Cleaning Out

I have been gradually cleaning out my basement, where boxes and files can sit quietly for years. I keep looking at old things and papers and thinking, “This must have been precious once.” I spent a couple hours digging through an old hard drive for anything worth salvaging. Ah, memories. I am right now going through old CDs, boxes, and manuals. Some old friends never to be seen again:

  • Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty
  • Asheron’s Call 2
  • City of Heroes
  • Dark Age of Camelot

I am still debating some old single player games. I have Bioware’s 2002 Neverwinter Nights, complete in the original box with the 200+ page manual and cloth map. Planescape Torment, I somehow have still never played that. My copy of WarCraft III came with guide books, those can go. (There are still game guides for sale in this internet era, my my. I don’t even buy physical disks for my games these days.)

I did keep the fold-out maps/keyboard controls for AC and DAoC. Some memories I need to keep.

: Zubon

[GW2],[DAoC] WvW v#1 or v#3?

One mechanic that Dark Age of Camelot worked out for Realm vs. Realm combat that Guild Wars 2 has yet to meaningfully attempt in World vs. World combat is providing a reason for the two #2 and #3 servers to both attack the winning team, rather than having the #1 and #2 servers attack the weakest team. Rarely, out-of-game efforts will lead to two Davids’ conspiring against Goliath, but this is rare because the reward structure incentivizes picking on the weak rather than challenging the strong.
Continue reading [GW2],[DAoC] WvW v#1 or v#3?

Brain Dump – GW2, LOTRO, CU et al.

I hate being sick. It’s one of the worst times to be a gamer aware of “meta” because when I’m feverish my mind start throwing massive design problems at me. The unsolvable things become nightmarish in my attempt to cool down, hydrate, and overcome the disease. Instead I lie there coming up with ways that ArenaNet could create zerg breakers. I’m now on all sorts of medications so I feel up to sharing! I’ll go in order of sadness.

Mordor or Bust

Seems Turbine is shedding more employees in a layoff round. I’ve only been picking at Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) in the past few months, and I’m still on Riders of Rohan. One of my good friends still seems to obligingly log in once a week or so. I asked him about the state of the game a couple weeks ago. Continue reading Brain Dump – GW2, LOTRO, CU et al.

[GW2] Tiers

Is it that you believe it is impossible to have a League that doesn’t consist mostly of a few strong teams overmatching a large number of weaker teams? Is it not feasible for ANet to come up with a draft or seeding system that mitigates against that? I believe they can learn from the mistakes of this last season and give us a much improved version next time. Maybe you think that’s beyond them – if so you may well be right, given the litany of failures in similar circumstances since launch but I prefer to remain optimistic.

Yes. No. Even balanced tiers may be beyond possibility given the current server structure due to the spread in weight classes.
Continue reading [GW2] Tiers

Alas, Camelot

Mid-week, I watched as Camelot Unchained’s kickstarter neared its goal of $2 million. Seeing as how the man Jacobs had already brought in $3 million contingent, I had a feeling that somehow the kickstarter would not fail. Was Camelot Unchained a sure thing? Heck no, and by appearances it got through by the skin of its teeth.

I am pretty relieved that it got through the finish line, but this was not best game to lay across as the poster boy to anti-publisher’d MMOs. It’s niche, and unlike say the next Jim Jarmusch film, significant effort has to go in to the game to get back enjoyment. (Okay, so significant effort sometimes has to be put in to understanding a Jarmusch film too, but at least you only lose an hour or two.) I do not think Camelot Unchained is going to be a very casual-friendly popcorn MMO, which in my conjecturish opinion many Dark Age of Camelot players have grown to love.

One article at had fellow blogger Spinks up in arms. I tend to agree that the article was filled with too much hyperbole while ignoring plenty of non-AAA MMOs that have thrived (e.g., all of’s site). The developers of Storybricks replied that had the right idea (perhaps wrong words?). Camelot Unchained’s kickstart will make it a smidge easier for any MMO developer to get funding. However, it is really hard to back an indulgent cause while not being interested in the luxury product.

I am glad that it was a success, but whether it was or not, now it is back to silence. It’s going to be 2 years until Camelot Unchained is going to make those kinds of waves again, and it might be 4-5 before there is any noticeable ripple effect in the world of MMO development. Congrats to the City State team. I’ll be looking forward to their future developments.


Camelot Unchained Kickstarter

I couldn’t think of a clever title. Anyway, Mark Jacobs and City State Entertainment need a cool $2 million to jump start a counter-revolutionary MMO. Camelot Unchained hearkens back to those glorious days when Dark Ages of Camelot was the place to be for brutal PvP.

I’ve already said this, but I have to say it again. This might be the first Chipotle MMO. Every mechanic is made to feed the beast that is Realm vs. Realm combat. This means fighting other players, fighting against (NPC-defended) objectives, and crafting to help the realm’s war machine. There will be no fat to appease players that don’t want to RvR.

I find it kind of ironic that the possible funding of Camelot Unchained could mean that the MMO genre is more than capable of birthing this niche MMO. The irony lies largely in that Mark Jacobs’  blog is “Online Games Are a Niche Market.” $2,000,000 for a niche of a niche? I like to think that perhaps online games have outgrown their niche status.

Back to the kickstarter. There are a lot of reward tiers for Camelot Unchained. $5 for people that don’t like RvR but want to see more focused MMOs. $25 gets backers the game at the bleached bones reward level, and it goes up from there. The estimated launch for Camelot Unchained seems to be about 2015. If they don’t reach $2 million, it looks like there might be no Camelot Unchained.

I am betting that there will be plenty of Camelot Unchained features and interviews this month to keep the kickstarter in the limelight. I hope it succeeds. The more niches in our niche the better.


Wild Thoughts Unchained

Camelot Unchained

A Mark Jacobs appears! I have plenty of mixed emotions. He’s been a role model for me for reasons I’d rather keep to myself. He also got me and every other blogger riled up for an MMO that ended up not really working in the end. There are a lot of other reasons I want him to make more waves in the MMO business and just as many reasons to see him go away. My hope is that he is now humbled and right-minded…. And hungry to make a damn good MMO.

I want this Chipotle MMO. This mirror world Dark Age of Camelot. With Darkfall floundering around, there is plenty of room for a strong, fantasy-based RvR game to make its mark. Yet that room is beginning to fill. The biggest competitors are going to be Guild Wars 2, which is currently having some WvW growing pains, Pathfinder Online, which seems more EVE corp. v. corp. and could vaporize at any time, and The Elder Scrolls Online, which has another Dark Age of Camelot dev at the helm. In 1-2 years, who is to say what will happen?

I do want a successful MMO to have tiered subscription options. I do want crafting to be a huge fuel for PvP. And, I want one crown jewel to rule. ‘Everything owes allegiance to RvR’ is exactly the right way to make this game. That’s how Camelot Unchained is going to differentiate itself from the pack.

Pathfinder Online kickstarted the process with nearly 110% funding, and I hope Camelot Unchained can turn memories of Dark Age of Camelot in to cash for its own Kickstarter coming next month. Theoretically, many Dark Age fans have grown up and make some decent money now. Of course that also means less time for MMOs, or they are still applying salve to the Warhammer Online burn.


Carbine Studios tells people they are ready to rumble in 2013. Syp is excited too. I get the feeling that WildStar is MMO soda-pop in the best possible way. Since my thoughts are unchained here too, I think it will be lots of fun in a light way. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are deep, deep things… like a competitive 40-man raid that evolves or player housing with PvP. Just the feeling I get is that this is going to be a great game for jumping in, experiencing something fun, and jumping out.

Its primetime competitor, The Elder Scrolls Online, seems more-of-the-same in conventional MMO ways. WildStar feels fresher. Their information release so far feels like Star Wars The Old Republic vs. Guild Wars 2 all over again. Star Wars was cinematics and pretty scenes. Guild Wars 2 was gameplay, gameplay, gameplay. It’s the same thing here. The Elder Scrolls Online is talking about lore and history, and WildStar is showing off paths, telegraphing, and UI. Maybe it’s a small thing, but I feel like I know more about how WildStar is going to play than The Elder Scrolls Online, even though both have been in development at least 5 years…. And both want to be the MMO of 2013.

And, Kill Ten Rats will know more. Zubon and I are heading for Arkship 2013! We’re going to have a lot to tell you, and unfortunately some things that will be bound by NDA. Either way I’m sure between the two of us, you, valiant reader, will get a well-rounded opinion on WildStar. If you have questions you’d like us to ask, feel free to put them below. Either Zubon or I will likely do another question gathering post after all the dust has settled from press demo and interviews have come about this week (and early next?).


On the Same Team

There were two feelings I really liked when trying the GW2 beta. The first is the playground between the sandbox and the theme park. The second, and I have not felt this for a long time in an MMO or even most team-based games, is that the players were all on the same team.

If the design is working as intended,* everyone on the same server is on the same team. If someone is fighting, you should help him. There is no kill-stealing. If someone is on the ground, you should rez him. You’ll get experience points and achievement progress, and then there’s someone else around to help you with the event.

Continue reading On the Same Team

Engi Census

Playing the Steam free game of the weekend, I have come to wonder: how many games have an Engineer that builds a turret; how many games have an Engineer that does not build a turret; and how many games have a non-Engineer that builds a turret. (I think I will avoid counting Warhammer Online’s Magus and units/classes that “summon” rather than “build.” I’m unclear whether the Raven builds, summons, or do we count “deploy”?) Was there some first game that set the standard that Engineer = build a sentry gun? It feels like engineers and self-directed turrets have become a standard game item, but perhaps exploring some examples will reverse this. I keep finding near-hits, where perhaps they consciously avoided calling the turret-builder an Engineer in recent games. I wonder if non-builder Engineers are also intentional aversions? Inventory below the break, please contribute in the comments.

Edit: let’s see what happens if we add in enemies that do the same, some of which may mirror heroes. Continue reading Engi Census