No Blu-Ray for Xbox, Fallout 3 level cap to 30 & the MMO Crash of 2008 – Welcome to the column that will be going Blu-ray as soon as it figures out how to reconfigure the CPU that resembles a Commodore 64 known as Dare to Play the Game.
Gaming was a weird bag for me this week. I primarily played Lego Star Wars CS and find myself done with Episode 3. Achievements are kinda slow but it is playing very similar to Lego Batman where achievements were slow in the beginning and sped up at the end. I am enjoying myself and haven’t found too many rough spots as I’ve been going through the game. However, I would like to find some stud multipliers before too long. Typically, I have to go through a stage a few times to collect enough studs to buy all of the characters & extras. Makes it a bit frustrating but the % complete constantly increasing still gives me hope.
I did buy some games this week which I had not done in a while. We’ll ignore the fact I’m still waiting on the package known as TNA Impact (Ebay really frustrates the heck out of me lately which is why I have constantly procrastinated with putting items up for sale). The first purchase was from Fry’s. Eternal Sonata for the 360 was discounted to $19.99. A good looking JRPG which should keep me busy once I am ready to tackle an RPG that isn’t named Fable, Fallout or WoW. The other one was from Best Buy yesterday. RockBand 2, the pricetag $39.99. I had put it off constantly and the price was finally right. It’s only about 4 months old which does make it a review candidate. However, I have no drums (nor any intentions to get a set), so it wouldn’t be a complete one.
This is Holly Valance, you might know her as the super hot Christie from the movie adaptation of DOA (Dead or Alive). The film was actually shot in Asia and according to a recent interview, she spent a lot of the time in Asia just bored. She spent time training naturally and playing Dead or Alive, not really for research; just boredom. She also apparently bought a lot of pirated movies from the nearby village because they were so bored. Tsk, tsk; she should be punished, I will take care of that swiftly. In the meantime, be sure to check her out for her appearance in the new standalone expansion for Red Alert 3.
Hellforge posits that 2008 was the worst year on record for MMOs. But the “collapse” had nothing to do with the genre’s viability, and everything to do with hubris and poor decisions by game-makers.
The wreckage includes three titles whose names are either punchlines by now or dangerously close: Hellgate: London, Age of Conan, and the dumpstered Tabula Rasa, joined by the patched-too-late Pirates of the Burning Sea, as examples of how not to run an MMO railroad.
Hellgate cratered thanks to bad management, bad decisions and their reversals, and its bastard sibling Tabula Rasa was so awful Lord British decided to leave Earth rather than deal with the mess. Pirates of the Burning Sea patched its problems, but way too late to save itself. Age of Conan, as discussed before, stopped trying after you got past level 20. Bottom line, Hellgate and Tabula Rasa’s servers are shutting down entirely (or already have) and the other two have merged or closed many of theirs too.
The lessons? Listen to beta testers; get the launch right, because patches won’t save your asses, and if you’re innovating some new gameplay mechanic, do it like you mean it. A successful MMO depends on a huge investment of a gamer’s time. The investment on the development/publishing end should be total, too.
There were a lot of MMO’s that people were excited for this year. I remember a couple of friends wanted Hellgate: London only to find out two months later they were sorry they ever spent the money. I was personally excited about Age of Conan only to find out a million horror stories after the fact. How could you possibly screw up savagery and debauchery? Looks like they found out how. Tabula Rasa? Never got off the ground. Pirates of the Burning Sea? Nobody cared. It seems like people have an idea of how to create these epics only to find out that they are only willing to go halfway or even worse.
People hate bringing it up but World of Warcraft is a wonderful example of how to run a MMO. So is Guild Wars even though they have different views of how they want the user to pay for it. I do like the Guild Wars model better, but I can’t deny Warcraft has created a frenzy with their product and will do so for years to come. It’s hard to argue with success. Good graphics, lots of things to accomplish and replay value. The problem with a lot of MMO’s? The variety of options have little or no depth. One class is like another and there is no constant struggle to see which is better.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Fallout 3 lead producer Jeff Gardiner reveals that the Broken Steel downloadable content due out in March allow players to take their character all the way to level 30.
Along with the promised raise in the level cap to 30, Broken Steel also removes the ending for the game, allowing players to continue on in their adventure rather than having to deal with those pesky ending credits.
“Along with removing the game’s ‘ending’ with Broken Steel, we figure raising the level cap would allow them to [enjoy the game for longer]. We plan on raising it to level 30 – but it will be a long, hard climb to get there!”
Yes, yes, we’ve heard the long, hard climb statement before. Bet you $10 some European WoW guild hits 30 after the DLC is released.
Good news all around. The best? The removal of the “ending”. This was the worst part of Fallout. You could go around and perform a bunch of side quests but only if you absolutely did not touch the main storyline. I know people don’t like the comparison but this was the cool thing about Fable II. Life after the main storyline. You can go back, finish other quests, buy up real estate or just settle down and have a family. I really hope Fallout 3 does this part by patch. I’m not sure if I will buy the DLC and the level cap to 30. The level cap is an interesting concept and I hope they don’t treat it like a MMO where they up the cap by 10 every time they do some DLC. What I might do since I own the regular edition of Fallout 3 is trade up to the GOTY edition (which is an almost certainty) when it comes around. It is an awesome game, just not my personal choice for Game of the Year.
Blu-Ray & Xbox 360
Blu-ray won the format war. One HD game console (the PS3) already uses the format. The other one (the Xbox 360) doesn’t. Microsoft says it plans to keep it that way.
We’ve heard this before. Microsoft isn’t going Blu-ray. Still, Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, lays out three years why the company isn’t keen on the format:
It’s not a feature we get a ton of requests for. We really don’t. When you ask people the list of things they want to see us spending time creating in Xbox, Blu-ray is way, way down on the list.
The second thing is, from a technical perspective, it doesn’t help us in the core of what Xbox does, which is in gaming. We can’t have publishers produce games on Blu-ray disc. Because then they won’t play on the 28 million Xboxes we’ve already shipped. So it doesn’t help us in the core gaming space.
The third thing, and this maps to all three of those, is that it costs a lot of money. And so the scenario is, OK, let me get this straight: I’m going to add something to the product that’s going to raise the cost, which means the price goes up, consumers aren’t asking for it, and by the way, my game developers can’t use it.
If HD DVD had won the format war, would Microsoft be singing this song?
Despite the world going towards Blu-Ray, this is probably for the best. Do you really want to go to a store and see a display case with the dvd version and the blu-ray version right next to it…for a game? It’s already a little confusing for the average consumer with movies & shows. This is best handled in the next Xbox, 720 or whatever. Personally, I would have a fit if I had to buy another 360 if the one I have didn’t just up and die (*knock on wood*). I had a hard enough time buying the 120 gig hard drive.
Chances are if HD-DVD did win the format war, the Microsoft integrated machine with HD-DVD would have shown up. The option to make games with HD-DVD’s would have been used but quite sparingly. Games that required 3 & 4 discs like Lost Odyssey or Blue Dragon. It sure would have been better than the packaging mess they did give us. Heck, would Microsoft just have some decent packaging to house these things? But Microsoft is probably still a little bitter about losing money on all of those HD-DVD drives that are now sitting at Fry’s going for about 25% of what they used to.
Nothing! There is nothing this week, I even looked this morning. I remember when Xbox Live Arcade announced games at least a few days in advance. However, this week you can download the Fable II Knothole Island expansion pack as well as some DLC for Castle Crashers. Next week, we actually already have an announcement for something called the Maw. He’s coming to eat your souls and burn your children. Don’t quote me on that.
A card game for the Wii. In this one, you have to have quick reflexes and a good eye to come out on top. It seems like you just flip your cards, watch your opponents and then grab the totem at the right time to win. The problem is a new card can temporarily change the rules. Okay, here is more of an explanation. Flip a card. Then you move around the tables, symbols are revealed until two cards match. Players with matching cards must then try to grab the totem. The loser gets the winner’s cards and anything in the pot. The winner is the one who gets rid of all their cards first. The graphics look good and this might be Wii’s answer to Uno. Give it a shot.
So we go from what could be a good game to something that looks pretty blah. In the future of the future (huh, what?!), an ancient civilization has sealed away its riches in elaborate temples dedicated to the game of Pachinko. *sigh*, Please don’t let me ever find that place. The Robot family must fight thru the temples to find their lost puppy. Their lost puppy? Seriously? They must use their rockets, lasers, grenades and slim launchers to accomplish this. Pirate Vile Vill (wow, that’s intimidating) is around too and sure to mess up the Robot’s plans. Not to be hateful, but if you have to use rockets, lasers & grenades, you might just want to be more careful of where your dog is wandering off to. Anyway, horrid looking graphics and this one looks like a definite avoid.
The third best Castlevania game ever and the best on the NES. This game takes on the familiar plot with a member of the Belmont family (Trevor) taking on Dracula. However, this is a prequel and long before Simon and the first two Castlevanias (which are also very good games). The mighty whip will be your best bet in this adventure. Trevor also has the ability to change into three spirit forms. There is Syfa, a young vampire hunter who is strong in magic. Also there is Grant, a pirate who can climb on walls. Finally, there is Alucard. He is the forgotten son of Alucard and can shoot fireballs and become a bat. This is the best 500 points you will spend this week and has tons of replay value. I recommend this to everybody. I’d pop it in my NESX (third party NES machine) but it is one of the very few games that doesn’t play in it *sigh*.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Deal or No Deal
Ultimate Shooting Collection
Personal Trainer: Math
Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Don’t complain. You finally got a decent title this week. Lord of the Rings: Conquest is the feature title this week and is certain to get those with furry feet a hopping. There are quite a few DS games here again and something to keep you busy. Heck, even the Wii gets Deal or No Deal. Pick #17. Trust me, okay don’t. I’m too conservative for that game anyway. They want people who will jump up and down and act like a fool. Seriously, I saw some girl crying because she picked the million dollar case. It’s a gameshow, not a rejection at the welfare clinic. Some people.
WoW time. 60/58/43/32/18. Nothing changed. I think the World of Warcraft holds no more mysteries for me. I logged onto my hunter, finished a couple of quests and messed around with my rogue for a little bit. I also cleaned out my mailbox and kinda just sat there. I didn’t feel like leveling and I didn’t feel like working towards any goal (reputation, professions) in the game. I probably will put a new spin here in future columns but this might be the end. Sarah still plays and she’s certainly more than welcome to and I do want to play with her (very much), just on other games. Lego games, Rock Band games, heck even other role playing games. Once you get to high levels, the game just seems like an e-peen fest. Too many people telling you how to play your character and just doing the same thing over and over for a new piece of gear. I’ve never been into that, I always want new challenges or in this case a new game to play. So here is to something new or something you haven’t touched in a while. The point is to have fun and keep playing kiddoes. I’m out.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)