposed to getting the client online. While pre-order bonuses are a staple of commercially released MMORPGS of late, Granado Espada is coming up with some extra incentives that will give those with the foresight (and the forecash) to pre-order an edge over the johnny-come-lately.

Not only do pre-order customers gain access to the exclusive closed beta (which, as already mentioned, is going on as we speak), but upon the game's launch they will receive 10,000 vis, Granado Espada's currency. Also, pre-orderers will gain access to an exclusive character to add to their three-person team of adventurers. People who download the client will never have access to that particular character.

Considering the advantage given to those who pre-order, anyone interested in playing Granado Espada would be well advised to head out and reserve a copy now. It's a bargain at any price, but this particular bargain has an MSRP of $19.99. There's not much time left either; the game will ship sometime in July.

  Checks and Balances... in SPACE

EVE Online

Anyone who has been paying attention to EVE Online lately knows that there has been a space opera going down. Members of CCP have been accused of lending unfair aid to certain players and corporations within the game. Despite CCP's internal investigations disproving the malice of such actions, the damage has been done: there has been an outcry from players announcing their lack of faith in CCP and its employees.

In order to restore consumer confidence and to prevent any unfair actions on behalf of its employees in the future, CCP is going to institute a series of checks and balances. An oversight committee will be created consisting of nine EVE players who will be elected by the rest of the player base. The team will be regularly flown to the CCP offices in Iceland to audit the company and make sure that they are performing up to snuff.

“Perception is reality, and if a substantial part of our community feels like we are biased, whether it is true or not, it is true to them,” says CCP executive Hilmar Petursson during an interview with The New York Times. “Eve Online is not a computer game. It is an emerging nation, and we have to address it like a nation being accused of corruption. A government can’t just keep saying, ‘We are not corrupt.’ No one will believe them. Instead you have to create transparency and robust institutions and oversight in order to maintain the confidence of the population.”

This is an unprecedented move for an MMORPG developer. Claims of favoritism do happen in the MMO world, but most companies are apt to leave it as an internal matter. The inclusion of the player-run oversight committee in EVE is a bold step toward ensuring a level playing field on both sides of the developer and client relationship, and it will be very interesting to observe how the entire process works out. Will other companies follow suit should this prove effective? Will there be more synergy between developers and players as far as control of conduct in the future? Or is this simply a trumped up way for CCP to win back customers by showing that they are committed to fair practices by its staff? Time will tell, and MMORPGamer will be watching.

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Weekly Web Updates takes a hiatus this week. Please accept this picture of a baby monkey as consolation:



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Time management is fun, isn't it kids? Though, when you're wondering where the days have gone, it's nice to be able to have a list of accomplishments to make it all seem worthwhile. That or a level-capped character with epic gear and a flawless PvP record.

As always, I accept your e-mail, so if you've got something on your chest that absolutely must come off, feel free to drop me a line or two. Or not. I'm cool with whatever.

Until next week,
Matt Blake

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