Well, I'm back with some additional commentary on upcoming games. I'm going to jump right in (and remember, one of these games isn't real) .
Dungeons and Dragons Online: This one comes from Turbine, which made Asheron's Call. It will be the usual swords and sorcery setting but for once, you can't blame them. Dungeons and Dragons was such an important and seminal phenomenon that it is nice to see it being taken to a new level. This is a wait and see one for me. It is drawing me in more and more but not to the point where I'm definitely going to buy it. If it gets great reviews or my guildmates are going to play it I will likely try it.
Pro: It has a great license and so many resources to draw on. There seems to be a big emphasis on teamwork (that may be a con for you if you like to solo). The combat system sounds complex and interesting. The class and race system also sounds robust, not surprising when you consider the D&D materials they are working with.
Con: Some games that have a big-time license (SWG and Matrix Online, I'm looking at you) don't work hard enough on the game itself. I also don't believe there is any PvP if that is your thing. I think a lot of the game will be instanced, not sure if that is a pro or a con for you. Will people get tired of dungeon crawls? I think I prefer more diverse gameplay. To be fair they do say there is a lot of variety in the "dungeon" settings, including "deserted islands" and "ships at sea." My biggest disappointment is that there will not be user created dungeons, which is the first thing I thought of when I saw the title.
Imperator: This game is being produced by Mythic which produced Dark Age of Camelot. It is set in a typical swords and sorcery environment. Nope, just kidding! It is actually set in an intriguing sci-fi setting. What's more, it is not just traditional sci-fi but an alternate history in which Rome continued its rule, expanding even into the stars. Evil Mayans are also involved. Seriously. I am definitely looking forward to learning more about this game, which is tentatively set for release in June of '06.
Pro: For once an original, deep back-story in an unusual environment. The concept is very interesting and I happen to love the history of Rome which is a plus for me. I can tell they put a lot into the lore and flavor of this one. They claim the combat system is truly skill-based and not the usual click and walk away fare. People I trust tell me they loved DAOC, at least for the first year or two, so the company seems to have a decent track record.
Con: The PvP will be limited I believe, which is a con only if you care about that. As long as it is a good game, I don't. I have a feeling that the graphics will not be up to the level of some other games, but that is only a general impression. I also couldn't find too much recent info on actual game mechanics which kind of makes me nervous considering how long ago the game was announced. Right now, I am interested in playing this game but I just worry a bit it will be crushed by some bigger games and not build a playerbase.
Roma Victor: Yes, another Rome based game and I haven't even mentioned Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising. Rome is apparently popular lately - do we have Russell Crowe a.k.a. Gladiator to thank? ''Are you not entertained?'' Like Imperator, this one is set at around 180 A.D. The class system is very interesting. If you start off in Rome, you begin as a slave and have to work your way all the way up the social ladder to citizen. You can accomplish this through crafting or battle. Once you're a citizen you can attempt to become a wealthy business owner, fight in the Legion, or even become involved in politics and the intrigues that follow. You also have the choice to begin the game as one of the "barbarian" tribes. If so, you start as a free man or woman but obviously are in a more rustic environment and don't have the power of Rome behind you. They are planning to have no subscription fees but there will apparently be sale of in-game currency for real money. They term this "revolutionary" but I guess they never heard of Project Entropia or Station Exchange.
Pro: They have a lot of really interesting concepts that seem a break from the usual MMORPG fare. Check out the faq yourself to get an idea. On everything from travel, to combat to leveling they have some original ideas. I like that.
Con: The graphics look awful. If that makes me a shallow person, I'm sorry, but I like to play games with decent graphics. Also, the fact that they are not only asking for programming help but actual donations on the faq page makes me extremely dubious about the production values on the whole. I have a feeling this one might really fall apart which is a shame because a lot of their ideas are interesting.
The Office: It's based on the BBC television show of the same name but they took some liberties with the license setting the game in a "fantasy" type city. Yes, you are still an office worker but you can be a dwarf, elf, gnome or even centaur. There is a magic system which lets you unjam copiers and prepare reports without actually working. Obviously, your goal is to become CEO!
Pro: Since this an office environment they are taking sexual harassment seriously for the first time in MMORPG history. If you think you're funny commenting on that pretty wood elf's "assets" you may find yourself in front of a review board. This should be interesting.
Con: Until you reach a high level you have to do a lot of actual work and the grind seems like it could be pretty intense. Picture sorting virtual mail for hours on end.
Okay, that's all for now, but keep an eye out for Part III soon!