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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.

NCsoft consolidates Western operations, cuts development

September 11, 2008 2 comments

NCSoft seems to be in the position of merging their operations, creating an NC West with headquarters in Seattle. ArenaNet is located in the neighbourhood there, so I guess that shows how well the performance of the former US HQ in Austin has been received by the main HQ in South Korea.

ArenaNet’s Guild Wars have certainly been the most successful Western title for NCSoft, followed by City of Heroes/Villains.  The Lineage titles have not been doing so well and the more recent titles of Dungeon Runners and Tabula Rasa also have their share of problems. 

The development efforts on some future game in Austin was cancelled, and now NCSoft is also reducing staff in their UK office. This seems to include cancelling development of new titles that they had ramped up before – much in line with what NCSoft seems to have been doing in the US.

Since NCSoft has both cancelled some titles under development and also cancelled publication of titles developed outside NCSoft (e.g. Blackstar), they seem very much to put more focus on fewer titles. 

I can understand why they are doing this from a business perspective, it does makes sense. It is a bit too bad that their various efforts did not turn out well since they have at least had an innovative ambition here, trying new business models, new/different genres while most of the other major Western MMO companies mainly has been stuck in the fantasy-game-with-subscription-fee-model type of games.

I do hope that this also means that the separation of servers for US and EU sides in City of Heroes/Villains will be gone soon. NCSoft has removed the previous arguments for keeping them separate. At least one shared pool of servers would be an improvement from now, even if they do not go all the way to a serverless set-up a la Guild Wars. But at least Cryptic contemplated that before

So I think this also means that the major titles we are going to see next from NCSoft will be Aion and Guild Wars 2 and that is about it for a foreseeable future. City of Heroes/Villains will get some more love. If Tabula Rasa manages to get some more subscribers they might still be around also, but they are not in a particularly good position now.

The name Garriott was also completely absent from the press releases surrounding this re-organisation. Interpret that as you want.

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.

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