Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Zynga vs. Blingville Discussion.

The argument is still going strong at and we get a winner of a statement followed by my not-so-neutral rebuttal:

“How stupid does Zynga think its players are?”

Are you serious?

How do you think Zynga made all that money? Their games aren’t being bought off of a store shelf and they certainly aren’t subscription-based.

When you pay five dollars for twenty-five Farmcash just so you can get that one pink bunny with a heart on it, that’s stupid. Or better yet, how about all of those horse fans who pay more than five dollars for each horse?

A World of Warcraft account only costs fifteen dollars a month and your characters get to ride their horses all over the world, how much are these people paying for a few “beta” horses that just stand around the farm?

Zynga Sues Makers of Blingville.

Lots of hate over at over the recent lawsuit. Here is a copy/paste of one of the comments that offers a more neutral take which I left there with a throwaway name:

"Funny, I didn’t realize this was a farmville hate site.

Anyway, there is precedent set by others for this type of lawsuit. Ebay has sent cease/desist orders out to other online sales sites with “bay” in the name.

It might be something that they can’t win in court, but if you don’t have the money to fight a court battle, then you change your name and go about your business.

Zynga has the money to make this last a long time in court, does this other game company? They might be able to hang long enough to make it to the settlement stage, but that’s a big gamble for a little game still in beta.

Other game companies could have fought Zynga over the things that Zynga “stole”, but apparently they did not. It’s their loss that they allowed Zynga to become the beast that it is."

I'm sure this won't stop any senseless arguing but it was on my mind.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Upcoming Prospects

There are three potential hits coming out soon:

Star Wars the Old Republic, which I don't think I care enough about to bother with, but the story potential sounds like it's going to be a big hit. I guess it depends a lot on how many light sabers are going to be swinging around. Something about Star Wars has always been fun to watch, but I never got into the extending universe of comics, books, and video games.

Rift...Sounds like Trion is producing a well-polished game in the manner of Blizzard. This one I might give a shot, just to do something not related to WoW.

Guild Wars 2...I didn't play the original Guild Wars. But now that I know that the game is sort of like Hellgate: London in that you have a public hub and a bunch of instanced dungeons, I might give the sequal a shot. It's not really my preferred method of play, I like to see other players running around in my game worlds, but I enjoyed the hub experience in Hellgate: London and if Guild Wars is perfecting that style of MMO, there's no reason for me not to give it a shot.

I won't be playing more than two games at a time, but that doesn't mean I can't eventually own them all and just jump in and out of them every other month or so.

Anyway, I've been exclusive to WoW since Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London both shut down, so I'd like to give something else a chance.

What About a Halo MMORPG/FPS?

Gamebreaker TV has a fun mash-up of two podcaster/blogger types. During one of their recent episodes, one of the hosts suggested that the Titan project listed in the Blizzard corporate leak is a reference to Halo, because apparently the original company that was going to create the Halo MMO called the project "Titan".

Other lasting rumors about the next Blizzard MMO suggest that it will be an FPS.

So, pretending that the next Blizzard MMO is going to be based on Halo, and will be FPS, would I play a Halo MMOFPS game?

I really don't see why not. Especially if Blizzard is behind it. And if they have taken any cues from Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London, they might present a very fun and engaging game.

The FPS aspects of Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London were exactly what I needed. Up until those games came along, my FPS experience was pretty much non-existent. And being able to choose melee as well was icing on the cake.

No one can say outside of Blizzard staff what they intend to present with their upcoming MMO, but I think I could play a Halo MMOFPS, even though I haven't really played a Halo game. I've gone a few rounds with a buddy of mine, but I've never played through the story. But what I don know about the lore, there is a lot to share with the fans and a whole lot more left to be written.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Combat Arms Hacks

When I first played Combat Arms I was having a lot of fun in spite of how poorly I play. One of the things that drew me in was how balanced the game was and also how quick it seemed to play. This is (was) a game that forced you to actually learn to play. You really had to have some skill or learn it quickly. Since your weapons are on a clock (you "buy" them for a day, week, or month or month with in-game gold (or microtransactions)) you can't just sit idly by and watch the experience and gold accumulate, you actually have to improve. The higher your rank, the longer it takes to make the next rank. There is a gold bonus given with each rank earned and at the lower ranks it feels as though you are swimming in gold. But soon enough the gold comes less often...unless you have been improving your game.

I routinely get between 10-15 kills per match. That actually places me about halfway in line of skill order for each match. I only get between 100-150 gold each match. The weapons and gear I choose runs about 2000 gold or so and currently I am paying daily. That's a lot of matches each day with my mediocre skill.

But it's doable and I don't have to chain myself to the computer. After all, it's a well-balanced game and everyone else has to improve their game as well.

Or, that's how it was in the beginning at least.

It didn't take long for players to begin using cheats to get that extra edge. After a while, enough people were using the cheats that it began to seriously impact the balance of several matches in a day. But now, it seems that things have gotten out of hand. I suspect that fair players became weary of the imbalance and began using cheats themselves just to get back on an equal footing with the original cheaters. I am tempted to do so myself. I've even gone so far as to look up these hacks to see what is really going on.

The first thing to greet me on my research was a brand new hack made available withing 45 minutes of Combat Arms' latest patch. This new hack is called a Ghost Hack. It allows the player to play in an invisible state and move through walls, over and under the game maps, and fly through the air. Coupled with other hacks that aim headshots for you and highlight all the players on the map (kind of like a heat sensor) even behind obstacles and you are now an invincible killing machine.

Other, lesser hacks allow you to jump through walls and run without losing stamina or even allow you to fire without reloading or experiencing recoil.

All of the features that these hacks implement only serve to disrupt the balance of Combat Arms.

Then there are the glitches, whereby players "squeeze" between walls or into corners. They can see around themselves and fire weapons, but unless they make a mistake, they can't be fired upon. The only sure way to combat the glitchers is to take advantage of the glitch yourself, get "inside" the wall and kill the other glitcher. It is very unnerving to watch from a distance as the glitchers' bullet trails come out of the wall and suddenly the combat scroll lights up with a half dozen kills from one person.

Combat Arms is a great game and it is not too late to fix the hacking issues. Though it is daunting when one hack site claims to have over 48,000 active hackers using just one of their hacks.

But something has to be done. Right now there is a policy of banning accounts found to be using hacks, but this does not keep the hackers out of the game and only suggests to fair players that they can't use the hacks, thus keeping them on the imbalanced side of the equation.

If nothing is done soon, the the Combat Arms hacks will certainly make the game unplayable by fair and balanced players.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Current Trends

The most blatant current trend in the MMO market is that of failure. Failure to retain launch numbers, failure to fix bugs in a timely manner, failure to communicate honestly with players, failure to take proper responsibility for their failures.

From Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London to Age of Conan and Warhammer, the current string of failures in the AAA range of MMOs is unexceptibal. The player community should NOT be holding its breath over Blizzard's mysterious Fourth Project. But this is exactly what we have been reduced to. Since everyone else is either failing utterly or incapable of impressing us with new concepts we have turned to Blizzard in the hopes that they will give what the community has been craving: an engaging MMO full of new concepts and playable content that takes advantage of new technologies and ideas. While everyone else has been producing one failure after another, Blizzard has been perfecting the MMO craft.

Thankfully, the Old Republic MMO has some potential, but one has to ask if the developers will be giving players something more than lightsaber duels and drab-colored robes. When everyone is melee with a side of Force range and all their clothes are shades of gray and brown, how long can players stay interested? If they intend for the stories to keep people interested then the developers certainly have their work cut out for them.

NCSoft's Aion looks beautiful and will certainly have a cult following, but it utilizes the abysmal click-to-move mechanic and that alone is enough for me to keep my money in my wallet. In today's world of WASD usage, what were they thinking?

We have two super hero MMOs on the horizon to compete with City of Heroes. Champions Online and DC Universe Online. Can DC Universe avoid the current trend of high-profile IP failures? I am not optimistic.

I don't know what to say about it, but there seems to be a whole lot of failure going on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why Play Solo?

MMO games are designed so that people can get together and socialize in an online environment. There has never been a hard and fast rule that people actually had to PLAY together, just that the environment is designed for people to BE together. The first MMO games made it mandatory for people to group together in order to enjoy most aspects of the game. Because this was the standard design for several years, many players developed a mindset that this forced group dynamic was the only way MMO games could, or should, function.

It turns out that most people simply don't WANT to be forced to group with a bunch of strangers in order to enjoy the game they bought. They DO, however, want to be a part of an immersive world where living players add a random and chaotic dynamic to the environment. They like to follow conversations that appear in the chat boxes. Some players even enjoy the presence of a guild, but still rather play solo.

I once considered the Elder Scrolls games to be the best in RPG gaming due to the massive and open worlds in each game. But there was something very lonely about playing those games. There was no one to show off too. No one to chat with. The NPCs were devoid of life beyond some scripted code. If a player came across a difficult mob and beat it, who do you tell? What if you find a rare item that has some awesome features, who does the player show it off to?

When I began playing my first MMO, I was first caught up with how lively it was. There was a sense that the world was populated, alive. The group content was a nice option but I didn't have to do it. My first guild was full of socializers, it was great.

This is why some of us choose to play solo in an MMO. Because we like a populated and living environment, but we don't want to be forced to attend the social gatherings.