20 May 2012

This Just In: Zombie Apocalypse Edition

Ok so this post doesn't really have anything to do with zombies, I just thought it was appropriate since I'm "coming back from the dead" in a sense.  Just as a refresher, this is where I grab links from around the web and talk about some of the big news in the MMO/gaming industry.  Usually I limit it to a "top three" and that's what I'll be doing this morning.  And as always, if you disagree with my choices or feel like I left out a really important story, let me know in the comments.  And away we... braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains... go!

38 Studios Takes a #2 on Taxpayers?

This story on 38 Studios both surprised and disappointed me.  I knew Kingdoms of Amalur wasn't a huge runaway hit, but I also thought it did fairly well.  And on top of that, I had recently picked up the game myself as a way to pass the time until The Secret World launches next month.  So far I've found it to be highly enjoyable.  The combat is fun and frantic.  The story is... ok.  It's not spectacular but it is above average.  The side quests and crafting aspects are somewhat below par, but overall it is a very solid first venture for a new company and a new IP.  So I was very disappointed to see how much financial difficulty the studio is in and how that jeopardizes their upcoming MMO based in the Amalur setting, Project Copernicus.

This follow up story seemed to put any immediate concerns to rest, although it is odd to have a politician talking MMO launch dates.  But it would seem that 38 Studios is going forward with Copernicus with an eye on a mid-2013 launch.  I hope it does work out for them.  I'm not a fan of public funding for private ventures in general, and I certainly don't want to turn this into a political debate.  But I am enjoying my time in Amalur and I feel like it is a setting ripe for further exploration in the form of a full-fledged MMO.  I think the IP has a lot of potential and I would hate to see that squandered.  So here's to hoping that 38 Studios can find their "rally caps" and pull themselves together.

Diablo 3 Launch... Error Code Madness

There have been dozens of stories regarding the problems Diablo 3 has had this week regarding its launch, just Google it and you'll get more than you could ask for.  In way of general response my first thought was, if all companies how could Blizzard be unprepared for the volume of players and server loads at launch?  They knew what the pre-order numbers were.  They could estimate the launch day shelf sales.  They are the company that already runs the biggest MMO on the planet.  How could they not know what to expect?  But apparently all the preparation in the world was not enough as potential D3 players suffered through various disconnects, server crashes, and a plethora of error codes.

But the aspect of this story I want to focus on is summed up by this article from 1-UPD3 is essentially a single-player game.  The auction house (real money or otherwise) and multi-player aspects are strictly optional.  You can play this game without ever interacting with another person ever.  Gee... sort of like Star Wars: The Old Republic (zing!)  But despite that fact, you cannot play D3 without being connected to the Internet.  And this isn't just a one time thing to verify a product key.  No, you always have to be connected in order to play D3 at all.  This is potential problem for several reasons.  Along with the inevitable concerns of "ownership" issues and other "digital rights management" concepts, sometimes you just want to be alone and blast stuff.  Rohan somewhat alludes to this issue in a recent post.  Is gaming alone a dying concept?  In our obsession with social media, leaderboards, and achievements, have we given up the solitude of escaping into some game and just blowing steam?  Let me know how you feel.

The Secret World Gets a Little Less Secret

I would be remiss in my fanboi'ism if I did not comment further on The Secret World and its beta weekend progress.  Ok really, I try not to be overly biased so if I start to come across that way, please give me a virtual e-slap.  But I have been excited to finally get my hands on the game and see how my lifetime subscription investment is going to pay off.  So far, I am impressed.  No game is without it's "warts," and TSW is no different in this regard.  But so far I see a lot more to like than dislike.  If you haven't taken the time to check out the beta yet, I would encourage you to pick up a key and give it a shot.  And I don't just say that because I am an advocate of the game.  If you are a fan of MMO's, it is worth a try to see if it is something you like.  It does stray from the Everquest/World of Warcraft themepark model in ways that will not be everyone's cup of tea.  So hopping in for a beta weekend is an easy "no risk" method of finding out if it will appeal to you.

Tomorrow, tell all your Bioware fanboi friends to get ready to storm my virtual castle.  It's a critical look at everyone's favorite virtual storytellers.  Don't miss it!

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