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

“No Cover Charge”

Informis, commenting at Keen and Graev’s:

Apparently, “free-to-play” these days really means “no cover charge.”

I assume it has been said before, but this is my first time seeing this phrasing, and I like it. Can we all start using that to refer to Wizard101, Dungeons and Dragons Online, and other games with the not-quite-F2P pricing model? I’m not sure that “NCC” will catch on as an acronym, although there would be a special glory in applying it to Star Trek Online…

: Zubon

Oz Trail of Trials, Part 4 – The Role of Trials

On my last review, on Everquest 2, there were some very valid comments from players of the game today. They made the point that the trial is not all there is to the game, and that I did not experience many aspects that make the game worthwhile. It’s safe to assume that were I to review any game that has been out for over 6 months that I would get people who whole-heartedly support the game and find issue with any negativity. They are not wrong, and yet, neither am I, the reviewer. We all look at games differently, and this is the beauty of a trial – it lets you see if that fit is “right”. However, that said, the trial must be the best show of the game’s mechanics possible. If not, your potential subscribers will have a bad experience and go elsewhere.

Let’s get meta.

Continue reading Oz Trail of Trials, Part 4 – The Role of Trials

Oz’s Trail of Trials, Part 2 – Set Phasers to Spam

You know, it’s harder to come up with a witty title that has not been used elsewhere than you’d think. That said, I now present part two of my trial account adventure, where I journey into one of the new kids on the block, Star Trek Online. And as my title alludes to, the goldpammers have gotten there first. I’m going to try not to ride the game too hard, as after all it is new, and that would be like picking on the new kid at school on the playground. That said, it is a well-known name, and of course has lots of baggage with it. I really think the developers did a good job trying to blend in 40+ years of history into a game without it being absolutely required to move around. I am, however, a bit of a Star Trek geek, and playing this game really brought it out. I’m almost ashamed at how many references I was easily able to get.
Continue reading Oz’s Trail of Trials, Part 2 – Set Phasers to Spam

Oz’s Trail of Trials – Pre-Part 2

A question and a few notes from a closet Trekkie to any others who may be playing this game –

* If this is set 30 years after Nemesis, and 22 years after Romulus was destroyed, how is Spock narrating it when he was sent to a parallel universe shortly thereafter?

* While the ground fight battles are fun but repetitive, the space battles are the most amazing eye candy I’ve seen since LoTRO’s Lorien. The graphic geek team who worked on this deserves medals.

* The goldspam in this game is worse than Ironforge, Orgrimmar and Bree combined. It was literally impossible for me to ask a single question without it being instantly whisked out of the chat buffer.

* Props to the Trek geeks who worked hard to ensure this game follows established stories/lore. LoTRO is the only other game to do so, in my experience. SWG tried, and ended up…well…NGE is all I need to say.

Comment Spotlight: Cryptic’s Model

I was going to try a positive spin on Cryptic’s approach, but Sente covered it, so let’s pull that up from the comments:

The philosophy that Cryptic has applied here is one that is “player-driven development” in the sense that feedback from the players should drive much of the development of the game.

I think it is a nice idea and also something that puts less risk into the project, which I think is needed for MMOs. But going with a traditional subscription-based model topped with an item shop does not fit that well into this approach to development.

The offerings of 6 month/12 month/lifetime subscriptions for STO and CO is also something that does not quite rhyme well with this development approach.

Given the choice if Cryptic should have spent 2 years or 5 years developing STO I definitely prefer the current approach of 2 years. But it is not fair to ask customer to pay to wait for them to develop what initial player feedback might indicate.

I forgot at which blog I read a little model showing moving “release” a few steps earlier in several waves of “fix bugs and add content” (link it [thanks!] if ya got it). Of course, a downside is if an entire system fails. City of Heroes underwent massive overhauls to basic systems in years of beta, such as back when Origins were very important rather than 98.72% decorative. If you decide that your entire combat system needs to be re-done, there are few positive synonyms for “NGE.” If they decide in 2011 that Champions really should have been class-based, that is hard to graft on top.

: Zubon

Price Cut

Suppose people are disappointed with your product. Suppose it’s an MMORPG and people are arguing whether it’s really an MMORPG or not. People are claiming they’ve been ripped off. People are upset. Seems like a price-cut will make everyone happy right? No, not necessarily. You won’t find copies of Cryptic’s offer from a few days ago on their website. For that, you’ll have to check out forums outside Cryptic’s control like the mmorpg.com forums.

Lots of MMOs have price cuts, of course. But MMOs are not supposed to have a price cut within the first month after launch. The hardcore Star Trek fans who paid for their pre-orders weeks ago, felt ripped off. To make matters worse, many of those same fans purchased multiple copies of the game in order to secure one of every pre-order bonus item. Too bad there’s no end-game content to wear those precious limited-time cosmetic uniforms to. If there was, then the STO lifetimers would have something to do other than troll their forums.

RMT Growing Pains

The pay shop model is very visibly in the process of learning painful lessons. This is a joke. This is a debacle. Cryptic did a last-minute emergency abort on the planned debacle of charging a subscription fee for a game lacking in content then putting all the new content in the cash shop.

I watched Cryptic pull beta content from STO to add it to the cash shop, and I couldn’t even be bothered to snark on it. Not even “fail.” You just shake your head and walk away, you know?

: Zubon

Onion Headline Syndrome

I like The Onion, but I rarely find myself reading much of it because the full text rarely improves on the headlines. You might need to read the first paragraph to see where they are taking the joke, but stringing it out for 1000 words does not add much to the first 5 seconds. (I might take this as an object lesson, but look at me go, still typing.)

Syp finds the same problem with Star Trek Online, I said the same thing about LotRO skirmishes, and many of us have said the same about Borderlands and Torchlight: it is great at first, but there is not all that much improvement or variation over time. (I do credit the two single-player games for having interesting boss fights mixed into the repetition, where MMOs tend to rely on even more repetition, even in tank-and-spank bosses.) I appreciate being able to get 95% of the benefit in 5% of the time. Portal did that brilliantly and then ended.

: Zubon

Non-MMO inspiration banished to the first comment.

Star Trek Online: Second to WOW?

A lot of blogs are talking about Star Trek Online’s successes and failures. Atari announced today that STO had over one million accounts activated. The blogs like MMORPG.com, gamerant, and even us at killtenrats have noticed. However, we’ve also noticed that we’ve heard this story before. We heard it from Age of Conan, we heard it from Warhammer, and recently we heard it from Aion.

Where World of Warcraft was able to drastically increase it’s numbers after launch, these new MMOs have been unable to duplicate the success. Droves of people tried Conan and were turned off by the lack of content. Many people tried Aion only to be turned away by it’s massive grind. I like to think that if any of these games had been of higher quality, everyone who tried it would be impressed enough to tell their friends about it. In a word, these games failed to “wow” people, no pun intended.

And lets remind ourselves, Cryptic may not be honest. Having “one million accounts” could refer to forum accounts, or include the multitude of people who pre-ordered the game from target for 99 cents and are currently playing a preorder’s free-download with no intention of ever spending any more money. Sounds a bit like Free Realms doesn’t it?

Even if Cryptic’s claims about initial success are accurate, there’s no doubt in my mind that the game was not ready to launch. Lack of content is Cyrptics “kryptonite”. Considering Cryptic says they tossed all the previous developer’s work in the trash and started development from scratch just two years ago, it’s impressive they have as good an MMO as they do. But still, the game doesn’t feel complete. This lack of quality will drive away any non-Star-Trek fan who sets up an account with Star Trek Online.

So can Star trek Online hold it’s numbers post launch? No, probably not.