Let’s Play Fractured Space: Reaper, Frontline vs AI, 16T 4D 0SP 4C


If you want to play Fractured Space go here: https://www.fracturedspace.com/

To see more of our Fractured Space videos, click here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuqRuL_MxEq9ZJpoC5ogI4_DCqqR19uuX

To check out more of our Let’s Plays click here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuqRuL_MxEq9QTRukDPj3SKguwnTPLlLM

To view more of our gameplay videos click here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuqRuL_MxEq_Mxw7tk0Dplg09MyOo6DSA

M A M E of the Game: Nosgoth


In this episode of M.A.M.E. of the Game we take a small break from Retrogaming and try out Nosgoth the free-to-play multiplayer action game developed by Psyonix and published by Square Enix.

More on Nosgoth:

Nosgoth is a spin-off of the Legacy of Kain series and takes place in that fictional universe and puts you a player versus player system in which each match consists of two rounds. The teams are split amongst the races: Vampires, which are designed around hack and slash combat and humans, which are more styled after third-person shooters. Between rounds, teams switch to control the opposing race. The team which accumulates the most points by fighting their counterparts wins the match.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: HAWKEN

We profile the Free-to-play Mech warfare game, HAWKEN sit down with producer, Joshua Clausen (or as he is known to the community CapnJosh) about the acquisition of the game by Reloaded games and the upcoming fixes, changes and improvements to the game.

World of Tanks

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World of Tanks Xbox 360

I would have gotten more enjoyment out of World of Tanks if the learning curve was a little more gradual. Unfortunately, the game throws you into the fray with about as much wartime knowledge as Maxwell Klinger.  This is certain to minimally frustrate even the most seasoned gamer. ~Eric Hollis

There’s something about reviewing a free-to-play game that makes me feel extremely ungrateful.  I’d never complain about a free lunch, or a mercy hand job, so I certainly have no room to complain about a free game, right? Wrong. But at least World of Tanks doesn’t feel like either a free-to-play crapfestival or a micro transactional grind, both of which make it an extremely refreshing and pleasant change, especially on the 360.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

If you love blowing up tanks with other tanks, you couldn’t ask for a better game.  While the content is a little dumbed down from the PC version, you still can choose between multiple vehicles from American, German, and British stables.  Upgrading said vehicles can become a chunky grind. Even if you are willing to throw down real cash for a new ride, you still have to play multiple matches with each vehicle to move to the next tier.  The higher-level beasts will take most players weeks to obtain, and that’s with a lot of dedication and perseverance.  One hundred plus hours of gametime that cost absolutely zero is nothing to scoff at, especially when you aren’t getting something that feels even close to a budget title.  Hell, I’ve played tons of sixty-dollar games that, by comparison, should be ashamed they charged at all.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

The premise of World of Tanks is simple—it’s a third-person shooter that uses tanks instead of soldiers.  Players participate in large 15 on 15 battles that involve either capturing a base or annihilating the enemy team.  The seven included maps represent varied terrain. Fortunately this concept works very well. As far as control, besides a few tweak to the aiming, if you’ve ever played Battlefield, you’ve already learned everything about the actual controls you need to know.  There’s also a very brief tutorial that explains how to traverse the map.  Unfortunately, map use is about all that is explained, which led to my biggest frustrations with this title.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

The biggest problem with the game is the sheer lack of critical information.  Nothing is ever explained in detail, with the exception of a few scant loading screens. Armed with only minimal quality instruction, I felt extremely over my head during almost every match.  Why do tanks disappear off the map at random?  Why do my shots immobilize enemy players as often as they do no damage whatsoever?  Why can I crush some objects like aluminum cans yet others stop me dead on my treads?  I would have gotten more enjoyment out of World of Tanks if the learning curve was a little more gradual. Unfortunately, the game throws you into the fray with about as much wartime knowledge as Maxwell Klinger.  This is certain to minimally frustrate even the most seasoned gamer.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

My other issue is the rhythm of gameplay.  In World of Tanks you never respawn in the match; death is always permanent.  With that, hastiness in battle never proved to be an intelligent option.  (Trust me, I tried the old bum rush the enemy base play.)  This kind of mortality causes the player to think more fully about strategic methods, which is fine, but lasting death also means that even the most minor mistake will force you to stare at another player’s screen while waiting for the next match to start.  Thankfully, there is no penalty for quitting a match early, but an early exit hinders the chance to make friends and talk trash at length with other Tankers, two activities that are crucial not only to shooters but to online gaming in general.  Some of the matches also felt extremely unbalanced, but this was probably due to the fact that I was absolutely garbagedick at the game. Simply put, I never felt like I figured out how to play well enough to enjoy myself.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

Unfortunately I couldn’t get into World of Tanks, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least give it a try.  If you really want to get into the vast community that WarGaming has created, my research tells me that the PC version is a lot more substantial and developed than the version I played on 360.

The World of Tanks Show

World of Tanks E3 2011

Anyone who is a regular reader of Obsolete Gamer knows we love World of Tanks. We first got into the tank fighting MMO at E3 a few years back and it was love at first sight. Some of the staff like myself are novices while others are pros and for a long time we wanted to have a podcast about the game we love.

We were excited when we contacted Jamie King at War Gaming America and was introduced to Caleb Fox who joined us on this week show and answers our numerous and wide ranging questions. For this first podcast we wanted to talk to those newer to the game and those interested in trying it for the first time.

We hope to have future podcasts going deeper into the game and clan wars, but this week is all about the beginners. Check out one of our beginners guides here.

So check it out and let us know what you think and remember, you can download our podcasts on ITunes and now we are available on Stitcher Radio.

Subscription fee for Call of Duty Multiplayer?

Here it seems as Mr. Pachter is not clear on the history of FPS games nor the current climate for subscription based MMO’s.~J.A. Laraque

Subscription fee for Fee for Call of Duty Multiplayer?

How many of you remember playing games like Doom, Duke Nukem and Quake online and enjoyed hours of “free” play time. Not only could you play online for free, but there were maps that were created by players as well as mods that you could enjoy all for free. A game like Quake 2 could be played for years because of this and with LAN support we were in a golden age of multiplayer.

pay-to-play

Well it seems if Michael Pachter had his way we would all be playing a subscription free to play today’s multiplayer games like Call of Duty Black Ops 2. You can read the source article over on Gamespot, but here are some of the key quotes.

“I know the game sells billions of dollars. Activision did a bad thing with Call of Duty from a profit perspective,” Pachter said. “They trained gamers that you can buy a game and play it all year, ten hours a week, forever, and you never have to pay again. You just wait for the next Call of Duty. I promise you there are plenty of people, numbering in the millions, who play one game, which is Call of Duty, and they never stop.”

This is interesting as it makes me think of a drug dealer who gets someone hooked then raises the price. He is right in that many people are really into their COD multiplayer and many would pay for the service. We already see the awful premium service you can sign up for to receive new maps.

The mention of training gamers is important as well, just like many gamers became used to paying a certain monthly amount for MMO’s many gamers still remember old FPS games you could play online with hundreds of maps all for free and most of us would not accept a pay service. However, newer gamers and admittedly, those who may not actually be shelling out the cash, may be more inclined to pay such a free.

Callofduty-black-ops2

Pachter also said:

“That’s just like the people who play World of Warcraft and never stop, yet the World of Warcraft guys are paying $180 a year, and the Call of Duty guys are paying $60. So who’s got a better model?” he said. “This multiplayer thing being free was a mistake. I don’t think anybody ever envisioned it would be this big. It’s a mistake because it keeps those people from buying and playing other games.”

Here it seems as Mr. Pachter is not clear on the history of FPS games nor the current climate for subscription based MMO’s. First, FPS online games, or a game with an online component, has always been popular and though the Call of Duty series did set records it should not have been a big surprise that people would navigate to a good online FPS and play it. He mentions World of Warcraft, but if you look at games like EQ2, Conan, DC Online, Star Wars Online and many other MMO’s that started out as a paid service they are now switching to free to play.

It seem as if to many companies point to WoW and believe they can be next incarnation, but reports show even WoW is bleeding members and is heading toward a free to play model of their own. Then you have games like Guild Wars 2 on the MMO side and Tribes and Planetside 2 on the FPS side and the question you have to ask is, how can a move to charge for multiplayer do anything but hurt the brand?

Pachter pointed at juggernaut Activision about their upcoming titled rumored to be called Destiny and said it will be subscription based adding; “Activision’s going to try it, because they’re greedy pigs, and they’re bold,”

activision-bungie-destiny

I did not know greed is bold but I digress. We do not know exactly what Destiny will bring and even if it does cost monthly there is no guarantee it will be successful, just ask SOE. We as gamers will put up with a lot more than we claim we will. Many of us screamed when Everquest raised their subscription rates and yet we still played. However, we can only take so much and as we get older and money is tighter the same thing that happened with MMO’s will happen everywhere else. We will pick and choose a game that works for us and our budget and dump the rest.

In the end, the hopes of people like Pachter is to “train” the upcoming generation to be used to these fees. Many are used to paying for small things in F2P MMO’s and used to paying small amounts for mobile games and music, so what is a few extra dollars a month for Modern Warfare 4? COD is a powerful title, but it does not stand alone and I am sure other FPS games would love to take advantage of a move like this if it is made. I guess the only question that remains is, if this was done would you pay?

The Old Republic Now Free Until Level 15

StarWars_TheOldRepublic

Sure one could say that adding a free-to-play till 15 component to an MMO is a good move. By doing this you get people to try the game and the changes you made and maybe people will subscribe. In the real world of MMO’s this means the first (or second) steps towards free-2-play.

BioWare’s , The Old Republic was to be the World of Warcraft-killer, but the only dying we have seen has been its own. We first saw the signs when people reached max level quickly and complained about endgame content. We saw more signs with bugs not fixed and features not implemented a true sign the game was rushed even more than other rushed MMO’s. There was the promise of patches that would fix everything, but as each patch came, more people became upset and left.

Subscription rates dropped faster than a greasy Huttball and the PR spin was in full force, but it was clear what was happening.  The game lost over 400,000 subscriptions, many leaving after the free month and now the EA backed company is following World of Warcraft in offering players to play for free until level 15.

We have seen the free trials and now the up to level 15 free play. With the release of coming titles like Tera Online, Guild Wars 2 and the Secret World, this is a march to free-2-play just like DC Universe Online and many before it.

Now with all that said I think Old Republic is worth a play through. The game has a good story and fun gameplay, just not really an MMO, at least not a monthly subscription MMO. You can try out Old Republic for yourself by signing up and downloading the game client at SW: TOR’s free trial page.

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. ~J.A. Laraque

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

When you get above age 30 a lot is changing and a lot of has to do with what you believe you should be doing and the direction you should be going. For many gamers there comes a time where they decide if gaming in part of their lifestyle or something they did in their youth and now it becomes something they need to leave behind. For those who continue gaming it will always be different, not only because we are older with different responsibilities, but because many who we used to game with will have moved on.

mmo cafe

When talking about MMO’s many people talk about Everquest and the early days of World of Warcraft the way a man might talk about his college days. You remember a time when you were free and could do what you want and it was celebrated as well as expected. Now, you have to “grow up” and “be an adult” and the fun times as you knew them are over. This is not to mean that there will not be fun times ahead, but that it will never be like it was before and depending on the person this may make them feel that anything that comes next just could never live up to the old and really for the most part, it cannot.

Everquest Friends

So when you talk about that 48-hour camp in the Efreeti room was it that the time spent killing the same placeholder over and over was so much fun or that it was the time in your life that it happened more fun than now. With many of the new MMO’s being released the idea is the teenager with tons of time on his hand in the past now has work, marriage, kids and so on to deal with and cannot spend time playing 12 hours a day. Of course, there is also the people used to having everything handed to them to consider as well.

If you associate, your fun days with a MMO and now those fun days are over then it will be almost impossible to get that happy feeling back no matter what a game does. You could make an exact copy of a game, but now its 10 years later and maybe that awesome boyfriend lost his job and does not do what he used to or your sexy girlfriend is pregnant and angry. So you load up an MMO and hope to have those fun filled nights you had fighting twin emperors and you just cannot find it and you blame the game.

World of Warcraft Guild

I have always said it is the people who make the game so if you played with great friends in EQ then most likely many of those friends have moved on. Now, you have to try and make new friends or gather the few you have left in a new game, but you cannot bring that magic back. This does not remove responsibility from the game makers. Many MMO’s are just lazy and they rather copy and play it safe than innovate. However, many of the arguments comparing the old to the new are the same we do with movies or television shows. The glasses are rosy and the memories seem so much better than the present or the future.

Perhaps this is the reason MMO’s can be played alone more now than in the past. The EQ and even vanilla WOW generation is much older. Can most of you who raided in EQ find 40 good people to raid and play with day after day, week after week. Can you find 25 or even 15 and if so is it just as fun being with them in the game regardless of the game?

Wow guild

Many who find games like Star Wars, The Old Republic fun are not just fanboi’s. I have found people who like to solo like the game. Many who did not have big guilds in EQ or Wow like the game and those who have retained a good core of gamer friends like it because they get together and enjoy each other’s company in the game first and the actual game second.

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. In between game time, you would hang out, talk with your friends and interact with the gaming community. Now, you have many more responsibilities and less time.

thunderboss

So for many when a new MMO is announced, especially if you have not played an MMO in a while and have friends interested in giving it a try. You end up putting more than hopes of a good game on the product. People hope it will rekindle that fire, bring friends back together, improve your life and games by themselves cannot do that. There are documented reports that leaving an MMO can end relationships, friendships and even marriages so it is understandable that people think an MMO might create what it can also destroy.

We still have to make sure MMO makers do a good job, and create and maintain the game they promised. However, we should also realize you cannot relive Woodstock, and for many games our “Woodstock” was EQ or WOW.

Everquest goes Free-To-Play

After 13 years and tons of expansions the game known as Evercrack goes free-to-play.

everquest logo

Hello everyone – I hope you all are doing well early on in the New Year! With an exciting Veil of Alaris expansion just released in November, we’re thrilled to announce the next big adventure for EverQuest®. After listening to your feedback and suggestions over the past few years, I’m happy to announce that in early March 2012, EverQuest will be going free-to-play.

We’re excited to be expanding the EverQuest experience by making the game more accessible to every type of player so that you can choose to play the game in a way that suits you best. Anyone who wishes to start, return or continue to play one of the “Best Games of All-Time” can simply download and play EverQuest on their terms – think of it as Free to Play, Your Way. Recurring subscriptions, non-recurring subscriptions, Silver or Free memberships, item unlockers, and more. The game will now be setup to be flexible so that *you* can decide how much to pay, based on how much fun you’re having.

EverQuest players are some of the most loyal, long-standing players of any MMO in existence. With the gaming landscape changing every day, we want to ensure we continue to evolve the game to keep players engaged and bring in even more new players to further expand the community. With no up-front costs or required membership, we might see a new player or two along the way, and more people is always a good thing!

Once we go free-to-play, here are some of the upcoming features and events you can expect:

  • On Friday, March 16th, EverQuest becomes a teenager: 13 years old!!! We will be having some extra added events in the game starting that week leading up to that Friday and we’re introducing some new items within POK to let you know what’s in store.
  • With the free-to-play launch, a renovated everquest.com website will be unveiled and after that, we will bring you upgraded EQPlayers pages.
  • We have improved the functionality of our Map system! Some improvements include being able to view appropriate level content for your character on the map, allowing you to find zone lines much easier; and also showing you your wisps on the map to help navigate to where you want to go!

Also at the free-to-play launch, all players will receive a Welcome Pack containing items to add to your gameplay experience. You’ll be able to summon a unique Mercenary to fight by your side and we’re including some Bayle Marks to help pay for the services of your newly summoned Mercenary. A couple of Experience Potions are also included to help you increase your experience gained while adventuring. For all the collectors that like to show off all the great wares to your friends, we’re giving you an item to display in your home and add to your collection. And finally, you’ll be able to customize the appearance of one of your weapons with a Weapon Ornamentation – also included in the Welcome Pack. So be sure to check the claim window for your free gifts.

We, the EverQuest dev team, are very excited about this new flexible system. Free-To-Play is the best fit for EverQuest and we are looking forward to supporting the game and our dedicated fans for years to come. This is a great year for everyone associated with EverQuest and SOE. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what’s coming in 2012.

One last note, we will be doing a Community Webcast on Thursday February 2, 2012 covering all of the exciting free-to-play details. Please be sure to send in any questions you might have via the Facebook page or Twitter so we can respond with answers during the Webcast.

See you in game very soon!

Thom Terrazas
EverQuest Producer
AKA “Phathom”

For more information on the transition to free-to-play please visit the FAQ and free-to-play matrix.

So does anyone see themselves logging in to play?

MMO Rewrite

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it. ~J.A. Laraque

MMO Rewrite

I think it might be time to rethink the MMO model. Just as many people get older and make adjustments to their lifestyle the same has to be done with MMO’s and it’s not just graphics or even just game mechanics. The change has to come based on how the community has grown and changed and adjusted to these types of games.

mmo boxes

Let’s look at Everquest, a game many people look back on with rose colored glasses. Most people never did more than a few quests in vanilla EQ. You would run out and start killing rats, bats and beetles, but because it was new and different it was fun, and many accepted it for what it was.

People claimed there was a better community in the past and it was true because it was so hard to level and groups meant everything so you were forced to play nice where today you can dump and find groups so fast many will not tolerate even one death much less wipe after wipe like was the norm in Everquest.

Everquest

People look at Star Wars the Old Republic and complain because you can solo to 50 and the companion system makes the game more like a single player game. However, even in early World of Warcraft most people could solo to 50 and sure there were zones that needed a group, but it was not a requirement and a good number of people were denied groups for level 45-50 zones due to their class or other factors.

Turning back to Everquest, people forget that grouping was more about locking down a spawn than the fact that you really loved to group. In Lower Guk your group would camp one room and if it had a drop like the Flowing Black Sash there would be a rotation. You would be in the same group for hours because if you left good luck getting back in.

Everquest 2

So where did the change start? First, it began when people realized some classes could kite in EQ like Druids or Wizard. In games like City of Heroes, we saw people really begin to only group to finish their mission and then they would quit. When World of Warcraft went from 40-man to 25-man raids and the birth of the clicks occurred grouping took another hit because people were forced to do pugs and then the idea of pubs became so repugnant that if anything went wrong people would leave in a second.

In Everquest 2’s early days, groups would share Exp debt when someone died, so if you made a mistake the whole group might disband. All this, along with the increasing drama on message board forums, and more and more people joining the world of MMO has led to its decay.

City of Heroes

Originally a “server first” meant something, but soon it became a job with people working in teams to reach max level first. The idea of eating through content was considered a virtue as everyone wanted to be first and honestly, many learned back in the days of EQ that it was the first guilds to encounter new content that were the ones to find bugs and exploits and reap gains from them before they were removed, fixed or nerfed.

Then the great expansion came and MMO’s started popping up overnight and just like 3D movies we realized many should not have been made. We were already paying $15 for one MMO, who in their right mind would pay two or three of them. Free to play was enviable, but it also had flaws due to things like having the richest person gain an advantage or companies charging for the smallest things just to nickel and dime you to death.

Players saw games close for the first time and companies abandon their player base by offering little or no new content or support. The insert game here killer became a running joke and it was expected that any game to come out was doomed to fail because either it was not enough like game X or too much like it.

World of Warcraft

Finally, we all got older. The teenager is now in college, the young man now has a wife and kids and the basement dweller has a full time job. Want to know another effect of having a casual friendly game, when they are done with it they are less likely to move on to another and more likely to just stop gaming altogether.

There has been a lot of heat on Star Wars and they deserve a lot of it, but we as gamers need to realize that MMO’s need a rewrite. There will never be an Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot or World of Warcraft experience again. Even those who were the ten-year-old gamers will not experience games the way we did because the times are different and because of this MMO’s need to adjust just as our expectations of them should.

My prediction, games will get smaller not larger. Remember the, it’s time to slay the dragon commercial for EQ? Sure, it was made fun of, but there was something important there. It was about 5 or 6 friends coming together in a game. I believe that is our future. The large raids and guilds of 200 plus members are over. MMO’s will become games where you can solo and then call a few friends to do larger content.

star-wars-the-old-republic

Also, MMO’s have to drop the monthly fee. Remember EQ 2 and their 5-dollar content updates? It was a complete joke at the time, but I see that as the future. No monthly fee, weekly bug fixes, maintenance and patches, but every few months you buy a chapter consisting of new quests and zones for a small fee with one big paid expansion per year.

This allows gamers to switch between MMO’s , but still provides enough revenue to keep games going. If companies keep looking to have 20 million subscribers, they will continue to fall short. We have all grown and changed and its time MMO’s followed suit.

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it.

Otherwise, we will just jump from bandwagon to bandwagon waiting for the would-be giant to tumble and laugh as it falls right on top of us.

Khan’s Corner: First Impressions of Dominion


For those who don’t know what League of Legends is, Google it. I’m not here to be your fucking Wikipedia! What I am here for is to let you know my godly absolute and factual opinion on League of Legends new game mode, Dominion.

What is Dominion?

For those that played WoW (and don’t pretend you didn’t) it is basically Arathi Basin with minion waves and a fog of war in the center of the map. There are five points in the map and you must claim them, defend them, and reclaim them in order to secure the fought over resources for your team as you slowly dwindle away the enemy team’s nexus HP bar. Sounds pretty wizard doesn’t it? Well it is! It is pretty damn wizard.

What’s the big deal, Mr. Khan? Why is everyone getting so excited about a new game mode?

What’s the big de… WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? The release and implementation of Dominion is pushing the Defense of the Ancients style of game play to new heights. The addition of new game modes in the genre known as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) adds more to the static play style which is associated with these kinds of games. No longer will HoN, DoTA, and LoL fight over which game has better laning! Now the games will have to put forth some innovation to compete which will really help this genre grow.

Who cares about new modes and innovation? Gear of War 3 is out!

Don’t care about innovation? You don’t care for change? How would you like if Gears of War played like Doom 1, huh? Would you like if after years upon years of FPS games coming out there weren’t any new game modes? Zombie Assaults? Horde modes? Capture the Flag? Secure Points? You’d rather your FPS just be fucking Free-for-All death matches? Look reader, before you open your fucking mouth again, I suggest you think twice unless you enjoy sounding like an insipid dickfart.

Now that we’ve got a little backstory done on what Dominion is, let’s get into what I think about Dominion. I know, I know! This is the best part of the article.

Dominion is amazing for many reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I see the flaws but there are so many pros that outweigh the cons of this game mode. The normal MOBA game mode match lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to well over an hour. The amount of time needed to sink into a match of Summoner’s Rift can be daunting. What if your mom wants you to pick up your room? What if your baby woke up and is covered in shit? What if someone drives their car through your house and you have to deal with the aftermath! In all of these cases, gaming takes the higher priority but if for some reason you feel compelled to leave the match, you can be reported as a leaver which is a bannable offense! You really have to make sure there is plenty of time in your schedule to get through an entire match without being penalized.

Swain is going fuck someone in the butt

Dominion matches normally take anywhere from 15-20 minutes and trust me on this, the miniscule amount of time it takes to do a dominion match doesn’t take away from the full on hardcore Annie on Timbers action. Why is it so quick? As long as one team has three points covered and kills some enemies here and there, the nexus HP bar goes down. There is constantly something to do and that bar will go down. There is no way only 2 points will be constantly controlled while a third point remains neutral. People fight over resources in games and in real life. It’s an inherent reaction to go running to establish superiority and murder those who would claim stake over your land.

The style of this mode is a twist on the Arathi Basin concept in World of Warcraft. Before any of you nerds flip the fuck out and says “ACTUALLY ARATHI BASIN COPIED ( insert game here)” , I am using AB as an example because it the most relatable reference I can make to the masses. Fuck, you guys are dicks. Anyway, back to the matter at hand! Like AB, you run point to point claiming resource nodes for your team increasing the amount of HP you drain from the enemy Nexus. There are minions in between each node charging towards each other. You don’t have to kill minions in this mode but it is smart to do once in a awhile because minions capture nodes exponentially faster than a player. It’s also nice to have fodder between you and an enemy who skill shots. You can see anything going on anywhere in the map from the main roads to the nodes. The only areas engulfed in the fog of war are the enemy spawn point and the center of the map which houses a variety of buffs, such as a temporary speed increase and health packs.

Screw you Twisted Fate and Annie. Dis be mah node!

Riot is a genius company, let me tell you! I expected there to be an issue with fools who try to top the kill charts and forget about the objectives to win the game. A lot of people just feel an unexplainable bloodlust to chase down an enemy Singed instead of forcing him to run so you can capture his resource node. What Riot implemented to make people realize there is more to this mode than skull fucking your enemy was add an in-game ranking system which lets you know how well you are doing compared to the rest of your team. It takes into consideration your defending kills, your capturing of nodes, and slaying of enemies. This allows your team to get their heads out of their ass if they want to get that MVP rank and not look like a total scrub.

The time frame and familiar objective style factors into something fantastic for the community and popularity of the game as well. It opens up accessibility to players who haven’t taken the leap into the MOBA genre. Yes, League of Legends is free to play but the stress and unforgiving nature that comes from the classic game mode is for many new or casual players nerve-wracking. With the nostalgic Arathi Basin-esque flow and the manageable 15-20 game time it makes the plunge so much easier. Let’s throw in some similes so you bitches understand. Pre-Dominion: League Of Legends is like jumping into the water at the beach. It’s pretty awesome and a lot of fun but your eyes burn from the salt and holy shit would it suck if a jellyfish stung you! Post-Dominion: League of Legends is like going into a hot tub and there are two chicks DTF. The kind of chicks who would put their finger in your ass if you asked them to. Fuck! Dominion is awesome!

If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, there isn’t a better time than now. With Dominion being a fast paced, enjoyable, and forgiving game mode for novice and veteran players alike this is the time to get into the MOBA genre. Join millions upon millions of players in this quickly blossoming and wallet friendly gaming. See you in the Crystal Scar, Summoners.

We called it: DC Universe Online goes free to play

dc universe free to play

DC Universe Online goes free to play

If you are a regular fan of Obsolete Gamer you know about our cold war with Sony and DC Universe Online. It started out with us liking the game, but pleading with them to fix bugs and make changes so the game survives. Next, when we tried to get an interview we were turned down which just pissed us off and from there it was war. At the very beginning we called that the game would soon be headed toward free-to-play and we were right.

Sony will be going the free-to-play route in October for both the PC and Playstation 3 versions. You will be able to download and play the game for free, but there are also addition options for al a carte purchases and subscription plans. You can see the choices here.

“Our philosophy embraces learning from our experience and as a pioneer in the free-to-play space with proven successful games like Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures, we believe this new model will expand the DCUO experience and offer more options that cater to every type of player so they can play the game in a way that fits them,” John Smedley, president, Sony Online Entertainment, said in a statement. “We’ve listened to our community, and we’ve determined that the free-to-play model is the best fit for DC Universe Online.”

Do we really need to translate this? People were leaving DCUO like Raccoon City and the Mega servers were nothing more than “we have no players on our servers” and now we have to go free to play. However, Sony does know how to market their free-to-play services with games like Everquest 2 and the above mentioned Clone Wars Adventures offering just about everything for sale in their marketplace. Now the question is will this business model work for DCUO, will you now play the game since it is free and has mega servers?

Star Trek Online to go Free to Play this year

star-trek-online

If this wasn’t a trend before it is now. Cryptic Studios announced that Star Trek Online will be going free to play later this year and players will be able to download and play the game at no cost.

As expected there will be additional features that you can pay for by accessing a virtual store. In addition, there will still be full or gold membership for existing members or you can pay $14.99 for gold membership.

You can see the differences between gold and silver membership here – http://www.startrekonline.com/f2p 

“In addition to seeking out new life and exploring strange new civilizations, part of our continuing mission for Star Trek Online is to expand and improve,” said Jack Emmert, CEO, Cryptic Studios. “Transitioning to a free-to-play model is a natural way to share all we’ve built with a broader community of players and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Star Trek Online free-to-play allows players to get into the game and engage the Star Trek universe in a number of ways:

The Universe is Your Only Limit – Play as much as you like for as long as you like at no cost. No subscription is required, nor is payment of any kind required.

Episodic Gameplay – Experience new weekly episodes that feature story-based gameplay and put your captain’s ability to command to the ultimate test.

Your Captain, Your Crew, Your Destiny – Become a captain, seek out new life and new civilizations and encounter hostile beings as you advance to maximum level for free.

Familiar Places, New Experiences – Travel to Starfleet Academy, Deep Space Nine, The First City of Qo’noS and many other iconic locations and notable worlds from the beloved Star Trek universe.

Engage and Explore Your Way – A web and in-game virtual goods store provides players the option of purchasing gameplay upgrades or additional premium content as they like, when they like.

Taking place in the year 2409, Star Trek Online boasts extraordinary features and lets fans both new and old experience unparalleled adventures within the Star Trek universe. Players have the opportunity to become high-ranking Starfleet officers and participate in missions structured like episodes that take them into the depths of space, across exotic planets and inside other starships. All players are invited to explore strange new worlds and encounter new life in a vast, ever expanding universe!

For more information visit their official website.

The Interview: World of Tanks

World of Tanks

World of Tanks Interview

There are a lot of free-to-play MMO’s out there, but just like paid MMO’s there are the great ones and the rest and World of Tanks is definitely one of the great ones. A number of us here at Obsolete Gamer began playing World of Tanks right after E3 2011 and are still playing to this day.

World of Tanks is massive multiple team based tank fighting game where you choose from a number of World War one and two era tanks from Russia, Germany and the U.S. You start out with older smaller tanks and as you level up you upgrade the tanks and unlock new ones. You level up by playing in team based matches where the objective is to destroy all the rival tanks or capture their base.

That is a very general description to a game that while easy to play has a level of complexity to it any gamer would enjoy. Not only do you need to understand each tank, not only the ones you own, but the ones you are going up against, but you need to understand the map layouts and work with your team because victory brings more points than defeat.

The game is free to play however you can purchase gold in the game that allows you to buy game time giving you a boost in experience points and a different garage to hold your tanks. You can also purchase special ammo, tanks and more garage slots using gold, but you can play and enjoy the game without spending a dime.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr0rMAjX5g0[/youtube]

Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Jeremy Monroe, general manager for Wargaming America about World of Tanks and the upcoming patch for the game.

World of Tanks is becoming wildly popular. What do you think has made the game so popular with gamers?

Tanks! Who doesn’t love Tanks? The game’s a great deal of fun to play and the community is fantastic. I believe we really hit a sweet spot in the market. We’re part shooter, action, strategy and mmo coupled with a respect for the historical authenticity of the era. World of Tanks is compelling for gamers at any level. It’s fun and it’s free.

Do you find the free-to-play model works best for games such as yours?

Free to Play is a great model for most, if not all games. It really puts gamers in a position to have quality choices and the industry in a position to showcase fantastic titles, unique gameplay and innovative features. The evolution of the industry has been tremendous with the widespread adoption of the free-to-play model.  Given the quality of the game, its design and the merging of so many popular genres, we knew the model was perfect for World of Tanks and gamers.

 There have been questions about balance where lower tier tanks keep getting in matches with higher tier tanks. Can you tell us a bit about that and any changes you are working on?

We’re constantly adjusting the match making system to provide challenging but evenly matched battles at every level. With that said, consideration must be given to the number of players and the tiers of the tanks being queued. It’s a difficult balance to strike. On one hand, you want fair and evenly-matched battles and on the other, you want short queues for the players. It’s a key priority for us to strike that balance and we’re constantly growing, evolving and getting better over time.

World of Tanks

Third party add-ons like skins for tanks and the crosshairs are becoming popular. Do you have plans to add your own skins and add-ons?

Yes; in our 7.0 update we’ll be introducing a number of cool features like that including camouflage; the camo will be true to the era so no pink bunnies or rainbows.

What can we expect in the next update and content patches in the near future?

We try to update every month with fixes and upgrades but it’s also critical we listen to our community and continue to evolve World of Tanks with significant changes that include new compelling features, maps and of course more bad ass TANKS!

Our newest update will include  –

  • A new Fishing Bay map
  • New tier 4-5 light tanks: Т-50, Т-50-2, VK2801, M24 Chaffee
  • Tier 6 American tanks M4A3E2

You can always find the newest information here – http://game.worldoftanks.com/in_development

With the recent announcement of World of Warplanes and World of Battleships, are there future plans to integrate both games with World of Tanks? And will there be universal Clan War maps where tanks, planes, and ships will partake?

Right now the 3 games will not be integrated into one world…but as this is a constantly evolving game with innovative designers behind it there is never a definite “No”. As for clan wars, we are looking at being able to bring the 3 games together into that world. We’ll update you as soon as we get more information.

 

People are reporting on forums that World of Tanks will be released in a retail box form. Any information as to when it will be released and what it contains? Any plans for a collector’s edition?

Yes, we are releasing a box in North America; it will be in stores Sept 1st at the top retailers. The box will be $19.99 and includes $30 worth of in-game items. We are looking at a collector’s edition but we want to make sure it is truly compelling for our players. We’ll certainly keep you posted as we finalize our plans.

Besides the three current armies (USSR, Germany, USA) represented in World of Tanks; are there any more that will be added in the future?

Yes, definitely. French Tanks will be introduced very soon (here is a peek – Wot Facebook) and as you can see with the new additions to the German tank lines: Pz.VI Tiger (P), VK 4502 (P) Ausf. A, E-50, Е-75, Е-100 and two new premium tanks T-15, T-25, we are always expanding the current roster of tanks.

Right now the Clan Wars map takes place in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Are there future plans to add more map locations, like the Pacific region? 

Yes, currently Clan Wars is still in beta but we will be expanding. Eventually clans can compete for global domination.

Are there any plans to add special tanks or tanks skins that are purchasable if your clan holds certain objectives or territories?

We’re definitely looking into these options and many other ways to reward and recognize the top clans for playing well. Unfortunately, I can’t go into further details at this time but we hope to be able to present it to our players very soon.

You can download and play World of Tanks for free at – http://www.worldoftanks.com/

 

World of Battleships Weighs Anchor

It is no secret that a lot of the staff here at Obsolete Gamer is deep into World of Tanks, but now there might be more fighting action to comes with the announcement of World of Battleships. World of Battleships will be a free-to-play MMO based on epic sea battles of the 20th century. This series will complete the World of trilogy of World of Tanks and World of Planes.

Here is more from their press released:

World_of_Battleships_Gameplay

Keeping with the best traditions of the series, World of Battleships will offer a straightforward interface, easy-to-use controls, and a common economic system that will allow players to distribute resources between the three games for the ultimate progress in each of them.

The large assortment of available warships will give various tactical opportunities, as all the machines have a unique combination of firepower, speed, armor, and endurance. Various naval maps with changing weather conditions will enrich the gameplay, and the realistic graphics will transport players into the epic battles that changed the course of human history.

Wargaming.net CEO Victor Kislyi. States, “Humans always needed to conquer the elements — earth, water and air. With World of Tanks, World of Warplanes and World of Battleships we will offer players to conquer all, simultaneously.” 

Champions Online: Free for All Update

The free-to-play superhero MMO has added a bunch of new features in their latest release. Let is the rundown:

Hideouts:

 

hideout

Every hero should have a place to call home and get away from it all. Hideouts come in four themed sets—Basement, Cave, Moon and Sanctum—and allow you to customize, socialize and create a unique space all to your hero’s own.
In this first Hideouts release, you can choose from among these Phase One thematic options:

  • Mom’s Basement
  • Industrial Cave
  • Sci-fi Moonbase
  • Mystic Sanctum
To learn more about Hideouts, check out screens and watch the Hideouts Preview Trailer, visit the Hideouts info page. You’ll also find instructions there on how Gold Members can claim their FREE Phase One Hideout, as well as how to purchase additional Hideouts and customize them to fit your hero’s tastes.

 

Aftershock Comic Series Finale:
 

The final issue of our Aftershock Comic Series is now available! Issue 6: The King is Dead puts you face-to-face with the Kings of Edom in a struggle to prevent the Earth’s catastrophic destruction. To find out how it all plays out, log in and play this final issue of the series. Don’t miss out on special Comic Series Rewards and Item Drops as you play through the exciting conclusion of Aftershock!

 

Dark Ages Fantasy Costume Set:
 

The age of chivalry is back! Your hero will feel like fashion royalty with this medieval costume pack. And as an added bonus, this fantasy set includes the Medium Blade Rapier and Heavy Weapon Royal Scepter. Now available to purchase in the C-Store.costume
If you’re interested in becoming a Gold Member, please visit our online store.Thank you for your continued support and we’ll see you soon in Millennium City!- The Champions Online Team

 

Age of Conan: Unchained

Age of Conan Unchained

The free-to-play revolution continues with Age of Conan. Gamers can now play Age of Conan for free. This applies to new subscriptions as well as old ones. Here is the official announcement.

Great change has taken place in Hyboria since you last were with us!

Age of Conan: Unchained‘ has arrived, and with this we have changed the business model of the game! ‘Age of Conan‘ offers an alternative to the Premium Membership: you can now enjoy the game free of charge!

This comes in addition to lots of new content (new dungeons, systems, render engine, optimizations and hardcore PvP server to list some) – so grasp your longsword and join us in Hyboria!

So – your account is now active, your character is available (if above level 20) and you can log in and play for FREE right now!

Screenshots

As part of the celebration, we are giving away a free item too! For each character you log in before the 21st of July, you will unlock a brand new decorative cape!

With this we have also launched an in-game store that offers a wide variety of items to help you on your journeys through Hyboria! The store has items and services for all character levels.

Click here to download the client

Click here to go to your account page

Click here to learn more about the game and recent updates.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GESzNCBnphk[/youtube]

We plan to check it out and report back on how it is. If you have experience let us know what you think of this change.

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.

 

World of Warcraft: Free till level 20

World-of-WarCraft-Cataclysm

It looks as if the wave of lowering prices in MMO’s continues. Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft will be replacing its 14-day trial with a free-to-play of sorts until you reach level 20.

Here is part of their statement:

“We’ve removed the previous 10- and 14-day trial time restrictions, and players who are interested in trying out World of Warcraft can now play the base game for free up to a maximum character level of 20, including draenei and blood elf characters—all they need is a Battle.net account and an Internet connection,” Blizzard explained in a statement. If you ran through a previous 14-day trial, you can go back to your character and continue to play from the point you left the game if you’d like, but the level cap will be set at 20.

This is a kin to giving you a taste of crack for free, but then comes the kicker, the new lower price.

Blizzard goes on to say:

…players will be able to get both the original World of Warcraft and the game’s first expansion set, The Burning Crusade, for only $19.99 as part of the new digital Battle Chest now available in the online Blizzard Store. In addition, anyone who owns the original World of Warcraft, regardless of when they purchased the game, will automatically be able to access all of the content and features from The Burning Crusade expansion at no additional cost.

So they pull you in with a free taste and then hit you with a low cost. I wonder if there is a specific reason for this move besides forcing other companies to compete with their prices. We already learned Sony Online Entertainment is lowering their subscription rates and with more and more MMO’s heading to free-to-play it looks like the online gaming world is changing.

Now the question is, is it changing for the better?

 

SOE: Dropping Subscription rates like it’s hot

soe

On the road to free-to-play Sony Online Entertainment sent out a e-mail to all of its customers informing them of their lowering of subscription rates for their online games.

As a result of feedback from many of our customers, we recently undertook a full review of our game pass (subscription) pricing for SOE PC-based games, in order to achieve the following:

1.Better rates for our loyal customers who choose to sign up for our longer term plans.
2.Prices that are on par with other MMO game prices – in all countries.

We are therefore pleased to inform you that we are reducing many of our game pass prices. There is no need for you to take any action – if you play a game for which we have lowered the game pass price, the new, lower rate will be applied on your next billing date.

If you purchased a 3, 6 or 12 month game pass from us between May 14, 2011 at 12:00 AM PST and June 27, 2011 at 11:59 PST, we have credited you with additional game time per the table below. This credited game time has been added to the end of your current game time. The new rate for your recurring plan will take effect after your credited time ends.

I think a few key points are better rates for our loyal customers which translates to, “please don’t leave us.”

Prices on par with other MMO games means, “Free-to-play is killing us.”

Here is the link to their new pricing chart – http://www.soe.com/gamepass/

Now take a close look at the game line up and the price for all access. Do you doubt that the price is because each one of those games are on the massive decline and with Star Wars Galaxies being killed off recently there is not much left for SOE.

So the question is, will this help SOE in the long run?

 

Will Valve’s New Game Be Free To Play?

 

Valve’s New Game Be Free To Play

Steam, the online game distributor, has recently embraced the free to play phenomenon gaining popularity in North America and is now offering this genre an outlet. With games like Champions Online, Spiral Knights, and Global Agenda all feeling resurgence in their populations from this new spotlight its only natural for Valve to try their hand at the F2P model.

Why not test out this success on something deep-rooted but admired? Steam has already taken one of their most popular games, Team Fortress 2, and given it a free to play make over. Has their been any success in this move? Apparently so, since it is rumored that Valve is going to make a F2P game, but what future feature project could they be thinking of making F2P?

Could it be Defense of the Ancients 2? By all logical means, it sounds like this would be the most likely model for success for DotA2. Why? Because its main contender is none other than League of Legends, a game that has garnered international popularity with its free to play model, microtransaction payment method, and E-sport fame.

If Valve intends to yank players away from a game that requires no down payment or box sales this seems like the most likely means to be able to strive in the DotA Clone market against such a heavy hitter such as LoL. If they manage to make DotA 2 an entity of its own while keeping to the core concepts of the original it could possibly dethrone or spar head to head against its competitor. Good luck with that feat, Valve.

City of Heroes Freedom

city_of_heroes_freedom

After several years and a ton of expansions, the first superhero MMO is set to offer a free to play version of its game. Recently publisher NCSoft and developer Paragon Studios laid out their plan to offer a free-to-play version of their successful MMO.

For veterans of the game you can keep your subscription and become a VIP member, which will grant you additional features, services and rewards. People who are new to COH will also be able to choose between the free-to-play game and the subscription service.

Here is a comparison chart breaking down the differences.

The move to free-to-play hopes to bring in new heroes to Paragon City. As expected with more MMO’s being created almost every month it seems and the addition of two other superhero MMO’s since COH’s launch it is understandable that this move was made. In addition, many MMO’s have decided to go this route and many more (cough – DC Universe Online – cough) look to be headed that way.

Free-to-play for City of Heroes is set to launch this fall.

 

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.

The Lord of the Rings Online Shadows of Angmar

Lord of the Rings Online - Gameplay Screenshot

The Lord of the Rings Online Shadows of Angmar

The Lord of the Rings spawned everything from RPGs, to Orcs, Hobbits, Ents, enchanted rings, magical swords, names like Narsil, Iluvatar or Nalroth, Elven and Dwarven stereotypes -you name it- thus effectively shaping the whole fantasy genre us gamers, film-goers and readers have come to love and cherish (in a very cuddly, very manly way). The Lord of the Rings, you see, is the original, the archetype, the book that bloody sold more than 100.000.000 copies, and now, after an even broader popularization through Peter Jackson’s okayish movies, it’s gone all MMO, or to be more specific all MMORPG.
Lord of the Rings Online - Gameplay Screenshot

 

The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (hence LotRO), for obviously this is said MMORPG’s full title, is the first fantasy game of its kind that just cannot be characterized as generic. Why? Carefully reread the paragraph above and you’ll see why. Also, it’s quite simply the best online RPG I’ve ever played and the first one I truly enjoyed for more than a week, let alone the first game I feel like paying a monthly fee for. Oh, and so you know, even though I’m not one of those lost fanatics speaking Quenya and dressing up in fancy elven suits, I’m quite enamored with the Professor’s works. To be honest, and to make a another pretty obvious point, I’ll let you in on a sad little secret. This game made me start reading the original trilogy all over again. Yes, for the fourth time wasting time in my life, but thankfully in a brilliant edition I had the foresight of buying myself quite a few years ago.

Lord of the Rings Online - Gameplay Screenshot

Anyway, I digress. The truly important thing in LotRO and its major triumph is that it could have gone so terribly wrong in so many ways and it just didn’t. It’s extremely faithful to the original work, uninfluenced by the sacrilegious film-plot, filled with details that will delight every aspiring Arda lore master, avoids most well-documented MMO pitfalls known to man, features an almost intuitive interface -say- a WoW player will immediately understand, has no bugs or lag to speak of, great music and some absolutely brilliant graphics. Let me say that again: absolutely brilliant graphics. Totally above anything seen in any MMORPG, filled with beautiful day-night transitions, excellent fantasy architecture, high-res textures and little touches like falling leaves or random flocks of flying birds. What’s more, a mid-range PC with a half-decent graphics card and 1 Giga of memory should be more than enough.

Lord of the Rings Online - Gameplay Screenshot

Consequently, exploring the vast richness of Middle Earth (the parts currently available, at least), which, let’s face it, remains light years ahead of any generic fantasy setting the competition has to offer, both in terms of depth and literary quality, is first of all a visual joy. Over a hundred screenshots taken by me while gaming with my main characters (a 15th level hobbit guardian and a 13th level Elf lore-master) are a testament to LotRO’s beauty. The damned thing made me feel like a tourist. Probably would make for a great Middle Earth geography learning tool too, even though the world isn’t 100% accurate, as it’s been obviously and frankly wisely altered for gameplay needs. A 20 day walk from Hobbiton to Bree would have been admittedly boring. Then again, actually visiting Bree and having a beer in the Prancing Pony is quite a Tolkien fanatic’s wet-dream come true.

Lord of the Rings Online - Gameplay Screenshot

Besides exploring and being all LotR happy, of course, there’s the game itself to have fun with, which -while definitely not perfect- comes quite close to being the pinnacle of contemporary MMOs. Players get to choose between the four good races (Humans, Hobbits, Elfs, Dwarfs), a variety of classes from burglars, guardians (tanks), hunters and minstrels to champions and lore-masters, even though thankfully no wizard class has been made available -Gandalf was quite a rarity you see, a roleplaying or normal server and set off for virtual glory in typical MMORPG fashion. Everything you’d expect is there: quests, raids, crafting possibilities, huge vistas filled with critters for the grinders, levels to be reached and gold to be treasured or even sold for real money.

Lord of the Rings Online - Gameplay Screenshot

The meat of the game are the quests, be they epic -thus advancing the main storyline, instanced, local, crafting or plain silly, like running drunk around the taverns of western Middle Earth. Despite quite a few quirkier -timed, even- quests such as running a postman’s errands or avoiding certain characters have been included, it’s the quality of the standard fetch and kill quests that manage to raise the level of the playing experience. Every one of them, and there are hundreds, is brilliantly written and quite verbose convincingly conveying the world’s history and offering glimpses at the actual Lord of the Rings events. LotRO feels like playing through an unfolding story. You’ll get to unearth seemingly unimportant conspiracies in the Shire, visit farmer Maggot, uncover a fake Black Rider, barely avoid a proper one, help two Elven brothers see each others point, raid a spider infested mine, try to bring peace between dwarfs and elves, hear a rumour or two about Sharkey and team up with the Rangers of the North to defeat them pesky goblins. All, in glorious prose and in full accordance with the overall works of Tolkien.

Lord of the Rings Online - Gameplay Screenshot

Yet, the game still remains a pretty standard MMO in the World of Warcraft gameplay mould. The major, definitely not groundbreaking, innovations LotRO introduces are the Deeds-Titles system, the Fellowship mechanic, a unique way to PvP and the ability each player has been granted to play some proper music in-game and smoke pipeweed. Now, to elaborate a bit:

  • Deeds and their accompanying titles (mind you, not all titles are deeds related; some can also be proof of heritage like Nalroth of Rivendell or Adelecar of the Fallohides) such as Wolf-tamer, Webslasher or Protector of the Shire are gained by killing loads of some particular beastie, fully exploring certain areas of the game world (e.g. discovering every titular farm of the Shire) or overusing an ability, and provide a variety of bonuses and interesting character customization options that have nothing to do with your level or class.

 

  • Fellowships, on the other hand, are something more anti-social gamers won’t be particularly interested in. They are the groups characters organize in, in order to pull through a more difficult quest, and do grant quite a few bonuses like the pretty excellent Fellowship maneuvers; special attacks only available to groups.

 

  • Instead of proper PvP, a decision Tolkien surely wouldn’t have been overjoyed with, you get the nice option of Monster Play in the rather barren Ettenmoors. Reach level ten, find a fell scrying pool (personally used a lovely one over at Thorin’s Gate) and you’ll get the chance to play as a level 50 orc/warg/spider (more baddies to be added soon) against high level players in a dynamic PvP campaign. It’s the freeps versus the creeps.

Truth is, I could go on and ramble about a thousand other little things, you know, if only to come up with the mother of all blog-based reviews, and I wouldn’t have even managed to scratch the surface of what a magnificent beast LotRO is. Things like the recent Solstice Festival, the raising difficulty of quest as one progresses eastward, destiny points, the amazingly detailed beginner’s quests (instanced) & areas, the sheer number of available emotes, the immensely helpful community are all there for you to discover, but -as expected- not all is perfect. LotRO is still very young by MMORPG terms. Monsters have serious clipping issues, the combat is not very tactical and, despite a huge gaming world, not all of Middle Earth is yet available. Oh, and it’s as expensive as WoW; definitely much better though. Still, an absolute must-try.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JztbiHaaMUY[/youtube]

That’s a (nine) out of (ten).


Faxion Q&A

faxion_logo_final_black

Faxion online is a upcoming unique MMO that offers combat driven gameplay set against the classic struggle between good and evil or in this case, Heaven and Hell. This free-to-play MMO will offer non-stop action as well as a robust PVP system. Currently, the game is in open beta, so head on over to their website to sign up.

Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Mike Madden, Creative Director at UTV True Games about Faxion.

So tell us a little bit about Faxion?

Mike Madden: Faxion Online is our first internally developed product. Faxion is a persistent world MMORPG, build for the competitive player. Players will choose to join the armies of Heaven and Hell, and fight over key locations in the world of Limbo. Each Territory players can fight over is represented through the manifestation of one of the seven deadly sins.

How did the idea of this game come about?  The theme of Heaven versus Hell is definitely intriguing, what made you want to go with such a storyline?

Mike Madden: Actually it was presented to us as a concept that the company was kicking around. While we did not agree with the initial design, we really liked the idea for the setting. We also knew it was a chance to have some fun and not take religion and death so seriously. So we felt we could take a more “Family Guy” approach and really just take it all over the map in terms of religions, sins and other death related topics.

Faxion will cover the more serious aspects of Heaven and Hell and the Seven Deadly sins, can you tell us more about what that entails?

Mike Madden: If it’s too serious, then we failed! Heh.

While we certainly would love people to be introduced to a new religion in the game, by no means are we trying to educate people on one religion versus another. Giving player a few new jokes to use throughout life for various religions, yes, learning actual useable facts to make educated decisions about religion? Hell no…

We wanted to be sure to have a good time and really find ways of introducing players to the religions we are all familiar with, Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Muslins. At the same time there are some fringe religious groups and cults that offer us just as much if not more material. Scientology, Pastafari and even some cults like the Branch Dividians from our backyard of Waco Tx.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

Now the game will focus on PVP and territory control, let’s start with the PVP aspect. What will make the PVP in Faxion stand out from other MMO PVP?

Mike Madden: I think players will find quite a few things that will make the PVP in Faxion stand out compared to other games.

One area we as players really wanted to address was how stale combat can get. We wanted to increase the overall player movement and use of the environment when fighting other players. One thing we do to encourage this movement to our combat, is we use a series of ability cool downs to mitigate how often an ability can be used, and not the traditional casting bar. The majority of our attacks can be cast while on the move. This delivers a natural ebb and flow to the experience.

We also have our multi-classing system which does not dictate what you play as a character. Its freedom of character creation really adds to the mix of PVP, when you just can’t be all too sure what your enemy may decide to use against you.

The other thing we allow is that you can start PvPing as early as you want and you can progress through the entire game solely through PvP. Fighting other players (of the appropriate levels) will not only grant you experience but also item drops.

Can you give us some insight on how the territory control part of the game will function?

Mike Madden: The META game at play is each army is trying to claim and maintain control over the seven deadly sins. With each gained for a faction, they get closer to a total victory, which results in a final server wide event.

We always want players to be able to find a fight so territories will be open for conquest at various points of the day. During this window, players will be fighting back and forth over control points within the zones. We will be offering many familiar capture mechanics to start, with many diverse and exciting new ideas on the way. King of the hill and capture the flag, along with some interesting combinations and new mechanics, will demand teamwork and strategy to deploy a good offensive or defensive strike on any given control point.

Can you give us some info on the three worlds, heaven, hell and limbo?

Mike Madden: As much as Heaven and Hell are present in the game, the adventuring begins in Limbo, which is offering a very diverse set of locations and challenges. Each location of Limbo is representing one of the seven deadly sins. This really gave our artists and designers a much wider palette of both color and locations to work with. Forest and Canyons, Mountains and swamps, each location is going to offer the player visual differences that we find compelling and fun to play in.

Our Heaven and Hell are bringing classic views to life, but we have a few things up our sleeves as we move forward. This is an area we are already planning to expand into and really playing around with the various thoughts and visions different cultures and views of life bring to both Heaven and Hell.

The concept of death, heaven and hell, and even limbo all reside within Faxion Online. To us, Limbo actually exists in no particular band of time, but rather through them all simultaneously. Each religion, each period of history all eventually end up in Limbo, which is what makes up the bulk of the world players will initially explore. Each war represents the struggle for the living on a single planet or plane of existence. With each victory, the fate for that planet/plane is decided, and the endless battle continues on with the endless worlds of souls to fight over. Each player upon arriving from their own mortal demise is able to reach glory in ways they could not have dreamed.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

What classes will players get to choose from?

Mike Madden: The class system in Faxion does not limit nor define what you are or do. Your first class choice simply starts the journey.  Players will make choices limited to their initial class selection to start, but soon find the shackles are thrown off and they are free to take on a second class type of their choosing. We use a point system, where players receive ability points with each level earned. As it stands now in Open Beta, once 30 points are spent you can choose a second, and at 60 points, choose a third.

It allows you to craft your character the way you want to. A good example of this is say you want to play a “traditional” cleric. You can go two routes in Faxion; either start as a Crusader and multi-class by also buying Guardian abilities or do the reverse. Since the cost to train abilities is different based on what is your starting class, the individual who starts as a Crusader will probably be more melee-based while the other will be more of a healer… but both will be capable in melee combat and skilled in the use of magic. Even then, two players who start as a Guardian and take Crusader abilities may be vastly different because they have purchased different abilities.

That is just part of the fun, customizing your character to fit your play-style and wants.

Can you tell us about the character customizations and abilities?

Mike Madden: We have a solid customization system now, where at creation the traditional choices apply for face, hair, skin tones and such. We are constantly looking to expand in this area, as we feel people always like to try and match to something in their minds eye. The more options and choices we can offer, the closer we allow them to get.

With abilities, we actually take things quite a bit further. We have over 150 abilities in the game across all of our classes. Each ability also offers a total of 10 ranks that can be achieved. Ranking abilities is an online or offline advancement track and is really the crux of our investment in the character.

Each rank is offering an advancement to the ability it is tied to. As an example a rank 1 fireball is pretty straight forward, but at rank 4 it may get a Damage Over Time (DOT) component added to it, increasing the effective use of the ability. So, it’s not just a statistical change in that it costs less spirit or can be cast quicker, its more about adding new function that may alter the way it’s used at all.

Experimentation is fun and something we want to encourage players to do. Happily we are seeing this get confirmed in our BETA testing.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

Everyone hates the grind in MMO’s how is Faxion eliminating that aspect of MMORPG’s?

Mike Madden: Master the game not the grind is a mantra we had when we first spoke about character progression, and it became a constant for us throughout development. When we sit down to play any game, we are doing so to get entertainment, not a second job or a list of chores. If we look at other game genres and platforms, the grind feeling is not nearly as prevalent. But, for some reason, MMOs consistently deliver this feeling of work in order to have fun.

We wanted to shift this mindset, and allow players to enjoy the game experience when they sit down to actually play. Crazy concept, I know, but from our internal testing it’s working.

We are doing this in a series of changes to some areas of the game, like offering offline advancement. In addition we are really not putting the time sink into the actual levels, since so much of it is based on the ranks themselves. We really want to get players leveled quickly so they can get into the action and have lots of toys to play with.

Was there a specific MMO or perhaps aspects of different MMO’s that inspired the creative and development process behind Faxion?

Mike Madden: One of the bigger things that bothers most of us is how a single MMO demands players to not play any other MMO at the time. So it was not so much a single mechanic as it was creating a game that you can compete, at a high level and still continue to play other games and MMOs alongside Faxion.

While I can easily say every MMO has something to learn, be it from its mistakes or from its victories, it would be unfair to them all to say only one inspired this game over any other.

What aspects of MMORPG’s did you want to focus on with Faxion the most and which did you want to avoid at all costs?

Mike Madden: One goal the team has maintained and held true, is not allowing any player to “buy a victory” due to any RMT model. We adapted a “Time versus Money” concept early and look to apply it at all layers of the game. In a competitive PVP game, having the guy with the biggest wallet, automatically win just sucks. Hell he already has a bigger wallet and is winning in life with more cash! The rest of us want a shot to kick his ass too.

So basically, if you have the time Faxion is a true free to play experience with no blocked content. However if you do not have all the time, a few purchases here and there will allow a part time player to compete at the highest levels.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

How will loot and progression work in Faxion?

Mike Madden: We like giving away treasures! Players can get loot from questing, PvP kills, PVE kills, Epic Encounters (non instanced of course), Territory Control and a number of alternative ways. We have a complete equipment system allowing players to adventure for or purchase varying styles of armor to best reflect their vision for a character.

In addition, we offer wings as an equipment slot, allowing players to find and or purchase some of the more defining pieces to an equipment set.

Tying this system back into our ability ranks, players will need to rank their armor ability, which unlocks the function to equip the varying grades of armor, from uncommon all the way up to artifacts. All in all it’s a system players should be familiar with, but still find some fun things to tinker around to create a look they are happy with.

Can you tell us about the guild and social aspects of Faxion?

Mike Madden: Guilds are critical to us as gamers and as developers. While we have basic levels of support for guilds to form and communicate, we are ever expanding not only the management tools of guilds, but also the meaning of guilds within Faxion.

A guild is so much more than a label that floats 6 inches above your characters head. Guilds are a source of pride, a family in this world that you can rely on, and most importantly they provide just as many fun and funny moments in any MMO that a designer could never implement.

We want to embrace the above, by giving them things to call their own, to build and grow, and ultimately defend from others trying to take it or destroy it. This is a part of the game we are looking at expanding now as we sit in Open Beta, working with the players and asking them directly what they require and want from a guild in Faxion.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

Everyone always asks so we will as well, whats the endgame and raid content going to look like in Faxion?

Mike Madden: It’s going to look a lot like a big ass war.

Without instancing, even our epic boss encounters can turn into large factional wars. While the endgame is not entirely in play as of yet, part of that is due to us wanting to be sure to build it for what the players want from it.

Any endgame content, whether it’s a crafting system, a raiding system or some other game function, it’s important to us that it always feed back into creating and expanding the conflict in Faxion. Even dungeons can and should have elements of competition with guilds of the same faction, alongside the faction war that is always present.

Guild versus Guild or Faction versus Faction, players will find a break from the war, but never fully escape it…

What is the testing and beta process going to look like and when can fans get a test run of the game?

Mike Madden: We are now in open beta and invite everyone to come in and check out the game at www.faxiononline.com

We are actively working with our Beta Testers to highlight what they would like to see us focus on, while we continue to improve on what exists.

On the Record: Champions Online goes Free-to-Play

Champions Online Free for All Box
Champions Online Free For All

Champions Online

Late last week we told you about Champions Online going free-to-play. This week we wanted to go a bit deeper into this story and find out about the reasoning behind the move as well as this emerging new model for MMO’s to follow. Obsolete Gamer was able to talk with Shannon Posniewski, Executive Producer at Cryptic Studios about the changes.

Obsolete Gamer: What were some of the reasons for wanting to make Champions free-to-play?

Shannon: We think that a lot of players have made a transition from wanting subscriptions to wanting to pay as they go. Traditionally, North American gamers have preferred all-inclusive subscriptions to microtransacted games. This has changed over the last two or three years. The advent of microtransaction-based social games helped bring about acceptance of this model, I think. At minimum, it proved a robust market existed.

 

We were finding that many people who played our trial loved the game, but weren’t as willing to subscribe monthly. So we began to explore going free-to-play. We decided to provide a hybrid model because there still were plenty of players who prefer subscriptions. At the business level, subscriptions are nice because they are more predictable than a la carte item purchases.

All of this is driven by our desire to have more people playing Champions. Having more people in the game is better for a bunch of reasons. Mainly, it’s more fun to have a lot of people around on the social level. There’s more heroes to do missions with, chat with, duel with, and so on. It’s just a better game when there are a lot of people to play with.

Of course, on the business side, having more players means that there are more people who may spend some money. We use this revenue to add new content, powers, zones, and so on. So, the more people who come in and spend money, the more things we can add to and improve in Champions.

Obsolete Gamer: Did the recent release of DC Universe Online have an impact on your decision pro or con?

Shannon: Not really. We had been considering going free-to-play for a while.

Obsolete Gamer: Some fans feel that when a MMO goes free-to-play that means it is on its way out, what can you tell us to counter this belief?

Shannon: Well, for us it definitely doesn’t mean that Champs is on its way out. The early success we’re already experiencing with Free for All is great, but we always figured the transition would encourage more users to play. And, given what great competitors like Turbine have achieved with their games, it’s clear that a switch in business model can actually mean new life, not less life. So I think that’s a misconception some users have.

It is a big change to move from a subscription model to a microtransaction model. It’s frightening to the bean counters because it means potentially giving up a nice, even flow of revenue for something which is comparably unpredictable. They see such a switch as very risky. I suspect, then, that some studios may wait until it’s too late before they bite the bullet and try to switch. By then, though, they may have lost the social momentum that MMOs need to survive.

I think the shift in how players want to pay for games has made it rough going for subscription-only games over the last couple years. We’ve been watching this change here at Cryptic for a long while. All our games have had in-game stores, which we used to get our feet wet before taking the plunge. The comments about loving Champs, but not wanting to pay a subscription, became so prevalent that we decided to go for it.

Obsolete Gamer: Does your free-to-play model follow anyone else’s or is it original and if so how?

Shannon: We use a hybrid model that combines free-to-play and subscription aspects. A number of other games do the same kind of thing. We decided to make it as simple as possible, though. There are only two kinds of players, Silver and Gold. Gold Members are subscribers. Silver Players are not. Some other models have four of five levels, which we found confusing.

A lot of the specifics are different in terms of what you get when you are a Gold Member. We wanted to find something in Champs that a casual player might not really care about and provide that to Gold Members as part of the subscription, since they’re enthusiast players who would care. We decided that being able to make a free-form hero (choosing powers and abilities from any framework as you wish) was a good split. We found that brand-new players were often confused about this anyway; they were used to having the role of their characters more defined and their advancement more tightly controlled.

We also don’t break our players up. They all play in the same universe. And, we don’t gate content. We decided to let everyone play all of the core content in the game and advance to the maximum level for free.

In the store, some items we sell will be familiar: XP bonuses, health buffs, damage buffs, and so on. Other items are pretty special to Champions: transform into a werewolf, growing and shrinking, and calling for a sidekick are examples. Of course, we also sell costume parts like we always have. We looked at other games to help us set prices on the items we sell in the store.

Obsolete Gamer: What are the main advantages for those who still pay monthly or are part of the gold membership?

Shannon: Anyone who subscribes, either by paying monthly or with a lifetime subscription, is a Gold Member.

Gold Members are entitled to many things that a Silver Player has to pay for. All the Adventure Packs, power frameworks, and Archetypes are included at no further charge, including any new ones introduced in the future. They have access to an extra dozen costume packs, and several travel powers for free. They also receive a stipend of 400 tokens every month.

But the big feature, which Silver Players cannot get, is the ability to build a free-form hero. Silver Players must choose an Archetype to base their hero on. This specifies which powers the hero can have and what role they play, much like a class in other MMORPGs. A free-form hero has practically no restrictions on which powers they can have. They can choose from any framework they want to make exactly the hero they imagine.

We actually have a handy Features Matrix online to better describe what Gold Members and Silvers Players get… http://champions-online.com/f2p_matrix

Obsolete Gamer: As for updates and expansions how will that be handled with free-to-play?

Shannon: Right now, our Adventure Packs (which can be thought of as micro-expansions) are free for Gold Members and have a small cost for Silver Players. Any new gameplay or systems features we introduce will likely be free for everyone. Our updates are free for everyone.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you think the a-la-carte system of buying various items and access is the future for MMO’s?

Shannon: I think a hybrid model is likely to go on for some time, maybe forever. Some people (and certainly the business) prefer subscriptions. But I think that the a-la-carte model is here to stay and will likely be the predominant revenue stream from here on out.

Champions Online goes Free for All

Champions Online Logo
Champions Online Logo

With many other MMO’s going the free to play and purchase additional premium features route and the recent release of DC Universe online it is no surprise to see Champions follow suit.  Today Atari and Cryptic studios launched a free-to-play version of their super hero MMO.

You will be able to download Champions and play for free. Adventure Packs, items, powers and costume pieces can be selected a la carte inside Cryptic’s C-Store.  For those who are gold member everything will stay the same and anyone can still upgrade to gold status to receive pretty much all the a-la-carte items.

“We’re thrilled to finally be able to launch Champions Online: Free for All,” said John Needham, CEO, Cryptic Studios. “The Champions team has put an incredibly amount of effort into making Free for All an amazing free-to-play MMO every gamer can enjoy at no cost.”

Here are the options that come with the Free for all launch:

·         Play Everything – With the exception of special Adventure Packs, all the content in Champions Online: Free For All is available to every player. Once a player enters a location within the MMO game world, nothing is off-limits!

·         Unlimited Play Time – Play as much as you like, as long as you like, at absolutely no cost. No subscription or credit card required.

·         Your Own Hero, Your Own Story – Become a hero, encounter his or her Nemesis, and advance to maximum level at no cost.

·         Play Your Way – Utilize the optional web-based and in-game C-Store to purchase gameplay upgrades or additional premium content.

To learn more about the game and download the software head on over to the Champions Online website.

APB. I Think U Dun Goofed

APB logo
APB logo

Long, long ago in the summer of 2010 there lived a game called All Points Bulletin. It was a large sandbox-ish Grand Theft Auto online that took developer Realtime Worlds millions to create. For many, it was a brief stint of entertainment that was hindered by hacks, broken mechanics, and normal players being dominated by gamers who memorized the map and all the good camping spots. For some, it was a new age Wild West where you could roam the city freely and reap havoc on a grand scale against friend and foe.

Of any game out there it had the most amazing character customization option to date. People were creating Ninja Turtle Gangsters with a van to match. People made pedophile theme gangster with Pedobear etched on the side of their vehicles. The game had so much to offer cosmetic hogs that it seemed it could hold a respectable player base for that option alone at least.

But what happened? APB just didn’t seem to hit its expected highs and hit unexpected lows. Was it because of the game? Was it because there were no commercials or real advertisements? You’d think a game like this would have millions of GTA fans drooling all over it. Unfortunately for Realtime Worlds, this isn’t a dream that would become a reality. On September 16th, 2010 the game would breathe its last breaths as it was announced they would be bringing it offline. All the servers came down and that was the end of this Gangster Vs Vigilante Armageddon.

However…

Recently it was announced that free MMO publisher Gamersfirst was going to resuscitate the corpse of APB and release it within the first half of the next year under a Free to Play model. While it does seem they intend to bring back APB, it certainly feels like it is going to be zombified rather than returning to its true former grace.

The team developing this game under Gamersfirst is Reloaded Productions, a group that has been working on an original RPG for the past year or so and has released nothing under its belt. None of the former the employees of Realtime Worlds are even involved in this Rebirth project.

This Free to Play model wreaks of failure as well. Former players of APB will most likely not even be able to play as their old characters and would have to start over again. Why is that? Well, legal issues from Realtime Worlds indicate that they can’t release databases with customer information so this release of APB would be more of an APB v2.

Exactly how will this F2P model work? It has been confirmed that players may “lease” weapons and purchase a premium status that expands on the creation tools. Let me allow this to set in. It expands on nothing. Reloaded Productions isn’t expanding on the current games creation tools. They are holding back options that this game was released with and are now charging players to unlock the only real great thing this game had going for it.

What was the point of this purchase? Everything about this rerelease suggests that this game will be an abomination beyond all abominations. While it hasn’t been released yet and I am talking out of my ass, the confirmed changes in the team, the monetized plan, and the withholding of the games key feature just makes me uninterested in the future of APB.

How can a developer who didn’t create this game and doesn’t even know how to manage the Unreal 3 Engine that it was based upon make this game a future success. That’s like asking me to work on it your trigonometry homework. Just because I’m part Asian doesn’t mean I know math. The same goes for a “developer” who acquires a game they didn’t work on and expecting to be able to reverse engineer something they don’t understand.

I wouldn’t suggest jumping back into APB if you’re really looking to get into this game again. Just get Grand Theft Auto 4 and play online if you’re looking for a shootout jamboree. With all the mechanic flaws this game had under Realtime Worlds, there is no possible way that Reloaded Productions is going to be able fix any of the mistakes the original team failed to correct firsthand.

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?

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.

Turbine announces Free to Play for Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO Witch King logo

Could we be seeing a new devide in MMO’s between the monthly subscription side and the Free-to-Play À la carte side? Guild Wars is one of the more known free to play MMO’s and then there are a ton of À la carte MMO’s where you pay for additional services. Today Turbine announced that Lord of the Rings Online would become free to play following a similar pricing model to another MMO, Dungeons and Dragons Online. How free to play would work in this case is you are able to download and play the game for free, but expansion packs, addtional questions and VIP services would all cost extra.

Here is the official announcement and details.

BURBANK, CA – June 3, 2010– Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced today that Turbine, Inc. will unveil a major update this fall, making The Lord of the Rings Online™ (LOTRO) free-to-play for everyone. Extending its award-winning story, LOTRO delivers the ultimate adventure featuring a massive world with state-of-the-art graphics and gameplay, and a rich set of features that until now could only be found in premium subscription-based online games. Launching this fall across North America and Europe, with Codemasters operating the game free-to-play in Europe, LOTRO will introduce Turbine’s innovative new pricing model that allows players to download the game and play for free, purchase expansions, quest packs, items, and account services a la carte from the new LOTRO Store, or join the VIP program to get unlimited access to all of the game’s content for one low price. Players interested in getting a sneak peek of the new LOTRO can sign up for a chance to participate in the Beta program which begins June 16, 2010 at http://www.lotro.com. “Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is bringing quality games based on The Lord of the Rings to multiple platforms, and the franchise’s expansive adventure story lends itself perfectly for LOTRO free-to-play, giving a wide range of players the opportunity to experience the game,” said Jeff Junge, Senior Vice President Online Games and Digital Games Platforms, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “We are focused on expanding our game franchises onto new digital platforms to maximize quality experiences for gamers worldwide and LOTRO’s new model is a great leading example of this.” “Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™ was the world’s first truly premium free-to-play online game that ushered in a new era of choice for online gamers seeking quality entertainment,” said Jim Crowley, President and CEO of Turbine. “The popularity of DDO validated the extraordinary demand by gamers for quality entertainment they can experience at their own pace and within their budget. Extending free-to-play to LOTRO will offer another premium game to a broad spectrum of fans.” “Having successfully taken two titles free-to-play in the past we are very pleased to be doing the same with The Lord of the Rings Online in Europe,” said David Solari, Vice President and General Manager of Codemasters Online. “It’s a fantastic, award-winning game with a wonderfully realized world and this step will only broaden its appeal and increase its player base.” LOTRO will offer players unlimited choice! Free means Free! – Players will download LOTRO by visiting www.lotro.com/ and join with millions of other adventurers as they explore the most complete and authentic recreation of Middle-earth ever created and participate in LOTRO’s award-winning epic story up to level 50 for free. Visit the new LOTRO Store! — The LOTRO Store is loaded with thousands of convenience items as well as expansion packs, premium content, additional character slots, potions, character customization and more! The LOTRO Store is seamlessly integrated into the game and lets the player identify new and exciting ways to enhance and customize their experience using points which can be purchased in the store or earned through gameplay. Be a LOTRO VIP! – Players who elect to become a LOTRO VIP will have unlimited access to all premium content, receive priority server access, 5 character slots, a shared bank slot, and a monthly allotment of points to spend in the new LOTRO Store.

You can learn more and sign up for the Beta here.