Bright Lights, Big Games I Saga of Change
Palpatine Votes Yes on Imminent Domain I Immigration Issues in Vana'Diel
Super New MMORPG Action Best I Weekly Web Updates

Issue #80 Abracadabra!
June 22, 2007

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Allakhazam! In Issue 80, I introduce you, dear readers, to my oft alluded to powers of necromancy. See how, with careful application of voodoo, I bring life to an otherwise dead week!

It was down to the wire this week. There didn't seem to be any hope for a column of any substance. But, thanks to a dark ritual (and a little encouragement from my co-workers) MMORPGamer lives, breathes, and consumes human flesh once again!

Now, go, my minion:

  Bright Lights, Big Games

Sony Online Entertainment

Sony Online Entertainment's Fan Faire is looking hotter than ever. Taking place August 2-5 at the Rio hotel and casino in Las Vegas, this year's celebration of SOE games and their fans looks to be bigger and more entertaining than any year before.

Along with contests, tournaments, panels, and live entertainment, SOE is offering up some unique opportunities to attendees of this year's conference. Fairegoers will bear witness to the announcement of a brand new SOE product. A demo of Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising will be on hand for gamers to check out, as well as some previews of titles in development. Unique in-game items are a staple of these conventions, and Fan Faire 2007 will be delivering the goods in this area. And, not to be outdone, there will be beta invitations for multiple titles.

Considering the insane number of features, as well as the fact that the pantheon of games being acknowledged at this year's fest has almost doubled to include Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, The Matrix Online and Star Wars Galaxies, SOE fans would have to be absolutely nuts not to attend this year. Tickets for the entire weekend start at $89. And, unlike certain other MMORPG conventions being held that weekend, tickets are still available. Head over to the Fan Faire 2007 page to register. Who knows? I might even see you there. Please ask before glomping.

  Saga of Change

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Now that Vanguard: Saga of Heroes has been safely nestled into the loving bosom of Sony Online Entertainment, details are beginning to emerge as to how the developers plan on bringing much needed changes to the game.

According to an article at, game improvements are going to be a consolidated effort from all of the individual teams working on the game. In order to measure this progress, the whole team is going to be using milestones. Milestones, in this case, are intervals of six weeks in which specific goals are focused upon. Certain goals may span more than one milestone, but content and improvements are going to be added to the live game every six weeks or so. Bug fixes and quality assurance aren't set to the same time table, as those will be delivered as soon as they are completed. The benefit of this new system, aside from ensuring that content is provided in a timely, regular fashion, is that the community will be informed every step of the way.

With the announcement of this new structure came the details of the first milestone. Included in the project are performance issues, fixing memory leaks, adding guild halls into the game, changing diplomacy to a level-based system, and the creation of a new tutorial isle that will not only be distributed as a demo, but also help streamline assets in the entire game.

Also announced were tentative details of a server merge. All of the current servers are planning on being merged into four or five servers: two U.S. PvE, one U.S.PvP, and one PvE for Europe. Players on the roleplay server will be polled as to whether or not they believe their server should be merged. Along with the merge, some changes will be made. The ruleset on the PvP server will be free for all, and faction-based PvP goes the way of the dinosaur. PvE players can only move to another PvE server, but PvP players can move to either type, considering the change. All housing will be reset, and all money and items associated with a plot will return to the player's escrow. Naming will take precedence in order of first creation then last play date, and some players may have to choose new names for their avatars before being able to log in. There is no set date for the merge yet.

All of these changes mean good news for Vanguard, and show that SOE does intend to devote itself to the game. It will be interesting to watch the game's growth and development over the course of this year.

  Palpatine Votes Yes on Imminent Domain

Star Wars Galaxies

Star Wars Galaxies. You'll never find a more wretched hive of abandoned structures and domiciles. We must be cautious.

Galactic squatters, beware. After extended testing, the house pack-up event is now ready and will go live this Friday, June 22. Any account that has been inactive since April 16 of last year can consider their structures forfeit. But, rather than just let them fade away into obscurity, players are invited to become a part of the demolition crew. Buildings will be marked as abandoned in the game, and players will be able to demolish them at their leisure. Every destroyed structure grands it's destroyer an event point, which can be traded at the Lucky Despot in Mos Eisley for decorations for their own home. Thus, the cycle begins anew. Badges are also available for demolitionists.

If you are a former player and don't want to see your stuff get wrecked, you had better hurry and re-pack your home. From the structure console, an option to re-pack has been added, which will move your entire house and its contents once. Pretty handy for dodging those bounty hunters.

Are the SWG team freeing up assets or using the threat of demolition to get players to return to the game? Either way, one thing is for sure: blowing stuff up is fun.

  Immigration Issues in Vana'Diel

Final Fantasy XI

Hey, adventurers! Are you and your friends worlds apart? Have a notorious reputation on your server for mob stealing, training, and ninja looting? Square Enix has just the thing for you!

Square Enix has just announced its character transfer service for Final Fantasy XI. Players are now allowed to transfer their characters completely from one server to another. All levels, items, equipment and skills remain completely intact during the move. However, all items on auction, in the mail, and in the moogle box are discarded, as well as any linkshells, linkpearls, and pearlsacks. If you have the same name as someone on the world to which you are transferring, you will be asked to rename your avatar when logging in. Also, if you are using the character name address system, you old address will become invalid and a new address with your new character name and server will be created. Another drawback is that if a linkshell leader transfers worlds, the old linkshell is left without a leader, making certain shell functions unavailable even though the shell will function normally.

The biggest drawback? It costs. $25 to be exact. The price may seem steep, but for that $25 you can transfer up to 16 characters within one week. If you're going to be using the service to get closer to your friends, one could argue that true friendship is worth any price. Then again, $25 can buy a lot of macaroni and cheese. It's your call.

  Super New MMORPG Action Best

Offering no relent from their onslaught of game announcements, Internet Gaming Gate has announced yet another MMORPG in its repertoire: Zu Online (not to be confused with Mu Online.) Seriously, do those guys ever sleep?

Zu draws its influence from Chinese folklore and allows players to experience the life of a monk in the appropriately named fictional world of Zu. As far as gameplay is concerned, IGG offered this very concise press statement:

"Zu Online, which refers to lots of classical sutras, has its setting based on the supernature novel--The Life of Swordsman in a area called Zu. It is an elaborately and well-designed 3D MMORPG with a rich culture of immortals and knight-errants. Its most outstanding feature is putting emphasis on the traditional Chinese culture of monkery. The in-game quests will boost the development of storyline. Players will be able to taste flying by riding a sword, consubstantiating god and Buddha, forging mystic weapons, creating sects and other else amusing. "Zu Mountain", these two characters do not only represent a range of mountains and streams. By contrast, considerable ghosts, immortals, knight-errants and uncanny fairylands have been tightly fastened to them. "Zu Mountain" has become the pronoun of the millenarian oriental culture of immortals and monkery. Zu Online is a story about the immortals, monkery and battles against the evil. It has attracted much attention since its debut. We believe that Zu online will be a focus and banner of the new online games in 2007 [sic]"

I see. It all makes perfect sense now.

Zu will be entering beta this September. Information will be coming henceforth on the game's official website, though right now it offers no "other else amusing" than an art gallery and a teaser trailer.

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Not a bad bit of prestidigitation on my part, if I do say so myself. I hope that sulfurous smell goes away soon, though.

For my next trick, I will need a volunteer from the audience. Anyone?

A La Peanut Butter Sandwiches,
Matt Blake

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