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Wrapping up 2011

January 1, 2012 Comments off

The year 2011 has ended and we have started with 2012. The past year has been interesting in a few ways for me, but perhaps more in areas outside of MMO gaming. While I have been writing a couple of blog posts the past year (123 according to WordPress) I must say that I have felt less inspired when writing posts for large chunks of time.

I used to hop around quite a bit in different MMOs, but this year it has settled down a bit – the past few months I have been pretty much exclusively playing City of Heroes.   The year started out with a few other titles though:

Earthrise

This game in theory had a lot of promise, or at least there was a picture painted that this could be an interesting and fun sandbox-style SciFi MMO. Closer to launch it showed many signs that this was a potential train wreck to be launched. I bought the game knowing that very well though, mainly because I wanted to support a non-mainstream developer, in case they had some good ideas.

The launch was indeed a train wreck and I was a bit disappointed looking more into detail of some actual gameplay elements – not as inspired as I had hoped it would be, not in areas I liked anyway. Even if  the performance and bugs were sorted out I do not think I would have enjoyed the game anyway, so that was it for me.

The current state of the game seems to be that the game still has some quality issues and that they have started a transition to a “free-to-play” model – no new accounts can be created from December 1st and this will be in effect until the “F2P” revamp is completed some time in 2012.

Wurm Online

Played this in the early parts of 2011. The open sandbox world was quite fascinating, but also consumed a lot of time. In the end I decided I did not have the desire to invest enough time in this game/world for it to feel worthwhile. Not sure if I will fo back to this particular game, but would definitely want to try something in the same sandbox spirit as Wurm.

Star Trek Online

Not a big fan of the Star Trek Universe, but I did enjoy creating my own races to play and making up some background and story for my characters. I played STO primarily a bit in the first couple of months of the year and also ended up playing on the Klingon side mainly – very much enjoyed playing my Klingon-sided engineer type (but my own race). I was very enthusiastic about creating missions with the Foundry also initially, but ended up now being anything completed. My inspiration for creating soemthign for the Star Trek universe ended up a bit lacking, although I did look into Klingon material (including the language) a bit as part of the research.

I will probably revisit the game when it changes its payment model.

Champions Online

Visited the geme a couple of times, mainly playing one character. I am a life-time subscriber, so the cryptic points keep piling up in the game. It has been ok to visit a few times, but for my spandex fix City of Heroes works so much better. At some point I should try out the content I have not treied out yet, but I have had difficulty building up enthusiasm to do so. Which is a shame perhaps.

Rift

A very hyped game in the early part of the year, which also is a well executed and polished game. I did avoid reading about the game consciously precisely because of all the hype and in late April/early May jumped in and tried the game. I liked many things with it, although I found the combat a bit annoying with the global cooldown timer and the skill trees which quickly cluttered up multiple hotbars. The soul system was nice, but I would have liked a different skill progression model within these souls.

Unfortunately for me, I signed up with a 6 month subscription. In June, after around 1  1/2 month of playing the game I quite quickly lost all interest in logging in and playing the game anymore. I had a brief attempt later in July to get back into the game, but could not muster up enough interest to keep playing. This was very similar to my play experience with LOTRO, which played out quite similar – although in that case I had pre-ordered and played in beta also. Lesson learned – do not sign up for a long payment period initially with a subscription-based fantasy game.

Star Legends

My only major visit into mobile MMO gaming and this on my Eee Pad – the screen is too small for my taste on a phone for these games. Was very fun to play for short periods of time, but after a while I lost interest. Still have the game installed, but rarely visit it any longer.

DC Universe Online

Bought this game for PS3 shortly after launch, primarily to see if there could finally be something MMOish to play on the household PS3 – which primarily is used to watch blu-ray movies. Dropped it quite quickly – not a DC fan and it felt like you had to be that to appreciate the content. The controls were really awkward to use also.

Reinstalled the game again on the PS3 after the “F2P” revamp and I thought the game was better now from a UI/control perspective – but could not find that much enthusiasm for the DC content. Maybe I will play it more – maybe.

Anarchy Online

My very first MMO. I jumped back into the game just prior to its 10th anniversary and I have had a pretty good time in the game, with some nice people. Still, the combat mechanics are quite different from what I appreciate nowadays, being too much auto-attack dependent. Funcom does not seem to spend much resources on the game currently, but have indicated that when the conversion to new engine for the game (same one that Age of Conan and The Secret World uses) is done _and_ they have done a profession revamp, they will do a relaunch effort for the game.

The graphics engine revamp is what mainly has been talked about, but I think the profession/combat revamp is just as important for the game, if they get it right. A new graphics engine can get people to come back or to try the game, but it is a profession gameplay revamp that may potentially keep them in the game. I have not played AO since I decided to focus on City of Heroes, but I hope to get back into the game at some point – hopefully Funcom gets to the point where the new engine and the revamp will be done during 2012.

Forsaken World

A quite polished fantasy/steampunk title from big Chinese MMO maker Perfect World. Same as Rift, this game is very well executed – just not something I could muster up continued interest for.

Black Prophecy

A SciFi space shooter kind of MMO. The initial PvE storyline part of the game had me hooked and the space combat is very well executed and fun. But the story part ended abruptly and then it was mission grinding and/or PvP. While some mission were quite enjoyable it became a bit too repetitive for my taste, so lost some interest here. Should get back into the game again at some point – if they have more of the story-oriented content that the game started with I would love to play that.

Star Wars Galaxies

Signed up for SWG again when I heard the announcement that they were going to shut down the game. Manged to play a bit in the game, primarily with some new characters I created. Really loved some parts which I remembered from the old days when i played the game, but also remembered why I ended up playing my particular combination of professions originally (ranger/creature handler) – that was one combination that did not feel grindy to me and which also supported scratching my exploration itch back then. It was not quite now.

I would have played the game longer, but a credit card related issue stopped my access to the game prematurely. I do not like the way SOE handled the shut down of my access; but at least my memory of the game is less coloured by what its current state was.

Gods & Heroes

Bought this when it was on sale from Steam, after a brief visit in beta. Looking at what Heatwave had eleased before Gods & Heroes I am not quite sure why they decided to with a traditional MMO route, perhaps someone thought they might be able to make some easy money on a game that was in beta when the original game company went belly-up. This was another of those game where I really could not muster up enough interest to keep playing (and paying).

City of Heroes

This is my main game and in the past few months my only game, pretty much. This part will be very brief here; most posts end up being about this game anyway. For good and bad, City of Heroes has evolved quite a bit over the years and at the same time been the same as well. The community aspect is important here, it is a game that feels like “home” to me more than any other MMO. It is the one game that I can be fairly sure to get a happy greeting from someone else when I log in and where most people I end up interacting with (friends or strangers) are for the most part friendly and nice to each other.

Other stuff, not gaming

A lot of other things has happened in this year, but not related to MMOs. In August I changed employer, after working for more than 12 years for an American software company.  I really liked my actual job there and the collegues I worked with, but it was also a position that required a lot of travelling to other parts of Europe, and a few times to Middle East. During very long periods I only saw my home area/town/country on weekends and impacted how I my non-work life was handled.

With my new employer I can do a similar job to what did before and enjoyed, but also pretty much work so I can get home every day, instead of staying in a hotel room.  It is a great company and a great group of new collegues.

My general fitness have had its ups and downs in recent years, but not stayed at a good level. In the past 11 months I have done a better job though with continued improvement and am in better shape now than a year ago, and also lost perhaps 17-18 kg. Still more to be done, but feels quite good.

DDO, City of Heroes and Black Prophecy…

May 18, 2011 Comments off

..are the MMO game forums that did something with the birthdate information I provided.

Space combat weekend

March 27, 2011 1 comment

This weekend my MMO gaming was pretty much focused on space combat  – Black Prophecy, Star Trek Online and Battlestar Galactica Online.  The “pretty much” part comes from that not all combat in Star Trek Online was in space 😉

Actually a large part of the playtime was with Black Prophecy – the game had now released (in Europe) since I last played it and all characters had been wiped, so it was time to start again. This I did not mind at all – the prologue that you go through at least once with a character is a great introduction to the universe and setting of Black Prophecy.

For our North American friends the game has just got into closed beta – not sure how they handle Asia and Australia and other parts of the world.

Read more…

2011 and SciFi MMOs

March 20, 2011 3 comments

Back in both 2008 and 2009 I wrote some posts about the following year perhaps being the year of SciFi MMOs. Schedules changed, games got cancelled etc.

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.

Crysalis space station (Black Prophecy)

  • 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.

Bye bye, Tyi NPC

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.

A glimpse of Black Prophecy

March 13, 2011 2 comments

In a recent Massively post about Gamigo, it was mentioned that Black Prophecy currently has a European open beta running.  This is a game for which I have had hopeful curiosity, tired disappointment and a few things in between, ever since I first heard of the game and wrote something about it.

Now almost 3 years later there was actually an opportunity to try it out. Start the game and as usual the first step is to create a character. The character creator, or perhaps rather the head creator, is fairly sophisticated and there is a lot of tweaking that can be done to your character’s head.

Character creation

All this tweaking is currently not that useful though – no-one will actually see you. As of now your character is your ship as well, there is no walking outside of the ship – not yet anyway.

Jumping in with your character pretty much gets you right away into the action. A cutscene sets the setting and you then start a gunner on a Sapiens ship helping to fight off an attack. It is pretty good and at the end of that tutorial session, you get promoted to become a pilot and fly your own ship.

Fighting off the Jadd Baran in tutorial

You start as a Sapiens. This is the current name for “normal” humans, which currently in the human society is considered second class citizens. The more prominent humans are instead from the two “super-human” factions, the Tyi or the Genides. The Tyi have enhanced themselves through cybernetic means, while the Genides are more into bio-engineering to improve themselves.

These two are the currently playable factions. However, after leaving the initial tuorial section you are still a regular Sapiens. There is a continued story here, which is part of a prologue that sets up the story in more detail.

This prologue is quite good and will continue to build up quite a story with a number of missions. At the end of the prologue you will get a choice to join a faction. After the first character has completed the prologue, later characters do not have to complete it again.

Gameplay is centered around various space stations; with the SPIRE station being the center during the prologue. At these space stations players can dock their ships, perform skill upgrades, craft, buy & sell (NPC) and some other activities. Mission are picked up either from designated NPC mission contacts, or from a general mission terminal at the station.  Transport to the area of the mission is then pretty much immediate – just select the area to go to. Many of the missions have their own instances for each player/team that plays them. However, some areas are also shared between players.

SPIRE space station

The space combat in Black Prophecy has a dogfight style to it; I have not been a big fan of such space combat in other games, but I must say that I quite enjoyed Black Prophecy here – it works quite well and is fun to play. As I have played I have noticed a couple of bugs; primarily some mission content which does not work as intended – sometimes redoing that mission worked fine for it, sometimes not.

Around level 5-6 (depending on how many side missions have been done in addition to the prologue missions) the prologue ends and the player chooses a faction.

As an old Earth & Beyond player, I get some flashbacks when I look at the factions in the game. I would not be surprised if the developers had some inspiration from that game. The Tyi has at least some visual similarities with the Progen in Earth & Beyond, while the Genides kind of fits with the Jenquai from Earth & Beyond – and for the 3rd one the Terran from E&B matches the Sapiens, although they were a bit more equal in Earth & Beyond.

I hte forums some people think it is a bit too buggy still to officially release it. Maybe the concern will be more valid as the levels are increased, but as far as I have played now it has been quite fun, and few it any bugs to consider.

This post is only a quick glimpse of the game and what I have seen so far is promising and fun.

Categories: Black Prophecy

So 2010 then…SciFi MMOs?

December 10, 2009 5 comments

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…

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.