Archive for Blizzard

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Posted in Blogging with tags , , , , , , , on 01/19/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Fan made mods for games have always been a big part of the PC gaming market. The vast majority of these are made by players just like us, who spend days, weeks, and even months programming a mod that either enhances, or adds on to the current storyline. We see these mostly in Single Player RPGs like Oblivion or Fallout, but also in First Person Shooters like Counterstrike and Real-Time Strategy games like Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2.  In fact, there are a plethora of forums and websites devoted to the modding community. Oftentimes, these mods can end up being almost as popular as the game that they are attached to.

One of the most popular mods of all time is Defense of the Ancients, a Warcraft 3 mod that laid the groundwork for a little game known as League of Legends. If DotA hadn’t been made, LoL wouldn’t exist, nor would the upcoming DotA2. What strikes me odd about DotA, is that the team behind it has Blizzard’s full support and access on Battle.net to continually run a game modded with the DotA map and ruleset. Now, I shouldn’t find it weird at all, but I have to because of something that happened today.

Earlier this afternoon there was a video that went viral on the internet about an in-development mod to Starcraft 2 called “World of Starcraft.” This video — which I don’t want to post here since I’d likely be slapped with some sort of legal injunction — portrays an alpha version of a mod for Starcraft 2 that makes the game look and play like World of Warcraft, but with Starcraft races and classes. The video is nothing short of stunning, and gives a glimmer of hope to what a World or Universe of Starcraft game may actually play like. The best part of it all? Ryan Winzen, the creator, used ONLY the modding and map making tools that Blizzard included WITH (aka in the box) Starcraft 2. Nothing more, and nothing less. There was no reverse engineering or any sort of crooked dealings going on.

Blizzard didn’t seem to care. Within a couple of hours their Lawyers were delivering Cease and Desist letters to Ryan, telling him to stop all development on the mod, and to remove his videos and website. Why? They wouldn’t say. Just a “Stop now or else!” with no explaination whatsoever, and the threat of legal ramifications if the project continues.

Really Blizzard? Really?! YOU handed out the tools to get this done, and a fan of yours, who bought your game at full market value, used tools that YOU provided to make a mod for YOUR game that will help sell more copies, and make YOU more money. Ryan has not made a dime in all of his years of modding YOUR products and helping to bring YOU more customers and INCOME. Stories like these make me angry and less willing to ever spend money on a Blizzard (or Activision for that matter) product again. This wasn’t some hack job, or a third party cheating program. It was a mod made within the confines of the tools obtained legally with a copy of Starcraft 2. Ryan didn’t put them there, YOU DID, and gave the go ahead to the community to start modding. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you Blizzard, or the hand is likely to pull away and never come back. What a way to stick a knife into the backs of your biggest fans.

I needed to get that off my chest.

The problem is almost no is willing to stand up to Blizzard’s menagerie of lawyers, as those that have in the past have lost big time. It shouldn’t be that way in cases like this. A mod maker who is doing what the company tells them is OK, should not have to worry about legal prosecution. It’s bad form, and even worse business.

As much as I could go on and on about this, I will leave this post with the letter that Ryan Winzen himself wrote to Blizzard and posted on his forums. Even the comments left show a level of class in the player base that is much higher than that of the 800+ pound gorilla. Shame on Blizzard.

Ryan’s Thread entitled Blizzard Please Read“:

Dear Blizzard,

Thankyou for coming all this way in your nice suit to my crummy forum. I’m guessing you’re a little upset with me right now, or maybe you’re happy. I don’t know.

You created a tool that allowed us to do anything with your assets. You encouraged us to use your assets and were eager to see what we might come up with. You had to have seen this coming?

I know it’s hard to trust someone you’ve never met to piggyback on your own legacy. The brilliance of Starcraft combined with the multiplayer focus of World of Warcraft. You might be a little worried about your lore being butchered… or even more-so worried about a guy with no supervision tainting the name of your company with poor product.

Let me assure you that I am in no way shape or form going to deliver anything less than complete perfection. I’ve been following your work since Warcraft. I’ve worked with every editor you’ve put out since I was 13 years old.

I’m 25 now and I’ve never made a single penny from any of my artwork. I exist only to entertain people and make this world we live in a more colorful and exciting place. I’m not even a programmer. I hate programming. I’m a charcoal artist.

But ever since I was very young it has always been my dream in life to create an epic game for people to enjoy. I’m just trying to finally get my name out there and show people what I can do.

This market is so oversaturated right now and you guys get thousands of applicants every month. Most guys who do get a job working in video games right now are driven like slaves working with little creative control. But you know what… I’m a virgin in the industry. Because my talent has never tasted a penny, I remember the core of gaming. I remember the heart of gaming, and I know what people love.

AND I’M HERE TO DELIVER

If you have a problem with what I am doing… or would like to talk about it. I’m all ears. But please don’t send me some messenger with a cease and desist letter. I’m aware of the similiarities between this situation and FreeCraft.

This game holds possibilities for both of us. The custom maps sector is dying out, and less and less people are logging into SC2 NA. I truly believe this is a step in the right direction.

Furthermore, if you like this idea and would be willing to grant me a seal of approval to continue… that would be wonderful. I won’t let you down.

~Cordially, Ryan Winzen

Stay classy Ryan, and good luck!

Advertisements

What’s the Deal with Addons?

Posted in Gaming, MMO, MMORPG, Rift with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/11/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

A common topic over at the Rift forums is about the pros and cons of addons. Some people want certain ones in game, and others oppose them. Having played MMOs since EverQuest, I can definitely see the ups and downs of having addons and meters. Here are some of the major ones, and reasons that I feel they could be a blessing or a hindrance in the world of Telara:

Raid Helpers

Back in EverQuest, no one used to share strategies. It was up to the players and their guilds to figure out how to take down a boss mob. At the time, everything was open world and highly contested. There were no instances. If a boss was dead, you’d have to wait anywhere from 24 hours to a week to actually see it spawn again, and most likely the guild that took it down knew its spawn timer and were there waiting for it to rear its ugly head.

With the inception of instances, this practice slowly fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until very recently in EQ that people started giving up their secrets, but not long after raiding became popular in WoW, add-ons such as Deadly Boss Mods and BigWigs started popping up. Now, don’t get me wrong, wiping over and over again trying to get a boss strategy down sucks, but it’s a part of the game, and something I always found extremely fun. Once you finally figured it out, you could feel the sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately for those folks like me, the Raid Addons actually detract from the whole experience by basically holding your hand throughout the entire encounter, telling you move for move what to do.

For those that don’t have the time or the patience to figure out a strategy, or just want to kill the boss and move on to the next big thing, these programs are a God-Send. Seriously, who needs the countless wipes and repair fees when you can have someone else do all of the hard work and just tell you and your guild how it’s done. These mods helped streamline raiding, and made it more accessible to a majority of gamers.

While I fall into the first camp on this and find that these addons detract from the gameplay, most guild require them now and will kick members who do not have it installed and ready at the time of raiding. I’ve gotten used to using these types of mods because of raiding in WoW, but that added extra of figuring it out yourself is something I feel is being lost now-a-days.

 

DPS/Threat Meters

Everyone wants to perform their best, right? Well, that’s what these types of meters were designed for. If you don’t know, DPS stands for Damage Per Second. This is the amount of damage your character can put out over a period of time. If you play a DPS class such as a rogue or mage, this meter is a must have in modern MMOs. What plays in conjunction with this is a threat meter. It tells you how much aggro you’re drawing on the monsters you are facing, making sure that you don’t pull threat off of the tank. Rangers in EverQuest were notorious for out DPSing everyone else and drawing high amounts of threat, often resulting in their death or the complete wipe of the raid party.

That was part of the experience, though. You had to know how to manage your DPS and Threat so that you didn’t die and/or cause everyone else to die. And trust me, your guildmates would help keep you in check (or never let you live down the time you pulled the entire zone of Kael Drakkal on them). Ranger jokes aside, I’m very neutral on these type of addon. It’s a nice perk to have to know that you’re for sure pulling your weight, and also that you’re not going to have the boss giving you a black eye. On the other hand it is just another chance for your guildmates to belittle you if you’re not living up to their expectations, an attitude I wish could be wiped off of the face of MMOs as we know them.

Gear Score

Gear Score addons are the ultimate E-Peen meters. It used to be fun walking through town in an MMO and seeing the higher levels in their awesome gear. It looked cooler and usually had some kind of special effects. It gave you something to strive for. I remember plenty of times setting goals for my character based on seeing someone else in some awesome gear and thinking, “I want to be wearing that some day.” It just added to the adventure. It wasn’t a requirement though.

With Gear Score mods, games have turned from “Oooh, look at the pretty armor” to everyone else judging you on NOT having the armor. Now it’s more like “You’re not allowed to group with me until your addon says you have 10,000,000,000 Gear Score…N00B!” I honestly can’t stand it. People used to help each other get gear. You would go camp a mob for days on end together until everyone else in your group and/or guild got what they needed to move on together. Because of things like Gear Score guilds have become more exclusive instead of inclusive. If you don’t meet the Gear Score requirement, come back when you do. Guilds used to try and take on an encounter regardless of the members gear, and now you can’t raid unless you have the Uber Suit of Uberness +5.

If you can’t tell, this is the only addon that I loathe. I really feel that Gear Score has completely changed the face of the end game of MMOs. Grouping and Raiding is supposed to be about fun, exploration, and adventure, not about what level of gear you have. Am I saying that someone wearing starter rags should be dragged along on an end-game raid? Not by a long shot, but if someone has been working their character and trying their hardest, and is a good player, they should not be held back by an arbitrary number. A lot of times (and especially back in EQ) skill outweighs the level of gear you’re wearing. I really hope the Developers over at Trion keep this type of mod out of Rift.

Games like Peggle and Bejeweled

Game addons are the orginal addons. In fact, not a lot of people knew this, but if you typed /gems in EverQuest you got a Columns style game to play while you were waiting or meditating. This evolved further in WoW with Peggle and Bejeweled being added as free mods. Other spawned from this as well, such as TriviaBot that could get an entire Raid Force involved when recovering from a wipe.

The only downside to these in my eyes is the message “Healer01 has beaten their high score in Bejeweled,” during a raid or a dungeon. Usually this happens right as everyone is dieing. Bad healer, bad!

Auction House

Love it or hate it, auction house mods are some of the most popular. In game they allow you to keep track of your servers market, usually with up to date prices. If you’re an auction house junkie, or aspiring entrepreneur, these addons are for you. In fact, these are the first type of addons to make their way to smart phones so that players could keep up on their auctions while on the go. While some companies such as Icarus Studios don’t charge any extra to use the Fallen Earth App (outside of the $1.99 to buy it), businesses such as Blizzard choose to charge an extra $3-$5 per month to have access to the Auction House features.

This is another type of app that I’m neutral on. I’ve never been a big Auction House player. I don’t like to spend my time in game — or my time away from game when it comes to the apps — standing in one spot and cancelling and resubmitting auctions just so I can buy and resell things for a profit. I’d rather go out and earn my money the old fashioned way, but killing lots of evil creatures and stealing their bowels…er…*ahem*

I know that these are not the only Addons that we see in games today, but they are definitely the most widely used. Love them or hate them, they have become way too popular to ignore. While there are some that I hope see an untimely death, there are others that help enhance gameplay in ways that we didn’t think possible 10 years ago. That’s enough of my ramblings on the subject though. What do you all think? Do you enjoy Addons in games, or should they get put by the wayside? Which Addons do you love, and which do you hate? And which would you do away with if you could?

 

More Merchandising

Posted in Gaming, MMORPG, Retail, WoW with tags , , , , on 10/06/2008 by Jeremy (Jmo)

So, a few posts ago I talked about the new WoW Halloween costumes that had sprung up on the Web. It appears that not only those costumes, but a slew of other items to make a fanboi scream, will be available for purchase to those lucky enough to have made it through the ticket system snafu, and actually got their hands on tickets to BlizzCon.

You can view the entire list here.

Now, some of that even seems pretty cool to me. Like some of the T-Shirts, Book Sets, and even the Steins (not saying I would throw down that much money, but hey, they look awesome!) But some on the other hand are just plain WTF…

Wrath of the Lich King Cinematic Book: $50 — Do you watch a movie in the book?

World of Warcraft Cinematic 3-Poster Set: $40 — Again, for that price, I better be watching a damn cinematic on the posters…

BlizzCon Lunch Box: $30 — Two things…One: What adult carries a tin lunch box? Two: I’ll repeat myself…What adult carries a tin lunch box? –Definitely a collectors item only.

StarCraft 432 Piece Puzzle: $15 — Ok. I admit, I think I would actually do this….

World of Warcraft Comic Hardcover: $30 — Interesting Concept, but isn’t the idea of a Comic Book that it’s cheap and NOT hardcover?

StarCraft Board Game: $80 — Three Words…What The Fuck?! I can pick up RISK at my local target for $15…kkthx

World of Warcraft Adventure Board Game: $40 — See “StarCraft Board Game”

And last but not least:

Diablo III Stress Balls: $5 each — “Now even YOU can get your hands on Diablo’s Balls!”

Blizzard 2, MDY 0

Posted in Gaming, Legal, MMORPG, PC, WoW with tags , , , on 10/02/2008 by Jeremy (Jmo)

In the second big story to break in the Blizzard vs. MDY lawsuit, MDY is now expected to pay $6 million in damages. If you don’t know about the lawsuit, the basic rundown is as follows: MDY Industries created WoW Glider (now MMOGlider). Blizzard is claiming that Glider is an infringment on their Copyright of WoW, because the Glider makes a copy of WoW in your systems RAM as one way to circumvent Warden.

The major issue with this case is that it is the first of its kind. No other lawsuit of this type, and especially on this big of a scale, has ever made it to court, let alone with what appears to be a complete knockout on the part of the Plaintiff. The thing that disturbs me the most about this lawsuit is the potential can of worms that Blizzard is opening up. Great, they don’t like botters in their game, but because of that, they are now basically paying to have courts create laws against it.

I cannot see this lawsuit ending well. The worst part is, this is only going to hurt the consumers in the end. As it stands right now, you are allowed to make copies of your own games. I don’t understand how Blizzard’s argument even holds up due to this. I remember writing a few papers about the DMCA in college, and all articles I found about it stated how you could own copies of your own music, movies, and software. It makes no sense that copying a program into the RAM of your computer actually breaks this law. There’s no illegal distribution involved. And now, we have to worry even more about our country “policing” the internet.

On Blizzard’s behalf, you know they need the money…

If you’d like to read up more about the first part of the lawsuit, check out this link.

If you’d like to read the actual legal documents, check out this link (PDF).

Feel free to post your comments and views on the subject below.

WoW Costumes…

Posted in MMORPG, Retail, Uncategorized, WoW with tags , , , on 09/22/2008 by Jeremy (Jmo)

What will they think of next?

Wait…

Something’s missing…

Oh, I got it…

They’re missing a “Human” mask! (Come on, you KNOW someone would buy it!)

Just another way to milk more money out of consumers. Apparently Blizzard must be doing something right.