Loading... A Change in Perspective

Welcome to the 1,294th edition of Loading... Loading... is the premier daily MMOG news, coverage, and commentary newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

Welcome to the 1,294th edition of Loading...

Loading... is the premier daily MMOG news, coverage, and commentary newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

As MMO gamers, we've come to take many things for granted when first embarking on a journey through a new title. But what happens if you were to remove some of the more commonplace things like an XP bar, character classes or even the option to play in third person? I discovered the answers to these questions and many more during my recent time spent in Mortal Online, a game which in many ways is like stepping into an MMOG for the first time again. We'll take a look at this plus links to the latest and greatest Ten Ton Hammer exclusives today in Loading... A Change in Perspective

The Pulse

You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is The Pulse?).

Here are today's top 5 Pulse results over the last week:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. EverQuest II
  3. Dungeons and Dragons Online
  4. EVE Online
  5. Lord of the Rings Online

Biggest movers in the last seven days :

  1. Star Wars Galaxies (UP 5 to #17)
  2. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (UP 2 to #8)
  3. Warhammer Online (UP 2 to #6)
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"What's the object of the game?"

"It's a mystery. It's almost like figuring out the object of the game IS the object of the game."

If you've been following Caprica, SyFy's newest excursion into the Battlestar Galactica universe, then the above quote may sound familiar to you. It comes from a recent episode when one of the principle characters makes her first trip to a place called New Cap City, which is a game of sorts that can be accessed through the series' virtual reality world, known simply as V-world.

While we're still a good few years away from that type of fully immersive massively multiplayer experience, some of the concepts present in New Cap City should be fairly familiar with most MMO gamers. For starters, it's a fully PvP world, and while no one seems to really know the exact object of the game they do, however, understand one key gameplay element: survival. You see, in New Cap City the death penalty can be pretty harsh. If your avatar dies there you're forced into a permadeath of sorts, never able to return so it's game over if you die.

Taking my first awkward steps into the Mortal Online open beta recently, many of these things sprang instantly to mind. Okay, maybe not the permadeath and fancy holographic world setting, but the idea of not really being sure what the object of the game is paired with a potentially harsh PvP environment were certainly present.

Character creation in Mortal Online offers players plenty of familiar elements such as the ability to make minor tweaks and adjustments to get your eyebrows looking just right. However, rather than picking a race or class and pressing a shiny red play button to dive into the game, instead you're able to customize your race by making a number of selections for your character's ancestry. Each of your decisions here will have some direct impact on your starting stats, as will the background you select. Background selection also helps determine which skills your character starts out with, though this is by no means locking you into any kind of predefined class role.

Logging into the game with my freshly minted Sarduccan character, I found myself stumbling around on a hillside just outside of one of the numerous starting villages. Unlike many MMOGs where hand-holding tutorials and breadcrumb quest lines are the rule, Mortal Online is very much a throwback to an earlier point in the industry's history where your first task wasn't to look for the closest yellow exclamation point on your minimap, but rather trying to figure out the basics. How do I fight? How do I interact with NPCs? Do I have any abilities, and if so where can I find them?

Thankfully the game does at least offer a small help section which is made obvious via an on screen prompt upon logging in. It only covers the basics like movement, combat and interaction controls, but it's enough for you to at least learn the essentials.

The game is also played entirely in first person, which is no doubt a help later on once you're more comfortable with the manual combat targeting, but it can be a bit disorienting at first if you're used to watching your character gracefully swing a sword from a bird's eye view. Well, that plus it ultimately doesn't matter how well you placed your eyebrows at character creation, since you're likely never going to personally see them while playing. And if another character is close enough to see them, they're no doubt trying to pick your pockets and steal what little you've managed to scrape up in the surrounding environments.

Because I like to explore a bit straight out of the gates to get a better sense of my environment, I ended up accidentally falling off of a small cliff which left me with only a few hitpoints. This wouldn't have been a huge deal, and was an important lesson of sorts, because that's when I learned that health doesn't automatically regenerate, but rather you need to use one of the healing skills tucked neatly away in your skill book. All fine and good, only you need specific reagents in your inventory to use any of your abilities and since you begin the game with little more than a cheap sword and rags on your back, that also means you'll need to find a means of either gathering the necessary reagents or purchasing them from a local vendor.

This is where the comedy relief of my awkward first attempts at combat comes in. Approaching a nearby weasel I drew my sword to attack, only the thing sprung into a tree and proceeded to bite me in the head which forced me into submission. In this state you're immobilized and basically on the brink of death, but after a short wait you're able to move again though you have to be careful as you'll only regain the bare minimum of hitpoints. I repeated this process of attack, submit, attack, submit until finally offing the offending weasel and scooping up the loot it was kind enough to offer me in a gore covered bag.

While my journey didn't end here, I should probably wrap things up for now. The main things I took away from my time in the Mortal Online open beta so far were enough for me to want to explore the game further. It's a very challenging game in many ways, and not one for the faint of heart. It also is very much in the realm of being an M rated game, complete with plenty of gore and nudity. But if you can manage to survive your initial experiences and learn the basics of skill progression, crafting and general survival in a harsh environment, there are plenty of cool concepts present in Mortal Online that make it worth a return trip.

Have you been playing Mortal Online? If so, be sure to share your own impressions of the open beta right here in the Loading… forums!

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of the Day

From our Tavern of the Ten Ton Hammer forum

World of Skinner Box Online

My daughter likes to quote some TV show character (or is it a movie character?) saying, "Pressabutton...getacookie! Pressabutton...getacookie!" Most gamers realize that playing MMOGs is little more than a button-pressing cookie-giving scenario, but a post by Annatar, quoting a tidbit from a Cracked.com article in which a games researcher for Microsoft talks about methods for getting players hooked, brings the point eerily home. Step into the Tavern of the Ten Ton Hammer to read more, share your comments, and perhaps even get a cookie.

Awesome Quotes from the Epic Thread

"I don't see how it's so much more different than TV. Television writers have been trying every trick in the book to get people to watch their shows, sex, violence, cliff hangers, etc. People are a lot more sophisticated than you give them credit for. Skinner's experiments are largely disregarded these days as too simplistic."

- Artiz3n

"I beg to differ, my job for the last 5 years involved the use of modified Skinner boxes and we were able to do some quite elegant experiments leading to a novel product."

- Smoothbrain

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell us!

New and Exclusive Content Today at Ten Ton Hammer

6 new Ten Ton Hammer features today! 77 in March! 307 in 2010!

GDC 2010

Rise of the Godslayer GDC 2010 Video Presentation

The Rise of the Godslayer expansion is perhaps one of the most promising expansions of recent MMOG history. Clever puzzles coupled with choice, consequence and challenge will keep fans entertained for some time. Game Director and Executive Producer Craig Morrison walked us through the highlights of the upcoming expansion at GDC 2010. Ten Ton Hammer has the full video along with a brief synopsis. Premium members will also enjoy an additional Q&A at the end of the video.


Raids - A Comparison of Old School vs Next Generation MMOGs

Have you ever wondered if MMOGs are better now than they were in the years ago? Mattlow has, and brings his perspective to the topic in the second part of his Comparison of Old School vs Next Generation MMOGs.

The Evolution of StarCraft Armies - Early Game Zerg

StarCraft, without question, has the most prolific history of any real-time strategy game. Its impeccable balance, which spawned hundreds of unique strategies, map designs, and builds, is legendary in the online gaming community. As StarCraft II prepares to take up the mantle of its predecessor, Ten Ton Hammer takes a closer look at how the armies of StarCraft II have evolved, beginning with the early game Zerg.

Sins of a Solar Spymaster #40 - Make More Sandboxes

Are sandbox MMOGs superior to the more traditional content-based models? That's what's on The Mittani's mind after his recent trip to GDC 2010. In this week's Sins of a Solar Spymaster, The Mittani examines his impressions from GDC as the industry continues to trend more towards content-based games and pay less attention to the sandbox-based models such as EVE Online.

Star Trek Online: Ten Ton Hammer's Galactic Map Archives Updated

While the process of warping between local systems in Star Trek Online has been made relatively easy, sometimes traversing the vastness of space can still be a difficult endeavor. To help get you pointed in the right direction, Ten Ton Hammer is pleased to bring you detailed maps for each sector in Federation space and beyond.

WoW: Loremaster's Corner: The War of the Three Hammers

The War of Three Hammers is a little known war in World of Warcraft history. It's notable because it explains why Ironforge is run the way it is, why there are multiple clans of Dwarfs, what the base story was for the original pre-expansion WoW, and a lot more (including Ragnaros). Ever wondered about these things? Check out our Loremaster's Corner this week and find out.

Today's Hottest Articles and Guides

  1. Star Wars: The Old Republic Lead Writer Interviewed at GDC 2010
  2. Democratizing DDO - Turbine Reveals New Facts and Figures at GDC 2010
  3. Boldly Going - A GDC 2010 Interview with Cryptic's Bill Roper and Craig Zinkievich
  4. TERA Preview at GDC 2010
  5. Conquest and Diplomacy - A Look at Sid Meier's Civilization V
  6. Final Fantasy XIII Review
  7. Clash of the Titans! Mytheon Preview at GDC 2010
  8. StarCraft II Multiplayer Beta Preview & First Impressions
  9. EverQuest 2 Brewday 2010 Walkthrough
  10. Nexon Unveils Vindictus at GDC 2010

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

- Reuben "Sardu" Waters and the Ten Ton Hammer team

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