Breaking down Everquest Next: The Rallying Call

What if a successful settlement opens an awesome dungeon and within that dungeon is incredible loot. What do you think will happen when some servers have it and others do not?~J.A. Laraque

Everquest Next: The Rallying Call

There is going to be a ton of news about Everquest Next and by now most people even slightly interested in it has read what they game is going to consist of. In all the reading and questioning I have done the one thing I hear the most is how it is supposed to change everything. I guess I could just roll my eyes especially considering the failures Sony has put together over the last several years, but then again Everquest did originally change everything as far as MMO’s. So perhaps the better question is who are they changing it for?

The way I read it, it seems almost as if the aim is to bring back people who loved the original Everquest. You continually hear them talk about the groundbreaking changes in the original and how people enjoyed EQ2. Obviously they are going after disenfranchised World of Warcraft players as well, but is that the right move?

When I asked, are we what is wrong with MMO’s, I talked about the changes within us and how we are different than we were during EQ’s days. Now, even more time has passed by and the question is, how many of us are really looking for something so new and different we will feel like it is 1999 again?

Everquest Next

The Rallying Call

Right away critics broke down all the new ideas that EN is to offer. Now the idea around the rallying call is that a call will go out across the server and everyone can come together to build and defend a new location. So while this new settlement is being built there will be quests and attacks from various monsters and crafting that will need to be done. Now the idea is obviously taken from world events where something big happens and everyone is involved.

Let’s stop there and look at the original EQ. Many will have fond memories of the world events in EQ, but then again many people look back on EQ like they do their early 20’s often making it sound better than it was. I remember a baby dragon event where people disrupted it so badly that the GM stopped the even and left. I also remember another dragon event where one guy stole all the loot and nothing was done about it. If you were that one person or small group that got to be part of the event or got the loot it was fun. For everyone else it was a waste of time and a zone of lag.

Now in games like Guild Wars 2, you have various events where you take down a big monster with everyone in the area. Once the monster dies you get your own points for the encounter and loot to go with it. I found it could be fun, but you also could just run in there and hit the boss once or twice and get the points and loot and still, even with a ton of players there it still did not feel as epic as you expected it to be.

Will the rallying call change this? So when a rallying call goes out it lasts for two months so right away that is different from the world or zone events you are used to. When everything is said and done your world will be changed and from what we here there are many different outcomes based on what happens during those two months. As an example, if you allow too many attacks and there are delays your settlement will be permanently impacted and on a different sever it could be completely different.

So with Cataclysm much of World of Warcraft changed, but every server changed the same way. With EN, sever A should not look like sever B, at least in theory. Now right away the question is asked, how many possible outcomes could Sony put into a specific rallying call? Well, we don’t know and this goes to another point.

I remember after Saturday morning cartoons on WGN in Chicago there was a chance they would show either Soul Train or a G.I. Joe block of cartoons. Now full disclaimer I’m in my 30’s so back then I did not have any guide or knew what was coming up next. I just sat there waiting with anticipation and when a G.I. Joe cartoon came on I was in heaven, it was an awesome feeling.

That is what Sony is going for, that feeling of not knowing that keeps you playing. Also, since the world is permanently changed if you miss it then to bad, you were not there and cannot share in the stories. Now will this make you want to play more and be part of the change? Could it make people feel they missed out like when you opened the doors to AQ in WOW?

Obviously if we are talking about new gamers then it may not matter. New gamers tear up content even faster than we did back in the day and they have a much more robust internet to rely on for it. If they are looking at us old vets then are we really after that kind of experience? Do we want to wander around waiting for what is next or have our lives changed so much that we almost rather have a simple liner world so that it will make our real lives easier?

Now what about the risk? Remember risk vs. reward? That was what was said a lot in the past. Hardcore people wanted real risk in a game and WOW was too easy and it did not matter if you died or not. In EQ it was about losing EXP and finding your body, but honestly new gamers would not tolerate that and most vets cannot deal with that anymore.

Sony said settlements that are successful remain in the game forever, so what happens if you fail? Can you imagine the crying that will go out if you see videos of a successful settlement and you think it is really cool, but on your sever for whatever reason it failed? Would the risk vs. reward people find it cool that it was even possible to fail or will they be mad they have such “terrible players” that they could not even finish the settlement causing issues within that severs community?

You almost have to assume that failing a settlement cannot have that harsh of a penalty. Some people speculated that a settlement could lead to portal points or new dungeons or even races. I just don’t see Sony allowing a server to not have access to something other serves get. What if a successful settlement opens an awesome dungeon and within that dungeon is incredible loot. What do you think will happen when some servers have it and others do not?

I get the feeling either these settlements will not have the impact players are expecting or that there will be multiple settlements or ways so that everyone can access the same thing. It is one thing if a building is a bit different or a city looks different in the end based on failed or successful settlements, but there is no way I can see them making a failed settlement cause you to miss out on something potentially cool and game changing forever. If anything that could tear servers apart and cause people to leave “fail” severs.

So there are a lot of questions about how the rallying call could work. While some players look upon the idea with a smile and think about how someday they can say they helped build Halas or Freeport, I know there are others thinking about the consequences of failure and yes, even a few thinking of how they can grief the whole experience. Anyone that plays MMO’s knows a community can make or kill a game and sometimes more freedom and player control does not equal a fun gaming experience.

In future articles we will be talking more about EN’s new features and their possible impact and target base and we will keep searching for more info on rallying calls. This feature could be a giant turning point for the game. Let’s just hope it proves to be a positive for us gamers.

What’s next with Everquest Next

eq2 -frostfellhall

Everquest Next

You might not know it, but Everquest and Everquest 2 still has a thriving community and fan base. Even those of us who have moved on from EQ often remember it with fond memories (yes, even camping for rare spawns). With so many MMO’s that have promised to be the next big thing, but ended up falling on their face many of us wondered if Everquest Next would bring something new to the table or at least take us back to the days of gaming we loved.

At the most recent SOE Live convention SOE president, John Smedley talked about Everquest Next briefly in his keynote address:

“I have to be honest with you. We have completely blown up the design of EverQuest Next. For the last year and a half we have been working on something we are not ready to show. Why did we blow up the design? The design was evolutionary. It was EverQuest III. It was something that was slightly better that what had come before it. IT was slightly better. What we are building is something that we will be very proud to call EverQuest.

It will be the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed. The same exciting content delivered in a new way. Something you’ve never seen before. The MMO world has never seen before. We didn’t want more Kill 10 Rats quests. We didn’t want more of the same. If you look at the MMOs out there, they’re delivering the same content over and over again. So are we. We need to change that. When we released EverQuest, we changed the world. We want to do that again with a different type of game.

What I will commit to is, at the next Fan Faire, not only will you get to see it but you will get to touch it. Most of the EQNext devs are in this room. If you get them drunk enough they might tell you. They’re led by Dave Georgeson. Terry Michaels. Vets from EQ and EQ2. We are remaking Norrath unlike anything you’ve ever seen, but you’ll recognize it. I’m sorry we don’t have anything to show for it, but I wanted to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about it. Keep the faith.”

Now there is obviously the joke about SOE getting something right or bringing us something new that is good, but there is also a slight worry that a project was blown up and redesigned. Just think of when you hear that about a movie or television show, it doesn’t bode well does it?

I guess we will see. As far as the sandbox MMO idea, that is not really new, but it at least gives us an idea of the gameplay style. For those that don’t know or fully understand what a Sandbox mmo is, here is a pretty good explanation I stole from somewhere.

“A sandbox MMO is a game that drops you into a player driven world.  Players are given tools, and sand, and they get to make whatever they want with it.  Just like when you were a kid in your sandbox with a shovel and pail.  You didn’t have much fancy stuff, but you had fun.

A non-sandbox MMO has already made all the fun for you, there is no sand, it’s a playground or a “themepark”.  it’s not about you creating content, it’s about having fun with what the devs made.  Like when you used to climb around on the monkey bars or whatever.

Simple eh? Player driven vs dev driven.”

Now we are not 100% sure if EQ Next will be modeled exactly like this, but you get the idea. Also we can almost guess that it will go free to play from launch. Our best guess is that you will need to pay for the game and then not have a monthly subscription, but you can purchase items from a store in-game like Guild Wars 2.

So we will see what SOE shows us next year. We do know that Planetside 2 is set to launch on November 20th so that will keep us busy until we hear more EQ Next news.

Subscription MMO’s soon to be a thing of the past?

DDO Free-to-play

Is the writing on the wall that paying monthly for MMO’s is soon to be a thing of the past? When some of us started playing text based adventures the idea of paying by the minute for internet service was acceptable, but soon unlimited plans became the way of the land and everyone had to jump on board. Fast forward to the early days of Everquest, when the decision was made to raise the price of their monthly subscription. The player base revolted saying EQ would be done for if this move was made, but as how addiction works, we continued playing.

Perhaps that was a turning point, when these companies knew they could push their customers just far enough if their game was good/addictive enough to keep people from quitting. We learned with games such as Asheron’s Call 2, that if a game sucks people will run away, but we also learned that if a game is good enough one could make money without being number one.

When World of Warcraft exploded the common wisdom was that no other company would dethrone Blizzard anytime soon, but they could offer an alternative, just enough to make a profit. We saw a boom of new MMO’s show up with many I am sure you have never heard of. However, many of these MMO’s were turning a profit, enough to keep going and the industry thought things would level off.

guild-wars

When Guild Wars dumped the idea of monthly subscriptions, many people laughed at the idea. Even after the early failure of Everquest 2, most MMO’s were doing fine even in the large shadow cast by World of Warcraft. Not everyone was laughing because not only was Guild Wars a good game, but there was not a model that could be used that had already been used with many Asian MMO’s.

When we first saw a MMO go free-to-play it was thought that it meant a game was failing and in many cases that was true. Games like Age of Conan saw a mass exodus, but it was still salvageable so going free-to-play made sense. The same happened with Lord of the Rings, less players, but worth keeping up.

When Sony Online Entertainment launched the Everquest 2 free-to-play it became more common place to offer a subscription service alongside a free-to-play where you could sell additional perks and services. Not only did that extra revenue work for the free-to-play side, but for the subscription side as well.

Now seeing MMO’s go free-to-play alongside a subscription service is a normal occurrence. If the game is older, like City of Heroes it may bring in new blood. If the game is newer, like DC Universe Online it may give a dying game some new life. In SOE’s case if nothing else, they can convince their subscribers to go All Access to help pad their subscription numbers.

aoc_free-to-play

Even the MMO superpower World of Warcraft has seen its numbers drop sharply and not just people who stop logging in but keep their account active. Blizzard has been losing subscribers by the boatload and they are not just waiting for the next expansion, they want a new game. On the horizon, we have Old Republic. While it looks as if this game will be a hit so did DCUO.

There are many gamers from the early EQ days that consider themselves retired from MMO’s for a variety of reasons. Some of the newer gamers are burned out and they experienced an over saturation of MMO’s some good, some not so good, but the key was there were too many to subscribe to. Now many people are getting used to the free-to-play model and with W.O.W. perhaps beginning its slide down, the field may open up. Not to one dominate MMO, but a widening choice were you don’t have to slap down $50 plus $14.99 just to see if it makes it past the first month or not.

Studies show that if you charge ten bucks for a 15-episode television show, it may or may not sell well, but if you offer each episode for 99 cents, you will end up making more money in the long run. If you play a game for free and a one-time fee of five bucks gets you that new mount you will feel more inclined to buy it. American’s have run into debt because we don’t realize a three dollar cup of coffee three times a week is four hundred and sixty-eight dollars a year.

everquest 2 free to play

Only time will tell how free-to-play will change the MMO landscape. For those of us who can enjoy a game and walk away it may become a great opportunity to experience many new games. For those that have to have it all, it may start up a new debate about MMO addiction and how people go broke by purchasing a two-dollar sword here and a ten-dollar name change there. Think it cannot happen, look for the headlines on Second Life where people pay two hundred bucks a month for a virtual condo. Kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t think of this sooner.

 

A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far Far Away A World Came To An End


It fills me with great sadness to deliver this message to those of you who enjoyed the hell out of Star Wars Galaxies before it turned into a shade of its former glory, but SOE has decided to pull the plug.

Dear Star Wars Galaxies™ Community Member,

We write to you today to inform you that on December 15, 2011, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and LucasArts will end all services (MMO and Trading Card Game) for Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). The shutdown of SWG is a very difficult decision, but SOE and LucasArts have mutually agreed that the end of 2011 is the appropriate time to end the game.
We are extremely grateful to all of the SWG fans. We have had the rare opportunity to host one of the most dedicated and passionate online gaming communities and we truly appreciate the support we’ve received from each and every one of you over the course of the past eight years.

In recognition of your incredible loyalty, we are extending special Fan Appreciation offers to the current SWG community. We also plan to go out with a bang with a galaxy-ending in-game event in December and hope to see you all there. The details relating to these offers and events as well as the timeline and specifics regarding the discontinuation of the service, are provided below.
Again, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to our player community for making SWG one of the best online communities in gaming history.
Sincerely,
Sony Online Entertainment & LucasArts

The Fine Details:

Discontinuation of Services:
As of September 15, 2011, the SWG MMO and Trading Card Game will no longer be available for sale or subscription at both retail and all online digital retailers. All billing for active subscribers with accounts in good standing, except for Station Access subscribers, will end on October 15, 2011.

If you are an active subscriber in good standing as of September 15, 2011, then you can play for free for the final months. Players wishing to play through the end of the game and participate in the galaxy-ending event planned for the last week of live service in December will need to re-activate or join the game on or before September 15th. No new or reactivated accounts will be accepted after September 15, 2011.
As of today, June 24, 2011, we are discontinuing the 12, 6, and 3-month subscription plans, meaning these subscription options will no longer be offered for newly created SWG accounts. SWG subscribers who have prepaid six (6) or twelve (12)-month game time plans that extend their subscription period past October 15, 2011 will receive a pro-rated refund for any such pre-paid excess subscription payments*. Such refunds are expected to be issued within 90-days after the game ends.
In addition, we will be discontinuing the sale of all Star Wars Galaxies™ Trading Card Game (TCG) digital card packs as of today, June 24, 2011. Loot cards will not be redeemable in the SWG MMO after September 15, 2011. The TCG will continue to operate until the final service closure on December 15, 2011.

Galaxy-Ending Event – Be Part of this Historic Event
During the last week that SWG is available, we’re inviting the community to participate in a galaxy-ending event. We’re going to end with a bang and we want the final chapter of the galaxy to be written in part by the dedicated and passionate SWG community. Details will be announced at a later date.

Fan Appreciation Offers
We welcome those active SWG subscribers in good standing to play one or all of the below SOE massively-multiplayer online PC games at a fully-paid subscriber status (or “membership” status where relevant) at no cost between October 15, 2011 and December 31, 2011 (subject to the terms and conditions described below). To activate these special offers, use the same Station Account you use now to subscribe to SWG** and simply click on the game you would like to try to download the game software. We are offering the following SOE games: Free Realms®, Star Wars®: Clone Wars Adventures™, EverQuest®, EverQuest® II and DC Universe™ Online. The game software will all be made available for download on a link accessible from the StarWarsGalaxies.com web site beginning on October 15, 2011.

Cryptic Studio Has Moved On But Have Their Games?: Star Trek Edition


For those of you eagerly waiting for this review after the sudden ending of the previous portion of this two-part article, I apologize. I wasn’t having problems with time or just pure laziness. No, I had problems with how to word my feelings towards Star Trek Online and how best to give an honest review without completely belittling the game. I know, I know. You’re used to that kind of response from me but I decided to be a bit more delicate with how I explain the faults and pluses of STO.

So here goes…

It is laughable to think that Cryptic Studios thinks of STO as an MMORPG. While all the big boys in the room strut their stuff with content, gameplay, character growth, and easily defined instructions, Star Trek Online stumbles and fumbles around the room like a drunk teenage girl at a frat party. At the end of the night, the only ones with a grin on their faces are the real MMOs while STO is dabbing off semen from its face with wet naps.


Wow… I feel uncomfortable reading this. I’m going to just-

What could possess me to attack Star Trek Online in such an unrelenting manner? Is it because I could barely give the game a shot beyond level 4? Yes, it is! I got to level 11 in FF XIV and that game is the equivalent of dining on Indian food , beautiful to look at but horrible to digest. I have never been unable to hit at least level 10 in an MMORPG but Star Trek Online managed to prove me wrong.

That sounds horrible, Mr. Khan! Why was it so god awful?

That’s an easy question to answer, Little Timmy. The game’s initial tutorial manages to be not only fast paced but slow at the same time. There’s a ton of jargon thrown around that doesn’t make sense to begin with and there isn’t much of an explanation as to what any of it means. All I got from the tutorial was that I could shoot lasers and photon torpedoes when I’m in my ship and when I’m on a ground mission I can shoot laser beams and “backstab” the enemy when I attack from their blindside. There really isn’t a clear definition in the beginning what role your class plays or what kind of ships you are able to command. I was certain I was limited to Science Ships since I chose the Scientist profession but I later found out from a friend that I could pilot any ship. Oh, that’s fucking fantastic to know.


For those of you who enjoy looking at your character and face stomping the enemy while adoring how badass you made your Vulcan or Custom Alien, sorry to disappoint but the game is lacking in ground missions and you are spending most of your time viewing the ass tail of your ship. How engrossing! Yes, you can customize your ship but the differences aren’t that vast aside from size. The ship customization is as in-depth as the shape variations presented in a Lego Kit. Everything is a block except some are half a blocks! Whoop-dee-fucking-doo!

From a game with such an absorbing avatar customization, it’s a shame that you spend your time running slow naval circles around enemy space bandits. As far as I could grasp the tactic was to go half speed and adjust your acceleration and deceleration to complete this amazingly slow circle strafe around your enemy to knock out their shields and ass fuck them with photon torpedoes. Combat got repetitive quickly.

The game’s missions were probably the most bland I’ve ever seen in an MMO post 2006. “What was that, Ensign? There’s no one in the quadrant? I guess everything is… Oh my god! Space Bandits out of fucking nowhere!” That was as in depth as the missions got at level 4. They didn’t want to showcase more early on maybe because there wasn’t anything left to show.

The ground missions were probably the worst part about leveling. I should be excited to see my captain running about shooting bitches in the face and parachuting off planet sized drills like in the movie, right? Too bad! I was limited to picking up resources on a planet and randomly getting jumped by “Unknown villain #3” and then transporting back to the ship. Oh wait, I forgot. There were more options. I was able to go to a mining site to speak with a couple of diggers to see how they felt about their jobs and report back to their manager. Yup! They called in the space fleets special forces to settle a dispute about a broken holodeck in the break room.

"Come on, Team! Lets pick up some rocks!"

Now, I understand I have been harsh on the game and there is a reason for that. If STO were a free to play MMORPG, I would dress it with every accolade known in the universe. A free to play space RPG? Sign me up! Let me have fleeting moments of fun!

Unfortunately, the game isn’t F2P. It’s Pay to Play and it’s $15 a fucking month. This game has a huge pair of balls to even consider charging people. Cryptic was fortunate enough that people even purchased fucking the game. It has the depth of a game developed for a smart phone.

STO lacks the environment, quests, gameplay, and depth of games like World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and even City of Heroes. Quite a bold statement coming from a level 4 Lieutenant, right? That’s why I’m not saying for people to keep away from this game. Play it if you like, it’s your money. I personally don’t see the justification of this game being $15 a month. You’d probably find more fun in Runescape for a cheaper price.

Perfect Worlds purchased this title when they acquired Cryptic Studios. What potential they see in this hunk of shit I will never know. The game is an MMO-abomination and is better served on a free to play model or simply a box sale model like Guild Wars. Then and maybe then it would be worth the time it takes to patch and login. Until that unlikely day comes about, STO will remain uninstalled and far, far away from my computer.

EQ2 Has The Worst Players On Erf!


Everquest 2, you know I love you girl, but these fools that be playin’ you… damn girl. You are littered with them! Horrible, atrocious, vomit inducing players run amok on the fair lands of Norrath like ticks sucking on, well, their own suck!

Oh boy, here we go! Another biased opinion about a game and the one isolated event that brands an entire community. Go back to WoW, fag! Lolololololol

Shut up, baby doll. Daddy’s talking.

I have played many, many MMORPGs. The kind of person who would rather play solo than mingle with the masses is not how one would describe this guy right here, the Great Umar Khan. Nope. I like to get involved with the community. I like to remember names, experiences, and how well I match with certain people in a team based environment. 1999, fellas! No yearlong breaks from the genre. I’ve slutted my way into many a community with my impeccable social and gaming skills.

You come off as an asshole!

Bollocks, I say!

Back on topic, of all the games I’ve played, loved, and also “hit it and quit it”; Everquest 2 has some of the worst players in any MMORPG. Despite my feelings for EQ2, her only flaw in my eyes are the ones who entertain themselves on a daily basis with her company.

Warcraft has the worst players, you homo!

Quiet, you anti-Semite!

That doesn’t even-

Someone mentioned my name!

I’m not saying that all players in EQ2 are bad. Every game has bad players but EQ2’s players are in a league of their own. Bertoxxulous really outdid himself with his latest plague of stupid and unskillfulness that has infected the playerbase.

 

As a troubadour, should I be out DPSing the wizards? If your answer is a yes with a hint of implied inquiry in the tone then you should understand the absurd level of shock I had leveling my flamboyant bard on the Permafrost server. More often than none was I the top DPS of the group or only outdone by a Shadow Knight tank. Very few came close to my numbers unless I was in the rare group where someone wasn’t busy watching their kids.

House wives, why are they even allowed to be playing EQ2? Shouldn’t they be busy playing Sims and Farmville? They have no place in trying to understand parses and pie charts from ACT. They can barely grasp how a Chocolate Cow in Farmville produces Chocolate Milk. Here’s a hint. IT’S A FUCKING CHOCOLATE COW!

The skillfulness to push buttons in a certain order isn’t even as mind blowing as the level of stupidity that sums up the vastly growing amount of total shit tanks in the level 70 range. How stupid can they be? One occasion I remember better than the others would be of the tank I kept asking to repair. We were at The Estate of Unrest and this gallivanting Berserker of worldly renown (/sarcasm off) had destroyed armor. I don’t know if its because he tried to tank while using a 2handed weapon despite our pleads for mercy or his claims that he could tank Bugaboo notwithstanding numerous attempts ending with the monstrous haunt face planting our tank into an early grave but this underdeveloped Neanderthal stood out like a golden ring at the bottom of a clear riverbed. We were all in the voice chat channel and finally his slack jawed Midwest accent began to wear thin on my patience. Stupidity spewed forth from his mouth like shit from my asshole after eating at Chipotle. How he managed to even understand how to set up his headset astounds me to this day.

“Hey dude, your armor is broken. Go repair. We’ll wait for you.”

“WAH!”

“Multiple pieces are 0%. You can’t tank like that especially when you’re using a two-hander.”

“WAH!”

“Because your durability has gone down the drain. Just go repair. I’ll go with you. I can teleport us back.”

“WAH can’t I tank with a Two-Hander if my armor is broken? I don’t get WAH!”

“Are you fucking with me right now?”

I’m cutting the reiterated blabbering short but to sum it up, I eventually convinced him to go repair after 5-6 minutes.

God, this editorial is getting long and I hope you’re still with me because there is more!

The community in EQ2 believes it to be okay for people to go AFK during a dungeon crawl. I can’t even count with the fingers on my hands and toes on my feet how many times we had an AFK leecher in our group. If it’s a guy, there might be someone bringing up the occasional “lol is this guy coming back?” But Lord forbid if it’s a fucking woman, though! She will AFK the entire session or return right before the boss. She’ll join the fucking group and then say “Hey guys, I’m cooking dinner at the same time. Give me a second.” That second turns to minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, and days into eons! An exaggeration? Perhaps! But a bitch shouldn’t join a fucking group if she has something else to do! “Oh hey guys! What are we doing? Crushbone? Okay I’ll be the healer. By the way, I gotta drive to the corner market for a second! Don’t kick me :)”

Fuck! There are just so many other instances where this category of shit has happened to me in only EQ2 but I don’t think I can get into all of them with my trademark long winded bantering! Fuck it all to hell!

I know I could easily deny myself of these experiences if I only made my own group and wrote off some of these people with my own iron fist ruling. Trust me, I have! I don’t take shit when I’m group leader. I don’t like having my time wasted while someone is eating shit in real life. This is my break before real life kicks in and you’re ruining those precious few hours I have. There are just sometimes where it’s easier to join an already forming group than taking the reins into your own hands.

Some of you may not agree. You might feel that my little experiences are biased and that I must hate women, that I’m a fat virgin. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong. And maybe, just maybe, you’re a cum dumpster too! If that’s the case, EQ2 is the game for you.

The Unsurprising Incompetence of Sony


We all know what’s going on with Sony. For those of you who don’t know, you either don’t game or you live under a rock. The greatest hacking escapade of 2011 has left the company’s loyal consumers hanging on the sideline while they hope to the heavens that their credit card info hasn’t been sold to the highest bidder. If you haven’t cancelled your credit card, asked for a new number, or put out a fraud alert by now it’s best advised you do so now.

What I really wanted to get into with this article isn’t Sony’s time and time again ability to completely fuck up everything they touch. I want to know why anyone would even remain loyal to this colossal abortion of a company?

Because Microsoft is the devil, Umar!

Microsoft can be whatever you want to call it but Xbox Live has provided some of the best online multiplayer entertainment compared to their other console rivals. True, the Xbox live community is immature at best. Again, it is true, most of the games that come out for Xbox are also available on the PC but this isn’t just about comparing PSN to Xbox Live.

I don’t care about the other consoles. Disregard the Wii, Xbox, or the PC in this decision. Why should someone remain devoted to Sony games or devices? If you can’t get past that, you’re missing the point entirely.

What is the point then, you fat asshole?

The point is, as a customer, why should you remain with a company that can’t protect your CC information? Why remain with a company who has been so crippled by the attack they have yet to restart their service? Why remain with a company that markets with an asshat like Kevin Butler? Why remain with a company that barely has anything to show at E3 time and time again and when they do manage to reveal something it becomes an internet meme?

And this is just with their Playstation portion of the company. They recently announced and moved forward with the shutting down of all Sony Online Entertainment games due to this “intrusion”. That means games like Everquest 2, Everquest… and what other games would be affected by this? Didn’t they seize operations on a huge plethora of their games? I know they have DCUO but how many customers can you upset by bringing that game down? Their ten remaining customers? Big deal. If this assault doesn’t put the nail in the coffin for DCUO then its loyal subscribers are used to be being screwed over and over again.

For a company that is already struggling to breathe in the MMO market, this setback is going to draw more players to WoW, LOTRO, and/or Rift. How can they recoup their losses? Offer a free month for the month they’re already going to lose? Give away 700 Station Points?
Thanks for the piece of mind, Sony. I’ll enjoy these small tokens of your appreciation for my loyalty while some criminal abuses the shit out of my credit.

Face it, loyal Sony fanboys. You’re on the Titantic and you can get off the ship and survive or freeze to death in the piercing icy waters of Hell. You aren’t Rose. No one wants to draw you naked. You won’t live through this.

I know a couple of people who are still riding on Sony’s cock. To them I say you’re a complete moron. Enjoy lubing up your ass with olive oil while this company and its attackers continue to fuck you from behind.

Now I want to hear from you, the reader. I want to know why on God’s green and polluted Earth would you want to stay with Sony?

Rift Q and A

Rift Logo

Unless you have been underground or on another planet you have undoubtedly heard of the latest MMO that is taking gamers by storm. Rift launched a few weeks ago offering gamers massive dynamic battles, the ability to build your own class and a Pvp combat system unlike any other. A lot of the Obsolete Game staff have been playing this game and slowing down our productivity, but it is totally worth it. We recently had a chance to talk with Scott Hartsman, Executive Producer for Rift about the game and the future of MMO’s.

Will you offer end game content at the time of release and if so can you tell us a bit about it?

Scott Hartsman: These days a game can’t be called AAA unless it has both advancement content as well as a healthy end-game.  The trick is finding the right balance between time spent leveling up and everything that comes later.

Once you turn level 50, there’s two new group instances waiting for you, then two tiers of expert modes for all the instances in the game to date (11 instances) which unlock new bosses and areas and advance the instance’s story.

There are also level 50 zone events in the high level zones (and more will be added constantly).  Initially, one 20-player raid instance has been released (with more coming over time).  There are crafting recipes to continue to collect.  Artifact collections to continue completing.  Achievements to obtain.  Rare crafting recipes to be discovered. Then there’s the level 50 PvP warfront (The Battle for Port Scion), the PvP Prestige leveling system, and so on.

What is your plan for rolling out content patches big or small?

Scott Hartsman: A week after launch, we released the first four of the 10 man raid rift encounters.

Our major update schedule (approximately every 4-8 weeks) contains new zone events, full world events that last for days, new encounters, entire new types of content, as well as entirely new zones and instances, and of course constant feature addition and refinement.

We’re doing our best to make sure that there’s always a good reason to come back and see what’s new.

Are you afraid of cookie cutter builds that can end up plaguing the game?

Scott Hartsman: We’re always keeping an eye on it, but so far it’s not a big concern.  Different builds have different strengths and the spread we’re seeing is very encouraging.  Our system is built more around the idea of bringing the player, not bringing the perfect spec.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 1

When creating a MMO even if you have the lore and a vision in place there must be some things you look to add, take away or modify from other MMO’s or games, was that the case with members of the Rift team and if so can you tell us about that?

Scott Hartsman: For us it was mostly about making sure we had enough ways to express the story beyond having interminable walls of text.  Our event content became a great way to introduce notable characters and give them a personality.  We did evaluate our use of voice toward the end, and added enough to give the characters flavor, without over-voicing everything.

What kind of PvP mechanics do they have in mind for servers where the population is unbalanced and a faction needs a leg up to compete?

Scott Hartsman: Our PvP isn’t really about having to have perfect population balance at the shard level.  If we get into more mechanics that do require balance in the shared world, we do have a few ideas for ways we’d go about combating that. 🙂

Your ads mention that the players “are not in Azeroth” anymore. Beyond that, what are some of the differences someone may find in a game like Telara environment-wise?

Scott Hartsman: In terms of the environment, the biggest, most obvious evolution is the world full of event content of all sizes.

“Events” in our system range from a single NPC doing something out of the ordinary, to public events like Rifts and Invasions aimed at solo and group players, to massive full zone and world events where hundreds of people are teaming up in multiple raids to defend the world.

It brings a level of excitement and urgency that I’d be hard pressed to compare to what’s around in any other MMO.  The dynamic events are the main idea – The static content and quests are the backdrop where the events take place.  Flipping the idea of game content around like that takes a bit of time for some people to wrap their heads around, but once they do, they tend to have a hard time imagining going back to a game where they’re not always happening.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 2

For a startup company, you guys are pulling out the big guns in regards to advertising. Not many MMO companies take this approach. What made you decide to televise commercials for the game?

Scott Hartsman: We genuinely believe that we have a pretty great game here.  Throughout all of our betas (through game metrics, retention, polling, you name it), we learned that people thought so as well.

All of our tests proved that the more people who tried it, the more people who walked away with a positive impression of it.  Not all games work out like that.  When you do see it happen, you double-down the bet. Expanding the awareness of RIFT via TV is one small part of that.

What are some of the mechanics that you feel make Telara stand out on its own in a sea of new MMOs?

Scott Hartsman: The biggest one that people encounter within their first seconds of landing in Rift is the soul system.

You choose your Calling right off the bat, then you have multiple souls to play with within the first few minutes of the game.  We’re finding that this ability to customize yourself and collect up to 9 souls currently, across 4 specs, is turning into one of the biggest systems attractions in the game, as some people frequently do nothing but play with creating new builds for themselves.

Most importantly, more groups form much more easily.  When more people can heal or tank or provide support if they choose to, but don’t feel they’re forced to all the time, it’s great for the overall grouping environment.

How much focus will you put on hardcore players giving feedback on what should be changed within Rift, will the community as a whole have a say on what changes may come about?

Scott Hartsman: Hardcore players tend to spot the more subtle flaws in any system, as they’re the ones who spend as much time analyzing games as the designers themselves, and a fresh perspective from smart people can be a great source of new enlightenment.  The hardcore folks also tend to be the first to experience anything, so they tend to spot issues before anyone else.

Other than that, there’s no difference between the way hardcore or casual feedback is treated.  We have more avenues to be reached than any other MMO that I’m aware of, and we pay attention to all of it as best as we can.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 3

From what we’ve heard, Rift is turning out to be one of the most polished MMORPGs to release in a while. How do you feel about some games out there that decide to release early riddled with bugs? Do you feel it is a slap to the face of the players?

Scott Hartsman: Not at all – As a player myself, I get as angry as the next guy when I’ve paid for something and it’s either not stable or not finished, but I also sympathize with the teams of developers whom I can easily imagine watching their game launch, wishing they had more months to polish or finish it.   No one ever sets out to make a bad game.  When it happens, it tends to be a function of having bitten off more work scope than the budget will allow, or more than is technically possible to ship.

A lot of the lore seems a bit more in favor of making the Defiant seem like not only the rebels but also the heroes. Do you feel this could lead to a large population imbalance as one faction seems more intriguing than the other?

Scott Hartsman: Interesting – What we’re seeing is that the Defiant are being treated as the rebels, and the Guardians are being treated as the heroes.  (Even though heroic Defiant and rebellious Guardians do exist both in the lore and in game.)

It’s led to a level of balance that’s even surprised us (the ratio was within +/- 0.1% the last time I checked a week or so ago).

What RPG’s and MMO’s did you and members of the Rift team play?

Scott Hartsman: We have a pretty huge team (120+), with tastes all across the board, and the vast majority of us are gamers ourselves.  I’d say the challenge would be more about finding RPGs and MMOs that people hadn’t played.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 4

Do you guys at some point want to include an in-game marketplace for vanity items akin to Sony’s Marketplace in EQ2?

Scott Hartsman: Right now, we’re 100% focused on making the Rift that is out there as good as it can possibly be via constant content and feature updates.   New types of in-game store functionality isn’t something that’s really on our radar for the moment.   If enough people like the idea, it could be something we talk about in the future.

The only store-type conversations we’ve had lately have been around working out a path to hardware authentication devices, and other merch like hats and t-shirts.  T-shirts and sweatshirts?  Now THOSE we get a lot of requests for.  🙂

You can check out all the information on Rift on their Official Website and picture up the game here.

 

Free to Play. If You’re Going to Fail, Get Better At Failing.

Everquest 2 F2P lol
Everquest 2 F2P lol

For the past six years, MMORPGs have been failing. Be it because the companies believe releasing beta quality games, far-fetched mechanics, or releasing a game that has the savory indulgence of a stale piece of bread, the genre has seen some gloomy days. World of Warcraft has created a boom for many money hungry companies and jaded developers that think releasing a game in this genre will garner them fame and money. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case and nothing has been able to compete at the level that Blizzard is currently at.

Let’s face it. Very few MMORPGs have had amazing launches and it is because of this lack luster grand opening that a lot of people just get turned away. How can these companies salvage their investment? How can they bring in money to a sinking ship? How can they increase their gaming audience?

The answer lies to the Far East. It is in this land of Zerg obsessed gamers and mob-grinding gurus that holds the key to America’s salvation in the MMO Market. Asia has been using a model known to many as Free to Play for a very long time. Players are allowed to download the game from a website and jump right in. Sure, there are some restrictions that hold them back from unlocking the full potential of the game but it is a better option than a 14 day free trial.

“But Umar”, you may find yourself pondering, “I know Asia is known for crazy people but this sounds insane! How do the Crazians make their money?!”

Very simple, Little Billy. Crazian MMO Developers make their money from an in-game market place where players can unlock classes, races, potions, cosmetics, and content for real life money. While not every player’s going to feed cash to companies for a game they play for free, they do garner in more money than $15 a month. Some players are so into power gaming and/or cosmetics that they’ll easily throw down more than $15 a month in purchases via this market place without even thinking it through.

Why adopt this model though? The answer is simply because it seems to actually work.

Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online was far from being considered a true MMORPG by many of today’s standards and it was on the brink of extinction. However, unlike the dodo bird, DnD Online was not ready to leave this world. In one last hurrah, it released a Free to Play model and quickly flourished. The game’s income reportedly jumped by double and it felt a chance to thrive. Life began to ebb back into this would be abortion and deliver it salvation.

To follow suit, many MMORPGs began to jump onto the bandwagon. Lord of the Rings Online, while not a failure by many aspects, saw a chance to increase its player base with this new subscription model. It held back many features to free players but the market place allowed them to expand further into the world.

Around the same time LOTRO adopted the model, Everquest 2 wet its feet in the F2P world with Everquest 2 Extended, which included 8 classes, 4 races, 80 levels, and 5 expansions for free.

Now, companies like Cryptic, probably persuaded by Atari, are hitting the F2P model to save their abortion known as Champions Online and also the acclaimed Star Trek Online. Some may know my dislike for Cryptic in general and I don’t want to bore anyone with my vendetta but these games were Free to Play quality on release and never should have been Pay to Play, but I digress. They are now hitting the high road and going F2P.

Those seem to be some of the bigger MMOs released in the past couple of years that really need this chance to boost their communities. One MMO that I am waiting to take the dive into this model is Warhammer Online. The game has been a downward spiral since release and while I doubt EA even cares about the game still (they have been systematically dismembering Mythic) a F2P model for WAR might be able to save it from its dying breath.

Sadly, though, some MMORPGs that haven’t even had a year to fix their abominations are already looking to hit the F2P market as well. Yes, I’m talking about Final Fantasy XIV. It has been reported that they are currently seeking a chance to hit into this model to save their plummeting shares and overall consumer backlash.

I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about this model and some find it “greedy” that companies are willing to push out virtual stores but I don’t find a problem with this at all. Most of these games offer a chance to unlock the full game for the standard $15 a month and no one is forcing you to purchase anything from the marketplace to begin with. Most of the items these games offer aren’t game changing and aren’t required to excel in the game so there is no reason for some of the criticism. However, regardless of whether it is a good model or not there will always be people who will complain.

The Free to Play opportunity that has raged through the past two years seems to be giving players many chances to see more of what is out there than WoW. While it is good for companies to regain their money and enlarge their player base, it also gives players a chance to expand their horizons onto what is out there without feeling guilty for dropping 40-50 dollars on a game that could be releasing in beta quality.

How do you feel about the Free to Play model many MMORPG’s seem to be taking? Would you like to see future games continuing with this setup and if not, why?

My Unparallel Loathing of Gaming Hipsters

WoW Ret Cat
WoW Ret Cat

My Unparallel Loathing of Gaming Hipsters

I can’t take it anymore, reader. I simply cannot suffer the pretentious attitude of gaming hipsters. They leave my stomach churning, tie my throat in a knot, and cause an unpronounced level of pain in my scrotum. Why God? I ask you this! Why do they exist to believe themselves to be upon a celestial pedestal of understanding and ownership of some delusional knowledge they do not possess?

Hipsters.

The word alone makes me want to go on a punching jamboree at a local Starbucks. Those bastards just weren’t content on having the indie scene, huh? They had to someone seep like a poison into the gaming community. And it wasn’t like they miraculously appeared out of nowhere. No, no. I just noticed they’ve been here for years, secretly hiding like some Massachusetts Witch Covenant biding their time for an unveiling.

But you know what?

No one gives a shit about them or the opinion of their Gaming Hipster Community. But contrary to that last sentence, I do care to a degree. I’d like to point out my disliking for them in detail. Yes, reader, you will become more knowledgeable on who is a gaming hipster and may even come into the realization that you yourself or someone you hold dear to your hearts may even be one of these aberrations.

    • No one cares if you were in beta.

    Aside from narrow-minded children and frat boys, no one cares that you’ve played since beta. When someone asks a question as to whether something is a good talent specialization or how to beat a certain raid boss, don’t reply with “Trust me, I’ve been playing since Beta.” This doesn’t make you more knowledgeable to specializations or strategies. Especially don’t say this in games like World of Warcraft. The game at its current state is completely different than its original incarnation at this point and your opinion is null and void. Another thing, games that go into Beta maybe have 10-15 people who are actually voicing legit opinions in that gaming community. The rest are people who whine and shit because they don’t understand gaming mechanics or can’t even offer viable solutions aside from nerfing the entirety of a class. Oh, and speaking of classes…

      • No one cares if were an underpowered class pre-buff.
          “Mmm, I liked a Shadow Knight before they got buffed!” Wow? Really? Holy shit, that is amazing news. I’m glad you stuck through your underpowered character until they got revamped. You know why classes get revamped? It isn’t because it only takes “skilled” people to play them and make them viable. Any other class that isn’t gimp with an equally “skilled” player is going to steam roll you in numbers and efficiency. They buff classes to bring them up to par. Aww, don’t cry! Just because people can now faceroll as your favorite underground class doesn’t mean you suck. If you really were skilled you’d still be better than the rest of them by far, right? Or is it because no one played the class you had no real competition to gauge yourself? Wait. What was that you muttered underneath your breath? Oh, that’s what you said? Well guess what…
      • No one cares if your guild beat content before it got nerfed.

      I remember going into threads that said “Fenrir’s Pups beat Ragnaros” and reading the replies of smug faced, Rockstar drinking hipsters who would sneer the achievement with “Congratulations on beating old and nerfed content.” What a monster you must be! Let’s look at those virtual muscles. Wow! You’ve been really hitting the E-Gym. We all know beating Ragnaros pre-nerf was like fighting Muhammad Ali in his prime and fighting him after the nerf was like fighting him today. We get that. No need to boast about it, though. Your past efforts fall upon deaf ears because not a single person today gives a shit.

      Hey, what’s that you’re playing? Is that an NES emulator? What game are you playing? Is that Super Mario Brothers 2? It isn’t? It sure looks like… holy shit don’t say it.

      • No one cares if you played Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic before people played Super Mario 2!

      I’m glad that you are in touch with the origins of a game and know that Super Mario Brothers 2 is a rehashing of another game but don’t toss it away because it wasn’t indie enough for you. Most of the creatures in Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic were created by Nintendo anyway.

      This sick need to do the polar opposite of anything popular or mainstream brings me to my last point.

        • Fuck You.

        Fuck you, gaming hipster. You’re the person who finds the Playstation Network vastly superior to Xbox Live. You’re the person who guffaws at Apple products (and yes, I admit, I was once this type of person) without even trying to grasp why people like them. You’re the person still playing your NES because all new games suck like some grumpy old man who still plays that game with a hoop and stick. You’re the person who demands nostalgia and only subscribes to progression servers for a month and quits within 3 days because those memories weren’t as fond as you thought they were.

        There is no means to stop you from these self imposed habits and traits and there is no wisdom or knowledge I can bestow to remedy the hipster hivemind so I will gladly end this article in the simplest but most profound way I know…

        Eat a dick, gaming hipster. Eat a steaming plate of dicks on a bed of rice.

        Obsolete Gamer: MMO Zone Awards

        [youtube id=”VR1wCU_oq9g” width=”633″ height=”356″]

        MMO Zone Awards

         Unrest was feared for this reason because the walk back to your corpse (naked) sucked and if you died in the house or god forbid the basement you were pretty much screwed. If you actually camped inside the house you were considered a badass. ~J.A. Laraque

        Most feared low level zone: Everquest: The Estate of Unrest

        Now some my dispute this was a low level zone, but the fact was that you could grind some series experience as low as level 15 in this zone. There were beetles you could pull from the yards surrounding the house and some lower level undead mobs you could take with a small group. What made it real difficult was at the time most people were using weapons that did not work on magical creatures and if you did not have one beetle’s would be the only thing you could kill.

        Everquest: The Estate of Unrest

        The thing about this zone was you could be as high as level 35 and still gain limited experience in the zone, mainly in the house. Originally, groups would not dare to enter the house choosing the pull the mobs outside. This often led to what the zone was most famous for, trains.

        For those who might not know, trains were when large groups of mobs would accidently (mostly) be pulled. This mainly happened because inside the house in Unrest was kind of buggy. Since the mobs that dropped the best loot were in the basement players would run and pull them out to the yard. Sometimes (many times) they would pull the upper floors and a train was created.

        For the most part when a train was pulled everyone would run to the zone and exit, this would allow the mobs to path back to their spot. However, many thought they could hide along the sides of the zone or many would zone out and not wait long enough and zone back in. This would re-agro the entire train keeping everyone else out for a longer period.

        Unrest was feared for this reason because the walk back to your corpse (naked) sucked and if you died in the house or god forbid the basement you were pretty much screwed. If you actually camped inside the house you were considered a badass.

        This zone had a ton of great mobs including, wearbats, reclusive ghouls, reanimated hands, undead hags, dark boned skeletons, zombie bartenders and a headless dwarf. The Estate of Unrest also featured some of the most wanted loot for the level including the bloodstained tunic, Opalline earrings and Dwarven work boots.

        Overall the zone was fun to play in even when full to capacity; there was a lot of drama over pulls and trains and loot and even what level players should be there. It was by no means a perfect zone, but ask any EQ player what zone they first fell in love with as an early player and 9 out of 10 will say Unrest.

        Everquest II Extended Free to Play Beta

        EverQuest II Extended BETA free adventures logo
        EverQuest II Extended BETA free adventures logo

        Starting today players can create new free to play accounts for Sony online entertainments Everquest 2. No credit card is required and there are additional tiers of membership upgrades you can take advantage of. Here is a look at their pricing plan.

        Everquest 2 extended membership plans
        Everquest 2 extended membership plans

        Here is the official press release:

        WHAT: Starting today, players can experience the dark and dangerous depths of Norrath without a subscription with the release of SOE’s new free adventure service, EverQuest® II Extended! SOE has liberated portions of the critically acclaimed PC franchise, EverQuest II, including five plus years of impressive, award-winning content, for free. EverQuest II Extended joins the highly successful EverQuest II live subscription service, and together they provide EQII players with a choice of either a subscription-based or free-to-play business model, thus offering two distinct experiences operating in parallel, which is a first in the MMO industry. EverQuest II Extended players can login now and experience the unmatched content and adventure that no other free to play massively multiplayer online game can offer! To sign up, players should visit http://everquest2.com/free_to_play.

        ABOUT EXTENDED: Extended also provides players with quick and convenient game access through a new web-based streaming download application that lets players get into the game quicker than ever before. Extended also includes the recently improved EQII user-interface and Golden Path progression system!

        Extended offers multiple tiers of membership upgrade options that allow players to customize their gaming experience to fit their needs. Details of these options can be found athttp://everquest2.com/_themes/default/images/extended/membershipMatrix.jpg.

        Sony Fan Faire 2010

        SOE Fan Faire 2010 logo
        SOE Fan Faire 2010 logo

        Hey remember when everyone thought Blizzcon was going to be in Vegas, well it’s not, but this year’s Sony Fan Faire will be. You can register now for the event which will be held at Bally’s Las Vegas August 5th – 8th. Prices range from $39 for the basics like a t-shirt, gift bag, to $139 for the platinum pass which includes in-game items, a VIP lounge and private VIP events. (Sounds like premium servers all over again.)

        Ah, I remember my first fan faire in Orlando.