Monday, December 22, 2008

2009 Gaming Predictions

Since I fancy myself a pundit of games, it's that time of year to make predictions. "You're a pundit?!" you might exclaim? Well, I said I fancy myself a pundit. But since everyone else who's worked in the gaming industry seems to be doing it, I'll sheeple along and make my predictions:

1. BIizzard still dominates the MMO market
This is a gimme. Need I say more?

2. NetDevil's Jumpgate Evolution makes space MMO's cool again.
JGE, fueled by a lot of word of mouth and a heroic last minute marketing blitz, takes off like a...well.. spaceship. Sadly, while the game is sound, after the newness wears off, players will be sucked back into the WoW blackhole.

3. SOE will close Everquest.
I know, I'm a heretic for even suggesting it. But, with the economy the continueing into it's downward spiral, SOE will close down EQ to focus on EQ2.

4. Warhammer 40k announces it's website, complete with trailers, screen shots and concept art. Then vanishes.
Damn you economy!

and finally...

5. EA will actually have an original ground breaking game idea this year.
Even blind pigs find an acorn once in a while.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

SOE stole my childhood

I've been back in Norrath for a few weeks now, and let me just say, it's a whole new game. I'm sure this is probably old news to you guys, but I've not played in a while so it was interesting to see what new things SOE came up with. I played around with the Mercs a bit, and I found they're not a bad idea. Us casters (I play a dwarf cleric on Luclin) can have a hard time soloing. But with a tank in my pocket, it makes it easier to do something useful while waiting for groups, or when I just have an hour or two to kill while the twins are down for a nap.

The other night, I discovered something. I was in Crypt of Decay in a PUG doing my cleric deal. Toss a nuke, have a seat. Throw a heal, have a seat. It's habit. When I first started playing my cleric, mana management was supremely important. Sitting between casts ment you were regenning your mana, and you were only breaking that when you cast a spell. It also meant you paid *very* close attention to which spells you cast, and how they would affect your party. Some groups pulled so fast all you could do was pop off heals med back the mana, and barely have time to pop off another heal. It was fast paced, it was exciting, the xp flowed and the group felt alive and giddy.

Today, sitting between casts does *nothing*. You don't regen mana at an increased rate until 30 seconds (or something like that) after a fight. So if you need mana, you sit out a fight.

I think EQ just got dumbed down to the average WoW players level. WoW is a good game for what it is. It's pretty easy, and doesn't require you to really focus intenesly on it, like EQ *did*.

And now, Station Cash. One can buy XP potions.

SOE, you killed "My" EQ. All I'll ever have left is the memories.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In unrelated gaming news...

Since a picture is worth a thousand words....

<--- welcome to my company as of today....

Monday, November 24, 2008

We're no longer going up... just holding steady

Since the last crop of (what is now know as) AAA MMO's, it seems that we're treading water again. WoW is still the 800lb Gorilla in the corner that *everyone* is talking about, and I can't help but say that maybe WoW has become the Microsoft of MMO's. I'm quite sure I'll be shot soon for saying that. By all accounts AoC has fallen on it's face. WAR is gaining traction and moving on up.

Which leads me to a question that has been rattling around in my head all weekend:

Why is everyone trying to "beat" WoW? Should we be just trying to make games that:

A) Have a high fun factor
B) Look good.
C) Engage the mind
D) Foster a good community

Using it's subscribers and profit margin as evidence does have a High Fun Factor. Personally, I don't agree with this, but 30 ooglezillion players can't be wrong. I suppose it looks good. It's easily playable on lower end machines, which does lower it's entry barrier.

Personally, I think it falls flat on the last two. Again, I can't recall any MMO in recent memory that has really engaged my mind. I think the last one was EQ back when the "Vision" was all consuming.

As for the last criteria... some would say WoW does have a good community, it's just very fragmented. Do many smaller communities make up a larger community? I'd say yes it does, witness New York City with all of it's smaller burough and communites. But taken together they form the larger NYC.

Maybe that's an ingredient we're overlooking. Granted, I don't think it's the bread to hold the meatloaf together, but I think it might be the pickle relish on the hotdog that makes it just a bit more teasing to the mouth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Damn it

Tabula Rasa is closing. One of the few games I actually enjoyed. I think I might be the harbinger of death to a game. If I like it, it's sure to die.