Showing posts with label Bioware. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bioware. Show all posts

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The BIG Star Wars The Old Republic post

The Old Republic

Keen mentioned on his blog that no one in the authorized press seems to be taking a stand with the partial lifting of the NDA for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Well Keen, let me step in here and muddy the waters.  Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the largest disaster in gaming history, but Bioware says I can’t talk about the details.
My original plan for this post was to take the official press impressions of the beta and review them. The whole "review the reviewers" and "read between the lines" type of criticism I like to get into. Unfortunately the hawks at Bioware were on my tweet to Keen in a heartbeat and to my astonishment, before looking into what I was actually going to post about, they informed me I wasn't allowed to talk. Of course I tweeted furiously that they have no say in whether I cover the press previews in a blog post.
In turn I was basically called a filthy NDA-breaking blogger who "didn't care". Sadly, I do care or well I did care.  Instead of getting into some petty "you're talking about the previews, but we know you're really talking about your beta testing" argument, I'm just not going to talk about the game. In fact, this is last post that will ever mention the title on this blog. It will be the Brett Favre of /r/nfl and henceforth be known as "the game that shall not be named".
As for my original, long-winded post about the game?  All you need to know is that the game is under tight NDA wraps with less than two months until launch.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wrath of Heroes is wrong, how I would do WAR Free 2 Play

I’ve tried my hand at thinking up a Free 2 Play (F2P) model for Warhammer Online (WAR) before, but I fell into the trap of making a model that was too confusing.  WAR COINS was a bad idea.  Bioware Mythic also has an idea for F2P WAR in the case of Wrath of Heroes (WoH).  Unfortunately, WoH heads in the wrong direction by making an entirely seperate game, so I'd like to take a few minutes to propose a new F2P model for WAR that would still be the same game we all wanted to love so dearly before having our dreams crushed.
One of my biggest problems with WAR has been the lack of content and action within the tier four RvR lakes (aka zones).  The lakes are more like deserts, devoid of content and people except for the oasis of an undefended keep.  The lack of content can't be fixed over night, but the lack of people certainly can.
Instead of building WoH, Bioware Mythic needs to be bringing the tier four Realm vs Realm (RvR) action to F2P.  Over night, populations in the RvR zones and scenarios would double (if not triple).  Undefended keeps would turn into knock out, drag out fights.  People would be interested and focused on RvR again.
And why would they be so locked onto RvR?  Because the F2P model would gate them from the PvE content. RvR zones and scenarios would be 100% F2P.  Players would start off with a rank 31 character that was restricted to travel only within the tier four RvR zones.  Through RvR they could level up to 40 and gain up to Realm Rank (RR) 20 (adjustable through testing).
That would not be the only change.  As it is, WAR's best gear lies within RvR gameplay.  In my model, the best gear would be pushed towards the PvE aspects of WAR.  Tier four Public Quests and the Land of the Dead would be where the good loot was to be had.  Access to the PvE zones would be available to subscribers willing to pay a monthly fee.  The gear would only be useable by those that are active subscribers or active within the last month (aka players get a one month grace period to use their gear after going strict F2P).
Other benefits of subscribing, which I am calling "becoming a Citizen of the Realm" include the ability to exceed realm rank 20, capital city access, increased experience and RP rates, and prestigous battlefield titles (basically, the F2P zergs will recognize who is a paying player when on the RvR battlefield).  All except the titles would be retainable when switching back to F2P (yes, thats basically a month subscription price to access the capital cities, including sieges).
Which seguays into the downsides of being a "member of the Free Companies", one of which is being able to help push zones towards a capital city siege, but not being able to participate in it.  Those within the Free Companies would also be restricted to to only one character slot, prevented from using PvE gear, recieve lower priority for scenario queuing, and gain experience and RP at the standard rate.
This approach achieves almost exactly what Wrath of Heroes is attempting, but with the benefit of still supporting the main WAR and providing a little flavor differentiation.  Also there is strong evidence that this is exactly what freeloaders would want out of a F2P WAR.  We only have to look at the current limitless trial for WAR where anyone can play up to the top of Empire's tier one for free for as long as they want.  WAR's Empire tier 1 is always bustling and the RvR zones and scenarios filled.  Why Mythic then abandons any of those poor souls who decide to subscribe to the barren wasteland that is tier two and three is anyone's guess, but after playing Wrath of Heroes a few hours, I'm not at all surprised.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What I bought in the Steam Holiday Sale 2010

Bioshock 2 - $10
Dragon Age: Ultimate Edition - $25 (Includes original, Awakening expansion, and all content packs)
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition - $5

The Secret of Monkey Island - $3.75

Total: $43.75
Christmas Cash: $50

Yay, I still have $6.25 left to spend on non-gaming items!  And damn it, how did I miss Puzzle Quest for $1.50!  Anyways, this is how I feel after Steam Sales:

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Bioware please tell me you are not serious; another SW:ToR video

Another day, another Star Wars: The Old Republic video:

Each new video that we get seems to be a 50/50 split of awesome and total crap. This video is no different. The dialogue is good. The characters look awesome (maybe a bit too spiky, but I can deal with that). However, the combat is so fucking terrible that I seriously hope its a joke from Bioware and that they are going to reveal a new combat system video at some point.

Not only is the combat terrible in this video (as it is in all videos for SW:ToR), but I have a couple other points to hit up:

1. When they reveal "the dungeon", we can see a bunch of static groups of enemies standing still waiting to be pulled. In other MMOs, this would be called "trash pulls". I would have no problem with this if Bioware wasn't trying to sell this as "epic" and "exciting" combat. I can't remember the last time I was excited by sitting in a dungeon pulling group after group of enemies.

2. The obvious "go here, do this, get X prize" quest structure. With all the talent and money Bioware is putting into this, I was hoping they were going to come up with something a little more interesting. I don't think we've seen a single quest or event video for SW:ToR that didn't have the same stale quest structure.

I was willing to give Bioware some credit due to their past games, but my patience has eroded.  I'm going to start getting very angry about SW:ToR unless Bioware gets their act together and either admits their combat isn't as exciting and epic as they label it or starts showing me how exciting and epic it can be.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Warhammer Online and Bioware K I SS I N G

Warhammer Online and Bioware in a tree, K I SS I N G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the expansion from Bioware.

"BioWare talks Warhammer Online's forthcoming expansions" is the title of an article over at Massively.
In a recent GDC 2010 interview with UGO, BioWare's Dr. Ray Muzyka said of Warhammer Online, "Right now it's [a] really profitable business unit within my group." Muzyka went on to say they've actually seen more people come into the game since enacting the free-to-play model on the game's earlier levels, and that he personally felt they were working.

In fact, by the sounds of it, Warhammer Online is due for some interesting announcements in the future. Another of Muzyka's comments on the title was, "We have new content planned and all kinds of cool expansions for it." We don't know how much more clear cut a message can be than that. And hey, it's good news! We're looking forward to our playable Skaven and Lizardmen, Mythic and BioWare.
I know Mythic and Bioware merged to create an "MMO group" within EA, but up until this point it was portrayed as though Mythic was responsible for Warhammer.  It is very strange to see Warhammer Online and Bioware mentioned in the same breath and have Bioware's talking head dictating where WAR is headed.

If Bioware is becoming more involved with the game, this may be the breath of fresh air that WAR needs.  Any expansion will have to rely on work from some of Bioware's development teams as the layoff train hit Mythic pretty hard.  With new developers, new ideas. But, new ideas need restraint.  We don't want another of the infamous "New Game Experience (NGE)" from Star Wars Galaxies all over again. 

Another question is whether the money-handlers behind the game will approve sweeping changes that may affect the bottom line in the slim hope of increasing it over the long term.  There aren't many success stories of MMOGs coming back from underwhelming launches.  Change is always met with resistance.

Now, in the past I've had my own ideas for changing WAR:
I would start the year by pulling a Chronicles of Spellborn and announce that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is 100% free to play. However, development has been frozen as the game is prepared to be launched as a Free 2 Play game supported by micro-transactions.
From the original quotes in the Massively article, the success of the free trial is touted.  Could this be a signal that more free 2 play is in WAR's future?  I would welcome the idea.  Even with Allods Online's cash shop debacle recently, I still like the fact that I can log in whenever I want and play for a few minutes.  I've thought several times about return to WAR, but have only been able to do so during a recent 10-day freebie.

I am interested to see where Bioware/Mythic/EA can take WAR.  At a minimum, it will serve as a case study of how Bioware's development practices can influence other projects.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dragon Age Respecs

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has posted a "hack" to go ahead and reset a character's settings in Dragon Age: Origins. Better yet is this mod that accomplishes the same thing:
Of note: using the toolset may fuck up your game. Instead, use the really well-done and non-buggy Raven respec mod: It refunds all talent/spell, skill and stat points, even taking into account those gained from a certain quest or from manuals.
But, here's my opinion. Why is this not a part of the basic game? Its 2009, haven't game developers learned that players hate to be locked down to choices that could potentially turn out terribly?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Helping Hands

News from Eurogamer: Mythic will help Bioware with Star Wars The Old Republic.
BioWare has told Eurogamer that Mythic Entertainment will "without a doubt" help out on Star Wars: The Old Republic, as there are "absolutely opportunities to share and learn" within the newly formed RPG/MMO group.
Immediately, I don't see any issues with this. There is no doubt that SW:ToR has a lot of grunt work to be done and a lot of unrelated processes that can be delegated to teams at Mythic. And vice versa for Mythic's next project.

I still hold optimism that this merger was done by EA to create better games and get them to market. EA has changed over the past year, consolidating and refocusing, so maybe this new MMO group has a chance in this new refreshed EA.

However, if EA's history with recently acquired studios is to be a lesson, Bioware is only a year or so away from its own "turbulence". Let's all hope Bioware has found a magical anti-venom to the poison that appears to be EA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sky IS Falling: Mythic and Bioware Merged By EA

Big news today, Mark Jacobs is leaving Mythic as EA merges Mythic with Bioware.
Today we have important news to share with the community. EA is restructuring its RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic and BioWare. This newly formed team will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Ray becomes Group General Manager of the new RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare’s other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Ray. BioWare’s studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Ray.

Mark Jacobs, current General Manager of Mythic will leave EA on June 23, 2009. We thank Mark for his contributions at Mythic and wish him the very best going forward. Mark played a major part in the success of Mythic with his contribution as General Manager and Lead Designer of WAR.

Mythic retains a strong team led by Rob who co-founded Mythic in 1995. Rob played a critical role in the development of Dark Age of Camelot. In his previous role as COO, he was responsible for all day-to-day management of the studio including all development, operations and support.

Please join us in celebrating the union of these two award-winning studios.
By the way, don't say I didn't say so. From my Predictions for 2009 post.
5. WAR will still be around by the end of 2009, but who remains around to develop it may be drastically different.
This should serve as further historical proof that EA is poison for any company or development studio that it consumes. Give Bioware a couple years to ferment and we'll be right back here.

May Star Wars: The Old Republic rest in pieces, broken and abused.