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Archive for January 20, 2008

Learning languages in MMOGs

January 20, 2008 Comments off

Every now and then discussions pop up about different premium services in MMOGs, which usually end up talking about better response times, better customer support, perhaps added community features and support.

But what if services would cover other areas than strictly game related? For example, what if that included additional support for learning a new language?

A player may spend hundreds of hours in an MMOG, doing missions, fighting, exploring, interacting with other players etc. What if this environment was used as a base for more than stories that are easily forgotten and repeating less exciting content?

Learning a language can be part of a series of puzzles that one has to overcome to learn vocabulary, grammar etc. A bit like picking up and understanding Logos in Tabula Rasa, decoding the language of the V’rix in Earth & Beyond – but more extensive and with a goal to allow someone to learn some basics of a foreign language. Missions can include puzzles that require learning some vocabulary and grammar to progess.

Of course there would be a need for some people who have the language as their native tongue (or are at least quite fluent) to help a bit, there could perhaps be incentives who may talk and chat in the language in question, perhaps roleplay a bit with the learning players.

When I go abroad on vacation most of the time I try to learn and pick up some basics of the language in the country I am visiting. So I typically end up buying or renting some basic language course some time before there is time to travel. It gives a nice sense of accomplishment and brings some extra to the vacation if I am actually able to understand or communicate a bit through this new language during the vacation. Unfortunately in most cases the learning never goes beyond those basics.

But if I would have the option to get some support in-game to learn soem more languages as I am playing, I would be quite interested in pursuing that. Why not learn a bit more while I am having fun?

There may be other areas also where such added services could make sense. It can of course be a challenge to make a game suitable for this – some educational games do suck. But as long as the game design does not forget about having stimulating and fun gameplay I think there could be many interesting options to explore here.

Categories: MMO Games

Blackstar & beyond

January 20, 2008 Comments off

Recently SpaceTime Studios released some information about their current MMOG project, Blackstar. A few bits and pieces and some concept art, I must say that I like it. The ambition to provide a SciFi universe with space combat, exploration in both space and on the ground and with a touch of mysticism and magic is a bold one. Can it work? I hope so and I hope that the storyline will take a front seat like it had in Earth & Beyond.

In fact, reading the description got me thinking about Earth & Beyond and some nostalgia kicked in for a bit (of course only after the happily tinted glasses were put on to filter out the bad parts of the game..) and I would really like to play a game along those lines.

The info about the project was released a couple of days after the less joyful announement that NCSoft had cancelled their publishing agreement with Spacetime Studios for Blackstar. Would they have started to put out info about the project if that had not happened? Is it perhaps one attempt to raise awareness and interest about Blackstar, to cast a wider net searching for a new publisher? If it is, I do hope they have success with that attempt.

When I played Earth & Beyond long ago there was another SciFI space MMOG released which I tried for a bit right after release – EVE Online. At that time, I left EVE after a rather short time and went back to E&B. Despite many of its flaws and some which were handled better in EVE, Earth & Beyond was still the more fun game for me. However, the game that is around today is EVE and E&B was cancelled years ago.

I might be reading to much in the info about Blackstar, but it does seem to go in an interesting direction and a space-based MMOG with some decent storylines would be a welcome addition.

Categories: Blackstar, MMO Games