Mythic's upcoming Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has been delayed, much to the dismay of our unsatiated but repressed MMORPG addictions. Every so often, we crave some kind of mindless persistent entertainment that requires no effort. Since quitting WOW and DDO, nothing has been able to broach that hunger, but WAR may change all that. Just look at this historic occasion… the greatest collector's edition ever!
We're talkin' 128-page hardcover graphic novel, 224-page hardcover art book, limited edition figurine, open beta / head start keys, and a staggering amount of in-game goodies… all for $79.99??? :yikes: Well, I got our two pre-orders today, I just didn't have a choice. I was held at steampunked gunpoint, while the acrid sting of saltpeter smoked off my credit card.
So I read up on some Warhammer lore, being only vaguely familiar with it before, and was shocked at how many ideas Blizzard took for their Warcraft series. Granted Blizz did a good job, and Warcraft lore is exceptionally well written, but it's hard not to say that Blizzard losing their Warhammer project and then going on to appropriate the remnants into the beginnings of Warcraft must have been the best thing to happen to that series. The wealth of imagination within prognosticated success.
In other marginally related news, Atari got delisted from the NASDAQ. That is Atari, the developer formerly known as Infogrames, who thought owning that legendary name would do them good. Instead, not even their attempts at leveraging the venerable Advanced Dungeons & Dragons franchise could save them. I'm sure dear old Gary Gygax is… well I'll let this Penny-Arcade comic finish the joke:
I thought this was interesting, this demographics study by the Daedalus Project of the most popular massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft:
Some highlights (taken from Terra Nova):
- Female players are older than male players.
- Younger players prefer Rogues and Shaman. Older players prefer Hunters and Warlocks. Rogues and Shaman also score the highest on the Advancement (goals/achievement) and Mechanics (min-maxing) motivations.
- Older players prefer Dwarves and Gnomes, who also happen to score the lowest on all achievement motivations. Gnomes score the highest on the Role-Playing and Customization motivations.
- The RL gender distribution is 84/16. The in-game gender distribution is 65/35. 55% of female characters in the game are being played by men.
What was most striking to me was that the two most common classes for whom Mechanics was the primary player motivation were the Rogue and the Shaman, and those are the first two characters I created. My obsession with games, admittedly, has always been with game mechanics over all else. Even more telling, based on the Race Motivations table, my *undead* Rogue and *tauren* Shaman fall right into an unerring prognostication.
After being very unhappy with the way Blizzard was changing the game, and being tired of the childishness of the playerbase after beta ended, I created my third character, a Hunter. Their chart shows Hunter players as scoring the lowest in teamwork and advancement, reflecting my sentiment at that point. Even more interestingly, the order of the characters I created, Rogue, Shaman, Hunter, fall in succession on the chart describing average player age. I began with the class most played by the youngest group, and ended in the class most played by the oldest players.
Interestingly enough, Xstine succumbed to the unspoken forces of her gender, and chose a Priest both in beta and after release, a common choice for women. After PvP was released and her options for Exploration and Customization were limited, she switched to a Rogue. Today, as we play DDO, a game with rather limited exploration opportunities, she has a greater interest in the mechanics of character creation than she ever did in WoW. Her main? One of the best rogues/fighters on the server. :ninja:
Amid more FEDspeak implying an imminent end to inflationary pressures (and thus rate hikes), contrary to the CPI numbers released today, the markets took a small jump. You've got to hand it to them; what precious linguistics they've done with their pet term "pause" has now made probably the most non-committal word in the English dictionary. Well, inflation may slow as the effect of past hikes solidifies, but if Germany and Japan start raising their rates up too, I predict more "inflation" as the FED tries to maintain the overvalued dollar. Volatility is going up, and the Empire ain't too happy 'bout that.
Nowadays, I daresay online game communities have healthier, albeit virtual, economies. With Ultima Online destroying trillions of their fiat currency, and Second Life having a full-time transparent economist running theirs, one can fantasize about a world where a hundred gold is always worth one platinum piece. At least runaway inflation in one game doesn't affect another game. Although I sure would love to transfer the small fortune Xstine and I've made in Dungeons & Dragons Online to the upcoming Warhammer Online, which looks fantastic.
Yesternight, I was doodling ideas for an MMORPG with ninjas (hell yah) and came up with an idea called Conflict Quests where you try to stop the opposing faction from finishing their quests. Well, today after I found this amazing Warhammer trailer, I looked up the game, and lo! and behold, they have something called… Conflict Quests! 'Cept their idea is much cooler since everyone knows viking orcs are cooler than ninjas. Vikings are basically pirates that can kill everything, which settles the eternal debate over ninjas versus pirates.
So Mark Rein dares to make yet another bombastic statement, basically scorning episodic gaming. As a devout believer of that church, a sequential content zealot if you will, I'm going to say…
Mark Rein, you are absolute incorrigibly RIGHT.
C'mon people, just admit we haven't seen the innovation inherent to the system given a single beam of sunlight in the retail gaming oobliete. Episodic games, theoretically, should be a way to deliver more consumable, less obligatory content in an addicting way, under a model where people stop paying when they stop having fun. That in itself necessitates developer dedication.
So why is Mark Rein right, like he was about resale of used games as an abuse? Because he's knows better than we do how tempting it is for time-pressed devs to sell their souls to the twin succubi of PFC. Rehashed Assets and General Half-Assery. In the case of Valve's attempt to pretend those episodes are really a magnum opus in the making bearing the wax seal of Half-Life 3, I think we saw what the gestalt of $20 for 20 minutes of gameplay after a 20 week extra wait was worth. Zilch.
From now 'til the peak popularity of the upcoming Neverwinter Nights 2, I declare a moratorium on episodic micro-transacted mini-experiences. I'm going to make my own, via game engines, mods, hacks, or some old school origami. Booyeah!