Archive for September 2010

MMORPG Info Logo Bioshock Infinite

In March, Wukung gave BioShock 2 an 8/10 rating despite the fact that the story wasn’t as strong as the original game. The third game in the series, Bioshock Infinite, looks like it is going to rectify this by moving outside of the timeline. In Bioshock Infinite you step back into time to the air-city Columbia in 1912.

BioShock Infinite Trailer: Pretentious Analysis Time! –

The floating city of Columbia seems the polar opposite of Bioshock’s Rapture. Obviously, it’s floating as opposed to sunken under the sea, but it’s also a city that is obviously in good repair (at least in the trailer) and functioning. Rapture is more like a tomb, waiting to be washed away. Where Rapture was started by a single individual, there is a definite theme of collectivism/Nationalism in Columbia, as evidenced by the American flags everywhere and the red, white and blue bunting. Overall, it seems like a cautionary tale of American Exceptionalism run amok.

Curious to see what BioShock Infinite is going to look like? Here’s a detailed demo from Irrational Games that was posted on IGN:

More BioShock: Infinite Videos

Bioshock Infinite is due out 2012.


MMORPG Info Logo Final Goodbye to APB

A final wrap-up on All Points Bulletin which is now being cited as the fastest MMO decline ever. The servers where shut down on Wednesday.

Developer Luke Halliwell has done a three-part post on Where Realtime Worlds went wrong

In any case, I don’t think specific design flaws were the root cause of our problems. While it’s true that without them, APB probably could have sold much better and I wouldn’t be writing this piece, it would be a very lazy attempt to explain our failure. It would be tantamount to pointing the finger at a small number of staff and saying “it was all your fault”.

I don’t buy that. There were 300 of us, some of us there for years, and we spent over $100m. The problems had to run deeper than that. I believe our poor decisions (and there were plenty of them, not just in design!) are best explained as patterns of behaviour within the context of a system that was not healthy.

Can’t be bothered to read the whole thing? On Broken Toys, Scott Jennings highlights key points of Halliwell’s posts in his standard sarcastic manner.
APB Closing Today

As my *fair*, *balanced*, and *not at all a pack of wild mongeese* community of readers has already noted, Halliwell’s followups are far less, um, fingerpointery and delve more into structural issues that plague most projects you shovel money into hoping delicious development candy comes out…

Meanwhile, Shamus Young posted an amusing comic in The Escapist and follows it up with a blog post explaining his disappointment in the game.

In case you didn’t play it – which was the game’s biggest problem – you drove around a big sandbox city as either a criminal or an enforcer. You couldn’t normally attack members of the other faction unless you were given a job to do so. Jobs were phoned in from faction leaders. These jobs were things like, “Kill player X” or “Player X is coming to kill you, don’t let them.” No story. No sense of anything happening. Just an eternal firefight against specific foes with the quest givers acting as matchmakers.

Somewhat disturbingly, the APB store still offers to sell you the game and in-game cash and many people have reported that the boxes are still in stores. One person has complained that having bought the game, the shop refused to refund it as the software worked correctly and the online servers were not their issue. As Realtime Worlds has gone bankrupt, I wonder what recourse new customers might have.


MMORPG Info Logo Table Top RPG

Lately I’ve been playing more pen-and-paper games than MMOs and thoroughly enjoying myself. The freedom from limits, the ability to use my imagination, the general humor – it makes for a different experience than we’ve become used to online, I think. I notice many of my friends are playing table-top RPGs as well and now you can find many hosted online using Internet Relay Chat or message boards for the interaction. I thought it might be a good time to reprint my article about playing Dungeons and Dragons, originally posted two years ago. I should mention that Serena is level 14 now and becoming much better at aiming her fireballs.

On Monday nights, I become a half-elf named Serena. She’s got long blond hair and a bad attitude … and unfortunately only minimal control of her sorcery. Next to me sits Rovis, an elvish druid who seems to talk to animals more than she does to the rest of us. Slurg is a orcish fighter of little brain who is happy to hit people over the head on command and Orego is a human cleric bent on saving our souls. We gather at a tapas bar: it’s quiet and they have a decent selection of beers. Jim is our Dungeon Master, the creator of our world and the leader of our game.

Monday night is Dungeon and Dragons night. [More…]


MMORPG Info Logo What do you mean Attention Span Deficiency… ooh shiny!

There was a fascinating article by Charlie Brooker in the Guardian last week about retraining your concentration span. This came as a result of his overdosing on Internet information.

Google Instant is trying to kill me:

That afternoon, it unveiled a new feature called Google Instant. It delivers search results before you’ve finished typing them. So now, if I visit Google and start typing my own name, it shows me links to Craigslist the moment I hit “C”. When I add the “H”, up pops the homepage for Chase online banking. By the time I’ve spelt out “Charlie”, I’m presented with a synopsis and review score for “Charlie St Cloud”, a film starring Zac Efron. Add a “Br” and Charlie Brown gazes back at me.

As the name suggests, this all happens instantly. It’s the internet on fast-forward, and it’s aggressive – like trying to order from a waiter who keeps finishing your sentences while ramming spoonfuls of what he thinks you want directly into your mouth, so you can’t even enjoy your blancmange without chewing a gobful of black pudding first.

His fix? The Pomodoro Technique which sounds deeply technical but if you read the article, you’ll see that the main effect was that he disconnected his net connection. Shocking to think about, isn’t it? But if you are addicted to checking your inbox while Twitter is sending you notifications of each new tweet and you are compulsively checking to see whether it’s time to click your cow, then this might be your answer. Remove the temptations and just do it – for a short while, then you can check your IMs for anything exciting.

Read the full article for a laugh and a hard look at Information Overload. I am a little bit impressed that Google might finally be driving us back to productivity by offering too much information too quickly!


MMORPG Info Logo Eating Babies

This is a fascinating write-up on All Points Bulletin, the recent MMORPG which rushed directly from launch to bankruptcy.

Eating Your Babies: APB’s Essential Failure

A 64-bit Technical Success

By technical standards, APB is impressive. If your PC is a 64-bit multi-core monster and your 1+ Mbps broadband doesn’t drop or reroute packets like hot potatoes, the game performs impressively. You run, jump and hurdle fences in a large city district with 79 other players and hundreds of NPC civilians. Far more impressively, up to one driver and three passengers can travel together in a fast car that spins, slides, bounces and rams into other vehicles, including airborne vehicles that can launch themselves from ramps, roofs and overpasses. All three vehicle passengers can shoot, be shot at, hit moving targets while in motion.

Arnold Hendrick, whose resume is impressive if riddled with scare quotes, writes about the essential reason for APB’s decline: eating babies.

Baby Eating

A game design is a “baby eater” if high-level players constantly defeat low-level players. APB is a classic example of this. Incoming “baby” players experience nothing but defeat as veterans tear them apart. Despite claiming that a special “threat” system would create “fair” matches, the actual system completely failed. Vastly unequal matches were commonplace in APB. This resulted in no positive word-of-mouth encouraging games to try APB. Instead, discouraged novices spread “bad vibes,” in the form of complaints about everything from real culprits (such as the matchmaking system) to irrelevant issues (a lack of “realistic” gun recoil).

I recommend reading the full post on MMOtidbits, as it not only details the failures of the game but also looks at possible solutions that Realtime Worlds could have considered.


MMORPG Info Logo Monster’s Den

We’ll be doing some behind the scenes work this week and so the blog will be a bit quiet. You can while away the hours with this game – a Diablo-esque dungeon crawl that I found incredibly addicting.

Monsters’ Den: Book of Dread, a free online game on Kongregate

Top tips:

  • Get rid of the chat and other tabs. Play full-screen in your browser
  • Clear every level so that you can travel back down to heal and rest
  • The best loot in the game comes from the boss fights. Don’t be tempted to skip them.
  • Vampiric and Reflect items are overpowered. Use them.
  • Customise your party with this Custom Portraits Tutorial
  • Don’t stay up all night in “just one last fight” mode. And if you do, don’t blame me!

See you next week!


MMORPG Info Logo New MMOG: The Bible Online

There’s a new MMOG going into beta today: The Bible Online

No, I’m not making this up. Although I laughed out loud at one commenter who asked if the acronym stood for Massively Mormon Online Game.

The Bible Online is based on the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Players can meet and play the real heroes of Genesis, Abraham and his descendants. The game is designed for users to actually experience the Book of Genesis by fulfilling quests of Abraham, which is based on the true stories of the Genesis. As a MMORTS, players are to lead their tribe, build buildings, maintain resources and engage in warfare with other tribes. However, players do not stay in one place, but will go on a quest to go to the Promised Land.

The first chapter, Heroes, focuses on Abraham who needs to take his tribe to the promised land. You take on the role of Abraham and his descendants and work to grow your tribe through expansion and battle. You are given progressive quests which take the format of a biblical quote, a task, a hint and a reward. You will need to gather resources to build buildings to grow the tribe. A large tribe is important for recruiting soldiers for battle, including sling soldiers, spearmen, archers, cavalry and apparently St. Michael. I may have misunderstood that bit.

Your goal is not just growth though – you will need to gather your people to lead them to Ur and then lead them to Haran and then finally lead them to the Promised Land in Cana’an.

The Bible Online: Ch.1 The Heroes also offers additional elements of RPG. When Abraham dies, Isaac becomes the tribe leader and after Isaac dies, Jacob leads the tribe. There are also quests for users to experience Genesis according to the history of the Bible. For example, as it is written in Genesis 14:13~14, there is a quest for Abraham to lead 318 men to rescue his nephew Lot.

FIAA, who also developed Kalos War and Operation7 is a German company who is releasing the game into Open Beta today, the 6th of September. They’ll be giving away prizes to the most obsessive best players.

Unfortunately, their website seems to be fairly unstable and it took me a couple of tries to sign up for the beta test. Once I managed to register, log in and click the Join Beta button, I got a php error followed by a page which simply said “!!!IMPORTANT!!!” Not a great start for a browser-based MMO. Maybe they should have waited for the 7th day?

Let the “God Mode” jokes begin.


MMORPG Info Logo Welcome to Poisonville

So I get an email from a friend telling me that Playboy Magazine is getting into video gaming and I should check out their MMO. Seriously, you all. Seriously?
Actually, it isn’t bad. Welcome to Poisonville is a “3D action MMORPG” developed by Bigpoint which went into Open Beta last month. It’s a GTA/APB style game with hot cars and gritty street scenes. I didn’t see any naked girls.

The story: After years of wandering, you’ve come back to your hometown to set things right. Now you’re an outlaw, trying to make your way in this thriving metropolis. Enjoy Poisonville’s impressive 3D graphics right in your browser as you explore the city, buy or steal cars, take on exciting missions or dress in cool gear and hit up the hottest nightclubs. The city is 100% interactive – everything’s possible. You play Poisonville with thousands of other real players, Join one of this online game’s four gangs and fight your way to the top of your ‘hood. Infinite gameplay possibilities make Poisonville a highlight for all online game fans.

There are four gangs in the city and you are assigned to one of them, making the other three your mortal enemies. The goal of the game is straightforward. “Find out who framed you ten years ago and pay them back – with interest. Get a gun and some cool new threads and get even.”

The trailer looks pretty interesting: [More…]