Archive for June, 2011

The new City of Heroes tutorial

June 29, 2011 2 comments

In the latest monthly newsletter post from City of Heroes newletter, The Intrepid Informer, there is some information about the new tutorial that is going to be part fo the game when Issue 21 anf City of Heroes: Freedom launches.

The new tutorial will be a shared one for both villains and heroes and there will be both some signature heroes (at least Back Alley Brawler and Sister Physche) and villains (Lord Recluse & co) in the area. Plus there is also an alien invasion with meteor strikes from Shivans.  A large part of the post though talks about the new approach to cut scene Paragon Studios are introducing here, with a 5 page comic before the player get into the action.

It looks interesting to see how this works out; I cannot say that I ever cared much for the hero side tutorial. The villain side was better, but is perhaps showing a bit of age nowadays. It will no doubt be interesting to see how well the new one will play. With the alien invasion theme there will no doubt be comparisions with the Champions Online tutorial.

Categories: City of Heroes

The bad translator

June 28, 2011 Comments off

Through a post in Anarchy Online forums I found this wonderful site: Bad Translator. The site allows you to enter a limited amount of English text and then runs that text back and forth between English and some other languages a couple of times – you can select the number of iterations to run.

I ran a couple of sentences through the translator to see what happened:

  1. I got a level 58 Bureaucrat in Anarchy Online -> (30 iterations) -> I have 58 pages of fantasy
  2. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please -> (30 iterations) -> They distort what you want
  3. Is that game just another WoW clone? -> (30 iterations) -> F This is how simple awareness of the game?
  4. I’ll be back. -> (30 iterations) -> Show
  5. Our village has been plagued by nasty rodents for a while now. Would you help us kill ten rats, glorious adventurer? -> (30 iterations) ->  In mice, long-term illness. We’ll help guide you need?
  6. I am not young enough to know everything.  -> (30 iterations) -> I know your children.
I would hazard to say that there are some shortcomings in the machine translators 😉
Categories: General, Other

Paragon Points clarifications

June 27, 2011 4 comments

Paragon Studios has posted here in the City of Heroes forums some clarifications around Paragon Points that will be used with City of Heroes: Freedom, how these are earned and some price examples (subject to change though). Initial post also quoted here below:

Hello everyone!

Jesse “Ghost Falcon” Caceres here! As we read through all of your feedback and questions about our eventual transition to City of Heroes Freedom, we’ve definitely noticed that there are a lot of questions about what exactly are Paragon Points worth, and how much you’ll be able to buy with points in the new Paragon Market. Well, let’s talk for a few minutes about some of these questions:

Q: We’ve been told that all VIP players will receive 400 Paragon Points per month as part of their subscription. What exactly does this mean?

  • All VIP players will receive 400 Paragon Points per month as part of their VIP subscription. Currently, 400 Paragon Points is equal to $5.00 (USD).

Q: As a current subscriber to City of Heroes, I receive 400 Paragon Points per month starting on July 1st, 2011. What does this mean as we move towards City of Heroes Freedom?

  • From July 1st, 2011 until City of Heroes Freedom launch, *ALL* paying customers that have an active billing “day” within the month will receive 400 Paragon Points. (Please note Trial Accounts do not receive this benefit).

For example:

  • If you renew or start a regular game (non-Trial) account on July 1st, you will receive 400 Paragon Points for the month of July.
  • If you renew or start a regular game (non-Trial) account on July 31st, you will receive 400 Paragon Points for the month of July..
  • If your Subscription ends on July 2nd, and you choose to NOT reactivate your subscription, you will receive 400 Paragon Points for the month of July when City of Heroes: Freedom launches.
  • For the months following, as long as you have an active account during that “month” (i.e. August, September, etc), your account will be credited with 400 Paragon Points for each month leading up to City of Heroes Freedom Launch.

So I know that right now, 400 Paragon Points = $5.00 (USD) but what I don’t have an idea of is what exactly 400 Points can buy me.

As mentioned earlier, 400 Paragon Points is equivalent to $5.00 (US Dollars), and I’ve gone on record that 400 Paragon Points will allow players to buy a lot of “stuff”. I’ve listed a smattering of pricing examples below, including the new Signature Stories, that will hopefully give you a better sense of general Paragon Point values. Please note that these prices (and others in our Beta) are currently the *target* prices, and may change prior to City of Heroes: Freedom Launch.

Points * Dollar Equivalent * Item
20……….$0.25………………….Wizard Beard (From the Magic Pack)
40……….$0.50………………….Classic Steampunk Hat (From the Steampunk Pack)
40……….$0.50………………….Pop Dance Emote (From the Party Pack)
60……….$0.75………………….Bioluminesc ent Chest (From the Mutant Pack)
60……….$0.75………………….Wolf Head (From the Animal Pack)
60……….$0.75………………….Organic Armor Sword (From the Mutant Pack)
80……….$1.00………………….Smoke Bomb Costume Change Emote (From the Martial Arts Pack)
80……….$1.00………………….Wonderful Wind-Up Wings (From the Steampunk Pack)
80……….$1.00………………….Runes Aura (From the Origins Pack)
100……..$1.25………………….Technology Origin Cape (Impervium Mantle) – (From Origins Pack)
400……..$5.00………………….Complete Magic Costume Set (from the Magic Pack)
400……..$5.00………………….Signature Stories
800……$10.00………………….Character Server Transfer Token
800……$10.00………………….Character Respec
1600….$20.00………………….5 Character Slot Tokens

So let’s say I want to purchase more points than my monthly VIP allocation of 400. What different ways will I be able to purchase Paragon Points:

  • To cover both bases, I want to be sure to clarify the two ways players will be able to acquire Paragon Points:
    • The first is through VIP Subscription where VIP customers receive 400 free Paragon Points per month.
    • The second is through the in-game Store.
      • Points can be purchased in Paragon Point “bundles”.
      • The smallest bundle size will be $5.00 for 400 Paragon Points.
      • If a player buys Paragon Points in larger bundles, additional Bonus Points will be added to the bundle. At this time, the “Bonus Points” for the higher bundle purchases is still being determined.
      • There will be several payment options for players, including various credit cards and Paypal.

We are exploring additional options for purchasing Paragon Points, and will update you once those plans have been solidified and set in stone.

All costume unlocks are also account wide and same for signature stories as I understand it. The target is one signature story per month. Character transfers, respecs and character slots seems to be pretty much the same prices as now.

In a UStream broadcast they also stated that it is possible to try out all the costume pieces at the tailor before you buy them, but you cannot leave the tailor facilities until everything you wear has been paid for.

I would like to see character transfer prices and respecs a bit lower, but other than that it looks fairly ok to me.

Categories: City of Heroes

Adventures in Rubi-Ka

June 26, 2011 2 comments

In the past month or so a majority of my MMO time has gone into Anarchy Online. I have definitely been sucked in and enjoy playing it, even though it certainly has a number of rough spots and it is not really newbie friendly (as in real newbies, not low level alts or second accounts).

I reached kind of a milestone this weekend with my Meta-Physicist, who I created now when I started playing again and who is now level 50. This is about as high that some of my old characters had reached before I left the game in 2002. Of course, in Anarchy Online terms level 50 is still a lowbie character – initial game had 200 levels and added another 20 with the Shadowlands expansion.

I have joined an organisation (i.e. guild in some other MMOs) and I have had a good time with a mix of solo play, some PUG play and also play with fellow organisation members. The general friendliness and helpfulness of a lot of player I think definitely makes up for many shortcomings in the game itself.

After playing the newbie island area a couple of times it strikes me that it is not particularly good in explaining a number of basics in the game. A completely new player will likely have some confusing moments. Reading some guides on fan sites such as AO Universe can go a long way to sort out some of the confusion, or even the game documentation. That being said, there may also be some guides that are out of date.

Having played through the games first 50 levels almost from scratch (did provide a bit of cash influx from other characters) one thing that strikes me is that it is easier to gain levels nowadays. Easier access to vehicles and the daily missions help with that. But the cash flow is not up to speed with increased leveling speed and I found myself needing to slow down my leveling in order to actually be able to gain enough money to afford upgrades when I needed them, even if I was somewhat restrictive with what I bought.

Alien Mothership over Newland Lake

Most of my items were gained through mission rewards from mission terminals or loot drops in missions, which works pretty ok. But I also channeled some of the XP gained into research, which effectively improved a number of my skills while it slowed down leveling – without any research done I think I might have been a few levels higher. The daily missions give a full level of XP at these lower levels for each missions and some of them can even be as short as 5 minutes (like Gridrunner mission). But you do not get a level’s worth of cash flow with these, so you end up gaining levels too fast.

Still, a number of these daily missions are quite fun though and I definitely recommend trying them, even though I perhaps would not go as far as actually playing them daily.

We brake for no-one!

Still, the game has a lot of character – NPC texts are quite enjoyable compared to a number of fantasy MMOs, weather effects and sound does a good job in setting the mood for different areas, as does the fact that areas are not completely crowded with mobs. You tend to take notice a bit more of the mobs when there are fewer of them. Also, various events and happenings also adds something extra – the alien mothership appearing for example, or run into an alien invasion attack all of a sudden when you enter a city area.

Read more…

Categories: Anarchy Online

No grammar star

June 26, 2011 3 comments

Recently there has been an ad on a number of web pages which has kind of irritated me. It is an ad for a browser game called Soccer Star. Presumably they check where you are browsing from, since they show a cartoon girl dressed in a Swedish flag in the ad. What annoys me is the text though, which says “det roliga fotbollsmatch”. This is quite terrible Swedish, what they probably wanted to write was “det roliga fotbollsspelet”, i.e. “the fun football game” – with game as in computer game (game = spel). What they instead refer to is the type of game where people run around kicking a ball – different word in Swedish (game = match) with incorrect grammar – “den roliga fotbollsmatchen” would be more correct.

Testing the translation from English to Swedish in Google Translate provides the incorrect form that they use in the ad. So they probably never spent any effort in trying to make proper translations, just used Google’s services and hoped for the best.

Categories: Online games

Anarchy Online 10 years

June 24, 2011 1 comment

So has the time come for the 10 year anniversary of Anarchy Online! The game kicked off on June 27th 10 years ago and this weekend is party time weekend, both in and out of the game.

Funcom has issued a press release about the anniversary and there is also some party information on the game’s web site, with more to come.

Happy birthday, Anarchy Online!

Have not seen any 10 year videos up on YouTube yet, so will add a pointer to one of my favourites for AO (again):

Categories: Anarchy Online, MMO Games

Freedom for Paragon City

June 21, 2011 1 comment

This was the biggest MMO news for me in a while – City of Heroes adopting a hybrid payment model, rebranding as City of Heroes: Freedom.  There are also some notes from executive producer Brian Clayton.

Unlimited, Extended, Free for all, Unrated and now Freedom. There seem to be a common theme to add some element of awesomeness to the game name when the payment model changes.

I am quite happy to see that City of Heroes is changing in this way; it also seems to be something they have worked on, in some way, for quite a while (more than a year). While no date has been set yet, Issue 20 has been out for 2 months now, so likely Issue 21, which includes this change, will be around in perhaps 2 months time.

They have also done a good move in order to keep subscribers until the change is in effect – subscribers can already from July 1st earn points to use to buy stuff when the change is put in place. My subscription is up for renewal on July 1st and I have been on the fence if I should take a brief break or not – have not played the game much lately. With this announcement I might still keep the subscription running.

The new issue itself  has a number of new things coming; new zone, new missions, new trials, new powerset (time manipulation !?!) and a new starting experience. I am really curious what this time manipulation powerset is about – perhaps be able to reverse effects on team players simply. I do not quite expect Braid-like manipulation, even though it would sound cool to do.

A new starting experience sounds like a great move also. It also seems that everyone who will be a subscriber (aka VIP player) will get access to Going Rogue also, even if they have not bought the expansion. Froob players will need to pay though.

There is an element of content-gating in what is provided to the non-VIP players in the player choice comparision; although a bunch of things still seem to be purchaseable. It seems a bit better than some other games at first sight, but there is not a lot of details yet.

Burn the froobs?

What seems to have caused some controversy and debate on the forums is the VIP server part. Some people seem to be a bit annoyed that they might not be able to move all characters and super group bases there and get away from the scum-of-the-earth players, which they seem to fear will flood the servers one this happens. Others are concerend that the froob players have not enough options to communicate and interact with other players and have no intention of moving to any VIP server.

Myself, I am in the latter camp. I would welcome more players to join the game regardless of how much the pay – it is not the payment model itself that makes the community. If it is flooded with trash it is because either the game is becoming much more popular and/or the game company let things go out of control. If the payment model itself would be the only reason for getting bad/annoying/obnoxious people into the game, then World of Warcraft would be a sanctuary for all mature, kind and friendly players where everyone sings kumbaya and hugs each other – this is is perhaps the game that is least likely in shorter term to adopt a hybrid payment model.

Now, if Cryptic can do a similar announcement before July 17th for STO and Trion something along these lines after summer for Rift, then I will not have any subscription-only games to consider renewal for…

Edit: The June Producer’s letter for City of Heroes also talks a bit more about these changes.

Categories: City of Heroes

Forsaken peek

June 19, 2011 Comments off

Earlier this year I think Forsaken World (from Perfect World Entertainment) went into open beta. Back then I played through a few levels and then put the game aside again, not feeling particularly interested in continuing.

The game is still in open beta and since that first session I have re-visited it in a few more sessions and some more levels and characters, although still low level. The game setting seems to be mainly fantasy with a bit of steampunk-flavoured technology. The backstory involves a couple of gods who populated the world (named Eyrda) with a few races and generally nice things. But there were also the bullies, gods bent on destruction of Eyrda who were picking fights. The main bully and his followers had been defeated partially and driven back multiple times, but during that the other gods disappeared also. Traces and relics from these ancient powerful times can be found a bit here and there though.

The current setting has a powerful bully named Dysil leading something called Storm Legion with the intention of beating up and defeating the good guys. So that is where the player characters come in, to fight back and defend the goood side and find cool things that the old gods left behind.

I have some mixed feelings about this game. The game itself looks very nice, seems generally to be working well and has a bunch of features. But the character creation does now allow for much variation in the characters and there seem perhaps to be a bit too much guidance and easy play for me to really like it.

There are five races (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Kindred and Stonemen) and eight classes (Warrior, Priest, Mage, Assassin, Bard, Protector, Marksman and Vampire), but you cannot mix and match the classes and races freely. Two of the races only have one class to choose from (Dwarf must be marksman, Stoneman must be protector) and two other classes are restricted to just one race (bard must be elf, vampire must be kindred). Combined with only a few customisation options many characters tend to look somewhat similar – at least if they play the same class.

Your friendly neighbourhood vampire

Each race have their own starting area, although at least humans and dwarves partially share there. This provides some starting setting, a few missions and some story elements for the reason the character is leaving to join the fight against the bullies.

By level 10 the starting area is completed typically and everyone travels to Freedom Harbor, which seems to be the main city/hub. This is a quite crowded place in some areas and there are a number of missions to introduce the player to additional features, such as jobs, pets, talents, mounts, prayers and other things.

My primary issues with the game are perhaps limited character customisation and that there is a bit too much guidance & easy-play – the game is helpful in telling you exactly what you can do at each level, where it may be appropriate to level, new features available etc. And doing missions does not leave much room for mistakes – in most cases to click on the objective and you auto-run there, click maybe a bit more and the compelte a mission, gain a level etc. Most mobs are clustered and waiting for slaugther in different areas – easy to dispose of and quick to respawn.

Perhaps this changes a bit in the various dungeons and higher level areas. I do like some of the classes and features, but so far it is not compelling to me to spend a lot of time in. Perhaps a quick visit every now and then works better.

Categories: Forsaken World

Fallen Earth F2P/hybrid transition outlined

June 17, 2011 2 comments

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.

Categories: Fallen Earth

Fighting the Fek’Ihri

June 12, 2011 2 comments

Recently my KDF captain picked a set of missions about fighting the threat of the Fek’Ihri towards the Klingon empire. This was among the best missions I have played in the game so far! These missions are part of the Klingon side PvE content which becomes available when one reaches Captain rank it seems.

The Fek’Ihri is an ancient enemy of the Klingons, which Kahless fought 1500 years ago. Now they are back, in a way.  The Fek’Ihri themselves are a real creepy faction, very well made – very much something that you could expect to come from someones nightmares, or noit quite of this world – which is true in a sense.

These guys (Slave Masters) have picked up some of Champion Online's Supernatural powerset it seems

There is a nice flow through the missions and they do provide a bit of Klingon lore and history. The story buolds up well and the final mission does really top it off well with a pretty epic last part. Very good work, Crypic!

It is interesting to observe while there is not that many missions in the Klingon side PvE content in the game, the missions that are there have generally been very good. Federation side has much more mission content, but of varying quality. The Klingon side certainly has a content gap if you do not want to repeat missions, but the missions so far plus the featured episodes they have been running are content that I do not mind repeating. To a certain extent at least, I would not want to run though the same things week after week after…

I think Star Trek Online has found a nice niche with its rather story-oriented focus, but that does not mesh so well with the traditional MMO view. I see Star Trek Online as kind of a TV/video MMO – you sit down to experience a new episode in a defined setting, with some familiar characters. But while it is more interactive than just watching a movie or TV episode, it is not really a virtual world where you spend time just doing stuff. You turn it on, have a bit of entertainment and then turn it off.

Since I pretty much play the game 1-2 sessions per week the progression is somewhat slow, but every session typically feels quite good. I have had a lot of fun with my Klingon side character and her crew, so I may end up focusing just on this character – she is pretty much at the same level as my Federation character now.

I also wonder if they will change the payment model for the game. I would certainly not mind paying explicitly for access to episodes when I want to play them rather than the subscription fee that is used now. I am quite happy with playing once per week roughly, but get into thinking whether I should stop the subscription and only subscribe when there are new episodes/content available.  Paying explicitly for new content instead of the subscription fee would be nicer I think – I don’t care much for the rest of the sometimes grindy stuff in the game.

In the end I think the MMOs which may work out with subscriptions are the ones which you may feel there is a virtual world with stuff to do in it. You rent a place in this worls so you can spend time there. For other types of MMOs that provides various forms of entertainment, then it may be nicer to pay an entrance fee and for the rides.

Read more…

Categories: Star Trek Online