It’s been a good week for interesting MMO-related article, about all topics and all games.
So good, in fact, that we’re having to hit you with another link roundup to get ’em all in!
From hidden bits in Pandaria to the closure of a much-beloved site, here we go:
A Casual Stroll To Mordor is closing its doors after 200 episodes of the podcast and countless blog articles. They’ve long been a fascinating, passionate and thoughtful addition to the community, and will be missed.
Read “CSM To End With Episode 200″ »
Syl takes a look at the exploration promised in upcoming “we want the WoW audience” MMO Wildstar, and explains why she feels like their exploration focus rather misses the point.
Read “Wildstar and why I don’t like the Explorer path” »
Syrco gives us a great tour of all the pop-culture easter eggs in Pandaria, from Game Of Thrones references to the Yellow Brick Road.
Read “Secrets Of Pandaria” »
Rixx Javix muses on why EVE players – or some EVE players, at least – feel the need to apologise so much for having lives outside of the game.
Read “A Culture Of Apologists” »
And Ophelie gives us a very straightforward, easy-to-follow introduction to stalking. Stalking top players on World Of Logs to improve your own play style in WoW, that is!
Read “How To Use World Of Logs To Spy On Pros” »
Enjoy the weekend!
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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:
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- 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. “
If you hadn’t heard, LoTRO’s developers Turbine are imitating EVE Online, and adding a new Player Council to give the developers direct feedback on improvements.
But will it work? Is the devil in the details? Will players be able to talk to the developers often enough and early enough to make a difference?
Veteran LoTRO blogger Doc Holliday took a look at the new proposals, and comes up with some very interesting points:
“On the positive side, there’s quite a bit of detail to the makeup and roles of the council. Also the timing seems good as they’ll be able to interact with the team pre-alpha which should be early enough to actually make changes. It also seems like the council will more or less be the funnel for the community to really focus attention to the areas Turbine needs to pay attention to. The size of the council (30 to 50 members) should certainly be good enough to get a good cross section of the community and also not overly task any single member.
However, I think the biggest issue will be the lack of feedback from the Council to the community. Again, this is another NDA protected avenue such that even though we’ll know who’s in the council, we still won’t be able to get an idea of what the council is actually doing.”
Read My Hopes For The New Turbine Player Council
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With City of Heroes and Glitch closing within a matter of weeks of each other, everyone’s worried. Is their favourite game on the endangered list? Are you about to hear that the MMO you’ve sunk years into has only months to live?
Well, if you play WoW, you’re probably safe. But everyone else is fair game.
Syp breaks this particular can of worms wide open with his piece entitled Five MMOs On The Endangered List –
“2. Warhammer Online
It pains me to say it, but I really don’t think WAR is long for this world. Mythic is helming a leaking ship with no apparent hope for its future. BioWare’s siphoned off several of its devs, DAoC is really old at this point and not going F2P, UO is even older, there aren’t any new titles in the works that we know about, and WAR feels like a game that they’d rather you not notice.
The fact that Mythic has outright said that it’s just not financially realistic to convert the game to F2P speaks volumes about its future. Then you add on the fact that the studio also said that its MOBA version of the game will probably never leave beta status because of a terribly small playerbase, and I just don’t see WAR pulling out of this tailspin. It was a great if flawed game in many ways, but there’s no hope left.”
Syp’s list is interesting, well-argued, and probably controversial. But it does mostly focus on niche or less successful games. So if you’re in one of the front-running titles, you’re probably safe?
Not so fast. Green Armadillo’s been looking hard at the flagship publisher of Free To Play games, Turbine, responsible for Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of The Rings Online. And he thinks that something at their core might be more rotten than it appears –
“Turbine’s major releases this year in both games have drawn fire for uncharacteristically high rates of show-stopping bugs, even after a high profile delay to this year’s Rohan launch. Prices have trended upward, with DDO’s latest high level adventure pack coming in at 750 Turbine Points, compared to 450 for most releases in 2010, and expansions (themselves a new thing to DDO) coming in at $50 for the cheapest DDO bundle that includes the new class and $70 for the LOTRO bundle that includes the game’s first bagspace increase since 2007. Turbine was quick to promote 2011’s Isengard expansion as the best-seller in the studio’s history, but I haven’t seen even such vague comments on either of this year’s releases.
Meanwhile, monetization is indeed on the rise in Middle Earth, with apparel mannequins displaying cosmetic outfits that initially appeared in the most remote, dangerous locations in the world, a $10 cosmetic purchase that lets Dwarves take off their shirts, and the joke hobby horse with its hypothetical $50 price tag. Meanwhile, it feels like buggy and unpopular systems – kill deed grinds, legendary item grinds, holiday festival grinds, etc – are being retained in part so that fixes for them can be saved for the cash shop.
None of these individually allows us to distinguish a for-profit company making reasonable efforts to increase revenue from a less favorable scenario in which the studio is struggling to maintain revenue as the short-term gains from the game’s front-loaded business model are translating into non-subscribers who no longer need to purchase much of anything. All of the above collectively, however, starts to suggest the less-cheery scenario.”
Green Armadillo’s post is, as usual, well-thought-out and backed up with solid facts and figures. And that’s what makes it so worrying.
In a world where as old and respected a game as CoH can be put out to pasture, and where even frontrunning developers might be hiding problems, are any of our games safe?
What do you think?
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A virtual hobby-horse for fifty REAL dollars? That’s the big news in LoTRO right now – but not the only news…
- Cosmetic LoTRO has started a very cool new project in LoTRO costuming – she’s creating every card of the Tarot as a LoTRO outfit – “The Fool is the very first card of the Tarot. It is numbered 0. The Fool, and the number 0, represent the unwritten page, the step into the unknown, innocence and youthful excitement. “
- Bernard Parsnip breaks down the Expense-O-Horse offering from the LoTRO store and believes it’s going to be less of a problem than players expect – “The net result is that you are very, very rarely going to see the hobby horse. There are a million other immersion-ruining aspects (#1 – other players’ behavior) that will impact your enjoyment of LOTRO more than the horse.”
- And Syp looks at the developer post that started the whole row, arguing that it was a terrible example of requesting feedback – ” I mean, okay, I get that the developers don’t just want to hear nerdrage that’s completely unproductive and just vile, but the whole post starts from the assumption that that is coming and conducts some sort of pre-emptive strike that hits everyone:”
So, $50 hobby-horse – mad, bad, sad or actually perfectly OK?
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It’s a quieter MMO than others in terms of blog posts, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on in Lord of the Rings Online. In this week’s roundup, we’ve got everything from massive charity events to a great look at whether the Riders of Rohan expansion has been a success:
- Big congratulations to the Casual Stroll To Mordor crew, whose Fellowship Walk charity event raised over $8,000 for Child’s Play – “I cannot say it enough. The LOTRO Community is simply amazing. Thank you to all who donated in all forms be it monetary, those who donated prizes and auctions, or in terms of your time to join us on the walks in-game.”
- Ravious praises the way that LoTRO’s storyline actually looks back at your past heroic deeds – ” I almost shed a tear at the thought that an NPC really seemed to notice that I had killed ten rats and stayed in their thoughts and prayers”
- Syp begs to be allowed to be less than heroic in LoTRO – although he does get a bit carried away at the end – ” I’d stop my questing once and for all, and establish my base of operations as I sought to take on Saruman, Sauron, and the Free Peoples in a no-holds cage match for the dominion of Middle-earth. I’d make my coat of arms a terrifying clown face and my army a hired band of unstoppable Hobbits and Dwarves.”
- And Roger at Contains Moderate Peril takes a detailed look over what he considers the good, the bad and the lazy of the expansion – ” By and large I am enjoying the new content which is written to an extremely high standard. It would seem even the most minor quest have an interesting back story to them”
Are you playing LoTRO right now? If so, how’s it going?
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We’re more about the words than the pictures here at MMO Melting Pot – but just occasionally, we’re suckers for some lovely images.
And over the last few days, several bloggers have posted fantastic, screenshot-heavy posts – so if you want your daily dose of Pretty, here you go!
Enjoyed these images? Please consider sharing them with fellow players!
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The new LoTRO expansion, Riders of Rohan, has arrived – and it’s mostly very well-received. But at the same time, it’s already started one controversy off, as the LoTRO cash shop gets the game in trouble once again…
- Ketani at Casual Stroll To Mordor rounds up the issues in what I shall henceforth dub “Warsteedgate” – the flap over Warsteed customisation prices – “However, as surprised as I was at my enjoyment of mounted combat, I was even more shocked by how little I’ve been able to enjoy the war-steed appearance system. The price tag attached to the color options for both steeds and their accessories has proved to be far more than I consider reasonable.”
- Lewis at Stynlan’s Musings writes a great summary of his experiences in the expansion so far – “The majority of Book 7 tells the tale of the breaking of the fellowship, usually through session play after uncovering evidence of what went on. All in all it is skillfully done, playing the roles of several characters in the ensuing chaos. “
- And whilst I linked to this post yesterday for the outfit, I didn’t realise that Cosmetic Lotro had also written a well-reasoned argument against the warsteed dye pricing from the perspective of a hardcore costumier – ” I have an above average passion for outfits and have always purchased all wardrobe options from the lotro store including many store exclusive cosmetics and some steeds, but the prices for these colour packs are far beyond my means and far beyond what I am willing to spend on a cosmetic system, regardless of my passion for it.”
Have you tried Rohan yet?
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And elsewhere in the MMORPG world, things are still very lively indeed. From positive feedback for RIFT from a very unexpected quarter to an EVE player saying “no thanks” to the tears of his foes, here’s the cream of this weekend’s crop:
- Random Average looks at the reasons he fights in EVE – and surprisingly, delicious tears aren’t amongst them – ” I wouldn’t have undocked if I didn’t accept some risk, and if I didn’t want the risk, I’d play Wizard101.”
- I don’t often link to awesome MMORPG in-game outfits, but when I do, I do it right – this one’s fantastic
- Who is running Syncaine’s blog, and what has he done with the real Syncaine? This weekend, he’s positively enthusiastic about a sneak peak he got of “themepark” game RIFT’s new expansion – “If themeparks are your thing, I’d say the way Trion handles Rift is how you’d want your themepark handled, and I’m actually curious to see just what players eventually do with the housing system. I think Rift players and general themepark fans will be very happy with Storm Legion, and the general direction Rift is moving in.”
- Shintar considers the lively atmosphere of SWTOR’s starting zones, and for the first time starts to think that F2P could be a good thing – ” Star Wars is an incredibly popular IP – the problem is that only a small fraction of those Star Wars fans are traditional MMO players. Maybe Bioware isn’t completely crazy with their reasoning that too many of them don’t want to pay a mandatory sub these days, when you can access so many online games and services for free.”
- And at the same time, Jason at Conveniently Placed Exhaust Port looks at the way that SWTOR’s F2P is being implemented, and believes EA is learning more from Farmville than other MMOs – “Based on what we know so far, it’s looking like EA trusts their players as much as a creepy uncle who just got out of prison for the second time. “
- Syp makes a great point about MMOs – that maybe they should be judged more on the extent to which they produce magical, brilliant moments of gameplay – “A good memorable moment, whether it’s a great story, a funny aside, something interesting another player does, or a spontaneous event, usually makes me far more affectionate toward a title than before.”
- And finally, A Ding World looks at how City of Heroes players are reacting to their game’s last days – “On the other hand there are people who just move on at this stage. Perhaps that works as a better closure, with all good memories and move on right away, now that the end has been given a specific time.”
What do you think? Are MMOs more than memorable moments? And is Alternate Universe Syncaine in charge over there?
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Past, present and future in MMOs today, as we look from the lessons dragons taught us (specifically, Onyxia) to the future for EVE Online – could it end up on a smartphone?
- The Nosy Gamer rounds up the latest MMORPG statistics – interesting and arguably quite unexpected stuff – “While the Xfire numbers are not reliable to tell how many players are playing a game, they are good for determining trends. The latest example is Tera, whose trend was diving toward the cellar. “
- Green Armadillo asks whether MMO players can be comparatively passive about developer missed promises because games essentially hold their social groups to ransom – “No matter how early or late, how buggy or how polished, everyone needs to buy the new content when it is released if they are to play together. “
- Big Bear Butt teaches his Cub another lesson, and this time it’s about the wonder and danger of dragons – “He wants things to be able to be reasoned out. He wants to be able to look at something, and to infer from visual cues what it may be able to do, and how to try and attack it safely and successfully. I have to say, Onyxia was designed magnificently with that in mind.”
- And Mat at Freebooted proposes a very interesting project – taking the world of EVE Online in all its complexity onto your smartphone – “Imagine, if you will, that you’ve just downloaded CCP’s new smartphone title New Eden Explorer. Rather than try to be a trimmed-down version of EVE, it approaches gameplay from the opposite direction whilst providing many of the tools found in existing EVE apps.”
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