What We’re Playing

It was time once again for my bi-monthly blogroll cleanup — making sure that the links still work and that the blogs in question are being updated (routine stuff, really — I’ll delete a link if the blog has been inactive for more than a month).  And as always, if you’re running a MMO blog that links here and I have been so unkind as to not reciprocate, let me know and I’ll rectify that ASAP.

Anyway, I decided that this time around, I’d have a bit of fun as I checked the links, and make a quick list of the current MMOs that each blogger is playing, to see if there were any interesting trends.  If a blogger is involved with more than one title, then I’d count them all.  So what did I find?

  • World of Warcraft – 21
  • Lord of the Rings Online – 12
  • EverQuest 2 – 7
  • Warhammer Online – 6
  • Fallen Earth – 6
  • Wizard101 – 3
  • Guild Wars – 3
  • EVE Online – 3
  • Allods Online – 2
  • Champions Online – 1
  • Darkfall – 1 (I’ll let you guess who that is)
  • Age of Conan – 1

Now, this list doesn’t cover everyone on the blogroll for various reasons — some weren’t very transparent as to what they were currently playing, some were multi-author sites, and so on.  But it’s a fair representation, I think, of what many “general MMO” bloggers are playing.

MMOs I Never Played… And Why

1236802798561In these dog days of summer, on the cusp — but not quite over the cuspiness — of new, major MMO releases, the message of the week in the blogosphere seems to be “let’s flee back to the joys of older, established MMORPGs!”  This is actually a recurring theme in the community, which I find endlessly entertaining — how flocks of bloggers suddenly, and almost without a solid reason, dive into a particular MMO and start talking it up for a couple weeks or so.

Earlier this year it was City of Heroes and LOTRO, now it’s EverQuest 2 (and to a lesser, and perhaps more personal extent, DDO).  As I’m not going to be tasting EQ2’s fruits right now — or at any point — I thought I’d go back and explain why I never played certain MMOs that seemed to be en vogue at the time.

  • Ultima Online – Why not UO, which holds an established place of honor as the breakout graphical MMO?  Mostly due to my ignorance of it in the late 90’s, plus a crappy computer and no depedable internet connection.
  • EverQuest – After graduating college, I had some college buddies get really, really into this, to the point where two of them were all but neglecting their newborn child because of it.  That story kind of scared me away.  Plus, by 2002 or so, I had heard about this upcoming World of Warcraft and was pretty sure that I wanted WoW to be my “first” fantasy MMO.
  • Asheron’s Call, Dark Age of Camelot – Also for the reasons above, coupled with dial-up internet that persisted until sometime in 2003 when I got cable.
  • EverQuest 2 – First of all, I simply cannot get past the ugly, offputting, uncanny valley avatars.  It’s a fistful of ugly.  Plus, it released around the time of WoW, and I was in the beta for that and knew that was the path I wanted to pursue.  Since then?  We’ve all heard the stories about how EQ2 has improved, but I’ve seen or heard nothing that’s grabbed me and hauled me bodily to SOE’s website for a trial.
  • Planetside – FPS… pass.  My reflexes are never good enough to compete on a competative level.
  • Star Wars Galaxies – I was close… SO close to getting this and playing it.  This was back in my dial-up days, and I remember buying the strategy guide for it just to read through and see if this would be my kind of game.  To this day I don’t know what kept me from going whole hog into it, but I think I sensed enough “red flags” — the overly complicated HAM bar, the lack of dedicated classes, what have you — to give me pause.  And considering NGE and all that, I’m glad I did.
  • Age of Conan – A lot of potential Warhammer gamers back in spring 2008 were lulled into trying AoC, mostly because of the delay and a need to have something “new” that summer.  Originally I was so on board with Conan it wasn’t funny, but the more I read about it, the less I cared.  The open beta/pre-launch fiasco they suffered sealed my decision.
  • Darkfall – Because I have good taste in games.

Quote of the Day

“But now, when Eurogamer makes the extraordinary move of commissioning a second review, and that review is fair, thoughtful and well reasoned (unlike most game reviews in this world), they still come out and call it biased.

I think, if anything, the evidence is now conclusive: the Darkfall community are entirely blinded by their own funk and, as a whole, are not to be trusted.

So, the rest of us in the real world can safely ignore them, and let them get back to their clumsy gank-fest. They love it. I love that they love it. But they’ve forfeited all right to tell any of us that we should love it.”

~ Trembling Hand

Darkfail Revisited

Because some dead horses are just too irresistable.  And because bloggers and game journalists have awesome resurrection powers.

With great power comes great responsibility… to drag this topic back through the mud.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

EUROGAMER’S DARKFALL RE-REVIEW (THE RE-REVIEWENING)

It  is the greatest piece of literature produced by Europe since Shakespeare.  And even that guy was accused by Tasos of only logging in two plays.

MMOmeter – June 10th

hax0r1I did this a while ago, and thought it should be a recurring feature — take the temperature of where I’m at in relation to current and upcoming MMOs.

HOT

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic – We’ve officially shifted into second gear in terms of excitement, info, hype and speculation about this title.  E3 was huge for TOR, blogs are springing up all over the place to talk about this title, and so far BioWare is rising to meet the (impossible) standards of Star Wars fans.
  • Champions Online – With the release delay to September 1, I’ve let my enthusiasm wane a little bit as I prepare to hunker down for a summer of waiting.  But everything points to an awesome fall full of superhero fun, and I can’t wait to roll my legion of champions.

WARM

  • Dungeons and Dragons Online – I never thought this would be on my list, at least until they declared that a core part of the game would become free to play (with an optional subscription and a RMT store).  Suddenly, I’m itching to get back into Turbine’s little MMO.  Will it be enough to save the title?  Let’s see…
  • LOTRO – Still playing, still enjoying, although certainly not at the compulsive levels that I have in this and other titles.  Getting to the Moria content is a long haul, especially for a part-time player.  Pleased that Turbine (unlike some companies) are revisiting and adding to low level content even as a bulk of players are at the end game.
  • Star Trek Online – Only because we’ve heard word that this’ll come out in early 2010, which means that next spring could be a fun time of giving this title a try.  But I really don’t think it’ll stand much of a chance against Star Wars, unless it’s either way better than I anticipate, or TOR is way worse.

LUKEWARM

  • Warhammer – I’ve since unsubscribed to the title that dominated over a year of my gaming attention, and while I wish it well (especially with their Land of the Dead gamble), I don’t see anything that’s going to entice me back into Mythic’s world.
  • Aion – Despite Snaffy’s enthusiasm over it, and despite its success overseas and reportedly smooth gameplay, Asian MMOs are not appealing to me, and there’s nothing here (other than perhaps flying combat) that screams “Must play me!”
  • Guild Wars – I’ve reinstalled this on my computer, but haven’t logged in once to give it another whirl.  Someday.  Perhaps.
  • City of Heroes – The architect system came out to huge amounts of praise, then huge amounts of exploits, then huge amounts of devs lowering the boom.  Would be interested in hearing about the expansion, but unless Champions is so horrible as to be repellant, I don’t think I’ll ever log into CoH again.
  • World of Warcraft – It’s got a lot of players, to be sure, but the buzz is almost non-existent on this 4-year-old title.  BlizzCon might do something to whip up the loyal fans, but with Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 and an unnamed MMO on its way, it’s not as though WoW is the only thing they want people interested in.

COLD

  • Darkfall – The more that some of the hardcore bloggers rave about it, the less I care.  If it’s your thing, great, but there’s nothing there for me.  And that company has set some kind of record for worst customer relations ever.
  • Free Realm – Tasted it and spat it back out.  Way too sugary, too unfocused and too kiddy for my appetite.

Quote of the Day

“Any public accusations on the forums accusing GMs or the company of any such activities will be removed, and everyone contributing in the thread will be banned from the forums. GM activity is always monitored by us.”

~ Tasos on the totalitarian regime around Darkfall

This quote, pulled from a larger post, boggles the mind.  Don’t complain, just trust that we monitor ourselves, or else we’ll ban you for suggesting that we are corrupt when we say we’re not?

City of Warhammer

Oh, it’s nothing bad, never you mind.  I just let my account expire as I was paying for it through a game card for two reasons: (1) I just bought a new laptop and am seriously strapped for cash this month, and (2) I want to focus heavily on Warhammer for the next couple weeks.  I might very well return to CoX in a month or two, but right now I’m getting ready for a baby and I barely have enough time to do everything I’d like to in Warhammer.

Speaking of which, the 1.2 patch came out yesterday (after a few hours’ worth of delays), and by all reports, it’s a smash hit.  Lots of very nice improvements to the UI and game — new party interface, new map features, mailbox improvements, new mount variations, rallying cry, crafting fixes, career tweaks — and the Bitter Rivals event promises to be fast, fun and furious, as people are stampeding for the right to roll a Slayer or Choppa a week early.  I wrote up a bunch of first impressions for the patch over at WAAAGH!, so if for some bizarre reason you read this blog but not that one… well, there it is.

I’m already tired of hearing about Darkfall, which is more or less turning out to be what I predicted.  Fun for a few, passable for most.

We haven’t heard much about Champions for the past week or so, and I’ve got an itch there that must be scratched.  So, Cryptic, scratch already!

Friday Quickies

Hm, Darkfall’s launched in perhaps one of the most stilted, weird launches in MMO history to many mixed reviews. Will anyone be surprised/disappointed when this settles down to a very niche space in the MMOsphere and ceases to be news in, oh, a month or so?

Speaking of that “niche” word… with the possible exception of WoW, aren’t all MMORPGs “niche”? It seems weird to me when people label various MMOs as niche even when they have a multi-hundred thousand subscriber base. Niche, to me, is less than 50K huddling on a server, feverishly stoking the fires to ward off extinction.

We’ve gotten more word about the much-awaited Dreamfall Chapters over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and it looks to be a bit of a mixed bag. The Longest Journey was, and still is, my all-time favorite adventure game, and Dreamfall wasn’t half bad either — although I was totally peeved when it ended on a huge (multiple) cliffhanger without bothering to resolve much of the story. I’m all for the game continuing, but even Ragnar Tørnquist doesn’t consider Dreamfall to be the official sequel to TLJ — that will go to the future, and so far unmade, The Longest Journey 2.

Someone asked if I’ll be doing a review of City of Heroes Architect system when it comes out… and the answer is: most definitely. I’m playing this title month-by-month right now, alternating nights with Warhammer Online, and it’s a weird feeling to play a MMO for the short term instead of the long. I know I’ll be leaving it within the year — perhaps within a couple months — but it’s still a great way to pass a couple hours when I don’t want to play a “deep” MMO, but just blast some crap with friends.

And as for WAR, patch 1.2 comes out next week, and with it the Bitter Rivals event and a new scenario (yay). They’re rolling out new rewards for the Recruit-a-Friend program, so if you’d like to try out WAR for free for 10 days, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up. I’d love to get me one of them doggie pets.