The MMO Tourist: Alganon

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I do not know about you, but I am the type of person that enjoys going places without knowing too much about them. As long as the key components are worked out (transportation, lodging, money, etc.), I am good to go. Fortunately, video games, MMO’s specifically, offer a universe of travel opportunities minus the cost of consulting a travel agent or the hassle of updating a passport.

Now, I have explored many virtual worlds over the years (check out Confessions of an MMO Tourist). Each world/ game has its own unique personality (artwork/ design) and sense of quirks (game play, community, etc.). Today, I am about to set forth into the world of Alganon. A recent Massively.com article tipped me off on this free-to-play title. So, after creating an account (no credit card information necessary) and downloading the game client (3GB), I set forth on my newest virtual adventure.

The flight into Alganon began with a bit of turbulence (ie: loading the game was choppy and rough). Being a seasoned traveler, however, I knew that some turbulence was par for the course, so I tightened my seatbelt and held on. After some time, I finally arrived at a character creation screen. So I created a character, selected a family (crafter, explorer, socializer, etc.), and proceeded to start the game. Now I should note at this point that the turbulence (game performance) had not stopped. I was beginning to get sick! Never before have I seen a released MMO behave in such a rough way.

The game performance only grew worse as the in-game intro video kicked in. Thinking that the game issues were coming from my end, I quickly decided to change some video settings to see if it would help. Below you’ll find a screen capture of the result of my simple act:

After such a bumpy flight, I decided that it was time to get off the plane…I mean game. As a seasoned traveler, I know that there are far more polished experiences out there to be had. Why should I even try and suffer through the mess that is Alganon? The world of free-to-play and pay-to-play MMO’s is vast. Until next time, may your life be free of beta-like games.

Monster

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In the beginning:

World of Warcraft (WoW) is a literal monster. I remember the day it first appeared to me, looking all innocent in its shrink wrapped box. Little did I know that what dwelled inside was a digital narcotic that would end up stealing 3 months of my life. Wait. I should clarify that. I let World of Warcraft become my drug of choice; I let WoW rule my life.

Wasted summer:

So there I was, home from college for the summer. My brain fried from finals and from having to drive from East Texas to Southern California. All I can say is that it was a long trip! All I wanted to do was sit back and relax for the summer. My parents, however, had other plans in mind for me. Everyday I was asked when I was going to start looking for a job. A job? I had just slaved myself to death over school and now they wanted me to get a job? I just couldn’t understand that–I do now that I have student loan payments–. So I set up my computer on the kitchen table, and I proceeded to play WoW day and night. That summer was long, filled with nagging, and looking back, a complete waste of my time. I had let a computer game become my escape from reality. World of Warcraft had become my monster.

Fight and flight:

Today (10/22/10) marks the beginning of BlizzCon 2010. The hype train is chugging away at full steam, and Cataclysm is rapidly incoming (December 7th). At this junction, I find myself a tad conflicted. The excitement of friends clamoring for Cataclysm makes me want to go back and check out the game. However, I know that much has changed in my life.

Since that wasted summer, I have gotten married, had a little boy, and overall (hopefully!) have grown up. I no longer feel that I have the time to seriously dedicate to World of Warcraft. Sure, I could log in and dabble around some, but I would be no closer to friends who are not at the same place in life as me. I think, at this particular junction, that WoW is just not for me anymore. I need a game where I do not feel guilt if I don’t play (due to paying $15 a month). I also need a game where I can quickly exit/ press a pause button and it won’t impact anyone (in-game). So I guess that this is goodbye WoW. Don’t bother coming around anymore. I don’t like hanging out with monsters.

Euthanasia

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There comes a point, in an MMO’s lifespan, where the decision must be made to pull the plug. To end the adventures of the remnant and move on towards newer horizons. This virtual form of euthanasia needs to be practiced before:

  • The dreaded “maintenance mode” begins (no updates)
  • Populations dwindle to the point to where these once thriving online worlds become ghost towns (a sad reminder of their former selves)
  • The game becomes a “chat room” for terrorists due to its low profile–hey, it could happen!–.

Unless new life can be breathed into MMO’s such as Warhammer Online ( or insert another game name here), a killing of utmost mercy is in order. For indeed, it is better to die young than waste away in your own pile of virtual filth.

Impending Doom

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Nearly 7 years after the launch of World of Warcraft, Blizzard is still reporting player growth like McDonald’s used to report how many customers had been served.

World of Warcraft(R) Subscriber Base Reaches 12 Million Worldwide

IRVINE, Calif., Oct 07, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that the subscriber base for World of Warcraft(R), its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), now exceeds 12 million players worldwide. This milestone was reached in the wake of the mainland Chinese launch of World of Warcraft’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King(R), and also as global anticipation continues to mount for the December 7 release of the game’s third expansion, Cataclysm(TM).

“The support and enthusiasm that gamers across the world continue to show for World of Warcraft reaffirms our belief that it offers one of the best entertainment values available today,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We are as committed as ever to taking the game to new heights, and we look forward to demonstrating that with Cataclysm in December.”

Since debuting in North America, Australia, and New Zealand on November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular subscription-based MMORPG around the world. It was the bestselling PC game of 2005 and 2006 worldwide, and finished behind only World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade(R), the first expansion pack for the game, in 2007. For 2008, the World of Warcraft series represented three of the top five bestselling PC games, with Wrath of the Lich King finishing the year at #1, and in 2009, World of Warcraft titles claimed three of the top six spots.*

At this point in the games life, I am not surprised that the gaming community is still talking about the WoW monster. World of Warcraft is a power house in that it takes systems found in other games and refines them to something close to perfection. The amount of times I have resubscribed to WoW, after swearing it off, is also a testament to how great this game is (or maybe that is an admission as to how addictive it is).

Up until the announcement of Cataclysm’s release (12/7/10), I really didn’t think that I would ever venture into the lands of Azeroth again. However, the release announcement suddenly had me interested. Here is the thing, all my friends will end up diving back into the game. Especially those of mine who are going to BlizzCon. So do I enter back into a game that is almost seven years old? Like the infamous Death Eaters in Harry Potter, I can feel my soul being sucked back into the void. See ya there!

Searchlight – 5/5/10

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.: Top Searches for 5/5/10 :.

1. cozyquest itunes – here (link will open iTunes)

2. dungeon hunter ending – Tragic love.

3. cozyquest review – here

4. vanguard saga monthly – via the MMO Cost Breakdown

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

5. cozyquest – looks like the current site is down.

Guild Wars 2 Design Manifesto

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Of course GW2 has great support for parties, but they just don’t feel as necessary as they do in other MMOs, because your interests are always aligned with all other nearby players anyway. When someone kills a monster, not just that player’s party but everyone who was seriously involved in the fight gets 100% of the XP and loot for the kill. When an event is happening in the world – when the bandits are terrorizing a village – everyone in the area has the same motivation, and when the event ends, everyone gets rewarded.

Above is an excerpt from the recently launched Guild Wars 2 blog. Just wanted to take a moment and note that this new social system reminds me of the Public Quests found in Warhammer Online…except that everyone wins.

Curfew

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South Korea: Known for housing some of the worst video game addicts in the world. Home of news reports regarding parental neglect/ infant death due to the parents being addicted to a popular MMO.

Earlier this week, the war against gaming addiction heated up when the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced a new curfew for online games (as reported in The Korea Herald). The ministry is attempting to shoulder the personal responsibility some of its citizens lack. Baby deaths due to obsessive gaming are to be a thing of the past.

Under the ministries new ban, young players will have options to choose between three six hour black-out times. Lame titles such as Maple Story and Mabinogi are being targeted in addition to 17 other titles.

Could this be the end of South Korea as we know it? For a nation that sits on the verge of nuclear annihilation from its northern neighbor, I can understand its citizens wanting an escape. With a mandatory sentence — service! — in the nations military, I think it is only fair to let the young waste their time away. Perhaps the children should even be allowed to play for free?

MMO Boot Camp: Redux

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In the summer of 2009, I compiled a list of basic MMO social terms and abbreviations after being unable to find such a thing on the Internet.  The original list was posted over a 4 day period, which served to divide the list in retrospect. In an effort to streamline things, I present to you what I call the MMO Boot Camp, now in one continuous form. Study this list. Familiarize yourself with it. Your virtual life could depend on it. DISMISSED!

Basics:

  • AFK – “away from keyboard” – your friend has left you and may not be coming back due to circumstances beyond his or her control.
  • ATM – “at the moment” – this has nothing to do with money.
  • BBL – “be back later” – lies.
  • BRB – “be right back” – a quest in real life has been triggered (usually by a parent or spouse) and must be completed.
  • “BIO” – bathroom break.
  • DING – “level up” – used by those desperately seeking attention and a pat on the back.
  • GANK” – higher level player(s) killing a lower level player.
  • GRIEFING” or “GRIEFER” – those that intentionally seek to harass or cause grief to fellow gamers in game.
  • MMORPG – “massively multiplayer online role playing game” – Warning, may contain addictive elements.
  • NPC – “non-player character” – computer controlled character.
  • OMW – “on my way”
  • PVE – “player versus environment” – killing is consensual and the environment deadly.
  • PVP – “Player versus player” – open season has arrived!
  • RL – “real life” – once upon a time you knew what this meant.
  • Solo” or “Soloing” – paying $15 a month to play alone.
  • SPAWN” – enemies reappear after being killed.
  • XP – “experience points” – time and lives are lost in the pursuit of these elusive points.

Group:

 

  • Group/Party/Fellowship – players banded together for a common goal.
  • Guild – a large group of players who enjoy being used as pawns. Guilds, and their benefits, vary from game to game.
  • Kinship – an over glorified name for a guild.
  • LFF – “looking for fellowship” – sometimes two are better than one.
  • LFG – “looking for group” – see above.
  • LFM – “looking for more” – we are weak, help us!
  • LOOT – items that are coveted and fought over in game.
  • “TANK” – serves as the lead protector/ defender of a group.

Additional Terms/ Abbreviations:

  • “Add” – an enemy joins the fight unexpectedly. Kind of like your kid brother wanting to hang out with you and your friends.
  • AGGRO – “aggression” – sometimes you’ve just got to let it out.
  • “BUFF” – any ability or skill that increases the stats/attributes of the player or group.
  • DOT – “damage over time” – one day researchers will be able to measure the dot videogames cause.
  • DPS – “damage per second” – math geeks…
  • HOT – “heal over time” – the amount of time it takes to heal.
  • “KITE” – a diversion to attract enemies away from your party.
  • “MOB” – an in game monster(s).
  • “NUKE” – inflicting maximum damage per second.
  • PAT – “patrol” – roaming squads of death.
  • RES or REZ – “resurrect” – death is overrated.

Did I miss something? Feel free to add to the list in the comments below.

*Terms and abbreviations may very from game to game.

**This is by no means a definitive list of MMO terms and abbreviations.

So You Want to Start a Guild?

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For whatever reason, be it a sudden abundance of time or a willingness to destroy your life, you suddenly find yourself wanting to start a guild in your favorite MMO. Common sense would dictate that this is a terrible idea. While this may be true, more social gamers cannot deny the urge to unite the denizens of a particular world under one banner.

Truth. Justice. Life Sucking Numbness.

Being one of the great enablers of the Internet, JohnnyBGamer wishes to guide those who desire the dark path to guild leadership. Please know that once one begins this path, it is very easy to throw all time invested/ players recruited away with a snap of a finger. You’ve been warned.

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on the most popular of online games, World of Warcraft. So let us begin this march towards mayhem and total doom.

Dictionary.com defines a guild as:

an organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., esp. one formed for mutual aid or protection.

After months and months of preparation, your moment has finally arrived. The name you have chosen to bestow upon your underlings (your guild name) has been carefully chosen. Right? If not, think about this for a moment. Your guild name must cause hearts to fear. Got a name yet? Good. Let’s continue.

In order to form a guild in World of Warcraft, one must talk with a Guild Master and purchase a guild charter (10 silver). A grand total of 9 players must sign this charter, in blood, before it can be turned into the guild master and made official. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. Presuming one does not have 9 friends to sign the charter, other methods must be employed to obtain the signatures needed.

Bribery (one of the oldest forms of greasing the gears)

  • Offering players, who have no intention of staying in your guild, some gold for their digital signature may be worth your time. How much you might ask? Pick a number.

Power (the pathway to the soul)

  • Who wouldn’t want to have the title “Grand Taco” in your guild? Not only does this name denote power but also supreme authority. If all else fails, let the signing player give them self a title. If you don’t like it, delete them. That is why  you are the guild leader.

Secrecy (who doesn’t like a good secret?)

  • Let the signing player know of your grand schemes to destroy and rule Azeroth. It will happen one day…

If all else fails, beg. Beg as if your life depended on it. Although spamming the chat channel may prove useful if begging fails.

Once you have obtained the 9 signatures needed to proceed, return to the Guild Master. Your Warcraft dynasty has only just begun.

Join us next time as we tackle guild tabards, structure, and the need for clear expectations.

CozyQuest

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–   Cozy Quest   –   Version 1.3   –   25.3MB  –

Press Start:

The Fair City of Felrona awaits, as players traverse the mythical lands of Eluna in search of fame, fortune, and loot. Developer Nils Munch’s CozyQuest, is an iDevice attempt at what is usually a PC exclusive, an MMO.

The game starts with a simple character creation screen where the player selects:

Character Class –

  • Priest – Healing
  • Merchant – Crafting
  • Mage – Magic and rainbows
  • Warrior – Tank

Name – Finally, a chance to name your character what you’ve always wanted to be called!

Race –

  • Thull – A race known for strength and endurance
  • Mekkel – A people of nomads and bards
  • Aran – Known for being strongwilled and their craft with swords
  • Pesha – Honorable/ Peace loving/ Pocahontas’s cousins
  • Toran – The Romans of Eluna/ Spartans

Character created, you find yourself off to Elgarz the Alchemist, who is in dire need of Strangleberries. Sure, no problem. A place with a name like the Dark Woods shouldn’t be all that bad, right? Right?!?

Ideology/ Worldview:

Enter the Felrona Chapel to choose your faith:

  • Shaim – “The god of purity and rebirth. Make of the Pesha race.”
  • Karosh – “The god of despair and destruction.”
  • Amala – “The iron god. Stands for craftmanship and strong will.”
  • Tordo – “God of strength and hate. Make of the Thull race.” Known in the real world as Satan.

The gods in CozyQuest serve to offer the player buffs and random gifts. Note that they can be abandoned at will. However, this means that money donated to that particular god will be lost. Lack of devotion has its costs.

Other mentions of religion:

  • The Thull race have a mountain god named Akarak
  • The Aran race is known to be religious

Interaction/ Gameplay:

Touch the screen over, and over, and over again! Gameplay in CozyQuest consists of grinding out levels in order to level your character. Standard MMO fair minus playing with other players. However, one can chat with other players in the Salty Siren Tavern. Exciting!

In the End:

In May of 2009, I wrote:

In its current state, purchasing CozyQuest is like signing up for an app beta test. With content being added to the game daily, I do not see this beta environment as a problem. The core game is in tact and running smoothly. The quests are interesting and well thought out. CozyQuest is an investment at this point. Before purchasing, you need to ask yourself this question: 1) Are you willing to invest $4.99, in developer Nils Munch, to see if he can realize his creative vision?

Nearly 9 months later, CozyQuest is like a ship that is slowly sinking. Not quite the disaster I left in mid 2009, CozyQuest still feels rough around the edges. Sure, developer Nils Munch has added multiple character slots and a core game/ graphical upgrade. This makes CozyQuest now run smoother and look prettier. However, one of the core complaints that I originally had has not changed:

  • Quests are repetitive. In order to level, quests have to be repeated multiple times. This repetition of quests gets old by the time you’ve clicked through the same quest for the 20th time.

At this point in the apps life, the gameplay featured in CozyQuest is not enough for anyone to warrant a purchase on their iDevice. CozyQuest (link will open iTunes) will always be a creative vision that has yet to be reached. Perhaps one day.

A glimmer of hope amongst an otherwise spoiled game/app

– Level of Impact –

Medium: Does not require large amounts of time to play.

MMO Cost Breakdown

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Below you will find a comprehensive listing of subscription fees for popular MMO’s. Enjoy!

Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $35.98*
  • 6 Months – $62.96*
  • 12 Months – $98.93*
  • (*Based on a discounted rate as of 1/19/2011)

Aion

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99

Alganon

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95

Anarchy Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play unless your playing with the expansions (then $14.95).

APB: Reloaded

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Asheron’s Call

  • Monthly Subscription Fee –  $12.95
  • 3 Months – $35.75
  • 6 Months – $67.75
  • 12 Months – $119.75

Champions Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • Free-to-play – January 25, 2011

Dark Age of Camelot

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95
  • 3 Months – $40.35 ($13.45)
  • 6 Months – $71.70 ($11.95 per month)
  • 12 Months – $137.40 ($11.45 per month)

DC Universe Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.99 ($14.00 per month)
  • 6 Months – $77.99 ($13.00 per month)
  • 12 Months – $134.99 ($11.25 per month)
  • Lifetime – $199.99 (*PC Only)

Dungeons & Dragons Online

EVE Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95
  • 3 Months – $38.85
  • 6 Months – $71.70
  • 12 Months – $131.40

EverQuest

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

EverQuest 2

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Fallen Earth

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99

Final Fantasy 11

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.95
  • Other Services – Additional Monthly Character Fee ($1 per character)

Final Fantasy 14

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.99

Free Realms

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play or $5 for Membership (5 extra jobs, 400 extra items/ quests, 3 character slots, and ranking on leaderboards)
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Global Agenda: Conquest

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.99
  • 3 Months – $34.47
  • 6 Months – $59.94

Guild Wars

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play

LEGO Universe

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $9.99
  • 6 Months – $49.99
  • 12 Months – $89.99

The Lord of the Rings Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.85
  • 6 Months – $77.70
  • 12 Months – $143.40
  • Lifetime Subscription – $299.00
  • Free-to-play (pricing varies)

Pirates of the Burning Sea

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.99
  • 6 Months -$77.99
  • 12 Months – $143
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

RIFT

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Runes of Magic

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play

Star Trek Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $13.99 ($41.97)
  • 6 Months – $12.00 ($77.94)
  • Lifetime Subscription – $299.99

Star Wars Galaxies

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

TERA

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Ultima Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee –$12.99
  • 3 Months – $34.99
  • 6 Months – $59.99

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

Wizard 101

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $9.95 (single account), $6.95 (2 or more)
  • 6 Months – $49.95
  • 12 Months – $79.95
  • Notes: Pay by Area ($1-$3 per area)

World of Warcraft

Did we miss a game? Find that our numbers have changed? Comment below!

Confessions of an MMO Tourist

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My vacation into the virtual lands of MMO’s began with Asheron’s Call in 1999. Playing with friends in a persistent world had a certain novelty to it. Granted, the release of Diablo II the following year quickly put my stay in Dereth on hold. Not one to limit myself to one game, I “toured” multiple MMO’s up until World of Warcraft’s (WoW) launch in 2004. Multiple MMO’s huh? Take a look at this virtual itinerary:

  • Ultima Online (1 month)
  • Everquest (1 month)
  • Final Fantasy XI (1 month)
  • The Sims Online Beta (a few days)
  • Asheron’s Call 2 (a few months)

The release of Asheron’s Call 2, in 2002, marked the first time I had set up a base camp in an MMO since the original Asheron’s Call in 1999. My stay in AC 2 did not last long, however, the group of friends that I was playing with ended up quitting the game. For the first time in years, I was no longer traversing the virtual landscapes. A whole year would go by before I would once again venture forth.

  • Saga of Ryzom Beta
  • World of Warcraft

In 2004, the perfect storm came together in the form of the Warcraft universe becoming an MMO.

Blizzard + Warcraft + MMO = WIN!

Blizzard games have been a staple of my PC gaming diet for years. Warcraft II, Starcraft, Diablo, and Diablo II were go-to games for me and my friends.

Sidenote: How many of you remember playing the original Diablo with a modem? I remember many late nights, on my Macintosh, spent listening to the pinging/ ponging modem language as I hooked up to battle.net. Good times. Haunting music. No option to run!

World of Warcraft came out the year that I went away to college. The game quickly became a way to communicate/ game with friends three states away. WoW had a darkside, however, one that almost cost me my love in the summer of 2005.

Guild Wars launched the following year (2005). Though technically not an MMO, Guild Wars provided a few alternative to WoW. Unfortunately, the beta period for this game all but killed the game for me (there are only so many times you can create a character, level, and then have it deleted). So I went back to WoW until things came to a head with my real life. Decisions had to be made.

Girlfriend or WoW?

Girlfriend of course! She won.

Girlfriend now wife.

I have played many MMO’s since WoW.

  • Dungeon Runners.
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Warhammer Online
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online

So many hours poured into games I never plan on returning to again. Reminds me of books left half read, tossed under a bed. In the end, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the different worlds that I have explored. Each has offered a different experience that the game previous could not provide.

2009 marked the year I returned to Azeroth with my wife’s blessing. In playing, I have found that World of Warcraft does not have the same pull it once did. So I left the game once more to try:

  • Maple Story
  • Guild Wars (again!)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (again!)

As you can see, I am an MMO tourist with a passport full of stamps. If 2009 has been any indication as to my less than monogamous gaming habits, 2010 is sure to be a busy year.

(Used as a resource for this article http://biobreak.wordpress.com/mmo-timeline/)

(1/26/16 Update: Reader Kevin Woodberry emailed me and asked that I link to his guide as a further resource. Check it out: Guide to Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games.)

Why Pay Monthly?

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The standard $15 admission to most MMO’s is one that I would gladly say goodbye to in a heartbeat. Spending $50 to outright buy a game in the beginning and then maintaining the game at $15 a month is simply insane. Why would anyone pay a developer/ publisher monthly for something they already purchased for $50? Server maintenance, free monthly updates (until your eventually hammered with a $40 expansion), and customer service are but a few things that come to mind.  But why pay monthly at all?

  • Community: Paying $15 a month automatically grants access to a moderated community of fellow gamers. The riff raff (gold sellers and various spammers) are kept at bay (theoretically) by the monthly pay.
  • Brand: Allegiance to a particular licensed brand can often prove to be costly. Take World of Warcraft for instance. Ones interest in playing in the Warcraft world online (outside of the battle.net hosted Warcraft RTS) comes with a $15 a month cost. For an individual nostalgic over the Warcraft license, the monthly cost is not seen as a deterrent.

Is the cost of a movie night with a friend worth the associated community and brand? No. There has to be more to cause an individual (in this author’s opinion) to surrender some monthly cash.

  • Quality:The monthly fee required for most MMO’s ensures a quality that is unfound in free-to-play MMO’s. Words to spark a civil war by. I believe that $15 a month brings to the table expectation, by the consumer, for a refined product. Though this is not always the case as some companies seem perfectly happy to take money without improving their games (SOE). Other companies, such as Blizzard Entertainment, continue to refine and polish a game (WoW) that is now five years old. Quality has a price my friends, a price now listed as $15 a month.

What about games such as Guild Wars you say? Community, brand, and quality are alive within the game and there is no monthly fee needed to play. On this matter, I would like to note that no other game follows the Guild Wars model of pay-per-expansion (if you want to upgrade the game).

In the end, sometimes it is best to bite the bullet and take it like a man. So quit your whining! Community, brand, and quality come at a price. Like it or not, the days of free are over. Publishers and developers have seen the income MMO’s provide. A virtual goldmine my friends; a new gold rush for the modern era.

Notes –

Different subscription models:*

  • Free-per-expansion: Guild Wars (not really an MMO)
  • Free-to-play (but make sure to visit our store!): Maple Story, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, and Free Realms.
  • Monthly: World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, & Final Fantasy XI.

*not an exhaustive list by any means

Surf Report – 12/7/09

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Welcome to a Monday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

What does it mean to be a man?

Mark Driscoll believes that the transition from boyhood to manhood is marked by the following 5 events:

1. Leave your parents home.

2. Finish education/ vocational degree.

3. Start a career-track job vs. a dead-end job.

4. Meet/ marry a woman.

5. Have children.

My thoughts:

  • Not everyone is “called” to marry.
  • I agree that no transitional event marks when one becomes a man.
  • There is nothing wrong with marrying later in life.
  • Being single does not equal being irresponsible.
  • Playing videogames/ interest in videogames is not a sign of immaturity. Videogames are as valid as a hobby as sports. (I agree when Mark speaks of how dumb it is when people throw their lives away playing videogames.)

Your thoughts?

.: Life :

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

.: Gaming :

Recently Syp over @ Bio Break had a great post that outlined a year of free-to-play MMO’s. This got me thinking, why not play an MMO a week? Sounds like the ultimate MMO tourist challenge to me! As you might have guessed from the header above, I have decided to play Maple Story this week. Time for some quirky Korean fun! Thoughts and comments will be shared in next week’s Surf Report (12/14/09). Stay tuned.

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

Videogame Addiction Center Opens in Britain

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Internet Addiction

Reminds me of something I would have seen in college.

Yesterday, the Telegraph reported that Britain’s first videogame addiction center opened.

Mr Dudley* believes treating game addiction needs a different approach to “conventional” vices like drink and drugs.

”Obviously this is the very early stages of researching how many youngsters are affected,” he said.

”But I would stick my neck out and say between five and ten per cent of parents or partners would say they know of someone addicted to an online game.

”However, you can’t simply say to a 23-year-old male ‘you should never use the internet again’. It’s just not practical.

”So we go through all the issues surrounding gaming use and ensure there are triggers through which an addict recognises their usage has become a problem.

”Behavioural shifts include users becoming agressive, with chaotic lifestyles that result in irregular eating and sleeping patterns as well as social exclusion.’

”I don’t know anybody else who is treating such cases in this country. There’s no helpline.”

Having spent a summer of my life playing World of Warcraft from dusk till dawn, I can personally attest to the power of videogame addiction. If you find yourself living and breathing videogames 24/7, I encourage you to talk to someone. There is a difference between living in a virtual world versus playing videogames as a hobby. No duh, huh.

(*Brian Dudley, the center’s chief executive)

To MMORPG Or Not To MMORPG, That Is The Question: Commandment 4

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To MMO or Not.: The MMORPG Commandments :.

Commandment 4. Know When to Quiteth…

Sad to say, but all things must end and MMO’s are no different. If your preferred MMO has become more of an obligation than a joy, it’s time to retire your character. I myself have also fallen into this most deadly of MMO traps, prioritizing my game obligations above my real life ones. Luckily, I have never lost anything as dramatic as a job or a relationship over it.

Near the end of my MMO playing career I found myself dutifully logging in simply to administrate my guild, check my crafted auctions, and run dungeons, only to fall asleep at the keyboard as I waited for someone in my party to return from AFK (away from keyboard).

Sure guilds, crafting, pvp, dungeon running, and all the social aspects of MMO’s can be fun but they can also be draining, sometimes making us gamers lose sight of what’s really important in life

Are MMO’s evil? Heck no! Just realize you’re playing on a slippery slope.

To MMORPG Or Not To MMORPG, That Is The Question: Commandment 3

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To MMO or Not.: The MMORPG Commandments :.

Commandment 3. Know thine Commitment Required…

Casual Player Friendly” is a buzzword in the online gaming world at the moment. What it means is, the developers want to make online games just as accessible to those players who can only manage a couple of hours a week versus the hardcore “who needs a social life?” players and gold farmers. Unfortunately, as most MMO’s now stand, soloing isn’t very viable for long. Sure all MMO’s start out easy enough but they are designed to require group play before you can access the higher tiered areas, dungeons and epic items. Designers implement this to help build a lasting social experience (and keep their customers paying the monthly fee) but it also means you must rely on others if you really want to advance.

I can remember more than once in Everquest 2 having my paladin spam for an hour, “LFG, PALLY, HEALER!” to finally fall into a half-baked PUG (pick up group) that fell apart the minute a member’s mother called them to dinner.

Of course one can join a guild to avoid these kinds of problems, but then again you have to deal with personalities, and often petty rule sets that have little to do with actual game play. I recall, in WOW, running Molten Core ten times with a guild as a “probationary member.” I was of course allowed to take part in killing the awful beasties (and dying several times in the process) but rolling on items was a right that only went to “Senior members.” I believe becoming said “Senior member” meant you had to know the guild leader, “Chuck,” and spot him for pizza and beer at least twice.

Not all guilds are that elitist but most of the well equipped ones have some kind of lame hierarchy that you must agree to. In addition, these guilds maintain fairly intensive “raiding schedules” that are considered mandatory and will eat up your social life. Your best bet is to find some real life friends and start your own guild with your own timelines for doing dungeons.

Continue to Commandment 4