MMO Bloggers of 2009

December 31, 2009

I wouldn’t have started writing a blog if it weren’t for all of the high-quality ones being put out by both personal and professional bloggers. I think it’s only right to acknowledge them and give my thoughts, as well as thanks for great writing.

The biggest surprise to me was finding myself agreeing a lot with Syncaine at Hardcore Casual. He is very much the type of player I am not: a PvPer, proponent of sandbox over themepark gameplay, and a niche MMO gamer. However, I find he writes both well and entertainingly, and he in part was one of the reasons I started playing EVE, although he may not know it. He’ll probably wind up coaxing me to Darkfall as well, just by his coverage of it.

Tobold at Tobold’s MMO blog I also owe a similar debt to. It was his experiences with Luminary that got me to trying F2P games, and that caused me to play Mabinogi. He and I are more similar, but I’m afraid I read him less now, since he is more of an orderly, reasonable person and I come across as harsh or strident.

Syp at Bio Break I also enjoy reading a lot. He’s a very good author and got me to try National Novel Writing Month. Bio Break is also a great general blog to catch up on what others are thinking, as well as his own thoughts.

Tesh at Tish Tosh Tesh I want to personally thank for his comments. His site is great, with intelligent, often quirky but never dull posts from a soloist, and artist in the field of game design.

An aspiring MMO designer, Evizaer writes scholarly, erudite posts at That’s a Terrible Idea. We often don’t see eye to eye, but what he doesn’t see is the many times I have to go out walking and chew on one of his posts about design, and he often has some valuable ways of classifying and defining the concepts that make MMOs.

One of the MMO blogs that helped me see things from the developer’s perspective was by Brian Psychochild Greene. Despite his rough sounding moniker, he is as courteous and civil a blogger as I have seen, and always full of insight. He made me more realistic in terms of what I can expect from designers as a player, and made me think harder about the design issues a developer faces as they create the games I play.

Last, but not least, what really started me on my MMO PC gaming. Massively is a problog I stumbled onto while reading its sister blog Joystiq. From there I discovered new games, new bloggers, a community, and took the leap into a new world. I still comment their frequently, and always appreciate what they have done.

Thanks to all of them and the many others that open people’s eyes to the MMO world, be it personal, professional, or newsworthy.


Yet another prediction thread: 2010.

December 31, 2009

Keen is doing it. Lum is time traveling in the hopes to scoop the future before it happens. Syncaine is too. Seems like it’s the accepted thing for bloggers to take a guess at how the upcoming year will play out, and it’s time for Dblade to take his turn at bat.

Allods Online will launch to modest success. However when it becomes apparent how much the cash shop affects higher-tier gameplay, a lot of the game’s boosters will wind up deserting it, and it will settle down to be a profitable, if slightly undersubbed, F2P MMO.

F2P games that no blogger really covers, like Shin Megami Tensei Online, Mabinogi, and Pangya will continue to soldier on, adding customers and expansions, while western F2P games like DDO will start to lose ground as they try to tack on a cash shop system to games that weren’t designed for it.

Star Wars TOR will be the next Champions Online. Soloish and small group play, heavy instancing, no real large endgame or pvp structure. Bioware will try to cram KOTOR into an MMO mold, but find that story is not as important as it seems.

User Created Content will die as a gaming ideal. With Metaplace’s death, and Second Life’s irrelevancy and stagnation compared to the larger MMO market, the idea that gamers cherish the ability to make their own content will no longer be a driving force in design. In fact, user created content may even have negative perceptions, due to it being tied to a shell game of earning real life currency. Blue Mars will be a huge public bust.

WoW will be WoW. Cataclysm will be launched, forumers complain, business as usual.

Fallen Earth will lose a lot of its luster, as will Darkfall. The problem with indie developers: can they keep up with delivering content and polished gameplay? What happens when the game ages and the newness goes, and the core content starts to look stale? My cynical bet is both games will hover at a small fanbase, shedding people. This will hurt FE more.

Final Fantasy XIV releases, and is really really different from 11. Not many people understand how radical a departure 14 is from 11, and a lot of 14’s initial adopters will be people who played 11 and either loved it or left it. Chances are SE will go more for the casual side, and you’ll see a fair amount of griping from 11 vets who look at it as a semi-sequel to an aging game.

You’ll start to see the problems with sandboxes. More games will try a freeform, skillbased approach and people will no longer be able to hold sandboxing as an ideal. This actually is good, because when we stopped holding forced grouping as an ideal, we got WoW and the first mega-hit MMO. Once enough people try sandboxes, we will start to see the games designed to solve the problems with that style of play.

I will be wrong in all of the predictions but one. If I had a good sense about the future, I wouldn’t be where I was now.


New Year’s resolutions 2010.

December 31, 2009

It’s hard to believe it’s almost 2010. With that in mind, my own gaming-related resolutions:

-Keep expanding my horizons. I am a conservative, risk-averse person at heart, and love the familiar. I vow to keep trying new games and experiences, be it quirky or mainstream.

-Get more hardcore. I put in the time, but I need to step up more and take my MMO playing to the next level. I’m capable of a lot more than I do now in whatever games I play, and it’s only my own thoughts that hold me back.

-Work on this blog. It’s been a new experience for me, blogging and reading other’s blogs about MMO gaming, and I need to HTFU (harden the fuck up, EVE slang) and increase the quality of my writing and the site itself.

-Reconnect to console gaming. I originally came to MMOs by way of consoles, with Phantasy Star Online for the dreamcast, and then Final Fantasy XI for the PS2. I have slipped from my roots and rarely play consoles anymore. It might be time, or cost, but so many good games are passing me by.

-Rely on others more. I am a misanthrope at heart, a soloist in a genre that demands personal connections. It often is a triumph to succeed in a game by ignoring them, but I think I need to open up more to others in game.

Here’s to your own resolutions, and their eventual fulfillment.


De-trammelization

December 26, 2009

Interesting post on the main EVE forum here. Tasteless analogies aside, the point is in that the most effective way to deal with na oversupply of minerals in game is to increase the mayhem by reducing penalties for gankers. In other words, de-trammeling empire space. Trammel of course being the name of the PvPless realm EA created in Ultima Online to deal with rampant griefing.

De-trammelization is the removal of player protection from PvP. It’s often a common aim on the EVE forums, although it may not be as directly mentioned as that. Reducing insurance payout also acts as a form of it, making PvP engagements cost more, since insurance gives a base price back each time you lose a ship. Other things might be nerfing asteroid yields in the hopes that more miners leave the safety of empire and risk PvP in the harsher security regions of space.

It’s interesting because there are some valid points. It is very hard to convince many carebears to leave safety and go out into lowsec or 0.0. Carebears unlike PvPers really get little out of PvP. Mining ships simply cannot defend against a coordinated assault, and while transports can endure some damage, without escort they will get slaughtered. The burden is on us (and yes, I am a carebear too in it) and we get little reward.

We have to go out though and be targets for the game to mature. In my eyes, its obvious CCP wants players in corporations, with PvPers defending the resource gatherers, while pirates and rival corporations try to destroy them. The problem is being a target sucks, really.

So the obvious solution is to de-trammel the game. Slowly remove carebear protection, and hopefully guide them into being bait. Heavily defended bait, but bait all the same. The hope is that this will change EVE from everyone versus everyone to empire versus empire. Otherwise the two poles of carebear versus PvPer will pull the game apart. CCP took a baby step by introducing tax into NPC corps, which cannot be declared war on. I wonder if we will see more in days ahead.


Merry Christmas

December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas to everyone reading this tonight.

If you are lucky and have a spare moment, take some time and walk outside in your town. It’s what I do, and it’s a reminder that change is a constant, and to treasure the memories we have. If you can’t, take a moment in whatever MMO you play to remember what it was like as well. For those of us unsure whether or not the namesake of this holiday existed, or meant what he was supposed to say, all we can do is remember strongly the things precious to us, before they become dim holiday memories.


Metaplace folds

December 22, 2009

From here, looks like Raph Koster’s Metaplace is folding on new years. It is no surprise to me. Metaplace was my first beta, and while it seemed to be cool at first, there were many flaws.

If you want to make a game to let people make their own worlds, you really need to give a reason for people to visit those worlds if they do not make. You can’t focus solely on creators, and this is a lesson imo for blue mars too. Metaplace to me at least never gave that reason.

I’m sure others can comment on the creation. I never bothered because it was very apparent to make something interactive needed computer programming skills. While you could make your own room, it was pretty cumbersome to do so, although they had great ideas on the tools.

Going to be interesting to see how the blogosphere takes this, raph koster especially is considered a “name” in game design.


EVE live.

December 21, 2009

Using the in-game browser, my first post from inside of the game.

I’m doing a mining mission in gallente space with my little wimpy Navitas. Had to evac as three serpentis came in, and quickly chewed my frig’s armor to dust. I managed to kill them warping back in, but one drone loss.

Mission is having me mine 20k units of banindrine, a pretty useless ore that someone wants. It’s a lot of difference fighting when you are focusing on a carebearing mining build as opposed to a general one.

A note: I am not going to identify my character in this blog at the moment. Mostly because I prefer my privacy, and I’m a little paranoid about the metagaming that goes on in EVE.