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Author Archives: Inkie
I went with a pair of friends from GameCritics.com to see the demo for The Secret World. Neither of those friends is a particular MMO enthusiast, both profess in fact to dislike most MMOs, and both came out of the demo raving about what they’d just seen and how ready they were to jump into TSW.
In fact, everyone I pointed at the TSW demo all weekend came out of it wielding exclamation points and telling me excitedly which faction they were. (Not which they intend to play, but which they are.) One of my GC pals belongs to the Illuminati, the other to the Dragons. (I am, of course, a Templar.) No sooner had I noted this on Twitter than a flood of other friends piped up to tell me which of the three factions they are, and to begin scheming against me and one another. So it appears that Mr. Tornquist’s nefarious plan to indoctrinate us all in his Secret War is a success.
A FunCom employee at the demo booth told me, though, that despite the scheming and striving of the three societies in their Secret War, players of different factions are still able to work together cooperatively, meaning that I will still be able to run dungeons and group up with my Dragon and Illuminati “friends.” (I’M WATCHING YOU, GUYS.) The demo that we watched was an instance-run, and it looked fun. No trash, multiple miniboss encounters leading up to the final boss, and each miniboss encounter was used to teach a different fight mechanic, all of which came together in the final boss fight. Characters switched specs and roles on the fly. There were group puzzles and ARG unlockables — that is to say, you had to go outside the game to look things up and find clues and answers to things inside the game. The animations and creature models were nothing to write home (or to write the internet) about, but they were respectable, and the Neil Gaiman/X-Files/etc. fan in me is completely tickled by the paranormal/urban legend/folklore flavor of the game.
The one reservation that I have got — and it’s a fairly substantial one, actually — is to do with the planned pricing model of the game. Apparently FunCom intends to go with a hybrid: a traditional monthly subscription model, and an in-game microtransactions store. This is my unimpressed face. I could discuss why at greater length — and actually, I am going to, in a forthcoming post about TSW and SWToR and outdated game pricing models. So hold that thought.
RIFT announces new solo- or two-player instances arriving in 1.5. I wonder if these are akin to skirmishes in LotRO; if so, they’re a pretty canny idea. I have always enjoyed LotRO skirmishes, and they’ve been a nice way for a frequently-solo player like myself both to feel challenged and to collect satisfying rewards. I wonder, though, if it’s a response to a smaller and/or less PvE-driven game population. It is hard to imagine WoW the Behemoth, for example, instituting one-to-two-player instances when people still throw themselves at five- and ten-mans in droves.
So. I am return.
The most important thing for you to note is that I am return with swag, and some of you will be getting some of it, so stay tuned for that. I have LotRO swag, I have DDO swag, I have RIFT swag. I do not have WoW swag because Blizzard is too cool to attend other people’s cons, and I do not have SWToR swag because honestly I couldn’t be arsed to stand in line for it.
Also note that Turbine and Trion have got the coolest community folks around.
The games I visited with were: RIFT and LotRO: Rise of Isengard, obviously; Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, perhaps equally obviously; WildStar; Skyrim; SWToR; and sundry other things (End of Nations, Minecraft 1.8, Torchlight 2, Path of Exile, etc.). I also attended a pair of panels on game writing, a panel with the stellar people of Extra Credits, and one on game data and statistics by Geoffrey Zatkin of EEDAR. I met many people. I have many thoughts to organize. In the coming days you can expect posts on:
- My impressions of forthcoming MMOs, primarily Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, and SWToR;
- MMO pricing models and mistakes;
- MMOs and the problem of other players;
- And some shorter discussion of game statistics, trends in game writing, etc.
Right now I am trying to catch up on the life I abandoned for five days when I trekked to Seattle, and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, and my stalled wordcounts on writing projects, which is why these posts are forthcoming and not right here right now. But they will be soon!
I have PAX writeups to post, but because at least one of them touches on the subject of this post, I thought I’d better get it out there first.
Both here and on Twitter I keep mentioning network effect with respect to WoW’s dominance in the market, so let’s talk about that for a bit, and about what we mean by “the market.”
The market can be defined as the demographic of people who want to play a PC-based* MMORPG. We can’t call that demographic “18- to 34-year-old men” or whatnot, the way you hear marketing executives or the glue-addled nimrods at EA speak of demographics, because it turns out the audience of people who want to play an MMORPG on their home computers is broader and more amorphous than that. It includes young people and old people and male people and female people and single people and married people and professional people and unemployed people and students and homemakers and parents and children and possibly a really intelligent dolphin or two. So we will stick with using the self-defining demographic of People Who Want to Play an MMORPG, or PWWTPAMMORPG, which looks sort of like it might be the name of a very small coastal town in Massachussetts.
I was trying to decide what the next topic would be and then I read Chuck’s post this morning, as well as the one he mentions regarding storytelling in games, and am going to take those together as signs from the universe that it’s time to touch on meaningful choice — not just choice — and engagement.
To begin, it seems appropriate to talk about beginnings. They’ve been a lot on my mind lately: beginning new games, of course (O brave new worlds), but also beginning the new year, beginning a new novel, beginning a career change, beginning fresh ventures. We’re always beginning something. But for present blog-purposes, it’s game-beginnings I want to touch on specifically.