Sep
16

Public Opinion

This is a sidebar widget I saw on MMOCrunch today. I don’t normally go to MMOCrunch (in fact, I’m not sure I ever have), but when reading an article earlier today this chart caught my attention. Apparently it’s the best “free MMORPGs” as voted by their users. Apparently that term just means “doesn’t need a subscription”, because otherwise I don’t know what Guild Wars 2 is doing on there.For the most part the chart seems surprisingly solid and I would play a lot of these. I’m kind of amazed by the score for Allods Online, considering how much hate the game has gotten in recent times over various changes. I can’t speak on those changes personally (maybe they’re even overblown, but what do I know?), but when I played it many months ago it was pretty decent. It’s still just surprising, particularly when it and Runes of Magic are the only games that have even cracked 8 out of 10.

Then I look at the bottom of the list and see that MapleStory has a 7.5. It makes me sound like a snob, but it kind of makes the 7s almost every other game on this list has received seem pretty suspect, haha. If someone thinks LOTRO is an only miniscule amount better than MapleStory, then I’m not sure what I can say to them.

I’m sure it means little in the scheme of things. Who knows what game communities promote these things to help inflate numbers, etc. Who knows what interests the average crowd there compared to me. I was just  surprised.

Sep
14

The Bug-eyed Asura

Like most people, I’m excited about Guild Wars 2. The original is still a solid title and the sequel is looking strong.

That said, I really do not get the Asura race. They really, really turn me off. I know this is a totally aesthetic thing that I’ll just have to get over, but just seem so out of place and weird to me. They seem to be the title’s answer to Halflings or Hobbits or Gnomes . . . but when I first saw shots of them I thought I was looking at some sort of Troll doll MMO.

An Asura with a Golem

I’ll get over it quickly, but I was still kind of taken aback.

Sep
12

Excited for Fallen Earth F2P

We’ve known that Fallen Earth was going “Free to Play” for some time now, care of GamersFirst. The official date now is October 12th, 2011. In some ways I think the huge gap between the announcement and the model change probably hurt. I suppose it gave some time for veterans to temper their expectations of the change and new comers, which can be a good thing. At the same time, I think the gap also created a dip in enthusiasm about the switch. Particularly now that we know Star Trek Online is officially going F2P too.

I’ve played both at various stages in their development, and honestly, despite the weight of the Star Trek license, I’d rather play Fallen Earth again. This is despite the fact that my friends have only shown interest in Star Trek Online. I’m willing to ditch them over this one, although obviously I’m sure I’ll play both to some degree.

Fallen Earth stuck out the premium subscription model longer than I think many people thought it would. I was never under the impression it was going anyway anytime soon, but a shift to F2P can mean an incredible increase in revenue. Turbine has already seen this with Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. Despite what you may or may not think about their approach, it definitely ensured the game would be sticking around. Sometimes that in and of itself is a very good thing. I think with Fallen Earth it’s an especially good thing, simply because there’s not really anything like it on the market.

Fallen Earth has always been a niche title for many reasons. Despite that, this can really give it a chance to expand. You have the obvious infusion of new blood, but it also means that the development team will likely have more revenue that they can reinvest into the game itself. The plus here is that, so far at least, the new free versus 3 levels of premium model Fallen Earth is adopting seems pretty fair.

So I hope when the time comes that people give this game a chance. It’s not for everyone, but this is finally a good time to try something that maybe you would have ignored before.

Sep
12

FFXIV’s Patch 1.19 Fixes Some Obviously Terrible Design Decisions

So my plodding along in Final Fantasy XIV continues. No magic moment yet, but I did read something on Massively today that was heartening about an upcoming patch:

The UI changes include the long-requested feature to make aetheryte, retainer bells, and similar environmental objects directly targetable. But that’s the least of the improvements that include a UI lock feature, several adjustments to text colors to help indicate item quality and rank, and an auto-compare feature for equipment bought from vendors or retainers. While there’s still no word on exactly when FFXIV players can look forward to the update going live, all signs point to “soon” for the latest major update.

How soon is soon? Who knows. If it’s before  my subscription ending, that would be quite nice. In my earlier post about this game, I complained most vocally about the horrendous UI in this game. Even that sort of change would go a long way and instills some hope that Square Enix is making some smart decisions.

Sep
08

Rise of Isengard LOTRO Store Prices Announced

People have been able to pre-order Rise of Isengard for LOTRO from Turbine for a while now. This is handled through the Turbine Web store and they offer three different packages, ranging from $30 to $50.

Everyone has wondered what Turbine’s plans for Rise of Isengard would be in the actual in-game LOTRO Store. It’s long been hinted that they would be available piecemeal and today Sapience posted on the official forums confirming this.

Isengard Expansion Quests
Available in the LOTRO Store September 27 (Isengard Launch) for 3250 Turbine Points
Over 375 Quests and more than 40 Deeds for characters level 66-75 in the following regions

  • Dunland — Adventure amidst the bright forests in the foothills of the southern Misty Mountains. Beware the Dunland Clans, rugged warriors tempted by the dark promise of power.
  • Gap of Rohan — Battle over the legendary pass between Eriador and the plane of Rohan. This key strategic point must be defended against the ambitions of Sauron.
  • Isengard — Explore Orthanc, one of the iconic Two Towers as it rises over the once beautiful Isengard valley. The once beautiful vale now desecrated beyond imagination by the Wizard Saruman the betrayer.

Raid: Draigoch’s Lair
Available in the LOTRO Store September 27 (Isengard Launch) for 1250 Turbine Points

  • Face the ancient evil of Draigoch, one of the most powerful creatures in Middle-earth! Prepare for the ultimate challenge where nothing less than the strength of an entire force of 24 heroes stands the chance of victory

Derudh’s Stone
Available in the LOTRO Store September 27 (Isengard Launch) for 995 Turbine Points
A permanent pocket item that grants +25% XP on Monster Kills when equipped. This item binds to the purchasing character. Usable by characters level 1-64.

Expansion Instances
Available with Update 5, currently slated for December, for 1495 Turbine Points

  • One 12-player instance
  • One 6-player instance
  • Three 3-player instances

So, basically, if you’ve saved up your Turbine Points, you’ll need a total of 5995 points. This is more than $60 in real money, although it’s eased up a bit by the sales offered on TP from time to time.

This is more expensive than I expected. I thought the prices would be slightly more comparable to those offered in the web store. As an example, the $30 package included all this content. The $40 package also included this content, with the addition of cosmetic clothing, a horse and 1,000 TP. The $50 package included all of that, plus all flavors of clothing and horses and a bunch of other quest packs.

I want to reiterate that if you’ve pre-ordered, you will get all the Update 5 instances coming this December too. If, for example, you only bought the Isengard quest pack and the new raid (which are all that will be available at launch), you’d still be paying $45. That’s pretty awful when compared to the $50 pre-order package, particularly when they plan to sell the bonus Derudh’s Stone for over $10.

So it’s easy to see the value in pre-ordering if you truly care about Rise of Isengard. I feel for those of you who have saved up or bought a bunch of TP hoping to use it toward this expansion… Perhaps Turbine means for the price difference to make up for the fact that VIPs get 500 points per month and that you can gain points by completing deeds. Either way, I’m somewhat surprised by it.

I guess it is what it is. Nothing will change it. That said:

There’s still time to pre-order. If you really care about getting the most for your money, I really suggest you do it before it’s too late.

Sep
06

Week One with Final Fantasy XIV

For my birthday in August, I was given a Best Buy gift card. I had no idea what to do with it and it was burning a hole in my pocket. Instead of waiting mere weeks for some games I knew I would enjoy, I brought myself to spend $29.99 on Final Fantasy XIV.

At this point, word had gone around for months that Square Enix knew this game was a mess. The most obvious aspect of this being that they extended the free trial period for owners because they knew people would refuse to pay for it. In recent weeks, I had heard that the game had supposedly made great strides. Square Enix was outright admitting its problems and going so far as changing the leadership of the game entirely. If only more organizations out there would own up to their mistakes, I thought.

Getting Started

Once I got home, though, I quickly started realizing that this purchase might have been a mistake. After installing from the disc, I had to update the game. Now, I’m aware there have been many, many patches since launch. Even so, there’s no reason this process should take this long when I’m capable of downloading 1.5 MBs per second. I was lucky to crack 100K per second and the process took the entire evening.

The process’s design recalls PlayOnline, Final Fantasy XI’s system for accessing the game and related information. It’s nowhere complicated (really, it’s just used for a handful of menus before starting the game proper), but aesthetically it’s extremely similar. In both games, there’s that weird “floaty” feel while controlling it too. It just never feels right.

Once the game installed, I tried making my account. It seemed to go well enough, until I clicked on the “play” button in the launcher and was given a message implying the servers were down. I tried again and it worked fine. This is something that has actually happened to me multiple times now. I have no idea what causes it, but I have no reason to think it’s my fault.

Creating a character is an all too familiar process for two reasons: one, it’s painfully slow because every menu change has an unnecessary delay (in addition to the previously mentioned weird floaty feel of the mouse) and two, the races are essentially identical to the ones in FFXI. I knew this already, but it’s just disappointing. At least they look really good.

I made my character and was transported into the game. Read the rest of this entry »