Loading... September 23rd, 2010 - The Mobile Progress Trap

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Welcome to the 1,425th edition of Loading...

As the industry progresses, many MMOG developers have aims to expand the tools for communication and offline interaction with our favorite games by use of mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPad. And while this is generally considered to be a positive trend that offers added value to the overall experience, pushing mobile MMOG apps too far too quickly could cause more harm than good to the overall social experience for gamers. We’ll take a look at the social implications of the recently announced Guild Wars 2 Extended Experience and much more today in Loading… The Mobile Progress Trap.

The Pulse

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

Today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Lord of the Rings Online (UP 1)
  3. Everquest 2 (down 1)
  4. EVE Online 
  5. Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (UP 1)

Biggest movers today:

  1. StarCraft II
    - UP 2 to #11
  2. Guild Wars 2
    - down 1 to #6
  3. Tabula Rasa
    - down 1 to #12
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World of Warcraft: Brewfest Tankard O' Terror Contest
October is just around the corner, so you know what that means. It’s that festive time once again when we get to raise or virtual tankards in World of Warcraft in celebration of the annual in-game Brewfest event! To help get you into the spirit (or should that be spirits?) of the event, we’ll be giving away not just one, but two signed Tankard O’ Terror’s from Taverncraft. For full contest details be sure to race your ram over to our Brewfest Tankard O’ Terror Contest page!

Enter now as the contest ends on Monday, September 27th at midnight!
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Loading... the original extended experience.

When SOE’s The Agency was first announced, it got a lot of people talking not only about what a breath of fresh air the setting would be in an industry dominated by fantasy clichés, but also due to one of its proposed “what if” features. Namely, what if you could interact with your collection of NPC operatives via a mobile device while offline? At the time this was considered to be very innovative thinking, but by the time The Agency is released the concept of MMOG-linked apps will be old hat.

Case in point, the mobile companion app for Fallen Earth has taken the base concept of mobile connectivity to the live game and achieved a true industry benchmark much like what City of Heroes had previously done for character customization. It offers connectivity with the live game and interaction with various aspects of your characters to a degree that puts MMOG apps such as the WoW Armory app to shame.

But as we’ve seen, the mobile MMOG app march has only just begun. This week ArenaNet announced the Guild Wars 2 Extended Experience, and while much of it sounds like good news for gamers that have access to the pricy hardware required to take advantage of the proposed feature set, I can’t help but wonder if we’re witnessing the birth of something that’s just as potentially damaging to game communities as it is beneficial.

When voice chat was first gaining popularity in MMOGs, I saw firsthand how it shattered numerous guilds and killed off more than a few online friendships. While the intent of voice chat is to open up a more effective means of communication, it also creates just as many barriers along the way. What if you don’t have the cash for a headset or you live somewhere that makes the use of voice chat an impractical or even an outright inconsiderate option? I mean, who wants to share living space like a dorm room or small apartment with a roommate that’s constantly chattering on about a game you could care less about?

I’ll openly admit that Guild Wars 2 is one of my most anticipated MMOGs, if not the most anticipated currently. And as much as I dig the base concept and am excited to see the full feature set in action, the announcement of the Extended Experience has raised a number of red flags for me. Much like the advent of voice chat years ago, I can see a lot of potential for direct mobile connectivity to drive a sharp wedge into the same communities it’s being built to enhance.

Game forums have historically been the most powerful social tool for gamers to connect and discuss a shared interest while not logged into a favorite game. Some of those gamers will even spend countless hours proving their dedication to a given title by building fansites to share their enthusiasm and knowledge about it with their fellow gamers. Yet pushing too far into the direction of mobile connectivity has a very real potential to pull the rug out from under current out-of-game social networks like forums and derail dedicated fansites in one fell swoop.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giving players a wider array of options for connecting with one another and ways of learning gameplay details. At the same time I can’t help but wonder what will become of game forums once chatting with your in-game friends on your iPad becomes the norm, or if people running dedicated fansites will hit a point where they’re considered an obsolete, dying breed.

In some ways the features for something like the GW2 Extended Experience are as much about controlling how people communicate and learn about the game as they are about expanding the options for doing so. This line from the blog post in particular stood out for me here, “Additionally, we will have a much tighter system for accessing and consuming wiki content. This will greatly reduce the need to continuously jump out of the game to access web sites for information.” Considering my occupation, that kind of statement hits a little too close to home depending on how you look at it.

There are other social implications to be considered here as well. Just like having access to voice chat, I won’t be at all surprised when we begin to see “access to the mobile app” begin popping up on the list of requirements for acceptance into a guild.

Either way, I just hope that ArenaNet and other developers out there don’t lose sight of the larger implications of going all in on the mobile front, and that the original extended experience of dedicated fansites and forums don’t become a sacrificial lamb in the name of progress.

Does mobile connectivity have the potential to lead to the eventual downfall of our current social tools when not logged into an MMOG? Or am I just wearing my tinfoil hat particularly tight today? Head over to the Loading… forum and let us know what you think!

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of the Day

From our WoW Cataclysm Discussion Forum

Okay now I'm mad?

Pity the poor World of Warcraft druids. Darke is upset because the "druid travel form is slower than a mount." And yet, he read that the new Worgen race, which will hit Azeroth when Cataclysm launches, will get an ability that allows them to run on all fours at mount speed. Will Blizzard give any sort of consolation prize to the classes who don't get a...speed bump? Our WoW community has the answers. Get the 411 and discuss those speedy, wolfy Worgens in our Cataclysm forum.

Awesome Quotes from the Epic Thread

"Couldn't they just up our speeds once we reach the appropriate mount level? Didn't they do this with the flight forms?"

- Darke

New and Exclusive Content Today at Ten Ton Hammer

5 new Ten Ton Hammer features today! 78 Ten Ton Hammer features in September! 1033 in 2010!


Aion Assault on Balaurea Review

Aion has experienced a myriad of highs and lows since its North American release a year ago. After making big numbers in the Asian market, the game struggled to make an impact on US and European players. Now with the release of Aion’s first expansion, Assault on Balaurea, former players are looking at the game once again and hoping for a brand new experience. Read our review to find out if this expansion delivers on those hopes.


CCP's Noah Ward Talks About The Upcoming Incursion Expansion For EVE Online

Noah Ward is Lead Designer at CCP games, the makers of EVE Online. He took some time out of his schedule at PAX 2010 to tell Ten Ton Hammer about the Incursion expansion, planets, and economics.


Microcosms: Rise of the Gaming Portals

Free-to-play gaming has begun to shape the future of MMO gaming, but could its biggest trend, the multi-game portal, have its roots in one of the oldest names in the biz? Join Jason “Medawky” Bolton this week as he looks at the major players in free-to-play publishing, where they are going and surprisingly, where they came from.


WoW: Cataclysm Events Kick-Started on the PTR

The end of the world is near. No really, it is! Even with the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm months away the world of Azeroth is already feeling its effects as Blizzard kick starts pre-expansion events to life on the public test realms. The earth is shaking, elementals are invading, and leaders of both Horde and Alliance can only look on helplessly as the world around them plunges into chaos.

A Guide to the Major Changes in WoW Patch 4.0.1

The final patch of Wrath of the Lich King, patch 4.0.1, is poised to go live at any time. This patch ushers in many of the big changes that players are awaiting as the release date for Cataclysm draws near. In this article we'll go through the main changes to expect when the patch hits live servers.

Today's Top 10

  1. A Guide to the Major Changes in WoW Patch 4.0.1
  2. CCP's Noah Ward Talks About The Upcoming Incursion Expansion For EVE Online
  3. World of Warcraft: Brewfest Tankard O' Terror Contest
  4. Core Gameplay in Guild Wars 2 - A Ten Ton Hammer Exclusive Community Interview
  5. LEGO Universe Preview
  6. Taking the Game Outside of the Game in Guild Wars 2
  7. WoW Cataclysm: Darkshore Preview
  8. Deeper into the Rift – A Q&A with Rift: Planes of Telara’s Scott Hartsman
  9. WoW: Brewfest Guide
  10. The Heart of Tyria - An Exclusive Interview on Personal Story and Progression in Guild Wars 2

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

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

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