Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Predictions for 2009

1. The economy will not "collapse", but it isn't going to get better until the governments of the world leave it to the free market to correct itself.

2. The weak economy will encourage smaller, fiscally responsible game development projects. This will lead to a bunch of interesting stuff coming out in the MMO space, whether technically massively multiplayer or not is yet to be seen.

3. Even with number 2, subscription based MMOs will still be king of the revenue stream at the end of 2009. Thank World of Warcraft for giving MMO developers false hope everywhere.

4. World of Warcraft will not get a new expansion, but something will be announced. It will focus more on new hero classes, the Alliance vs Horde conflict, and high end raiding.

5. WAR will still be around by the end of 2009, but who remains around to develop it may be drastically different.

6. More MMOs will close their doors. The true sign of doom will be when SOE starts closing down some of its B-team living painfully on Station Pass.

7. Speaking of SOE. The doom and gloom continues as SOE continues to push RMT practices on its non-RMT games.

8. An MMO project will come out of left field this year and surprise us all. Scott Jennings may or may not be involved, but he’ll blog about it regardless.

9. The world will end if Diablo III and Starcraft II are both launched in 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Its that time of year where we all pull up our predictions for the past year and see how WRONG we were.

1. 2008 will be a year of announcements for MMOs. 38 studios, Bioware, Zenimax, Red 5, and many other studios will all announce their MMO projects. Some will come out of left field, while others will just confirm current rumors.

Alright, we know about Star Wars: The Old Republic from Bioware. That's about it.

2. 2008 will be a year of launches for delayed games. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Age of Conan, and Pirates of the Burning Sea will all finally launch. WAR will be the only big success in the group.

I got one correct at least. All three games launched, but the jury is out on whether WAR will be a success post-launch.

3. 2008 will NOT be a year for micro-transaction or RMT based games. RMT and micro-transactions will take another hit as WAR launches and proves the monthly subscription model is still king of the hill for revenue. RMT and micro-transactions will turn a profit, but only in accounting terms. The model will barely break-even in economic terms.

Not really sure where to place this one. I was right that RMT/micro-transactions still don't bring in a ton of revenue, but on the other hand, the games are fairly successful numbers wise. Wizards 101 launched this year with the micro-transaction model and is doing quite well. SOE is still forcing Everquest 1 & 2 players to be guinea pigs for the RMT model. Maple Story still has more players than World of Warcraft. So, financially great? No. Successful? Yes.

4. 2008 will be a year of web-games. Already popular web-games will continue to grow. New web-games will launch. None of them will challenge the revenue generation of monthly subscription or box sale titles. All will be susceptible to any sort of web 2.0 wrinkles.

Some big web games are out there from years prior, but nothing blockbuster this year. Maybe this will change in 2009 with Quake Live or whenever Metaplace roles out.

5. 2008 will not be a good year for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). SOE is closing out 2007 in grand fashion: developer scandals, buyout rumors, and reportedly falling subscriptions. Two of which, the buyout and falling subscriptions, have been denied repeatedly. Tack this onto SOE's shift in revenue models and 2008 doesn't look pretty. Grimwell, I await your response :)

SOE didn't fold, but it isn't apparent how well they did. Personally, any company that sanctions RMT in their previously not-RMT games is showing signs of desperation. I'll give myself a pass on this one.

6. 2008 will be a Dark year. Dark Age of Camelot will feel increasing pressure this year as WAR launches and replaces the Realm vs. Realm gameplay model with a newer and fresher version.

DAoC took a huge hit when WAR launched, but it looks like many players are back in DAoC, happily bashing each other's heads in. DAoC Origins is still in the works, showing that DAoC still has life left. However, Mythic is awfully quiet about Origins lately.

7. 2008 will be a Cold year. Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft's second expansion, will launch late in the year. It will be successful, but will fall short of the success of The Burning Crusade. China will not see the expansion until 2009.

I was wrong. It appears the Internets still loves World of Warcraft; Wrath of the Lich King breaking all sorts of sales records. The reviews so far are favorable and WotLK has lead to an increase to 11.5 million players. WoW will never cease to amaze me.

8. 2008 will be a year of MMO podcasting. MMO podcasting has picked up over the last couple of years, but 2008 will bring it into the limelight as more commercially driven entities enter the market. Unfortunately, popularity will remain in the hands of the "weekend warriors", not the commercially driven podcasts.

MMO Podcasting has taken off. Good MMO Podcasts are a dime-a-dozen and that's a good thing.

9. 2008 will be a year of lawyering. From the RIAA chasing grandmas with MP3s to IGE's potential criminal investigation, 2008 will be an unprecedented year for lawyers entering the online-circus. Expect to see some major court cases develop over the year, but don't expect them to finish before the year is out.

Actually, the big news of 2008 is that the RIAA has decided to stop suing their customers out of existence, instead favoring working with ISPs to block the sources of pirated materials.

10. 2008 will not be a good year for Gax-Online. This is a personal pick. The dog and pony show holding up Gax-Online will finally realize they have become what they've always chastised, sending them into a cataclysmic tailspin. Or, they'll sell out the second someone offers them half a donut and a cup'o'joe.

I don't care enough to bother looking to see if this disaster of a website is still running. The only people I know that were using the website, are no longer doing so and that is a WIN in my book.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Massively: Kicking WAR in the Balls since '08

Massively is at it again, kicking Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning in the nards.
In a recent article on Gamasutra, Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz discussed EA's disappointing performance of late, blaming the software giant's "inability to develop hit core-gamer console titles". This has led to him significantly lowering his estimates for their 2009 earnings. The analyst's reportings are fairly doom-and-gloom, but he did mention A New Hope for the company: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

EA acquired BioWare, the developers of SWTOR, back in October last year. Creutz is of the belief that EA has really messed up their console campaign this generation, and SWTOR could be the "best chance" they have to increase profitability -- that is, if it can hold its own against the reigning champ World of Warcraft. We have faith that BioWare will be able to bring out a quality MMO, and you couldn't ask for a better IP. It really all depends on how well the title will have to do to be of any use to EA -- obviously better than Warhammer Online, which did not even earn a mention in the analyst's report.
Well, not sure I can really blame Massively for including that info, but I still hold true that Massively is full of crap reporters. Get to the news, fuck the commentary on hard news, that's what comments are for.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Update: Epic Fail Mythic and Three Things to Keep Me Interested

Back in October, I had a rough time with Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR). I wanted to take some time to give an update to my two damning posts.

First, an update to Epic Fail Mythic. To start off, I have moved on to Tier 4 and transferred my characters from Averheim to Badlands.

On a good note, lairs are now re-itemized and most lair bosses drop some pretty phat loots. I have only done a couple of lairs since the changes and the loot was very rewarding for the difficulty of the encounters. Along with update lair loot, a lot of armor sets received updates and are now actually justifiable to use over random green gear.

AOE farm groups are a normal occurrence and dominate the field with a plethora of overpowered AOE crowd control skills. Compounding this issue are the massive zergs of players running around in Tier 4, ensuring every battle is a lesson in frustration instead of fun. Even with slight nerfs and fixes to the core AOE farm abilities, they are still overpowered. Mythic must remove these from the game completely or risk losing more players because of them.

Apothecary is still laughably bad, but since multiple server transfers have lead to a higher population on Badlands, basic crafting components are readily available making it a little less painful.

To end on a good note, RvR outside of scenarios rewards a lot better experience now and is almost viable as a leveling strategy. Combined with boosted leveling speed in Tier 3 and 4, Mythic may just save WAR as an RvR game.

Three Things to Keep Me Interested was the title of my second anger-filled post.

1. As stated above, magnet abilities such as Electromagnet or Chaotic Rift must be removed from the game or people will continue to quit. Electromagnet and Rift are AOE versions, but it is increasing becoming obvious that the single target versions such as the White Lion's fetch will need to be removed as well. They do not belong in this game.

2. The open-world RvR zones have received an update. Small grind meters, known as Open RvR Influence, have been added to encourage players to venture out and kill each other in open-world zones for epic shinnies. Unfortunately, Mythic still refuses to add anything meaningful to keep players engaged and active in the open-world RvR zones. The "live event quests" are a start, but are passive activities at best. Mythic needs to add real, meaningful, and active content to these zones.

3. Scenarios are still a source of grind. Mythic slowed down the worst scenarios, but they are still an issue. They still reward far too much experience for damage/healing instead of winning, a fatal flaw that will continue to make me question whether Mythic spent enough time thinking out the grand scheme of RvR in WAR. Fortunately, open-RvR rewards are significantly better and offer a viable side-attraction to scenarios.

Mythic is doing well with updates, but unfortunately it does show that WAR needed a few more months in the cooker. And don't let this post fool you, WAR's #1 problem is still end-game performance. It is still completely UNPLAYABLE, but Mythic is getting closer to a resolution. Then they might be able to move onto making the actual end-game combat something players can enjoy.

PS. Mythic, come Jan 20th, I am still canceling. WAR is far from a good game in it's current state.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The OLD Republic

Bioware has released the first gameplay video for Star Wars: The Old Republic, but unfortunately they say one thing and show another.

The developer interviews in the video talk about exciting, action-packed combat. Thirty seconds later, actual combat is shown from the game. Characters stand still, spam some abilities, hit some air, all while their intended target stands there and takes it; flailing limbs included.

I'm sorry Bioware, but for a first, this video sucks. Give us something that will make us believe this game won't just be a Star Wars wrapper over the cliche that is MMO combat. The OLD republic indeed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Anyone Honestly Surprised?

Imagine that, big-time exploiters ousted in EVE Online.
CCP Games has uncovered an exploit in Eve Online that survived in the game for 4 years and may have had a massive impact on the game and game economy. The exploit allowed player owned stations (POS) to generate massive amounts of resources without much work (basically, the game would automatically fill the station's storage silos overnight).
It just goes to show that no amount of economists or player councils can stop the scum of the MMO universe. I was kind of amazed that EVE escaped the massive player-banking scam not too long ago and I suspect the same will happen here. EVE players are just too blinded to realize CCP is the MMO equivalent of the Illinois government.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not A Good Time For Failing MMOs

Tabula Rasa is going the way of the dodo. Age of Conan may be following as well: Age of Conan Servers To Merge, Funcom Sees Layoffs.
Two ominous signs have come recently for Age of Conan fans; developer Funcom went through a round of layoffs, and they announced plans to merge some of the game's servers in order to maintain a "healthy" population. Despite this, Funcom has maintained that development will continue for both the PC version and the upcoming Xbox 360 version of the game, confident that Age of Conan won't follow Tabula Rasa into oblivion. A writer at Vox ex Machina doesn't share that view, pointing to several of the game's flaws as reasons why it didn't maintain the popularity it enjoyed at launch.

Tough economic times call for tough measures, but a little voice in the back of my head keeps telling me these games probably wouldn't survive even in the best of economic times. I wonder which game will be next...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Left 4 Dead: Boomer Tips and Tricks

I have started playing Left 4 Dead, Valve's new slaughter-the-zombie-hordes co-op shooter. It is a terrifyingly fun game to blow a few minutes on, whether playing against or alongside other players. The more I play, the more I feel like I am not using the Infected (zombies) classes very well, so I went in search of some tips.

I found a very detailed thread on the Boomer class over on the official Steam forums. I have saved a copy below:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sorry About the AFK

Sorry everyone about the silence lately here on this blog. I'm guessing most of my Constant Readers know the reasons why I am so quiet lately. Have no fear though, I have a big post coming up and I think the Internets will absolutely love it.