Archive for MMO

Nothing is as Good as Your First

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , , , on 01/16/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

No, that’s not some reference to sex. I’m talking about that first true MMO love. Everyone in the MMO world came into it because of one game. Most of us end up playing that game for years, finally getting tired of it and try to move on to the next big thing. The problem is, that next MMO never really feels the same as the first. In fact, it just can’t quench that thirst like the first game could. So we move on and try another…and another…and another, eventually becoming MMO nomads.

I know I can’t be the only one that feels this way. Ever since I gave up Everquest about two years ago, I’ve been game hopping. Free to play, pay to play, or somewhere in the middle, it just doesn’t matter. I’ve never truly felt as satisfied as I did in EQ. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of games have come close, but it seems the more games I try, the less I’m able to actually stick with them on a consistent basis. All of my pondering on this subject came to a head today when some weird synapse in my brain shot off, and told me it would be a good idea to resubscribe to EQ.

That’s right. I took the plunge. I went crawling back to my ex with my tail between my legs. Or at least it felt that way. As I was downloading the latest patches, I was sort of regretting the decision. I couldn’t believe I’d done something that I had sworn off such a long time ago. That feeling was thrown quickly by the wayside, though, when that oh-so-familiar loading screen music started playing. Anyone who’s played EQ knows what I’m talking about. That tune is like a seductive mistress whispering poison into her victims’ ear. What a sweet melody it is.

I found myself in the throes of passi…err…battle for hours. What a triumphant return it was. Friends came out of the woodwork and welcomed me with open arms. We spent a great amount of time catching up and sharing stories…something that has NEVER happened to me in any other game I’ve played. I would be lucky to have even one person that I’ve met in WoW treat me with this kind of reception. This all goes back to my post from earlier this week about the dieing aspect of community and camaraderie in games. I’ve never had such meaningful friendships form in any other MMO. In EQ we relied on each other for day to day survival; there was no soloing to the level cap. I have to admit, the reception felt good…really good.  I literally had people sending me tells until I logged off for the evening.

After the glistening light started fading, and began snapping back to reality. I spent quite a few hours in game today and one thing was definitely apparant: the reasons that I had left in the first place were still relevant. The question I have to ask myself over the coming month as my sub winds down is “does the good outweigh the bad.” I can’t lie to myself and say I didn’t have a good time. That would be doing me a disservice. But with Rift coming out in March, and TOR later this year, am I really ready and willing to devote the time and effort it will take to get myself caught up to max level in EQ, and start raiding again in order to make my character truly relevant again gear-wise. These are things I have to think about, but I’m definitely heading to bed with a smile on my face tonight…it was like the almost like the first time all over again…umm…in Everquest that is…

Review: Perpetuum

Posted in Perpetuum, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on 01/13/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Over the past couple of months,  I have been spending a bit of time in the game Perpetuum, by Avatar Creations. For me, the game popped up out of obscurity. For a person who reads plenty of gaming blogs and new sites, it surprised me that I had never heard of it before. A few days before release, all of a sudden it was popping up everywhere on Twitter, and people were raving. I was fortunate enough at this time to be given an early access pass, and I’m glad I was.

It is apparent right from the start, and very important that I include this, that the biggest influence on Perpetuum is EVE Online. The game is essentially EVE on the ground, with Robots instead of Space Ships. You do not ever see your physical body and instead, you are one with your Mech. This is a great concept not seen very often in the MMO genre. The game feels almost like a spiritual successor to EVE.

Game Play

Like EVE,  the first aspect of the game that stuck out to me was that there wasn’t going to be much hand holding, which is something I actually like in my MMOs. In the age of “Easy-Mode” gaming it is a nice change of pace to have a challenge placed in front of me, especially one that makes me think and figure out a few concepts on my own. For anyone new to MMO gaming, this could be a major turn off, and is really the game’s only major flaw. If you’re a quick learner though, this won’t be much of a problem.

When creating your character, you have to decide what play style you want to go with. You have a choice of Combat (blowing things up), Diplomacy (Corporation (guild) leading and bargaining), and Industry (Farming materials and Crafting). You can even mix and match if you so choose, or you can focus all energy into one area and be weaker in others.

Progression

There is  no leveling system in Perpetuum. Let me repeat that: There is NO leveling system in Perpetuum. Instead, the game offers a unique skill system, very similar to EVE. The really neat part of how this works in Perpettum is that you gain skill points as long as you have an active subscription at one per minute. So no matter what, your character is always progressing, and there’s no need to set a skill queue or to make sure you log in to set your next skill to train. You can progress your skills at your leisure and your choosing. This system really opens up the game to completely original character builds, with no real “cookie-cutter” setups.

Combat

I’ll be honest. I’m not much of a crafter, so while I did do a bit of mining, I don’t have much to add to that discussion. Where I can chip in is the game’s combat.

Combat in Perpetuum is slow. Very slow. It can actually be a bit of a downer at first, but it is a part of the game I came to love over time. If you’ve played EVE at all, you know what I mean when I say you have to manage your power in order to be the most efficient in combat. Basically, your Mech has a limited power supply that drains with each use of a weapon or shield. This power regains over time, but it’s quite possible to become at a disadvantage if you overdue it too early on. This is too much of a problem early on, but I can assume that as the game progresses into the later stages, and the battles get bigger and longer, that this part of the game may get a bit tougher to manage and stay alive.

The combat is pretty fun once you get used to it. It is definitely not your button masher like most MMOs. The fights involve strategy and weapon management to complete, and this is something that really helps set Perpetuum apart from the rest. The only downside is that people who are used to fast paced action may want to look the other way.

PvP

PvP is the main driving force of Perpetuum. In fact, it’s one of the biggest parts of the gameplay. Again, this is just like EVE. If you’re in a high security sector, you’re pretty much safe. Once you start moving out to the lower security sectors you had better have the firepower to protect yourself, or some friends to come along and protect you. This is the one part of the game that you have to learn to live with. The world of Nia is an everchanging world and is completely player driven. There are people who love to PvP and they’re not going to let up just because you don’t like to. Also, there’s only one server so there’s no way to avoid this.

The Final Verdict

Overall, I had quite a bit of fun with my time in Perpetuum. The best part of the game being new is that if you like an open sandbox world — a la EVE Online –, this is a great game to get into right now. You would be starting at pretty much the beginning and other players wouldn’t have much of an advantage over you. The gameplay and systems that are in place are vastly different than almost all other MMOs on the market, giving Perpetuum a leg up on the competition, and really feeding the needs of those wanting something that doesn’t play like World of Warcraft. And if you’re a fan of EVE, Perpetuum is a game you’ll definitely want to check out! The world of Nia and the lore surrounding it is top knotch, and you can tell the developers really love their game. I look forward to seeing where this game goes in the future and how it continues to add innovation to the MMO genre.

I give Perpetuum a 4 out of 5.

The Lost Art of Community

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, WoW with tags , , , , , , , , , on 01/12/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

If there’s one thing I can say was EverQuest strongest asset, it was community building. I went into EQ knowing only one other person that played the game, and came out 10 years later with more friends than I can count. It was an odd side effect to playing a game. Before EverQuest I’d only really played Single Player games or played with friend on the same TV screen. Even the people who played things like Unreal Tournament or Half Life/Counter Strike didn’t exactly get to know each other. Yes, I know there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part that was the case.

EverQuest changed that paradigm of gaming for me and a plethora of others. See, the reason I feel that this was the case with EQ (and UO and DAoC), was that you really needed to have help to advance in the game. There were no handouts, and if you tried to go alone you wouldn’t get very far. The only way to truly level up and strengthen your character was with a group. Because of this you had to get to know your fellow Norrathians. For the longest time, and for the majority of my level, I can name 10-15 people whom I grouped with more than anyone else. These people quickly became my friends, and we ended up joining a guild together. To this day, I still keep in touch with most of them.

This whole feeling of unity and camaraderie is lost on the current generation of gamers. With the onset of World of Warcraft and other modern MMOs, online gaming has become more of a solo experience than it has a group experience. Even the higher end dungeons in games are more of a “Queue up, don’t talk, get your loot, and get out!” The whole “Brothers in Arms” feeling is gone. I really think this type of gameplay is killing the true experience of what a MMOG is supposed to be.

I’m not saying we need to bring back corpse runs, massive XP losses, or mob grinding for leveling. But something really has to be done to bring back the social aspect of these games. The closest things I’ve seen at all lately is one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to Rift. That would be the title aspect of the games, the Rifts. Trion has taken the initiative to create content that encourages teamwork early on in their game. Even so, I don’t know if it’s enough to really bring back that feeling of needing to group. While I hope it does, I think MMO developers need to come up with some sort of system in their games that encourages and rewards players to work together throughout the game, and not just in the raiding portion. Guilds and groups need to matter and feel a sense of accomplishment.

MMO gamers are starting to act more and more antisocial towards each other. It used to be said that games like EQ could help shy teens and young adults really break out of their shell and learn to integrate better into society. I wish I could find a link to the study, but there was one done at one point talking about this exact fact. As time has gone on, and games have become more and more solo friendly (or solo forced?), we are seeing a growth in players who fit into [NSFW] John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory.

Gamers already seem to get a bad wrap in the media. The stereotypes are attrocious and the growing asshat-ish attitude isn’t helping. I truly believe this all goes back to the shrinking art of community. Guilds don’t even mean as much today as they used to. It wasn’t abnormal to see guilds of 100+ players in Everquest and even early WoW. In fact, that was an average size guild. Everyone got to know each other as well. In the past few guilds I’ve been in in WoW, players rarely –if ever– communicated in chat. In fact, even most raids didn’t see much chatter. It was more “you better know the strats before you get to the fight or you’re going to be kicked,” and a lot less of “hey guys, let’s strategize and learn this fight!”

It really saddens me to sit back and look at what’s happened to the social aspect of MMOs. I really hope that some day we will at least move back in the right direction, and back to the true meaning of what MMO means. Until that happens, I feel we will continue to see a growing trend of anti-social and anti-teamwork behavior.

Writing on Gaming

Posted in Blogging, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , on 01/10/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Sometimes there’s just so much to write about I don’t know where to begin, or what topic to choose. This is my biggest problem when it comes to blogging. When I first started “Jmo’s Gaming Blog,” writing every day or two was something I didn’t have a lot of trouble doing. As time went on, though, I feel I started reading way too far into the “topics of the day” and really started writing less frequently. This started becoming a real hindrance for me. I love writing and I feel like I let myself down each day when I didn’t post something. As time went on though, I became more numb to the feeling. It took me by surprise after yesterdays post that it had actually been almost a whole year since I had updated my personal blog.

Now, I have been writing at MMOVoices and Vagary.tv, but I really feel like I failed by letting my own blog disappear into the nether. For that, I apologize to those that used to read this site regularly, and to myself for becoming so complacent. I feel that I really did a disservice to myself as a writer by not keeping up on a regular blogging schedule of sorts. I really have to thank Cindy and Gavin for helping set me back in the right direction with this week long “Blogging Bender.” It has really given me the desire to force myself to write on a schedule again, which is something I hope to keep up from this point forward.

It’s odd that I ever really did fall out of practice with how much I enjoy discussing the whole “gaming” world in general. When you think about it, it’s a very interesting and exciting place to be. There’s always something to talk about, and always some new bit of drama hitting the blog-o-sphere. In fact, even on weeks that we as bloggers and podcaster may complain that it’s been “slow on news”, we can always seem to find something to chat about. That’s because our hobby is an ever-changing, ever-evolving one. And no matter where anyone’s views may fall on a certain subject, and even how we may stick away from certain bloggers because of conflicting views, it’s rare that you’ll hear bloggers in our little niche of the internet speak truly ill of each other. It’s one of the few communities that I feel has a mutual respect for each other, even if we don’t always agree.

That’s one of the reasons that I feel MMOVoices actually took off the way it did. When Beau and Leala first started talking about it on Twitter, I was quick to jump aboard. The original plan was for it just to be an experiment in the wake of GAX folding, with maybe 20-30 members max. Now, just under a year and a half old, MMOV is working its way towards 400 members. It sounded like a great idea in the beginning, and it is really refreshing to see how it has grown. This goes back to my original point, and the one thing we all have in common: Gaming.

No matter how we may feel about Free to play, certain studios customer service, or features we’d like to see in the next big MMO, it all comes down to us enjoying a good game. That’s what makes our community stand out above the rest. You don’t find that kind of all around camaraderie in topics like politics or religion. In fact, it’s almost a sad fact that people agree more, or can at least agree to disagree more over such a topic like games, but will kill each other over religion. But this is a blog about gaming, so I won’t even go into my thoughts on that topic. Still, that speaks highly of our hobby.

That’s one of the biggest pulls to keep me writing. The feeling of being important, one of the group, and surrounded by friends at all times is something you can’t find anywhere else. Regardless of what someone may think about how a development studio does business, at the end of the day we’re all gamers. We come from all walks of life, different political and socio-economic backgrounds, but we can all agree on one thing: gaming rocks! Whether we write about gaming on blogs, talk about it on podcasts, or just play the games to have fun or even to escape some of the crappy situations we end up in in our day to day lives, we all embrace the same thing in the end. That is what sets our awesome community apart from all of the crap out there, and is what is my motivation to not only keep writing, but be involved constantly. I hope others feel the same way.