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Archive for July 21, 2008

2009 – the year of SciFi MMOs?

July 21, 2008 1 comment

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.

Heroes and villains under one flag – City of Superpowered beings

July 21, 2008 1 comment

Well, almost under one flag. NCSoft announced a few days ago that City of Heroes and City of Villains now officially are one game universe – everyone who bought either game will now have access to the other side.

This is hardly a surprise; for a long time the new releases of the game packages have been the combined “Good vs Evil” edition with both games in it. When NCSoft bought the Cryptic part of the game they also celebrated with giving all current players access to “the other side” if they did not have that already.

Most new content update of the game for over a year has been for the benefit of both sides, except the villain epic archetypes in Issue 12, plus some revamps of old heroes zones.

In their announement NCSoft also talks about this merge being in line with the way they are going to take the intellectual property of City of Heroes/Villains. From a business perspective it makes sense; do things that benefit both sides since this will cover most of the players. While most players probably play both heroes and villains, one side is likely to be the preference. And sometimes friends’ preferences could be different.

With an MMORPG that is more socially oriented than achievement oriented, a divide like that is likely a big concern for the designers. Just look at Cryptic’s next superbeing MMORPG, Champions Online. They are not going the same path again when it comes to heroes vs villains.

Small details in the game makes it evident that a merger of some kind it taking place, with the hero side terminology slowly seem to be replacing the villain side terminology in a number of places in the game.

So where will NCSoft go with the game? My guess is that they are going to allow all archetypes to be playable on either side and that content updates will continue to focus on storylines that involves heroes and villains working together against external threats. Rikti Invasion was the first major step, the Ouroboros and the time travel to Cimerora were the next ones.

Which means we might see more non-city environments or perhaps “alien” environments (Rikti home world perhaps).

If this happens, it is a definite change to the environment and setting, which is probably welcome by many. On the other hand some people, including myself, are concerned that the lack of single side content updates will stop the exploration of villainous content in particular. For a number of us the villain side is simply so much better – better story arcs in general, more friendly to travel and contents and missions better organised, better colour schemes, more varied city environments. And mayhem missions are more fun than the safeguard missions.

So I have some mixed feelings about where this might be going. But only time will tell what will really happen.

Categories: City of Heroes

Another dominator final ding

July 21, 2008 2 comments

Yesterday I reached the max level with my earth/electricity dominator. It is a quite enjoyable character to play, so it has had a fair amount of play time lately. As with all dominators, an active play style is beneficial particular in teams – keeping track of mobs, trying to avoid aggro and helping out with crowd control. Plus of course do a bit of damage.

While I had not planned to reach max level, I got caught in “the moment” with the double reward weekend in the game and ended up being close enough that I thought I just continue to the end.

The little bit disappointing part though is that I have not been able to pursue much of the story arcs, leveling was perhaps too fast at times and also often when in teams the leaders tended to run their missions mostly, causing everyone else to outlevel their own missions. For some it is not important though as long as xp progression is good, but I think it is nice to be able to follow some of ones own story arcs also.

I will probably pursue more non-dominator paths now though. On villain side it is probably not going to be brute or mastermind. Everyone else plays them it seems, probably because they can do a lot of damage and can be simple to play.

Categories: City of Heroes