With so much going on in the MMOG industry it should be easy to pick a topic to write about each day. If only that were true. Sometimes you hit upon a topic like the GLBT lawsuit against Blizzard or viral marketing by NVidia that touch a nerve with readers and give this editorial space value. Other days I draw a blank. Welcome to a blank day. A day where I have to dig around like a gopher on groundhog day, pretending that I have something to contribute when really I'm just poking my head above the ground.
Richard "Lord British" Garriott, the man behind the Ultima series was recently interviewed at GameSpot. He is always an interesting person to listen to. If you listen closely, you are always certain to hear something that changes your perception of massively multiplayer online games. During the GameSpot interview he had this to say,
"If you look at all online games up until the most recent big ones like World of Warcraft, they are fundamentally in the same model as Ultima Online and EverQuest were in the earliest days. It's just that World of Warcraft is really nicely done. The user interface is expertly crafted, and the visuals are expertly crafted, but the model of its structure is not unusual even after seven years of development since Ultima Online.
I personally find that kind of disappointing and am a bit dumbfounded that people have strayed from that first model so little. Tabula Rasa does not feel at all like one of these current online games. My criticism of all online games to date is that they are all very slow. They're all a level grind. They all reward extraordinary devotion to the game and not much else. And so, even though the segment is still growing at about 100 percent per year, and has since the day Ultima Online launched, I still think that they have only touched on the smallest beginning of a threshold of where it can [exist] as an art form. I hope to prove that with the release of Tabula Rasa. "
He's correct of course, that with the possible exception of Guild Wars which allows you to start the game with a full level, albeit skill reduced character, that the MMOGs out there for you to choose from are level grinds. Of course, Lord British is well aware that it is this very level grind in its various forms and varioius channels that keeps the player glued to the screen. Investment is in my humble opinion the key to the success of massively multiplayer online games. Sure, the social aspect is a big piece of the puzzle and contributes to the lure of the games, but I have yet to see a player say, "Just one more friend and I'll log for the night." Giving players a variety of level grinds like crafting, factions and guild progression is the stickiness that gives a MMOG longevity.
How will Tabula Rasa change this? I really have no idea. We were allowed to see so little of it during our E3 interview that commenting on the game was difficult at best. We were not given the impression that this game was revolutionary. Tabula Rasa will have another year of development under its belt this year and we are going to be there to see it. I'm excited about this title and I hope that it ends up on my E3 interview list, but I bet one of the other editors at TenTonHammer.com will bat their eyes and get the good stuff, leaving me with Toon Town as my big name coverage title.
If you have read this far, you are hard-core. I applaud you. This has been a dry and not very informative column. Let's spice it up with some work from an editor I consider one of the best around, Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle. Richard Garriott mentioned that that game design is an art form. Jeff wondered about that himself and wrote MMORPG Design: Art or Science?
There, I left you with something of substance. I feel better. Now I need to get another level and not necessarily another friend.
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Game Movie: She's Too Fat For Me
Vin Diesel Fact of the Day:
When Vin Diesel jumps through a window, the glass doesnt shatter. It moves out of the way.
From inventory space to skill lists. That's "I" to "S" for those of you keeping track. It's all new, today on TenTonHammer.com.
Read on! Let us entertain you!
Here's what's new on the network!
- Vanguard: New Artwork - Druid at Sea
"Which part of 'New Artwork - Druid at Sea' didn't you understand?"
- Auto Assault: Terminator Skill Listing
"Wondering how in the world Terminators make things explode?
You've come to the right place! Fresh from the latest build of the Auto Assault beta we bring you the full skill listing for the Terminator class. Everything from how to make your enemies hit you for less and make you hit them for more!"
- Guild Wars: Elementalist Fire/Air Skills
"We've done more updates to the skill lists. All Fire and Air skills are now accurate for the current game."
- Bags in World of Warcraft
""Inventory is full." No other message brings a faster end to a quest chain run or a profitable instance crawl than this one... well, except for a server shutdown message. This guide is all about increasing your inventory space. Are there simple quests for decent bags? How difficult is it to tailor your own bags? What are soul bags, quivers, and shot pouches? It's everything you need to know about bags at WoW @ TenTonHammer!"
- Vanguard: Wardrobe, Looking Glass, Login Screen - Virtual Memories Part 1
"Merriandra takes a look into the virtual world that many deem " Only a game" First of a 4 part series"
- Dungeons and Dragons Online: Quest Journal #4
"Shayalyn and Ralsu take a seemingly simple job of protecting a crate of goods in Kenebrooke's basement. Along with their new companions, a paladin and a sorcerer, they are confronted by and entire gang of thieves intent on destroying the crate and killing them. Their adventure will reveal important Dungeons & Dragons Online quest details to the careful reader. Did they defeat the bandit raiders? Read the journal and find out!"
- Dungeons and Dragons Online: Race Guide - Halfling
"Ralsu supplies us with the essential information to understand another playable race in Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach. They're small and resourceful, nimble and curious. They're halflings!"
- EVE Online - Missions Explained
"Like a man on a mission, "The General" brings us some interesting info on getting the type of mission you want in EVE Online, and Ethec joins in for the color commentary. The result? A pretty darn good guide about one of the least understood aspects of the game: missions!"
Now on to the real world. You can't make this stuff up.
As always, thanks for visiting TenTonHammer.com,
-- John "Boomjack" Hoskin