Game News

General news about specific MassMOGs and the like.

Shot Online preview thing

I've mentioned Shot-Online in these pages before, but I hadn't discussed it for about a year now. I got a prodding from PR folks to give it a try and I'm happy to say it's really fun! The game isn't quite launched in its full retail state (should be September 12, 2006) but there's a lot of activity in the game now. It's been in widespread beta and stress testing for a long while now, so there are plenty of people in there knocking balls around 450+ meters while my initial driving range shots were closer to 170m max. I'm not sure if that means I just suck, or that they have great equipment and built-up skills... I'm sure it's the latter! ...can't be that I'm a poor player. Can't.

Shot Online screenshot So, my initial look at the game is very pleasant, although brief at the moment. I haven't committed any of my hard-earned in-game cash to buy upgrades yet, since I have no real idea when my user skills will be the fault of my poor scores, requiring some equipment shopping. The game is on the "free to play" list of MMOGs, with in-game cash won through playing but ultimately you can add cash to your account by removing cash from your wallet. Upgrades to your character's wardrobe and equipment, as well as course fees and tournament entry fees will eventually start to drain your character's bank account. At that point, there are a few ways to gain money - one being to plop down some real world cash. When the retail box comes out, you can pay $29 (retail) to get a lot of goodies with the box that people downloading the free client won't get up-front. Again, the initial free experience is looking very good so far. Definitely give it a shot. (bah.. unintentional pun)

I'll smack some balls around later to get a more thorough look at the inner workings soon. I just figured you could use a quick reminder of the existence of this game so you can go snag the free client download and get on the course! Good stuff. I'll talk about it more soon.

Oh yeah... I'm late on this (sorry) but there's still time for you to power-level your way into the Shot-Online Summer Kickoff Festival. You have to register by 7/26/06 so it's cutting close.

Knight Online Expanding

News about an open beta and development for the increasingly-popular Knight Online:

The popular and free medieval fantasy MMO, KNIGHT ONLINE, has expanded. Players new and experienced can join an epic war of mass proportion, hunt many new monsters and compete in exciting Player vs. Player battles. The KNIGHT ONLINE: REIGN OF THE FIRE DRAKE expansion open beta is now available. In the KNIGHT ONLINE expansion, venture into the rumored Land of 7 Sins. Millions of other players worldwide will clash to ultimately slay the dragon.

Exciting additions include:

-Level cap has been raised from 70 to 80 with extra never-before-seen abilities
-Additional hunting territories with intriguing new monsters and bosses
-PvP updates with new fighting zones and tactical objectives
-A completely revamped user interface
-And more...

Drop by their site for more info and a bunch of screenshots (since my gallery isn't quite up yet.)

HERO Online Open Beta Starts Today

Hero Online is opening up for a public beta starting today. I don't want to stand in your way as you clamor for info about an open beta, so here's the beef:

1. Schedule:
- Duration: June 30 ~ July 29, 2006
- Launch Time: 4:00PM (US Pacific Standard Time, GMT -8:00)
- Hours: 24 hours

2. How to participate (For ALL players):
- Step One: Create an account.
- Step Two: Download the client.
** Closed Beta Client will not work for Open Beta. All players will be required to download new Open Beta Client.
- Step Three: Play!

**If players have participated in Hero Online Closed Beta or The Legend of Ares, you may use the same accounts.

3. Did you know?
- We are not going to wipe characters after Open Beta!
- There will be special rewards for those who have shown efforts in Hero Online Closed Beta!
- There will be many events throughout Open Beta!
- If players use internet browsers other than Internet Explorer, they may experience difficulties in the registration process.

Dungeons & Dragons Online's Solo Play Features

Writing a headline for this post proved fairly counter-intuitive. MMOG's are supposed to be all "massive" and such, so pointing out how "solo" features were being highlited in one of these games just doesn't lend itself to a quick headline for me... but I'm not too crafty that way sometimes, I suppose. My writing skills aren't the point, however...

Turbine has rolled out "solo-friendly" goodies for Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, summarised like this:

Turbine has introduced a series of solo-friendly enhancements and content improvements as part of the new player experience in DDO. New players can now experience over 20 dungeons throughout Stormreach harbor in a single-player mode. This feature grows the overall scope and quality of the game by enabling players to journey alone in epic adventure zones or dangerous dungeons. It also is particularly useful to new players, allowing them to hone their skills and better prepare for higher-level quests where they can join with fellow gamers to achieve success. This mode will be in addition to three existing game play options of "Normal," "Hard" and "Elite."

Very nice, I think. Any of you who've paid attention over the years knows I tend to be very satisfied playing solo in these massive online worlds. I'm not sure why that is, honestly. I've often been asked why I'd bother logging in (and paying monthly) to a multiplayer world and spend most of my time battling the environment... "why not play [insert current Bethesda game here] instead?" they ask. Just because a major feature of these games is the massively multiplayer thing, doesn't mean the rest of the game isn't fun for everyone who plays alone... ya know what? I don't know that I need to explain this position anymore. Case in point... Turbine and others have been putting in far more focus on fun solo experiences in the recent years. I'm clearly not alone at... well, playing alone.

I want to talk about this general topic more in the future because I really think it's a "problem" in most MMOG games. I've been fighting for the rights of solo players going way back to 1999 or so at places like Game Developers Conference sessions with the likes of Raph Koster, Rich Vogel, Gordon Walton and many others (yeah, dropping names.) It's often been an uphill battle until much more recently. Back then, trying to point out that solo players were being majorly neglected just didn't seem to carry much steam. The cries of EverQuest requiring huge efforts to put groups together to get much of anything done after a while just didn't make anyone shed a tear... except folks like me. It just turned out there weren't as many folks like me complaining then. World of Warcraft has certainly done a lot to bring in more casual players to the scene, and I think it's done wonders to bring a focus on solo players... there are others who've helped, but I wasn't going to talk about all this now! What happened?? Bah, back on track...

Check out DDO again if you're interested in how that game has evolved since release. I went through much of the news on the site and I found many very interesting things being added and tweaked that really piqued my interest for that game again. For one, early level advancement has been sped up... right on! That about drove me nuts in my trials. D&D fans liked it far more than the vast majority of the gaming population did, methinks.

EVE Online Goes Live in China

Big news for CCP Games as their space-themed MMOG has gone live in China with record numbers being set (according to them.. I don't have time to be a proper journalist and confirm this personally. Sorry, but I'm just lazy that way.) Here's a blurb from the big announcement:

Shanghai, China – June 13, 2006 – The first day of EVE Online’s open Beta in China resulted in a new world record for the number of simultaneous users playing in the same game world, as more than 30,000 users logged into the game server just hours after opening. CCP Games, an independent producer of massively multiplayer online games and producer of EVE Online, also announced that over 200,000 players from China registered for the game during the first day of the of the open Beta .

“It was quite amazing to see the population of EVE China exceed the population of Iceland in the second day of open Beta testing.” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games. “EVE China has been an exciting collaboration project and continues to be so, as we continue to refine the experience to accommodate for the steep growth rate of both our English and Chinese worlds.”

Cool beans! I like seeing indie studios having success, so I'm biased about stuff like this. EVE has come aLONG way over the years and a breakthrough in a new market is always fantastic news, whatever the company behind it.

There have been other attempts at the "one-world" game design where everyone in the game occupies the same server/game space. 10six was the first truly "massive" world from what I remember, where the numbers were supposed to have been capable to support one million simultaneous players. From what I remember, they never really got anywhere close to that number, so I'm not sure if the technology would have supported it or not.

I'm sure there are others around, but to launch a game in a new market with that many people right off... and to get another 200k signing up... rock on, CCP! That just kicks butt, I'd say. :)

Congrats to CCP and best hopes for continued success! Cheers.

"Transhumanist Day" in Second Life

I'll be honest... I don't know how to present this info. To just touch the surface of this topic seems to do it injustice, however, to dig deeper into researching what "transhumanism" is all about (or Wikipedia: Transhumanism) would take far more energy than I have inside me to allocate to that end. However, I'm not against bringing up a huge topic and pointing you in a direction with a pat on the butt... "go get 'em, kiddo!" So here goes the gentle pat...

There's a new island opening up in Second Life called Uvvy Island. If you're a SL junkie, that might mean something to you, but for me, it's not the point where my interest takes hold. Here's where I learned a new word: "The opening event (Wednesday June 7, 2006, 2 pm EST) will be a 'Transhumanist Day' dedicated to promoting the transhumanist worldview and outlining its scientific and philosophical roots." Umm.. a transwhat?

So let's dig a little deeper into what a transhumanist is: (from the first link above)

Transhumanism is a way of thinking about the future that is based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase. [read more here]

See what I mean about dropping a huge topic and then running like a chicken?? Here's where I start running... If you're more interested in the concept of "transhumanism" and you want to take part in the Transhumanist Day in SL, you'll find everything you need to know from the Uvvy Island opening announcement (same link as above). This will also be a voice-enabled event sponsored by Vivox, but you'll need to get that set up ahead of time if you want to participate... details for Vivox/SL support is here. If you're a SL user and you like voice chat tech, you'll want to get Vivox support turned on anyway. It's really cool tech that I saw in-depth at GDC and have yet to discuss here. In fact, you can call out from the game (I know, it's not a "game") to users of Skype-like services. Nice. But I digress...

So, I'll try to dig further into the whole transhumanism thing and see if I can muster more opinions on the subject. It's intriguing, to say the least. Run back here to post comments about the event if you go, please! Love to hear reactions. (I'm going to try to hit it, too.)

Perplex City - "Alternate Reality" Game

When I came back from GDC this year, I was rather swamped with all the new contacts I had made and some of them fell through the cracks. One of the very interesting games/companies/concepts that I was stoked about at the time, but had since lost track of, is the "alternate reality" game Perplex City by Mind Candy. I just got a note dropped in my mailbox by one of the folks over there, Guy, and he had this to say about the game (which I think does a fantastic job introducing the game and its overall concept):
("read more" to get the story)

A Tale in the Desert III - Launches Saturday

Title's obvious, but many of you would like to know that A Tale in the Desert III is launching this Saturday, May 26. Rather than summarizing the announcement, I'm going to be lazy and post the whole thing... hooray for lazy!

(continue to the whole thing...)

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