a retrospective look back on the year is one of our favorite times of the year here at Ten Ton Hammer. Forget the tired eggnog and traditional yuletide trimmings. For us our years aren't made up of the conventional annual events that earmark the more white bread calendars. No! Our years are spiced with animated launch dates, electrifying trailers, titillating interviews, and previews that make us salivate. We are gamers and we love games.
2011 was a fantastic year. We saw enthralling RPGs, visceral action games, stupefying adventure games, and charged shooters. Some of our favorite developing companies were bought out; others were shut down. Some devcos grew to almost overnight fame while still others built upon previous successes.
We climbed mountains of snow to travel cross-continent to catch previews in San Francisco at GDC. We ventured hazardous fog to speak to animated developers in Boston at PAX East. We battled mass angry traffic in Los Angeles at E3 for a peek at some new trailers. We braved treacherous oceans by flying over them to get some hands on time in Germany at gamescom. We traversed dangerous state lines to get in line for more games in Seattle at PAX Prime. We learned multiple languages to get a taste of even more games at MIGS in Montreal and GGS in Taiwan. We travelled the world round and came back with our tales of adventure that we could share with you so that these stories could be told for generations to come on how 2011 was a top year for video games and MMOs.
So join us as we celebrate these games once again this year. We'll take our own private journey today to look back at the games of 2011 and what made them memorable for all of us this year.
say that MMOs have changed in the past few years would be akin to saying that Megan Fox is a little attractive. It would be a gross understatement and we just don't tolerate that kind of brazen falsity here at Ten Ton Hammer.
MMOs are different than they were a decade ago and one of the most pronounced trends we've been seeing these past few years are games that have been making a transition from paid subscription models to free-to-play models supported by other means, usually a cash shop of some sort for in-game items.
Not every game tackles that transition well. Many of these games were designed from the ground up with a subscription model in mind. This can often lead to a conversion to free-to-play in awkward ways that only a pubescent teen stumbling across a showering Megan Fox could illustrate. Other games, however, have been able to make such a smooth transformation that one would barely be able to tell that they were ever designed as anything but what they are today. For those games we've created an all-new award this year: The Best Transition Award.
a successful community is paramount to building a successful MMO. As social beasts by their very nature MMOs are the cool kids at the back of the bus. But what makes a great community and how is it forged?
When we were considering what titles qualified for our Best Community award, nominations had to meet several criteria. First and foremost, the game had to have tens of thousands of players interacting, cooperating, and competing on a massive level. Not just hundreds or mere thousands of bring-your-own-group players brushing shoulders toward a minimally gregarious endgame. We wanted to see large-scale factional outbreaks reminiscent of arguments over Occupy Wall Street or American Idol, where leadership ability/ charisma as well as sheer numbers could change the lines on the map.
Next, our Best Community nominees had to have built-in resources to continually stir its sizable melting pot, offering plenty of opportunities for spontaneous interaction with total strangers. A mostly helpful and industrious forum community adds some spice and variety to the mix, as does a burgeoning add-on development ecosystem.
Finally, the developer had to have the development schmaltz and marketing budget to wheedle its way into mainstream channels.
in an MMO happens more pronouncedly and more often than any other genre. There are several ways to grow but the most anticipated growth any game can see comes in form of an expansion.
A good expansion needs to build upon the game's license and flesh it out with more content to keep players entertained long term. This is no easy feat as MMO gamers are notorious for devouring content weeks or even days after its release. Thus the challenge becomes not only building more interesting things to do, but also constructing ways players can spend their time enjoyably without being hit over the head with blatant time sinks. Doing all of this while keeping true to the spirit of the IP and staying conscious of the fans' expectations and what made the game a success in the first place becomes a complicated weaving that several developing companies eventually blunder by producing a half-baked expansion that changes the game too drastically or is less than enjoyable by the majority of the playing population.
This year's winner is very much in tune with what their fans enjoy and are very conscious of what makes their game a unique enjoyable experience. Possibly one of the most successful expansions in the past five years the winner this year earned the award with a rock-solid delivery of exactly what was in demand.
are our favorite topic here at Ten Ton Hammer and we serve up hot and tasty RPGs like the Denny's of MMO sites.
We do love our MMOs but we also have an insatiable craving for a good RPG. Let's make no mistake about it--MMORPGs would not exist without RPGs. And today's RPGs are far more advanced than we could have ever imagined even ten years ago. Technology is booming and there are almost no limits to what a developer can do with it. Add to that the unbridled creativity of some of the top minds of the industry and modern RPGs are nothing short of miraculously immersive.
2011 had a few titles that were very enjoyable. But when it came down to brass tacks we needed to decide on the one game that we could live in. This game needed to be one for which we would be willing to shed our mortal coils, quit our jobs, lock ourselves away for months never to see the light of the tangible world, and be perfectly content in doing so. When we thought about it like that, "which game could I survive happily in for the rest of my life?" our winner became apparent.
Ton Hammer readers are what keep us going and keep us in line. They'll let us know when they see something they like and they'll call us out when they see something they disagree with. They're an honest group of gamers and they have some of the most distinguished taste of any online community.
So in that regard the Readers' Choice award is probably one of the most prestigious awards. Our readers know what they like, they know what they don't like, and they won't settle for any shenanigans. When we asked them what their favorite game of the year was the responses came back loud and clear.
MMO Award this year had some heavy contenders. 2011 was a wonderful year that saw some better games than most years combined. We were privileged gamers who, if anything, needed a bit more time to enjoy everything we saw this year.
But we had to make a decision based on execution, integration and popularity. 2011 games were fun and each had its own successes but this year's winner was one that we're pretty sure is going to be remembered decades down the road from now and one that may very well change the roadmap of the MMOG industry... in a good way. We can't stop playing it, and we know we're not alone in our addiction.