Posted Wed, Jun 23, 2010 by Ethec
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LEGO Universe, Clone Wars Adventures, and Hero: 108 Online were three kid-oriented MMOGs we saw at E3 2010 last week, and all three seek to seize upon the success of MMOG titles like Free Realms and Wizard 101. Our E3 impressions of these games, plus a look at how they break the mold of pre-teen and tween online games, in today's Loading... For Kids of All Ages.
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Yesterday's news that over one million new wizards had signed up for Wizard 101 was yet another indication that kids online games have found their footing. Mind you, registered numbers are very rarely independently verified, and though we have no reason to doubt KingsIsle, this is the sort of statement that only flies in press releases (not where investors or advertisers are concerned). Free Realms has proffered up similar press blasts, the last came last April when the 10 millionth player signed up shortly before the game's one year anniversary.
If you know little about Free Realms, be sure to check out Medawky's very capable Free Realms review posted yesterday, but both Free Realms and Wizard 101 were groundbreaking in that they found that, yes indeed, kids and their parents aren't just an enthusiastic cadre in a market chock full of jaded gamers, but they're also willing to pay big (or, perhaps more accurately, pay small many times) for perceived value. This is nothing new to toy and collectible card game manufacturers, but the essential difference is that in online games, the cost to producer new toys and cards is almost criminally low, that is, if you can create something that has as much "play value" as a physical object.
Fun to play as Wizard 101 and Free Realms are, we learned more about several other promising kid-oriented games at E3 2010. Clone Wars Adventures is a surprisingly light-hearted take on the days of the old republic and, unlike some have suggested, is not just Free Realms in padawan robes. The game trades the hefty download required for Free Realms many overland zones for four persistent Jedi-only areas, tons of customization options (lightsabers too), and a plethora of mini-games, including DDR-style lightsaber duels, starfighter piloting, speeder racing, gungun tossing (Jar Jar helps you practice force push!), and much more.
The remaining two kid-geared titles break the mold established by all three of these titles. Seeking to bridge the mini-game munchkins with dyed-in-wool late teen and adult MMORPGs, Hero: 108 Online uses the same Flash assets from the eponymous Cartoon Network show that's gaining in popularity since it hit the airwaves in August, and offers 8-man raids, loot-stealing PvP, a death penalty that includes loss of experience, and a unique blend of 3D graphics and side-scroller perspective. It's easily the most hardcore and authentic traditional MMORPG experience targetted at the yutes, and potential Mr. No Hands's will be able to check out the open beta next week.
Finally, we come to LEGO Universe, which blew our minds at this year's E3 (or would have if we had any mind left to splode at the last appointment on the last day). What originally got folks talking about the game was the idea that you could collect LEGO blocks as you play, use these blocks to construct models in your own private build area, then optionally share your build area with "best friends" or (pending moderation) with the public at-large. But, as beta players discovered, building something cool brick-by-brick is tougher than it sounds. Modular sets entered beta a short while back, and allowed players to use pre-fab sections to build their own unique castles, western forts, and the like.
But the coolest part came when the LEGO Universe team brought their brick-built creations to life through "behaviors." Using a simplified programming language adapted from LEGO Robotech, players can trigger their creations to perform a wide variety of state changes and actions from chat to simple combat to movement. You can see it all happen in our LEGO Universe video Q&A from E3 2010.
User-generated content has been attempted before in the MMOG space, and perhaps done best by City of Heroes and Saga of Ryzom. But it's hard to imagine any game offering the same level of flexibility with setting and character actions (since only one skeletal model is required for each LEGO "mini-fig"). The dream, according to Ryan Seabury, is that players will someday be able to re-create an entire MMOG within their build area. Behaviors will be unveiled for the beta testing community soon, and I can't wait to see what players come up with.
Are kid-oriented MMOGs headed in the right direction? Share your thoughts in the Loading... forum.
From our /OOC (Off Topic) Forum
hello every cleavage
With Shay off on vacation for the rest of the week, we can bend the holy laws that govern the Epic Thread ever so slightly. In this case, the Ten Ton denizens have a little fun with a stray forum spammer with a weak grasp on the English language. Hilarity and... yes, cleavage ensue.
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HOT! CONTINUING E3 COVERAGE
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