Will We Ever Find A New Home?

There’s no shortage of new MMOs rushing out to meet us these days, it would seem. Neverwinter, Defiance, Firefall, and the list goes on.

But will any of them ever achieve permanence? Will the community of roaming MMO players ever settle on a single game as they did on WoW, so many years ago?

Syl’s not sure if they will – and she explores this new, wierd MMO malaise in a new article:

“If we accept this as the future of MMOs, what does it mean for the social factor of the genre? How will bonds be formed within a community of game “grazers” – will they shift to other social media, without specific games retaining their own dedicated community? Or will the experience of playing with and inside an established player base simply disappear?

There have always been MMO players happy to solo and mind their own business, no matter what games they play. And then there are those still looking for the social gaming experience, scrutinizing new games for grouping and guild mechanics. Only – social and cooperative game design matters very little when games can’t retain that player base which would rather be inter-railing between virtual worlds. It seems to me this issue matters a great deal more right now than social game design, great group content, guild incentives and whatnot.”

Read the rest of Launch Fever Detachment

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Catch Up Post: Many Cool Things

I’m a bit crunched at the moment working very hard on my latest film (starring People You’ve Probably Heard Of – more details soon), so here’s a catch-up of some of the very cool posts I haven’t managed to feature in full over the last week or so:

  • The Grumpy Elf offers an amusing look at all the fat-finger moments common in MMORPGs” I was mowing down mobs and tabbing from one to the next when I tabbed to one that was not in melee. Reaction was, shadowstep, problem was, it was not one of the mobs I was attacking, it was a bird flying by. Worse yet, it was a bird flying by that happened to be flying over the edge of a cliff. I went behind it, hit it, plummeted to my death.”
  • Stubborn writes a very interesting post indeed looking at the crutches games us to pursuade us to keep doing things that just aren’t fun“Warframe is a prime example. Each day you log in, you get a reward. The more days you log in in a row, the better the reward. The game is trying to form the habit of logging in with those extrinsic rewards.”
  • Doone considers how MMO communities form and develop their social contracts“I guess I’m wondering how games achieve just the right amount of dynamism while not allowing abusive players free reign. I agree that spontaneity is fun and exciting, but being abused certainly isn’t”
  • And Rades, erm, broke Wrathion – and documents the entire thing in pictures“I laughed even harder when it got EVEN WORSE, and a THIRD Wrathion showed up and joined in.”
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The New Bloggers Initiative: A Startling Success

Longer-term readers will remember last year’s New Blogger Initiative, an effort from Justin Olivetti, aka Syp, to encourage new bloggers to join the MMO community.

Well, it’s been a year – so how has the NBI turned out? Are many bloggers from it still going?

It turns out, as a number of bloggers marking the anniversary report, that the NBI was a sensational, spectacular success:

Congratulations to everyone who started blogging in the NBI 2012, and I look forward to reading your blogs for years to come.

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A Taxonomy Of Guild Members

You know that guy? Or that girl? In your guild?

Well, the chances are that if you spend enough time in the world of MMORPGs and pass through enough guilds, you’ll see their like again. And again, and again.

It’s ground that bloggers have covered before, but this week Shintar’s put together an entertaining summary of the Usual Suspects in so, so many MMORPG guilds, from her not inconsiderable MMO experience. From the Quiet Leader (which has been me at least once) to the Class Clown, I suspect most of these will be familiar to most of us…

The Quiet Wingman (or -woman)

Okay, so the laid-back leader may or may not be doing any actual work, but if they are not it’s because they can rely on their quiet wingman or -woman to do so. This person is probably an officer – but doesn’t have to be – and usually quiet during social gatherings, but they are always listening and taking note of what’s going on. They are the person the guild leader can go to if he needs help, and will often also serve as the guild website administrator. In short, they do all the boring jobs that nobody else can be bothered with, and for some strange reason they seem to enjoy it. The rest of the guild usually has some fondness for this person, but nothing close to actually appreciating all the work they do.

The Passionate Guy (or Girl)

The passionate guy (or girl) only ever wants what’s best for the guild – but unfortunately they frequently find themselves disagreeing with the leadership about what exactly that is. It’s not that they like to argue, but they are just so damn passionate about their opinions! Their frequent headbutting can get tiresome to the officers (though the rest of the guild secretly enjoys reading the long rants on the forum), but at least it keeps them on their toes and prevents them from becoming too apathetic. Properly directed, this guy or girl’s passion can be funnelled into making some very useful contributions to the guild, but if handled badly it will likely lead to drama and/or a ragequit.”

Read the rest of Guild Stereotypes

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Neverwinter MMO and City Of Steam impressions – Blog Roundup

Lots of new titles bubbling up or about to explode onto the MMO scene right now!

Here’s a quick round up of the reports bloggers have posted in the last week from new MMOs:

  • West Karana has posted continuing first impressions of Neverwinter after a few weeks“I’ve played Neverwinter for a couple of weeks, now, casually — and I still don’t feel I understand the game.”
  • Avatars Of Steel posts a first look at the steampunk MMO City Of Steam, finding it technically buggy but entertaining“The Unity Web Browser chugs, no doubt about it. I’m not sure it’s great on complexity. My fps was between 2-5, but the game was still playable by some miracle.
  • And Kaozz looks at both Neverwinter and City of Steam, finding both of them definitely worth continued interest“Very easy and painless, just make an account and go. If you’re looking for something fun and lighthearted, this seems a fantastic choice.”
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Woo for Wushu and more

Yep, it’s time for a Friday Evening Roundup! Everything from prettiness in LoTRO to an intriguing on-the-ground review of Age Of Wushu in our “stuff we couldn’t fit in the rest of the week” linkpost:

  • Julian at Kill Ten Rats has been playing Age Of Wushu, and finds it somewhat quirky, but very appealing“It’s not the best game there is, and it’s got many bad spots, but the good points outweigh the bad. Most definitely.”
  • It’s been a while since we featured any fantastic in-game screenshot “photography”, so here’s a particularly impressive shot from LoTRO
  • And Contains Moderate Peril offers some initial thoughts on the announcement of LoTRO’s new player council“It would appear that a lot of players have a different interpretation of exactly what the Council’s job is. A fact that has been exacerbated by the publication not only of the members forum names but their primary alt names and the server on which they reside. “
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Is Camelot Unchained The Last Gasp For The MMO Industry?

I imagine most of us would say “No”. But are we right?

As the Kickstarter campaign for Camelot Unchained – which at time of writing isn’t looking like it’ll succeed – enters its last few hours, Darren Henderson of OnRPG writes an impassioned editorial claiming nothing less than CU’s place as the MMO industry’s last, best hope:

“So tell me, does it make me a hero to put my money behind a project I truly believe in for my personal enjoyment? Not in any way. But if someone who doesn’t even want to play Camelot Unchained sees the bigger picture and throws a small donation behind it anyway… then something bigger than ourselves begins to occur. This game has the power to make a statement. To change everything. To bring back gaming communities the way they were known in the late 90s and early 2000s. A return to indie studios like the original Mythic Entertainment forged by 80s style game devs uniting to accomplish their vision of fun. The original Cryptic Studios formed by two guys that just “wanted to do an online role-playing game… with superheroes.” Risk takers like Origin Systems that will put their company name on the line for an untested experiment like Ultima just because a handful of developers knew they could make it work. CCP games that weren’t daunted when everyone said copying World of Warcraft was the only way to make it in the online world, and stuck to their SciFi guns until it paid off.

Or do you want to stare at shiny graphics and games offering a single innovation about as often as consoles release new generations. To continue staring at your forum signature stating you’re ‘waiting for: nothing.’ To endure the toxicity of MOBA communities rather than the camaraderie each of us older gamers have at one point felt in our online gaming history?”

Read the rest of Camelot Unchained: The Final Countdown For A Kickstarter And An Industry

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What Is Lag?

“I’ve got lag!” We all hate it, we all hate to say it – but do we understand it?

Maverick indie MMO designer Eric at Elder Game has been hearing that phrase from his players a lot lately – so this week, he’s put together a fascinating Field Guide To The Lag Monster. It’s aimed at his own game, obviously, but much of it’s equally applicable to any other MMO.

From CDN Lag to Graphics Lag to Chat Lag, if you ever wanted to know more about the beast that ruins your MMOs from time to time – or just wanted another peek inside the complexity of running and MMO – read on!

Monster Lag

Symptoms: You can pick stuff up off the ground just fine, and talk to NPCs, but when you try to fight a monster, they react sluggishly — possibly taking two or three hits to the face before they fight back. Your knockback attacks may also take a second before the monster starts flying backwards.

Cause: This happens because the physics sub-server gets bogged down. Each “zone” of the world has a program that makes the monsters fight and makes NPCs move around. If they get bogged down, things can’t move or fight well.

This is happening more than I like right now because I don’t have enough computers to run all the physics sub-servers, so they can get starved for CPU. I’ve ordered new hardware to fix this soon.”*

Read the rest of What Is Lag

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Should You Ever Play Neverwinter?

The latest contender on the ever-more-crowded fantasy MMORPG block is out – Neverwinter, based on 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons and from “Star Trek Online” developers Cryptic.

It’s another Free To Play MMO – but that doesn’t mean the time you’d spend on it is worthless. So, is it worth spending that time?

Apparently, yes.

  • Chris at Level Capped writes a favourable impressions post, saying that he can’t think of a reason not to play it“. It’s free. It’s got decades of IP behind it. It’s social (if you like that), and Cryptic does a stellar job of letting you know that you don’t need to follow the Golden Path every single time you log in.”
  • Aggronaut finds it very entertaining, even if it isn’t going to set the world on fire“For me it fills the same place that Guild Wars 2 does. It will never be my primary MMO, but it is a fun change from one of the more traditional experiences. “
  • And MMO Gamer Chick wasn’t expecting to find it very fun, but has been surprised both by her and her husband’s reaction to it” Every hour, I still get surprised when I stumble across new game mechanics or systems that I didn’t know existed, while continuing to be impressed by how much is already in place. “
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Will Camelot Unchained Come To Pass? And If Not, Why Not?

Kickstarter has launched a bunch of exciting new MMO experiments, from Pathfinder to Richard Garriott’s new project.

But one of the most talked-about Kickstarter projects so far, Camelot Unchained, is still short of its targets – and may never meet them.

Spinks takes an insightful look at the way that the Camelot Unchained campaign has gone so far, what they have promised, and why things haven’t gone as well as hoped:

“He had a very strong focus on how fun it will be to make your enemy suffer, watch your enemy suffer, lay traps and inhabit monsters to inflict misery on your opponent. ie. Have fun griefing the dungeon!

Now while there are plenty of players who will enjoy that, it is a sideshow. The main appeal for players in a permaworld with PvP is the opportunity to BUILD, not just to destroy. People want to know they can hold territory with their guild, stamp their authority on the landscape of the game, invest time and effort to be a part of the story of that gameworld that will go down in gamer history.

EVE gets this right. CU does not. Sure, “haha, that dude fell in the lava trap!” is good for a laugh in a Dungeon Keeper kind of way, but it isn’t the draw that being able to stake out your claim to a part of the world and defend it will be.”

Read the rest of Camelot, ’tis a silly place

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