Posts made in July, 2015

2015 midyear check-in: Still not a single great F2P MMO

Wildstar announcing it is moving to the minor leagues of the MMO world (F2P) is… something? Personally I have zero investment/interest in Wildstar, as I never saw the point of creating a ‘hardcore’ raiding MMO and then picking a hyper-cartoon artstyle and thinking more than a tiny population would remain interested. Those seem a bit contradictory, and anything bigger than “tiny niche product” for Wildstar was never going to happen anyway.

The only real surprise I guess is that Wildstar is going F2P later than ESO did, though I highly suspect the delay for Wildstar had more to do with resource limits, and console-release deadlines for ESO pushing it towards F2P faster-than-needed (and I’m not sure ESO wouldn’t have stayed sub if it was a PC-only title anyway).

But all of this does further reinforce my point about business models in the MMO genre; if you have a good game, it can be great if its sub, and no F2P MMO can be great. That Wildstar wasn’t great and is now moving down to F2P doesn’t change that. Nor does ESO, as ESO wasn’t great.

What was of interest when both games were announced with the sub model is that it gave both games a chance, at least in terms of the business model, to be great. No MMO that is under the F2P weight can ever be great. If an MMO tomorrow is announced, and part of that announcement is that it’s F2P, we know that, at best, it will be mediocre, with very good odds that it will be hotbar-selling garbage.

That’s just the upper limit of F2P. Always has been, and midway through 2015, nothing has changed. In 2015 the best and most successful MMOs are still sub MMOs (FFXIV, WoW, EVE). Saying the sub model is dead or outdated makes you sound like an ignorant fool at best, if not an outright idiot. What is almost-dead is the MMO genre itself, at least compared to days of old, with only a few studios still making MMOs that are anything above mediocre. But make no mistake; if you are one of those studios, the sub model is the one model that will allow you to truly create something great. That hasn’t changed in 2015. As always, lets revisit (repeat) in 2016, shall we?

 

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Legends of Eisenwald Review

A few days back I had written about whether Early Access on Steam was working or not, and today I want to give one example where it worked perfectly.

Legends of Eisenwald is a game that likely never gets made without Early Access. Its an RPG that plays somewhat like Heroes of Might and Magic, with perhaps the biggest difference being that you don’t start or even generally own a castle. The main focus is on your character and their story, rather than building a town and fighting just to clear the map.

As my friend Obmar put it, its also very German. There is a big emphasis on legends and tales, some of which are pure fluff text, while others are clues into how a quest can be completed. The writing isn’t bad (I’m very much enjoying the main story), but a lot of the names look like someone randomly smashed the keyboard until a 20+ character ‘word’ came out, and there are a lot of references to real-world folk tales that are mostly only known in Europe.

I think the biggest point of interest for me with Legends is just how different it plays from any other RPG. Again, its sorta like HoMM, but not really. Combat for example is on a grid, but movement isn’t limited by how far someone can travel, but rather restricted to the nearest target. In other words, if your infantry is standing next to an enemy, they have to attack that unit. If there are two units of equal distance from you, you can pick who to attack. On paper that sounds very simple, but once fights get larger it really creates some very tactical situations, and again feels different from other games.

Quests are another example of the game being familiar but different enough to be interesting. From talking to various NPCs around the map and in taverns or inns, you can pick up a good deal of side quests, and how to complete those side quests isn’t always obvious. Sometimes completion requires being at a certain spot at a certain time of day (the game has a nice night/day cycle), others require already having spoken to someone or having an item to open a dialog option, while sometimes you just need to discover a location on the map, and the only way to do that is to travel off the beaten path. You start knowing the major locations on a map, but the smaller ones must be discovered. There are no ‘!’ markers here, and the quest journal doesn’t hold your hand either.

I bought Legends a while ago (maybe over a year ago?), and back then it was fairly rough, with only the first few maps (chapters) available, quests that would bug out and cause you to restart, and graphics/sound/animations that, while they had potential, really weren’t great. Today, in its fully released form, Legends is solid. There are still some odd bits, like archers who shoot but no arrows come out, but I haven’t run into any bugs or broken quests, and the full campaign is in.

I think without Early Access and the funding it brought it, Legends doesn’t get finished. I certainly don’t think any major publisher would support it, so without Steam we never see it. And while I doubt it will be a major seller, I hope it sells enough to justify the effort, because it is both a unique and quality game in a sea of clones, rehashes, and titles that disappoint.

If you are a fan of RPG games, and are looking for something a bit different, pick up Legends of Eisenwald, it’s well worth your time and money.

 

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NEW PIRATE101 PRODUCER TALKS PVP, STORY, AND MORE

New Pirate101 producer Leah “Professor Falmea” Ruben has penned a new producer’s letter and posted it on the game’s website. In it, she details upcoming content additions like The Pirate’s Regatta, which will be on the test realm in short order.

She also spends a lot of time talking about Pirate101’s PvP, including the debut of ranked PvP and a new mode called Battle Royale. Finally, Ruben talks quality-of-life additions including a “speed me up switch” for combat and the possibility of continuing the game’s storyline. As of now, it’s only a possibility, as Ruben says that she “cannot make any definite promises about how or when.”

 

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ARCHEAGE 2.0 IS CLOSING THE VERSION GAP BETWEEN THE US AND KOREAN VERSIONS

It’s an undeniable fact that ArcheAge took a little while to arrive here on western shores, which means that the game’s big updates are all things that have already been released in its native Korea. But according to the latest producer’s letter, the gap is closing; the development team is planning to have the large-scale 2.0 update rolled out by the end of the summer, and the gap between the versions is expected to be almost nonexistent by the end of the year.

The producer’s letter also covers the game’s plan for server merges, including the planned opening of a new server for each “evolved” group that can only have new characters created upon it. This isn’t the final word on the procedure, just the current plan based upon internal development discussions. It’s a lengthy read, but all ArcheAge players should examine the letter closely to see where the game is and where it’s heading in the immediate future.

In other ArcheAge news, the North American client is finally getting submarines.

 

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New Membership Deals, Raids And Grandmaster Quest Heading To RuneScape’s World OF Gielinor

Summer’s off to a spectacular start for the inhabitants of Gilenor as today Jagex, developers of the award-winning free-to-play browser MMO RuneScape, announced a bevy of upcoming events, a limited time membership deal and some brand new quests.

Those fond of donning the fabled weapons of Gilenor will be delighted to hear of a new challenge of intergalactic proportions as the dreaded planet eater, Tuska, has invaded the lands. Officially the largest beast to ever grace the RuneScape world the Tuska is a deadly beast that attained godhood after inadvertently killing a deity, no easy feat. Tuska now rampages across space and time, ripping apart and consuming every planet in her path.

Those brave enough to face the challenges that Tuska provides will be rewarded well as a new World Eater armor set fills one of the many chests containing the unknown treasures should Tuska see defeat on the field of battle. Additionally players can also obtain a new ability, Tuska’s Wrath, cosmetic God Spear weapons, a brand new emote and a unique teleport animation unlock.

“The summer may be a time for some to jet off to sunnier climes, but there is no vacation for the denizens of RuneScape. Tuska is a clear and present danger to the future of Gielinor, which is why we’re asking players to put godly differences aside and unite against a common threat – the planet eater mustn’t win, at any cost. Beyond the threat from space, players will also experience Raids in RuneScape for the very first time, take part in the latest Grandmaster quest and, among the many other tasks and distractions, complete a heroic Fremennik quest. Plus, if you’re missing a day on the coast or the swimming pool to play, you can also take your hero to Lumbridge Crater, which has been turned into a beach for the summer!

 

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