Cryptic Responds To Marvel

I wrote earlier about the lawsuit Marvel is bringing against Cryptic Studios. Cryptic has issued their response:

As reported by The Associated Press, Marvel Enterprises Inc. and Marvel Characters, Inc. have sued NCsoft Corporation and Cryptic Studios. The complaint is meritless. Cryptic Studios is confident that the District Court will reject all of Marvel’s claims and fully vindicate Cryptic Studios in all respects.

Do I Know You?

A computer game addict got a taste of the real world when he was reported to police Thursday for allegedly playing an online game nonstop for 438 hours and 38 minutes at an Internet cafe without paying for it. The 22-year-old man, identified only as Mr. Jin, began playing Lineage 2, a new online role-playing game, on Nov. 29 at an Internet cafe near his home in Seoul, and remained there for 18 days. While he was at the Internet cafe, he ate instant noodles that were sold there 24 hours a day or ordered Chinese noodles from an outside restaurant when he was hungry, and only slept for a short time when he was tired, while the game was still running, police said. The Internet cafe’s owner filed a complaint with police when Mr. Jin allegedly refused to pay for playing the game and for the food he ate there. He owed 452,500 won ($380). Police said Mr. Jin never set foot outside the Internet cafe and went to the bathroom as little as possible, never washing himself. “He smelled so bad it was difficult to investigate him,” said a police officer. “I wanted to play Internet games so much. I wish I could just play games without having to think of anything else,” Mr. Jin told police.

‘Nuff Said

“This past Monday we launched the World of Warcraft open beta test, and by the following day, we had already reached a total of more than 500,000 signups! To everyone who signed up, we’d like to say thanks again for helping us make this the most extensive beta test ever for a Blizzard game. We take this as a strong indication that the gaming community is as excited about World of Warcraft’s upcoming release as we are.”

Marvel Sues City Of Heroes

In yet another boneheaded move, the clueless suits over at Marvel have decided to sue City of Heroes.

In its lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Marvel argues that the game’s character creation engine easily allows players to design characters that are virtual copies of its own superheros, including “The Incredible Hulk.”

The company singles out a game feature for creating “a gigantic, green, ‘science-based tanker’-type hero that moves and behaves nearly identically” to the “Hulk.” Players can also create a “mutant-based” hero powers and a costume nearly identical to Marvel’s “Wolverine,” according to the suit.

The New York-based company also took issue with the ability of players to go so far as to name their superhero creations after Marvel comic book characters.

So a bunch of fans of the Incredible Hulk, who like him so much they decided to try to make a character similar to him, will now be slapped in the face. And this is all Cryptic‘s fault? It’s my understanding that Cryptic requested a list of trademarked names from all the major comic book companies, and they banned the use of all the names on those lists. So that makes their point about names moot in my opinion.

When will companies learn that it is possible to protect your trademarks without being an asshole? What’s next, suing the makers of Sharpie markers because someone drew a picture of Wonder Woman with one?

Interesting CoH Dev Comment

I found this quote from one of the City of Heroes devs to be very interesting:

GG: What have you done to prevent cheating online?

CoH: I’m not really sure what “cheating” means, to be honest. I’ll assume the question refers to “exploiting” — which means that a player is obtaining experience points or other rewards in a manner that the designer did not foresee and doesn’t want. I actually don’t mind that at all. If a player can “trick” our game, more power to him. What I focus on, however, is those tricks that incentivize “unfun” behavior. If doing something incredibly monotonous and boring nets more reward than doing something fun and risky, then I’ve done something wrong as a designer. So I need to dis-incentivize the boring activity to steer the player back towards the fun stuff.

Open Beta – World of Warcraft

Any minute now, World of Warcraft will start their open beta. I predict dead websites and long waits. I am already having a hard time getting to the site, so either the announcement has been made or else so many people are “reloading” the page that they killed it.

Update: Open Beta is a go, website is dead. I have ESP!

Update part 2: from fileplanet – Open Beta Keys are GONE! The World of Warcraft Open Beta keys are gone! All public and subscriber-only keys have been depleted, thank you for your Interest in the WoW Open Beta!

Holy bugger. Glad I was able to snag one. Anyway, Blizzard said they would offer keys directly after the fileplanet ones are gone so keep you browser pointed towards the WoW site.

WoW Gets Official

Blizzard Entertainment today announced that its eagerly awaited massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft will be in stores in North America on November 23, 2004. World of Warcraft will launch simultaneously in Australia and New Zealand, and is planned for release in Korea, Europe, and other countries throughout Asia shortly following. With a monthly subscription, players in these regions will soon be able to experience the epic adventure of the Warcraft series in an immersive and continually evolving online environment.

Virtual Worlds And Newbies

There was a really interesting article written by Richard A. Bartle over on Gamasutra. It is called “Soapbox: Why Virtual Worlds are Designed By Newbies – No, Really!” and I suggest you read it if you are interested in MMORPGs in any way. I hope the link works. If not, I’ll try to sum it up a little here:

If you have a Virtual World (VW) that people play, people will eventually leave. If old people leave, new people are needed to replace them if the VW is to survive. New people are needed to join at the same (or better) rate than the old people leaving. The new player is critical to the survival of the VW.

Newbies won’t play a VW that has a major feature they don’t like. Even if the old players like the feature, your VW will eventually die as the old players will leave at some point and will not be replaced by new players.

Players compare any new VW with their first one. They demand features from their first VW be added to their new VW, even if those very features were partly responsible for why they left the first VW.

Many players generally prefer a design choice that is good for them in the short term, but bad for the game in the long term. They hate design choices that are bad for them in the short term but good for the game in the long term. Make me happy now!

One of his quotes: “Virtual worlds are becoming diluted by poor design decisions that can’t be undone. We’re getting de-evolution – our future is in effect being drawn up by newbies who (being newbies) are clueless.”

He does offer some possible solutions to this problem:

1. Make a VW so different than any past experience a player may have had that they come into it with no expectations.

2. A good marketing plan or the right license may encourage old and new players to try something different.

3. Take a good look at the VWs being developed in other countries and try to include the good ideas they use. Different cultures have allowed for VW to evolve in different ways.

4. Make the VW so beautiful and amazing that people are drawn to it.

5. Sometimes just the passage of time will allow people to approach VWs in a new light.

6. As VW players mature, they may recognize the bad designs as bad designs after all. They may become more willing to accept a bad short term change in order to improve the long term health of the game.

Well, I think I have covered enough of this. I don’t want to get in trouble so go read it yourself. I think it is a great insight into how VWs have evolved and what could happen to them if it continues. I do not agree with everything he writes (for example I really hate the idea of perma-death, but his observations on instancing is pretty dead-on) but it is worth the read for sure.

WoW Debates Character Wipe After Beta

Here we are, mere weeks away from retail (maybe), and the World of Warcraft devs are still trying to decide what to do about carrying characters from beta test over to retail.

You’d think that with all the previous blunders made by other devs, the option would be simple. Everything from beta gets wiped, with the sole exception of maybe reserving a character name.

But here are the devs: “We have yet to announce our plans for characters at the end of beta testing. We have heard many (many) reasons for both sides of the issue, and when we have finalized plans, we will announce them.” -Tyren

And another: “We have not yet given a decision on the possibility of a wipe from beta to retail.” -Caydiem, Assistant Community Manager, WoW

Make the right decision folks, wipe ’em. Wipe ’em all.

Edit: My brother brought up a good point. Perhaps they are just trying to keep everyone playing. It is possible that announcing a character wipe at the end of beta now could cause some people to stop testing the game until retail starts. *ahem*