Updated Fri, May 11, 2007 by Garrett Fuller
During Sony Online Entertainment’s Gamer Day in New York City, the Ten Ton Hammer team got a chance to see SOE’s new Station Launcher, the application that gets players into the games. Most MMOs, even those that are under a bigger “umbrella” company, have a single icon that launches players into their games. Sony has been using their Station system for a while now, allowing players from multiple games to launch using a single service.
You can join the Station service for $29.99 per month and be granted access to all of the company’s MMOs. The new Station Launcher not only gets players into the games they want, but also works as a community building tool and creates an identity for the player that can span across games.
The biggest feature the new Station Launcher touts is this concept that players will have their own personal profile that functions across various games. So, for example, if you are playing Everquest II as well as Vanguard, the player profile in the Station Launcher will show you as actually functioning in both games. Conversely, if you move from one game to another, your player profile will reflect the changes. Now players who are on your friends list from Everquest will know that you have made the leap to try out Gods & Heroes. You can set up features on your player profile so friends know what you are up to in SOE’s library of games. When you check into the Station Launcher you will be able to view other player profiles as well to see what your friends are up too.
Community building is the main part of SOE’s Station Launcher. Now that the company has an extensive library of games, players can use the Launcher as a starting point. Here’s a particular example: if you are questing in Vanguard and friends want to see where you are, they can check in the Station Launcher before they even log into the game. Keeping player profiles and community networking inside and outside the game will help friends find each other throughout the system.
One of the biggest problems players encounter is that they form great friendships in a game, but eventually some of those players move on to another MMO and that contact is lost. The Station Launcher allows you to remain in contact with your old friends even if they leave the current game you are playing.
Another important feature in the Station Launcher is the ability to get in touch with players across games. Eventually the system will allow players to send a /tell to someone no matter the game they’re in. Therefore, if you want to meet up in another game it will be much easier. The system also has a ton of customization options to make it easy for players to log in and communicate. If you still want to log into game using your original icons you can do that as well. The important thing to keep in mind is that all the games will be run through this centralized system that maintains your profile and shows your gaming history.
Do you hate when you log in to play a game and you find there was an unknown patch that came out? Imagine that you only have an hour to play and now your game time is taken away while you wait for the new patch to download? This has always been a problem for gamers with limited play times. The Station Launcher hopes to streamline patch updates and downloads for games to make it easier for you to get into the game itself. This feature will update patches while you are away from the computer so that when you can log in you do not have to wait. It is an excellent tool for players who hate waiting on patches.
Overall the Station Launcher fixes several community flaws in current MMOs and allows players to build a community for themselves across games. We are also seeing more ways in MMOs for players to make the best of limited game time. The Station Launcher works well for Sony’s library of games. As MMOs move along, it makes sense that companies are looking at ways to boost and maintain their player communities. We still have some time before the new Station Launcher comes out, but it looks to make player’s lives a lot easier when it comes to gaming and meeting up with friends.
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