Revolution, Evolution, Variation, Recombination

Before Arkship started, I needed food. I walked until I found a restaurant we did not have back home, which happened to be Fatburger. We do have hamburgers in Michigan, but not that chain, and friends had gushed about the place. It was indeed a quality sandwich and my first time having a hamburger with relish on it. I have had hamburgers and relish before, but not together, and the combination of ingredients was unexpectedly good.

Relatively few restaurants offer anything new. They can offer something new to you, Continue reading Revolution, Evolution, Variation, Recombination


Hype has become the subject of the day, and I will contribute two repeats to the discussion.

First, You Are Judged Against Your Hype. Doing something modest very well gives you Portal or perhaps Torchlight. Take your pick on “shooting for the stars and not even delivering all the features on the box.”

Second, the example that always comes to mind on “failed to meet explicit promises” is Warhammer Online, as Zoso points out. If you ask me about WAR and I just mutter, “bears bears bears,” that is what I am talking about. Not only did developers explicitly identify a problem, identify a solution, then implement the problem exactly as described, but you were reminded of it constantly. Every time a quest sent you back to where you just came from, “bears bears bears.” Every time you killed a named enemy then got a quest to kill that named enemy, “bears bears bears.” Every time you saw a kill collector, the half-arsed version of the solution, “bears bears bears.” Then later tiers had such content/leveling curve issues that they added a bunch of kill ten rats quests as an improvement, and it was an improvement. Bears bears bears.

I am ambivalent about hype. I am skeptical, but I am gullible enough to take what people say at face value. It is not as though I am hurt if they fail to meet expectations they explicitly set; I just don’t trust the company or anyone who was identifiably a factor in lying to me.

: Zubon

Note that there is a separable issue for just doing badly. Alganon is a game that delivered everything it promised [Carson says no] badly. Earth Eternal seems to have had a similar problem.


Incremental Improvement

We should look at this as a step forward.

David Allen’s previous game, Horizons, did not go well for a variety of reasons. It was eventually taken over by a new group whose financial backing is small enough for me to consider it a fan-run game. They seem enthusiastic, and they are so proud of their work that they re-named the game “Istaria” to dissociate themselves from the original release.

David Allen’s more recent game, Alganon, did not go well for a variety of reasons, but it has kept going under its original company (instead of transferring several times). Under new management, it has advanced from borrowing from Battlefield Earth to borrowing from Star Wars. These are all positive movements.

I see no reason why his next game cannot be even better.

: Zubon

Alganon: Blatant Plagiarism

Thanks to the folks over at it has been pointed out just how blatant the Alganon folks are being with their plagiaristic press releases.

Remember this statement from the Alganon press release? Note it is dated Wednesday, April 28, 2010.

“Traditionally, massively multiplier online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,” Derek Smart continued. “In Alganon, in addition to these we’ve added the fourth pillar to the equation; a story. We delivered a fun, immersive adventure that gamers expect in a top quality massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, we’re not done yet. A whole new adventure with new updates will follow soon, starting with a consignment house, new classes, PvP and much more.”

Now check out this statement from the SWTOR folks, dated October 21, 2008.

“Traditionally, massively multiplayer online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and General Manager/CEO of BioWare and General Manager/Vice President of Electronic Arts Inc., “In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we’re fusing BioWare’s heritage of critically-acclaimed storytelling with the amazing pedigree of Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and adding a brand-new fourth pillar to the equation – story. At the same time, we will still deliver all the fun features and activities that fans have come to expect in a AAA massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, Star Wars: The Old Republic is set in a very exciting, dynamic period in the Star Wars universe.”


Update: Here is the official response and conclusion.

Still sad.

– Ethic

Alganon: No New Ideas

Not that long ago, this quote appeared on Massively:

The December first launch of the game “should never have happened,” and Smart is working to fix this. Among other things, he says the “WoW lookalike rubbish” is gone. The design team is throwing it out and working in a completely different direction to give the game its own unique look and feel. “You don’t go competing with WoW when you don’t have a WoW sized budget or the manpower to match.”

They copied World of Warcraft, realized it was a dumb idea, and are going to take all that WoW rubbish out.

Then I get the Alganon launch email and it has this quote:

“Traditionally, massively multiplier online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars – combat, exploration and character progression,” Derek Smart continued. “In Alganon, in addition to these we’ve added the fourth pillar to the equation; a story.

Where have I heard that before? Oh right, Star Wars:The Old Republic. Also, nice spelling. Multiplier?

Traditionally MMOs are built on three pillars; Exploration, Combat, and Progression. We at BioWare and LucasArts believe there is a fourth pillar: Story.

Do they have any original ideas? They didn’t have a WoW budget but they do have a SWTOR budget?

– Ethic

Alganon Beta Keys

Update: keys given out, thanks all! Feel free to keep being happy!

I try to make a practice of not caring about games more than a month from release. Alganon has just cleared that bar, with a Halloween release scheduled. Yes, it is YAFMMORPG, but I would like to highlight two things. First, they are trying out multiple simultaneous systems of advancement, the last of which is in real time, ala EVE Online:

Action, Ability, Skill and Study Systems
Character Progression in ALGANON is based on four core system. Actions are what characters carry out during game play, such as a special attack or a tradeskill, etc. Abilities represent a point-based distribution system allowing the character to focus on specific class-based specialties. Skills are the underlying methods of growth in utilizing certain areas of class-based focus, such as a character’s skill in swords, or a specific profession. Studies are the core support base for all other systems, allowing characters to grow over time at the same rate as all other players.

The other is that there will be an in-game directory, ala Civilopedia or the many game wikis, that will be built by players’ actions in-game. This is less flexible than a wiki, but it is baked in, rather than an external tool.

The Library
Both the Asharr and Kujix capital cities contain a grand library. Players who are contributing to the Library must contribute the information in person while Access to the Library is available from anywhere within the game via the User Interface. Through this interface, players can research items, creatures, magic, tradeskills, and learn about the history of the world and what families, guilds, and people have made amazing achievements. These libraries serve as the central hub of information for each side.

Also, they have passed us some beta keys to give away. It is hereby a shallow contest of the following sort. We enter new MMOs with much negativity, either bitterness towards our last game or cynicism towards the new. To start things on a positive note, your contest entry is to post a paragraph on why your current game or significant other makes you happy. Happy, shiny thoughts! I have 15 keys to pass out, and I will start making selections once I get home from work Friday (~5pm Eastern) so you have something to do over the weekend. If I have more than 15 by that time (likely), I will pick my favorites.

: Zubon

Update: I hereby judge all comments to have been in the spirit of the contest, and I have awarded all the keys accordingly. Feel free to continue adding your happiness, but I am out of keys.

Battlefield Alganon

talrok fear radiation
Quest Online is proud to announce its redesigned web site for its upcoming (2009) MMO. If you want to see what the game looks like two years into development, the link shall guide you. If you check “Races & Classes” under “Game Design,” the source of the above image, you can read about two of the races. They hope to have some class information up this year. Our friend below comes from the more-filled-out World History section. rat brain

: Zubon