SWTOR: Preferred accounts And Children

Star Wars: The Old Republic seems to be having something of a renaissance right now.

We’re seeing more people post about it, more people say positive things about it, and in general more “vibe” about the game than virtually any time since launch.

Here’s what the SWTOR crowd are talking about this week:

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WoW: non-quest adventuring, Connected Realms and more

With all the furore about EQNext, you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone had forgotten about WoW.

But that’s definitely not the case: with patch 5.4 just around the corner, discussion’s as lively as ever.

Here’s the pick of what the community has been talking about this week:

  • The Godmother highlights what seems to be a huge change in Blizzard’s thinking – their discussion of a growing emphasis on “non-quest adventuring” content.

    Read “Time Changes Everything” »

  • Matthew Rossi sounds the alarm over what he considers an unprecedented exodus of warrior players from the warrior class.

    Read “The Exodus” »

  • The Grumpy Elf is thinking again – and as usual, he’s likely to make you think too. This week, he’s wondering whether gear should drop from anywhere – not just specific mobs – and what effects that would have on the game.

    Read “What if: Gear Dropped From Anywhere” »

  • And Variant Avatar looks at the proposed Connected Realms – aka server merges – in WoW, and whether they’ll actually solve the problem.

    Read “Are Connected Realms the Answer to Population Issues in Warcraft?” »

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EQNext: Can The World Work and more

Everquest Next!

It’s no secret that everyone’s talking about it, thinking about it, and discussing it right now. I know it’s top of my “want to see” list.

So here’s the latest discussion from around the blogosphere:

  • Tobold looks at the history of games that have allowed players to modify the landscape, and proposes an answer to the question “could this possibly work?”.

    Read “It’s a small world after all” »

  • Milady has some worries about the way in which EQNext is proposing to approach story, from close personal encounters with villains to the looming shadow of tie-in books.

    Read “EQNext Lore Panel Analysis” »

  • Azuriel argues that technology or no technology, the only way “dynamic content” has ever worked in an MMO is when it was created by the players.

    Read “The Siren Call of Dynamism” »

  • And Rowan Blaze addresses Tobold’s point last week that the Real World doesn’t have levels – by providing examples of dozens of ways in which it does.

    Read “I Have Touched the Sky: No Levels?” »

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MMO Design: The Future Is Now!

We’re in the future, these days.

We’ve got working Virtual Reality, self-driving cars, we’re working on replicators – it really feels like the future is here today.

So, is it time to rethink some of our assumptions about MMORPGs? That’s what EQNext seems to be proposing – and these bloggers, in different ways, agree:

  • Flosch looks at the concept of “zones” in MMOs, and asks if, in 2013, they’re waaaay too “theme-park”?

    Read “Zones and Zone Lines ” »

  • Eric at Elder Game answers the question of whether it’s possible for a 2013 indie MMO to become a source of passive income – a self-sustaining “flywheel” business.

    Read “MMOs as Self-Sustaining Small Businesses ” »

  • Belghast asks whether now’s the right time for MMOs to stop losing content thanks to level creep, and instead to institute an Oblivion-style scaling system?

    Read “Evergreen Content ” »

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EQNext: No Tanks? No Trinity?

One of the hottest topics from the entire EQNext announcement so far has been the news that – like several games before them – EQNext is doing away with the Holy Trinity of Tank, Healer and DPS.

The argument is that EQNext’s advanced AI will completely remove the need for the tank/healer/dps combo, and furthermore that most people don’t like being forced into those roles.

What did the many bloggers watching the announcement think of all that? Read on to find out!

  • Rohan argues that whilst a more advanced AI can easily negate the Trinity, the problem is that it will also negate the spirit of the fantasy archetypes on which EQNext is based.

    Read “Revisiting The Trinity” »

  • Ald takes a look at the Trinity from a number of games, from EQNext to Final Fantasy XI, and argues in favour of a five-person Trinity: Tank + Healer + DPS + CC + Support.

    Read “Trinity!” »

  • Rowan Blaze points us to a well-known political figure’s views on the entire “EQNext And The Trinity” debate…

    Read “Godwin’s Law Strikes Everquest Next” »

  • And Belghast writes two fascinating posts on the topic – firstly, pointing out that many tanks actually LIKE tanking, and secondly, looking at the inspirations, archetypes, and role models of the tank…

    Read “No Love For Tanks” »

    Read “A Tank Is…” »

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EQNext: The Next Big Thing Roundup

So, Sony recently announced their next Everquest game. It sounds pretty cool – dynamic world AI, voxel-based landscapes, and –

Oh, you’ve heard about it already?

I’m really not sure when we last saw an announcement that has gotten the MMO community as excited as the EQNext reveal this weekend – and for good reason. The features they’re promising sound utterly revolutionary, and more importantly, at least reasonably achievable. I’m personally familiar with the kind of voxel-based landscape engine they’re using – it’s very doable for a next-gen game.

But will it actually work?

Let’s go to the phones – or, as the case may be, blogs:

What do you think? Is it as good as it looks?

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Friday Link Roundup: Kickstarter woes, Virtual Lives

Yep, it’s Friday again – and that means a round-up of other interesting links from the week!

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The Tower Of Azora, In 2005 And Today

Milady at Hypercriticism writes a fascinating post on a single, tiny facet of World of Warcraft that many ex- and current players will remember: the Tower of Azora.

She’s looking at how WoW’s game design has changed, and how, in particular, Blizzard’s world-building has changed.

What would the Tower of Azora had Blizzard decided to fully incorporate it in their Cataclysm remake? Milady attempts to answer that question in a post that’s thought-provoking whether you agree with her or not:

“If Blizzard had cataclysmed Azora, they would have had it explained out to passers-by, they would have stripped it naked for the player to stare and yawn, commodified it into a quest hub. No enchanting trainer at the top of it: what for? Every profession is now found in the capital. No more inconvenient trailing back and forth.

They ironed out Azeroth. Every thing that stood out as unique was pressed down upon the flat surface of convenience. In so doing they turned a world with its peaks and valleys into a two-dimensional print. Following the creed of balance they made everything equal: nothing harder or more desirable, nothing different. Enchanting, with its inaccessible trainers and excessive material expenditure, and its grindy furbolg reputation that granted a much-coveted recipe only a few obtained, and with it fame and clients. Then they made each class equal in what they could do, so that nobody was discriminated in the basis of being a paladin without crowd control. The saddest of these equanimities was the shadow priest that now just did raw dps. Tanking and healing styles were fused into one big blob.

This did not only affect the enjoyment of the gameplay – it also changed how players viewed the world. The shadow priest was more effective now that he could put out more damage, but he was no longer fulfilling a unique role, different from all the rest. He might as well be firing darkened fireballs. They ‘balanced’ the gameplay to the detriment of the world.

Read the rest of “The Tower Of Azora And EQNext” »

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SWTOR F2P: One Year Later, Has It Worked?

It’s almost a year since flagship MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic announced that it was going Free To Play.

So has it worked? Has it managed to save the game whilst keeping it playable?

Two old-school SWTOR bloggers, fans since before the F2P transition, share their thoughts on what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong:

  • Shintar thoroughly reviews her experience with the F2P transition, as someone who hated the idea initially, and finds that it hasn’t actually affected her play much – but that’s because she still pays for a subscription…

    Read “Random Free To Play Thoughts” »

  • And Njessi takes the topic point-by-point, finding that F2P has definitely negatively affected some things, like crafting, but that the core of the game remains the same.

    Read “One Year Later: Free To Play” »

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On WoW Loot

There’s been something of a mini-topic in the WoW community of late: loot, and how it has changed.

From the random, often badly-itemised, rare and inflexible items of Vanilla to today’s gear-normalised, class-tailored, individual, reforged loot drops, gear is one area where WoW has changed beyond recognition.

And these bloggers have been thinking about what that all means:

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