Category Archives: NEWS

Star Conflict 1.2 “Dog Wars” focuses on mercenaries

StarGem tightly entertainment space shooter, interstellar conflict, today received a major update entitled “Dog War.” Push the version number up to 1.2, this update is designed to improve the player experience not part of the company.

Update the core join the fight fearless and compete directly in the industry control, without requiring a company’s ability to help the mercenaries. These mercenaries then reward will be based on “their contribution to the fight.”

Mercenaries also receive custom crafts today, which makes them the equivalent of offensive or defensive game style six models to choose from. An additional “defense contract” mode allows the mercenaries to take “peaceful region” pirate defense within the game.

Star Conflict saw a few more general content updates as well. It adds two new maps, megalithic sites and protected areas. The new boss, called “Destroyer”, also makes its way into the game. A small group will be asked to take it down.

The Massive Identity Crisis

I often hear complaints about the ever expanding definition of an MMO, with sites like Massively using the term so loosely as to include basically any game with online multiplayer. Now I’m not overly concerned with what Massively chooses to call an MMO. From their perspective, the more they can cover, the better, and that makes perfect sense. No, what I think is interesting is that MMOs themselves are so poorly taking advantage of the medium that the ever expanding definition isn’t actually wrong.

Well, except for that one time EA tried to say SimCity was an MMO. That was ridiculous.

In the beginning, MMOs did exactly what you would expect them to do – function as virtual worlds wherein player communities and interaction were key. After all, MMOs are uniquely positioned to deliver this experience; there is simply no other genre with the scale to do so, and it’s the natural path for a social game at that scale to take. Why else go through all the trouble of getting those players in a world together? Now in its eleventh year of operations, EVE Online continues to deliver the purest form of this game experience, so let’s use it for reference.

Simply put, EVE is a toolbox given to its players to create their own stories and gameplay as they interact with each other in the vast reaches of the game’s space. The developer created content really isn’t anything that special. If that was all the game had, it likely wouldn’t have made it eleven days, let alone eleven years. It’s the player interactions that drive the game, and it’s what’s kept players in the game for so long. Ten Ton Hammer’s (pt. 1; pt. 2) telling of The Second Great War should give you an idea of how complex these interactions can be, but even if you don’t read it, just think about the fact that there’s an MMO where a history is being kept of alliances and wars that are entirely player driven. That’s amazing. These interactions are why EVE has rightfully been called “the most thrilling boring game in the universe“. In EVE players don’t follow a story – they make it.

Thanks to PLEX in-game losses can be translated into real world money easily. In some battles, hundreds of thousands of dollars in value are lost.
This screenshot makes the actual gameplay look a lot more fun than it actually is.

While EVE represents an extreme position for player interaction, it is nonetheless a beautiful sight to behold. EVE is by all accounts a success, but it has struggled to gain broader appeal due to high barriers to entry and a heavy reliance on UI and spreadsheet elements that many players find unattractive. However, these unpopular features have nothing to do with its superb player-driven gameplay. It’s also worth noting that it would be entirely possible for a game like EVE to incorporate more guiding themepark elements without compromising its sandbox core if its development team were so inclined. EVE is near pure, uncut sandbox, while there’s a wide range available on the scale of sandboxiness.

The current generation of MMORPG is that of the traditional themepark, which found its beginnings with Everquest: II and the ground shattering success of themepark giant World of Warcraft. The MMO industry changed forever as more and more games have rushed to decipher and emulate WoW‘s recipe for success, and as the market progressed, the themepark model has become a polished developer created content delivery machine, where inconveniences like travel and community-building have been eschewed in favor of quick and easy static, solo friendly content. MMOs abandoned their roots as virtual worlds, and with it, player interaction driven content faded into insignificance.

To put it bluntly, this is a colossal waste. Players are being brought into large communities on sprawling worlds, but the games are in no way taking advantage of that situation. Questing is designed for solo play, and with a few exceptions, endgame content all takes place in confined instances. Most importantly, all of this is consumption of static content hand crafted by the developers, while the games themselves are so locked down that community and player interaction cannot affect the game in any way. The larger community has essentially been reduced to providing no more value than one does in Farmville – to validate players and their in-game accomplishments by giving them an area to stand about and display them. What’s the point of a shared, persistent world when the players have no power to influence it? Developers have settled for turning modern MMOs into amusement rides, when they could be entire worlds.

Which brings us back to the central argument – every game is an MMO now, and it’s not because other games have evolved. No, it’s because MMOs have stopped taking advantage of what made them unique.

I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo 3 recently, and it’s interesting how little of an adjustment it took considering I play MMOs almost exclusively. All of my usual MMO news outlets were already covering it, and all of my usual MMO friends were already playing it. This got me to thinking – why was that? What makes Diablo such an appealing game for the MMO community? Exploring this question lead me to a surprising answer; they really aren’t that different anymore.

What does a modern themepark MMO offer that Diablo doesn’t? The social features are all there – friends, groups, clans, and public channels. The world isn’t open or persistent, but that’s not really a requirement to be an MMO (Diablo‘s maps are probably still more open than Neverwinter‘s). Hell, Diablo has a destructible environment, so I’ll even give it the advantage for having some modicum of world interactivity. The only real distinction between the two is the limited group size in Diablo, but when 90% of your time in an MMO is spent in a similarly limited instanced environment, how meaningful is that difference?

Fortunately, wasted potential is not the extent of the problems caused by the abandonment of player interaction in the medium. John Smedley, the President of Sony Online Entertainment, briefly addressed the business shortcomings of the modern themepark model in his blog post, The Sandbox MMO:

My belief is simple – the content driven model is not where we should be aiming as an industry. Why? It’s unsustainable. When we first began making these kinds of games 18 years ago (I mean no disrespect to the Muds and other games out before Everquest) there was nothing to compare our games to. Players were so excited about being able to be a part of these virtual worlds that just about any content was exciting. Over the years the quality has really been steadily rising to the point where we have some brilliant narrative and exciting storylines in many MMOs today. We still thrill at completing a quest to kill the dragon or save somse poor townsperson who was unlucky enough to get kidnapped by orcs. The real issue is a simple one – our ability to consume that content as players has gotten to the point that most content is done by the players nearly immediately after it’s released.

An industry leader championing the cause of player interaction driven MMOs is music to my ears, but he doesn’t appear to be the only one having these thoughts. Beyond SOE’s Everquest: Next, Landmark, and H1Z1 titles, upcoming sandboxes like ArcheAge, Black Desert, The Repopulation, Pathfinder Online, and Star Citizen all seem to be delivering exactly what the genre needs with varying degrees of balance between sandbox and themepark elements.

Will the MMO market return to its roots, taking full advantage of its large, persistent communities by bringing player-driven gameplay back to its core? Will players once again experience freedom and an ability to impact the game? God, I hope so. Let’s take back the word MMO by first taking back what it means to be an MMO.


Link Dead Radio: Reminiscence and Reflections

We have an exciting promotion for you today on the home blogging network. We have some great blogs out now with out of this world savings added .. BUT WAIT – enter now and you’ll get not one, not two but 6 Bloggy link goodness all for the low low price of free. Hell, we’ll even throw in some free gaming trailers for the first 500 lucky clickers

If you’re going to read one blog this week I highly recommend Inventory Full who so eloquently, and mournfully talks about those lost feelings and experiences from eras, and mmo’s gone.

And we miss it so much. Perhaps that’s why we chase every new game almost before it appears, hoping we’ll catch the unicorn by the tail and swing back astride before it vanishes around the corner, yet again. All we get are a few strands of silver that quickly lose their shine or, worse, a thumping kick, a humiliating stumble, a painful fall.

MMO Gypsy follows on with these thoughts and the elements of acceptance with enjoying the modernised mmo genre

Levelcapped looks at the recent progress within the repopulation

The Grumpy Elf reflects on the new changes to dungeons and showcasing loot and asks if You’re you’re happy seeing other people win

Gamers Decryted notices an interesting development within the Swtor ranked PvP community, and the introduction of certain rules for better games and creating a more welcoming environment

Gaming Conversations wonders if character personalisation is really that important, or if it is more game speciifc


Albion Online: For the Good of the Guild

It’s amazing how much a game can change when you join a guild, well, the right kind of game anyway. In a lot of mmo’s of late joining a guild is more just a superficial choice. It might open up some gameplay but the core experience doesn’t change that much. I might have a select group I dungeon with, but even without that I will still be running those some dungeons. I will still be progressing in the same way.

The feeling I get as part of a guild in Albion Online now is far more than that. It makes an experience that almost feels like an insurmountable hill that much more manageable. It something that fills me with more confidence in myself, and a greater sense of security even if all I do is roa around crafting and gathering in the care bare land. It makes me feel both supported and needed and that is a rather important point for these online worlds.

With the way of progression in Albion Online and the severe grind progression cliff it is important to focus a certain amount on a few key areas of progression. I’ve talked about that before and now that I’ve taken my own advice I am progressing far faster. In doing this though there are areas where you are weaker and lacking. For my crafting aim that often means filling in the gaps from others selling on the marketplace. And that gets expensive fast and starts to limit just how fast you progress.

With a guild you start being able to fill those gaps easier and cheaper, and at the same time you are doing the same as well. I’ve traded wood and Hide to those that needed it. A few tools where I can as well. Ultimately it is this kind of trade that determines the strength of a guild, you work together to fill the gaps where they are needed. To craft what people need and aren’t making. To gather the resources needed. To progress your weapons and gear, and the role you have to fill the positions that are needed.

As a guild they need the players to function as well. Our guild has multiple crafting stations set up in town. It is even running a town as well and while this gives certain benefits like more silver for the guild to use, cheaper crafting costs – you need to work hard as a group to keep it this way. You need to donate resources. Use the to upgrade your crafting stations so you can craft the next uber tier of stuff. Each of these crafting stations, and the city as a whole rely on food to function. Something that needs to be farmed as a group, or at least purchased to support it. A lot of work, but rewarding to those that are apart of it.

I actually find the independance with being able to progress in the fields I want, but also dependency here rather fulfilling but also far more engaging than any other kind of group content in other mmo’s. My raiding days in rift with a guild were amazing. The need, the dependance on me to heal but the further mmo’s go the more that kind of dependency is fading away. We have classes that can be anything. Accounts like Final fantasy where you can pick up everything with time. Fast track leveling systems to get multiple types to cap rather quickly.

A design of nearly everyone being able to fill every gap that might be needed and in the end that devalues the place of players within a group. It also devalues a guild or group as a hole as well. You’re not strongly needed. Your spot can be filled just as you could go somewhere else to fulfill another role. Constant guild changes, server changes. Complete reliance on Looking for group mechanics. In the end it’s because the value of a players choice, their experience, and their abilities is basically none. Add a little meaning to that. A lot of time and effort like in Albion Online and suddenly that value becomes far greater.


Invasion: Nexus Hypes Wildstar

Earlier today Wildstar launched its INVASION: Nexus patch, which was treated to a surprising amount of hype around the web. Despite doing a lot of things extremely well, critical problems within the game’s meta-structure drove many away from the game shortly after its launch, but with a new patch fresh on the servers and the harbinger of a business model transition generating press, many are looking at returning to Nexus to see how the game has changed eleven months and five content drops after launch.

A quick overview of the changes to date can be found on Wildstar‘s subreddit, which maintains an excellent guide to the game’s content drops. Highlights of previous drops include the following:

Transition to two separate PvP & PvE mega-servers
New dungeons
Datascape raid rebalanced to 20-man
Veteran shiphand missions introduced
Several new zones and solo missions
New housing options, including interactive decor
Itemization and currency overhauls
The removal of rating requirements from PvP gear
Eased requirements for raid attunement
Loads of balance and quality-of-life changes
In addition, Wildstar‘s newest drop introduces quite a few interesting updates and new game systems. INVASION: Nexus brings with it:

Overhauled costume system, including wardrobe and cross-class functionality
Vanity pets added to the game
New contract system, providing PvE and PvP solo missions for players to earn powerful rewards
Same faction battleground functionality
A new 20-man raid
A new level 50 zone
More quality-of-life, balance, and optimization changes (including a popular overhaul of the quest tracker)
It looks like there’s a lot of new content to be seen, as well as huge improvements in the name of accessibility, an area in which the original game was sorely lacking. While I haven’t yet hopped in to experience the new content, there’s definitely a good chance that I’ll give it another shot. Fortunately, Wildstar‘s 10-day free trial is currently available to both new and returning players, so it’s never been easier to hop back in and see what you’ve missed.

smite banner

Big news for SMITE fans everywhere. The game is coming to Australia, and a recent Reddit post detailed Hi-Rez’ plans for the future of SMITE eSports..

The Xbox version of SMITE, unseen in this alpha screen cap, does a great job adapting game play to fit the Xbox controller

Aussies, rejoice! SMITE is coming to Australia.

The PC version of SMITE has been available for Australian servers for almost a year. Starting next week, though, players everywhere will be able to enjoy the full game on Xbox One. According to a recent statement by Hi-Rez, Open Beta for the Australian Xbox SMITE will release alongside the game’s general Xbox Open Beta next week (July 18).

HiRezAndy had this to say:

We’re delighted to offer SMITE communities the best possible experience on PC and now console, and we are impressed with the growth of the game on PC in Australia. We are pleased to support the release of SMITE on Xbox One with dedicated Australian servers from next week.

SMITE is the first free MOBA on Xbox One; the PC version released last year to overwhelming critical and communal praise. Alpha and Beta tests of the game have been extremely successful.

SMITE eSports has grown exponentially since the SMITE World Championship earlier this year. Viewership for the SPL has doubled between the fall and summer splits, and professional gamers have flocked to SMITE in the last six months. Due to this, Hi-Rez has begun overhauling SMITE eSports to better cater to players and fans.

Crowd Sourcing and Prizing
All crowd sourcing fund raisers this year (including the eSports team treasure chests and the summer chests) have put SMITE way ahead of its fund raising goals. As a result, prize pools for SMITE eSports tournaments will continue to run at a premium, guaranteeing players involved will be paid very well.

Due to this, though, a problem has arisen. If eSports prize distribution remains the same as last year, it will grant impressive prize pools for top-tier players and no one else. Over 90% of the total prizes given out last year were presented to winners and participants at the SMITE World Championship. While such an incredible prize pool looked great on paper, Hi-Rez has higher goals for this season. They want to guarantee livable wages for almost all professionals involved in SMITE eSports. The 2016 SWC prize pool will cap at $1 million USD; the remaining funds will be distributed to the other tournaments on the SMITE eSports schedule. That way, even players that cannot attend the SWC can make a livable wage from professional gaming.

The Repopulation – Hour 1

It’s on sale on Steam for a few more days. Find out more about the game here, or do a Google search you lazy bastards. Here are my very brief first impressions.

It’s in alpha. Read it again: ALPHA. Repeat after me: Aaaaalllph-aaaaaa. So stop crying about the bugs, the disconnects, the crashes, the bugs. (And it’s running very stably for me so QQ bitches.) If you don’t want that experience, wait a few months. It’ll be on sale again and it doesn’t launch till Q4 (that’s dev-speak, so I’m guessing May 2016).
It’s a sandbox. There’s a basic “here’s how you walk, talk and shoot things” tutorial and then you’re dumped in Mos Eisley one of the two faction starter-cities to sink or swim. However, NPCs are literally spamming your inbox with mission offers and the rest is pretty self-explanatory for anyone with a working braincell. Want to harvest? Find some nodes, swing that axe. Want to fight? Find some mobs, pewpew that pistol.
It feels a lot like SWG and the UI elements borrowed all the nastiest, clunkiest, screen-hoggingest crappy bits of the SWG UI (of all the things to copy), but it is most definitely not SWG or UO, so don’t go buying it because someone said it was. It’s ‘inspired by’ — and that’s definitely true. It’s not a clone. Your character may be, but it isn’t.
I’m not a huge fan of the graphics or even the art style, but that’s highly subjective. Bodies are reasonably well-proportioned and fairly realistic (moreso than in most games). The buildings in the starter cities are suitably grimy. The outside bits are suitably tree-y and rock-y… But somehow it leaves me cold. I’d almost rather SWG’s cartoonish art than this gritty, realistic and ultimately unpoetic view. So far the landscapes haven’t made me catch my breath, but I haven’t gone far. AND it’s alpha. Always remember alpha.

The crafting system looks complex. It may still depend on grinding 1000 craft-foozles to master, but there’s very little way around that in an MMO – at least no fair way. I haven’t really crafted anything but I have chopped down some trees and harvested some flowers and ore. Oddly enough if it reminds me of anything, it’s Anarchy Online, simply because it’s so freaking complex and there are so many recipes and Recipe 1 depends on subcomponents A – M each of which is made by a different crafting profession…
However, the game does have a Work Order system, which is the only way you can make genuine crafting interdependence work. I have already sold little bits and pieces to people who needed them for whatever mysterious purpose they needed them for. I’m guessing grinding.
I have no idea what combat is like, other than a bit buggy. I pewpew-ed shit with my trusty handgun as needed to reach nodes. I don’t care about combat.
I have a feeling there is a LOT to discover under the surface, especially with harvesting and crafting and perhaps even housing. I will probably carry on discovering, but I doubt it’ll pull me away from SWG or WoW or my main games, not for a while.


Aion: The Free Game releases New versions of Spanish, Italian and polish.

Gameforge today announced three new localized versions for free to play MMORPG Aion. The Italian Spanish and Polish versions, which will be available beginning July 31, with a Turkish version in September.
“Our goal is to make this available to all Aion players regardless of their nationality and the best possible Quality for a better gaming experience. Thanks to these versions of additional languages, more players will have the opportunity to play Aion in the Future in their own language and Immerse in the World of Atreia, “said Volker boenigk, Executive Director of Aion in Gameforge.
The New versions of the game will be completely customized, tailored the audio and web sites, and forums for each of the countries, as well as the management of the Community, and of the available servers in the appropriate languages for the new language versions.

Aion going free-to-play in Europe only

While struggling MMORPGs used to simply shut down when subscriber numbers dropped, the rise of the free-to-play model has seen many hold on to eek out a living. Add NCSoft’s Aion to that list, as the publisher announced today it’ll switch in February 2012–but, for now, only in Europe.

“In the last few months the lands in Atreia have become more and more deserted,” NCSoft explains. “We want to reinvigorate the world of Aion and attract new adventurers to the towns to take to the skies as Daevas.”
NCSoft is teaming up with German publisher Gameforge to run the free-to-play Aion in Europe. Come February, subscription fees will stop being collected, and excess fees refunded.
As is typical for F2P MMOs, freeloading players face restrictions on character slots, chat channels, and more. Those who’ve previously subscribed gain ‘Veteran’ status–which F2P players can also earn–will be privileged, with more slots and fewer trade restrictions. Or you can cough up some money for ‘Gold’ status, gaining more experience, shorter instance waiting times, and more perks.
Curiously, North America is sticking to the subscription model. “This only affects the EU game service,” lead community manager ‘Phenteo’ posted on the NA forums. Don’t be too surprised if it follows suit, though, especially as people are rarely happy paying for something others get for free.

Women Gamers Suffer From Stereotypes on WLY

It’s bad abundant that women are generally affected to reside up to stereotypes of perceived adorableness in the absolute apple — it aswell happens in basic worlds. According to a new study, advisers at Penn State advised the perceived affability of avatars, and begin that changeable gamers operating airedale or macho avatars accustomed far beneath absorption and advice from added players than those operating adorable avatars. World of Warcraft Gold Buy aswell accustomed beneath absorption all-embracing than macho gamers — behindhand of the gender or affability of the avatars operated by men.

“It doesn’t bulk if you accept an animal avatar or not, if you’re a man, you’ll still accept about the aforementioned bulk of help,” said T. Franklin Waddell, a Penn State doctoral applicant in accumulation communications. “However, if you are a woman and accomplish an airedale avatar, you will accept decidedly beneath help.”

In their study, advisers formed with over 2,000 Apple of Warcraft players, both macho and female. They chose six altered avatars from the bold from assorted in-game contest and genders. The volunteers rated the avatars as getting high, average and low levels of attractiveness.

The advisers again acclimated all six avatars for an online gaming session, abutting added players and allurement for advice aural the game. They based the affectionate of appropriate abetment on whether it resulted in allurement a baby favor (perhaps award admonition to the abutting in-game city) or a ample favor (asking for addition amateur for advice to that city).

They alone hints about the gender abaft the avatar by adage something like “can you advice a guy out?” or “can you advice a babe out?”

Their after-effects showed that if they told players they were changeable with a beneath adorable or macho avatar, they were beneath acceptable to get advice than added players, including macho players with either an adorable or airedale macho or changeable avatar.

“Although woman are about beneath penalized for agreeable in cross-sex behavior than men in offline settings, we begin an adverse arrangement in the online setting, such that men were accustomed to ascendancy either a macho or changeable avatar after penalty, admitting women were penalized for authoritative an opposite-sex avatar,” said Waddell.

“In added words, if the average would about account women, the arrangement was addled in the basic world, acceptance men to appoint in ‘gender bending’ with their avatar, admitting women were not encouraged to. So it absolutely is a lose-lose for women in online settings, according to our study.”