I got an email from Fallen Earth about a few updates for August, which included:
GamersFirst Account Merge
Starting now, you’ll need to log in to Fallen Earth with a GamersFirst account. Don’t fret! The first time you log in once the change is live, you’ll automatically be directed through a process to link your Fallen Earth account with your GamersFirst account. As a bonus for the early birds, if you link your account before August 5, you’ll receive some free G1 Credits!
You need an active account to do this as I understand it. Personally I will probably wait until the F2P transition is completely done, too many games to consider anyway.
New Fast Travel System The LifeNet system is being overhauled and upgraded! Over 50 new facilities will be available to travel between when this update hits, with hubs in all major cities and many small towns. With Fast Travel comes a streamlined ATV quest to make things more accessible for new players, as well as a more intuitive early-quest progression.
Not quite sure what to think of this, to be honest. I think part of the charm with Fallen Earth was that there was a rather low-tech down-to-earth travel you had to do, it fit very well with the setting. Of course you are not forced to use this. A more streamlined ATV quest chain is probably a good thing though.
And then of course some items to pay for with points:
Upcoming Additions to the Fallen Earth Store
- Colorful Sombrero: Now you can live out your dreams of becoming a wasteland mariachi!
- Antique Nightvision Goggles: Don’t snap necks in the shadows without’em
- Wiry Mask: A great way to frighten out-of-towners, children
- Anti-Glare Sunglasses: You gotta protect your eyes in an Ozone-less future.
- Flame Pants: You, your pants are on fire!
- Surviving Shades: You’re a survivor; you’re not going to give up.
- Hockey Mask: Commonly worn by hockey players and serial killers – and there ain’t no hockey in the wasteland.
- Coming Soon: New functional items for your mounts and vehicles.
It will be interesting to see where the game is after the transition is completed.
In a recent developer blog the Fallen Earth development team have confirmed that the game will indeed be transitioning to a “hybrid” payment model, which is expected to come into effect in the 4th quarter of this year.
What is good to see is that they emphasize that they want to encourage and support that people can jump in and play with their friends, regardless of wether they are “premium” players or not. All content will be available to everyone. The payment model they aim to introduce also seem to have multiple levels of “premium” players. The lowest premium option will essentially include the same that current subscribers have, but to a lower fee. Then there are two additional levels above that.
Restrictions seem mainly to be around hoq quick and how often one can do things, e.g. salvaging and crafting will be slower for free players and also for crafting be limited how many items can be crafted in a certain time period. There are also some restrictions for the current trial usage that will affect free players, e.g. they cannot send mail. They can however receive mail and explicitly stated that paying friends could very well give them stuff through mail.
The highest premium level also includes some team buff that will boost progression for everyone in the team, including free players.
Their approach seems to very much aim to support and encourage players to jump in and play together – some might be enthusiasts and some might be more casual and thus choose different payment options, but still allow for playing together. I think that is a quite encouraging approach; essentially remove many barriers for different people and friends to play togther and probably form that hope that more people also may want to pay for a few things in the game.
I like this approach and I do hope it works out well for them.
However, when I was thinking about the SciFI MMO situation and that I prefer that to fantasy MMOs, I realized that at least for me, it has come true. SciFi is a rather broad term and when looking at what I play, it is only SciFi MMOs really.
- Star Trek Online. Definite space, hi-tech and pyjamas-wear SciFi. I play it perhaps once per week on average and I enjoy it every time.
- Fallen Earth. Post-apocalyptic theme, a bit more low-tech. Had a short break now, but went in again after the 1.8 patch. It has a low intensity pace for me, which is a nice change to some of the other games.
- Black Prophecy. It may be argued if it is an MMO or not, but I do like the dogfight style space combat and the game looks great. I really hope the storyline will continue to develop after the prologue.
- City of Heroes. My eternal MMO additiction. Perhaps borderline what some may consider SciFi, but it definitely fulfills the requirement for fictional science in my book. Best casual team friendly MMO available.
- Champions Online. Does not have the story background and character & faction attraction that I see in City of Heroes, but good for brief visits and some fun combat.
That is not to say I intend to keep it only SciFi-themed. I have made brief visits lately to fantasy side (Guild Wars) and I am looking forward to horror/myth reality theme in The Secret World whenever that is released as well as Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars is a really good fantasy game and Guild Wars 2 of course looks very interesting.
But I am also really curious to see how Blackstar will turn out on Android; will probably get a tablet at some point with Honeycomb (Android 3.0). At that point I might revisit Vendetta Online again also.
The number of MMOs I am playing right now have been piling up – currently I have been swapping between five different ones in the past two weeks or so:
- Fallen Earth
- Star Trek Online
- City of Heroes
- Wurm Online
- DC Universe Online
Each one have only had a small chunk of time (maybe a bit more for Fallen Earth), but for most of them it has worked out pretty well.
A couple of weeks ago Icarus Studios sent out an email with a come-back-and-play offer, giving a slightly reduced initial fee. I played Fallen Earth from release, but did not end up playing paticularly much, even though I really liked the crafting part. There were a few other things that annoyed me with the game and I dropped the subscription. I do not remember exactly when I left, but it seemed anyway that there had gone enough time to merit a look again.
So I jumped in and started a new character – and I have had a blast so far! While I do not remember all the details of the previous time in the game, I do have a feeling that there has been a few changes. The tutorial might have been shortened or changed a bit, I have a feeling there were some more pieces which were not there. The starting area for focus on crafting was also different. Now it was a place called Midway, before I think it was South Burb, if I recall correctly.
I have seen a few posts from various bloggers about how bad 2009 was for MMOs. Personally I do not quite agree. For me personally there were more interesting new titles released in 2009 than in 2008. But also considerations for a good/bad year should include existing games as well – new expansions and changes, different price and payment models etc.
Thoughout 2009 I have played/tried a few different MMO or MMO-type games:
City of Heroes/Villains, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Chronicles of Spellborn, Runes of Magic, Jade Dynasty, Project of Planets, Zero Online, Vendetta Online, Pirate Galaxy, Champions Online, Saga of Ryzom, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Fallen Earth, World of Kung Fu, Twelve Sky 2, Age of Conan, EVE Online, Shin Megami Tensei, FusionFall Online, GhostX – perhaps a few others also that I have forgotten about. Some of these would be an emphasis on tried rather than played though – for various reasons I barely completed the tutorial on some.
While otherwise limited in content updates, I loved when NCSoft/Paragon Studios released Mission Architect for City of Heroes/Villains. A really great feature! It was however plagued with being exploited by some and also in a sense too successful – too many story arcs and less than adequate search tools initially caused some trouble. While it is used by players today, it has perhaps not created the subscriber success that some may have hoped for. Still, it is an important step in making an innovative approach to MMO content a reality. I think that was one of the major milestones of 2009.
With the exception of Guild Wars, most of the fantasy titles I only played for short periods of time. Sometimes a bit grindy and with no special love for the fantasy genre, I gre tired of most of them quickly. Guild Wars has been lots of fun though – partially because it is a good game, but also very much due to the people of Tuesday Noob Club. Not played much lately though and the combination of real life schedule and lack of excitement for fantasy titles has contributed to that.
Just as I managed to totally avoid Warhammer Online last year I also totally avoided Aion this year, and World of Warcraft as usual. There simply has not been any compelling eason to consider playing either of the games.
Champions Online has received the bulk of my play time lately and for good reason – it is an excellent and fun game if you just want to mess around a bit, blow off some steam and get your mind of real life issues, just for a short bit. It is a good complement to other games or other activities.
I think most of the games I have played or tried I have not written much about – which is not to say that there are bad games. Sometimes it has just been bad timing, or some technical issue. I am glad that I have at least tried a fair number of games and see more of what is out there, rather than just focus on a few new Western subscription-based titles and live on the hope that the next big title with be it.
Over a year ago I wrote about that 2009 could potentially be the year of SciFi MMOs. Well, that did not quite haappen.
Of more than 10 games mentioned there are only two that has been released this year – Champions Online and Fallen Earth. Personally I do like both games and I am glad that there was something non-fantasy released. But for the rest, maybe there are some hope for next year?
- Stargate Worlds seems to more or less have died, or at leat gone into hibernation. There has been rumors that the developers switched to work on a shooter instead named Stargate:Resistance. Probably not much hope here.
- Jumpgate Evolution is in beta it seems, so there is at least a somewhat high probability that it will show up before the end of 2010.
- Black Prophecy from Reakktor (makers of Neocron) is not yet in beta and seems to aiming for a similar target to Jumpgate Evolution I think. The screenshots look nice.
- Earthrise does look promising to me and may be a future rival to Fallen Earth, both being post-apocalyptic and a bit sandboxy. This one probably has the edge in terms of graphics, ramains to be seen what the gameplay will be.
- Mechscape is no more. Instead Jagex, the makers decided to start with a new/different MMO instead, although still with a SciFi oriented theme – Stellar Dawn. This may just be a matter of changing the name, or perhaps a bit more. Not exactly crystal clear.
- Star Trek Online – this game is currently in closed beta and scheduled for release in February 2010. This is the game that is probably most certain to be released in 2010 of the titles mentioned in this post. I am not a Trekkie or a big Star Trek fan, but I am interested in seeing what Cryptic will come up with, since the time in development has been relatively short compared to many other MMOs.
- Blackstar was a SciFi MMO in development by Space Time Studios, but after NCSoft dropped out as a publisher they struggled. Not sure what state this game is not, but they seem to have a vampire-themed “freemium” MMO in an alpha stage as far as I can tell, Empire of Night. And they seem to have started to do stuff on iPhone as well.
Not mentioned in my 2009 post, but probably worth mentioning here (maybe there will be something in 2010…):
- Global Agenda – shooter/spy action MMO in SciFi setting. This one is in beta now and seem to be progressing well. I liked their No Elves video and the game does look neat, although not quite sure if this will be the game for me.
- Star Wars – The Old Republic. Many people seem to be excited about this one. I think this may still be uncertain for 2010, although they do seem to do a good job marketing wise. I have only briefly played one Bioware game before (Neverwinter Nights), so I do not share the built-in enthusiasm many other seem to have here. But I am curious to see what they do with the Star Wars franschise.
Hopefully most of these that are still worked on will release sometime in 2010…
I have been a bit quiet in terms of blogging lately, which mainly a matter of a bit less game-related time, so most of that time go to playing rather than blogging.
The main game at the moment is Champions Online – great fun and a nice place to handle my altoholic tendencies. A bit of time is also spent in Fallen Earth, I do like the post-apocalyptic setting and I enjoy playing it every now and then. It fulfills a different type of game activity from Champions and they complement each other nice, I think.
I have been in a bit of a “fantasy rut” for a while now and I have very little interest in any current or new fantasy MMOs. For me the specific mechanics and features of a game may be a primary motivator, but rather the setting and how it has been used. I am a little bit surprised but also relieved that this may be the case – if the mechanics were all that mattered I think it would be very easy to lose the enjoyment of playing these games.
City of Heroes/Villlains has not seen much play either. It has been very much about the people for a long time there and with most in-game friends gone or in other games, there is little on the team-play part that keeps me around. Creating Mission Architect story arcs is still a very enjoyable solo experience, but I have been a bit discouraged by the lack of people playing the missions I have created and some of the things Paragon Studios has done here lately. When the Going Rogue expansion releases it will likely be more play, but right now I have a rather low attendance in the Rogue Isles and Paragon City.
One activity that has increased lately has nothing to do with games – mentalism. I have been a magic enthusiast and occasional hobby magician for more than 30 years. Over the years my interested has shifted a bit more towards mentalism, at least when it comes to performing. It is a branch related to entertainment through magic, but still a bit different. It is on the borderline on exploring our own inherent capabilities as well as taking a bit extra step to provide entertainment miracles. It is that border area of what is a real capability and what might not be, plus a high degree of audience participation that makes it such an interesting area.
It requires a lot of time to become really good (practice, practice, practice), although it is more a matter of sleight of mind rather than more traditional magic entertainment, which may be a bit more sleight of hand.
So, still around but remains to be seen how much blogging it will be in the near future.
We always seem to want more and better options for MMOs that we play. More skills or powers, more levels etc. Sometimes we complain about the somewhat rigid DIKU-like model many MMOs are in. But are people prepared to get what they want?
This September has been a bit extraordinary in that there has been multiple interesting MMO releases in the same month; Champions Online and Fallen Earth. Both games provide the option to develop your characters pretty much any way you want. No fixed classes/professions or skill sets – you can be whatever you want from what is offered.
But for choices to be meaningful there must be good and bad choices (given some context) – if every choice would lead to an equally good result, then why make the choices at all? And if the results are just spread between good and better, will that not just trivialise the context for that choice?
As an example, in Champions Online there is pretty much complete freedom to mix and match any powers available, as well as control the character attributes. No class or archtetype restrictions and no inherent capbilities. What you choose is what you get. So there has been occasions where people have made choices that gives them trouble in combat – more troble than others. This could be a bad choice of powers and characteristics for combat in the game.
This is as it should be – it must be possible to screw up. If there were no bad choices here then combat would be trivial for those that make the better choices – which in the end would bore most people. But it must also be possible to correct mistakes with a reasonable amount of effort. Experimentation should be encouraged.
However, this reasoning also only works well if you actually care about the result of a choice. But there may be cases where you just want something. Taking Champions as an example again, if you do not care about making a superhero that handles combat great and only want something that matches a concept – then the choices may be in the way. You just want something “good enough”. In that case the choice becomes an obstacle.
In time I think games with plenty of freedom of choice such as Champions Online and Fallen Earth will have various guides on fan sites, both for mix/max:ers and those that just want “good enough”. But now in the early days for both games, I think you probably need to have at least a reasonable amount interest in comtrolling the improvement of your character and experimenting with that.
Personally I am not a mix/max:er and concept is more important. But I do like to tinker and learn about improvement for my character, so choices still matter. And I love that I have enough freedom that my concepts do not have to fit in some predefined class/archetype structure. I have made good and bad choices, but I think at least I have learned from my mistakes and my understanding improves. That in itself makes the game experience quite rewarding.
Many blog discussions and topics seem to have been centered around some fantasy games and expansions from Mythic Entertainment, Funcom and Blizzard this year. Not that many and not something I share a few others excitement for.
Next year seems to have potential for more interesting prospects though and this in the SciFi area of MMOGs:
- Stargate Worlds seems to be aiming for an early 2009 release. Based on the Stargare SG-1 TV series, one of the things they emphasize is their strong story content. They are taking beta applications, over 150000 has reportedly signed up so far.
- Jumpgate Evolution is space oriented SciFi MMOG, where NetDevil has based it on their old Jumpgate game and then work to make an improved and evolved version of it. Seems much a combat and trade oriented game with player driven economy. They are taking beta applications.
- Black Prophecy seems also to be a space oriented game, from Reakktor – creators of Neocron/Neocron 2. I have not seen much information abouth this game. Screenshots on their site looks spectacular. They are taking beta applications.
- Earthrise is a game with a postapocalyptic theme from Masthead Studios. Character development is purely skill oriented, promises player driven economy and extensive crafting and territorial PvP.
- MechScape is a new MMO from JagEx, creators of RuneScape. It will likely be a browser-based MMORPG like RuneScape
Depending on who you ask, some would also put superhero games like Champions Online and DC Universe Online as SciFi games, both which seem to be aiming for 2009. So far there has only been two games released in this area and these have been siamese twins with each other, so one may argue that they are just one game. SciFi has a broad definition, so it certainly can include these games as well, although it may not be what everyone thinks of when talking about SciFi.
Some other SciFi games being developed have not had any release plans announced yet. Fallen Earth developers says it is ready when it is ready. Cryptic Studios will likely announce a SciFi game in development in a week, which many belive may be Star Trek Online. BlackStar is the game from Space Time Studios which may still be looking for a publisher. These may not be released during 2009 though.
It does show some potentially exciting future in the area of MMORPGs, at least for us who would be very happy to play more SciFi oriented games rather than the fantasy themes that are currently dominating.
I would not be surprised if there are more games than these, but these were those that I could think of right away that I have seen mentioned.