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Friday, May 30, 2008

The Festival of Unity

There is a Festival of Unity on EQII's Antonia Bayle server from June 1st to June 7th. You can read about it here or check out this forum thread.

I don't know much about the Festival of Unity but I imagine it's some type of hardcore PvP tournament! Well, not really. But it sounds like fun and is a good example of how strong the community can be. The Festival is apparently fully player planned and player run which is nice to see.

I'm shooting for the prize in either "Cat Splat Fever" or "Find the Drunken Dwarf."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Some Stuff I've Been Playing - 10 Word Reviews

Shiren (DS) - Roguelike that's pretty? Awesomeness! Jars are unique. Fun puzzles too.

Fairway Solitaire (PC): Relaxation. Golf theme works. Pleasant graphics and great voice work.

Crusader Kings (PC): My brain hurts. Land blue on mini-map? Why?!? Rewarding though!

JoJo's Fashion Show (PC): Embarassment at finishing this dress-up simulation! Great game though - seriously!

MLB 2008 (PSP): Good enough. No franchise mode. I hate PSP load times.

Gametap (PC): Really slow lately and lost good games. Still...great value.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Forums Anger Crom

So, I was reading this story on Kotaku about how the DirectX 10 version of Age of Conan will not be available until the end of August. I had questions: Will an upgrade be free? What do players think about this? Where in the world is Carmen Santiago?

I decided to check the official forums. I've visited them before but I don't have them in my favorites. So I started on the main site. After the age verification thingy, I surveyed the page and figured "Community" was the best choice. Clicking that for some reason launched a new browser window and brought me here. I looked all down the left hand side and did not see any mention of forums. Eventually I looked under "Links" on the right hand side of the page. Finally...

But no, I was denied. You have to enter your retail box key. So if I don't buy the game, I can't browse the forums? That seems like a really bizarre decision to me. Browsing the forums is often what lures me into trying a new game. Hopefully this is temporary.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fitness Quest

"Hey, Aggro. People are playing video games in Central Park."


"Yeah. I swear...Southwest corner - a bunch of 'em. You should check it out."

"I'm already 20 minutes into my lunch hour."

"Do you accept this quest? Y/N?"


Can I make it there and back in time? Only one way to find out.


No, Apple Store - you will not tempt me today with the power of your giant glass cube! I will not be distracted!

The smell of horse manure and tourists lets me know I've reached Central Park! But I'm only at the Southeast corner! Gotta take it up a notch!

When Vaux and Olmsted designed the Park, they envisioned subtle entry ways. But as you can see from this look at the Merchant's Gate, other people had different ideas. If you remember your American history from high school, when taking that essay test about the Spanish-American War, you knew you could always mention "Remember the Maine!" and get some credit. Well, this statue, financed by none other then William Randolph Hearst, commemorates the Maine. Anyways...

My first clue...a sign of sorts!

Yes, it turns out the "video games" are all Wii Fit setups. Nintendo was apparently doing a giant demo in the park. They had a ton of "trainers" (the people in white tracksuits) luring passersby into trying Wii Fit.

They had a ton of Wii Fit setups, seriously. I even saw a few camera crews about.

I couldn't believe how many random people walking by they convinced to try these things. New Yorkers are trained to ignore everything they see or hear on the street and continue to their destination. But Nintendo had everyone trying the Wii Fit.

One of the employees told me they had a bunch of "celebrity trainers" in attendance as well. Sure enough, they started doing a demo over on the main stage. The woman pictured is apparently the "yoga trainer to the stars." I didn't catch her name.

She's actually not properly balanced in this pic as the red dot is not in the yellow circle (or something like that)...

So what did I learn on this quest? Everyone who was playing with the Wii Fit was having a great time, laughing constantly. I really enjoyed trying it too (I played the game where you try to tilt a marble into a hole).

Also, I should probably get out of my office and to the park more.

Quest complete.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Space Stuff

I've been following the news on Spacetime Studio's space combat MMO named Blackstar.

NCSoft cancelled funding of the project earlier this year, but Spacetime recently reaquired the IP.

Now there is an interview up over at Massively about the game. There is also plenty more information at the official site.

It will be really interesting to see if Spacetime can pull this off after the break with NCSoft. The references to Wing Commander and Descent were what intrigued me in the first place.

I'm kind of in the sci-fi mood this week as I've been playing R-Type Command for the PSP. When I heard they took this side-scrolling shooter franchise and turned it into an SRPG of sorts, I was fascinated by the pure weirdness of it. Sure enough, the game plays more like Fire Emblem or maybe Advance Wars then any previous R-Type game.

Even weirder is that it's actually a pretty good game. I haven't finished it yet but I'm enjoying the strategic fun. Everything is very well done - I like that they included basically the entire manual in the game under a Help option. I wish more games would do that as I always lose the manual. The only problem I've had is that the loading times for the full-screen animations are very long (it seems like loading times are always an issue with the PSP). But you can put them in a window or turn them off entirely. It's a challenging strategy game and the setting feels fresh to me after so many fantasy SRPG's like FF Tactics, Jeanne D'arc and Disgaea.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Well, it seems people just can't wait to pwn their enemies, see them driven off the servers and hear the lamentations of their women in vent. Despite many concerns about the beta, the Early Access program for Conan is now inaccessible.

There were even reports of some WoW players getting into the mood by
attempting to live the Conan lifestyle.

Well, if you're not already playing, you can test your Age of Conan mettle by trying to guess which of these server names are real and which I made up:

• Tyranny

• Teacrumpets

• Bane

• Politeness

• Deathwisper

• Death-hug

• Bloodspire

• Candyhome

• Thog

• Gary

• Wiccana

• Cuddlefest

• Fury

• Foveverfriends

• Wildsoul

• Chamomile

• Doomsayer

• Doomkitten

You can check here to see which are real.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Smed Said

If you haven't seen this interview on gamesindustry.biz with John Smedley, it's worth checking out.

He really gets into the whole issue with Perpetual (Gods and Heroes) way more than I would have expected and it makes for a good read.

Is Vanguard really doing "quite well" though? I don't have the numbers and I guess "quite well" is a matter of opinion.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ring Ding

I recently received an email from Lord of the Rings Online:

"The Lord of the Rings Online™ is waiting for you! Celebrate our 1st Anniversary - play LOTRO for free through May 12, 2008!

Play your old characters, check out the LOTRO Anniversary celebration events, explore new areas, and tackle new quests. Just log into your LOTRO account any time through May 12, 2008 and we'll take care of the fun and adventure
. "

I logged in for a bit (to check out the new fishing hobby) so I thought this might be a good time to relate some LOTRO opinions. I never got out of the twenties level-wise so I'm not going to give a full review. I'm not done with this game either so I'll have some more notes as time progresses.

The main thing that surprised me is that this game is not awful, by any means. That may not sound like much but I had the following preconceived notions going in:

1. Everything Turbine makes is awful.

2. All licensed content MMO's are awful.

So when you combine the two, you expect double-awfulness. Maybe my expectations were very low but I had a fun time playing this game. It's definitely not innovative and I didn't think about it much when I wasn't playing. But when I was playing I always had a good time.

I'm a bit surprised that the buzz surrounding this game has been so limited. There just aren't many solid MMO's out there that are absolutely playable. But LOTRO is solid and playable.

I played as a Minstrel and I loved the class. I was able to heal in groups but I also had some serious DPS and I was absolutely able to solo with no problems. It is just a very enjoyable combination of buffs, heals and damage.

I do take issue with some of the buffs the Minstrel has. They just all seem very short and basically irrelevant - at least at the levels I was playing. And what made it worse was you had to level up your Ballad's each time. So, for example, I would have to play a Tier 1 Ballad (say Vigour) and a Tier 2 Ballad (say Swiftness) before I could even bust out with my Tier 3 Ballad of War. And then the buff lasts 15 seconds and has a mild boost to melee abilities. I don't know - this may have changed - but I never felt any of my buffs had an impact on combat in the same way my DPS or heals did. I don’t mind going through the Tier progression (I think that’s a cool idea) but I expect the payoff to be worthwhile.

Of course, the map system and UI are subpar, but that's true of every MMO out there. It's like every company assigns that task to some drunken hobo who wanders in off of the street, never mind that it's something your players stare at every second they are playing.

There are just a ton of quests, some of them pretty fun and most pretty well written. The normal fare was broken up with some wacky stuff like delivery missions and even transforming into a chicken (which was very well done). The main story-line quests involve the big name characters and are the most impressive.

The game can seem a bit grindy if you look at all the stuff you have to grind up. It's not just levels. You also need to grind for Deeds and Traits which help customize your character. But it really doesn't feel like a grind because you are getting rewards all of the time: levels, titles, traits. And killing one wolf might help you level, help you work towards a title you get when you kill a certain number of wolves, help you work towards a deed because you used Herald's Strike and so on.

A lot of the zones are quite beautiful and a ton of detail went into each area. I think the Shire is clearly the best starter zone, though starting as an Elf or Dwarf is very fun. Its seems to me humanity gets the short end of the stick with their starting zone.

As for crafting I think the goals for crafting in any game (ranked in order of preference are):

1. Make crafting fun

2. Don't make crafting fun but at least don't subject people to tedious exercises

3. Crafting isn't fun and you have to go through very tedious exercises

LOTRO doesn't reach level 1 but it is closer to 2 then 3. You can harvest when you're out adventuring (or just harvest) and then the actual crafting is not revolutionary but also not mind numbing torture.

Combat is the usual to be honest. Yes, there are "Fellowship Conjunctions" (similar to EQII's HO's) but they don't really add much to the norm.

The one thing that constantly stood out to me when playing this game is the amount of attention to detail and “extra” content the designers put into this game. You might call it fluff but this is the fluffiest game I've ever played.

I mean, I've stood around with a friend for half an hour in the Prancing Pony just trying out the different types of pipe weed there are. You see, different variations will change the effect created when your character blows out smoke. One might cause you to puff perfect rings, another might be a gigantic smoke blast and another might be a dragon. And you can farm/cross-breed seeds. All of this has no effect on gameplay but it's crazy fun and just one tiny example of how much fluff this game has. There's housing, holiday festivals and, now, the fishing hobby.

And it doesn't stop there: the music system is just crazy. I've heard groups of people hanging out and making some actual music. It's fun to pick up and there's a decent amount of complexity to it.

I mean in LOTRO you can even grind emotes to get crazier emotes. For instance, I believe if you get /laughed at a few hundred times you then can /juggle. And the scary thing is: I get so into the fluff in this game that I actually set this as a goal for myself (not there yet).

Maybe "fluff" is the wrong word. Maybe it's "atmosphere." Whatever it is, LOTRO is chock full of it.

The two things that stand out to me from my time in LOTRO are:

1. I always had fun each night I played and was never frustrated with the game.

2. Whenever Bandit and I (playing hobbits) would run across some innocent solo player out in the wild we would seamlessly move into "Hobbit Entertainment Mode" without a word. This involved handstands and other crazy emotes, busting out the drums and other musical equipment for an impromptu concert, hopping around like idiots, breaking out fluff items like the prized pie or Hornblower's brew and blazing some pipe weed. No other game ever made me feel like I could create a crazy scene for another player like that.

Oh, I almost forgot: LOTRO offers in-game voice chat for free. And it works perfectly as far as I can tell. Not a big deal to me personally but I give them credit for pulling it off.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pirates of the Lukewarm Sea?

I haven't really been following Pirates of the Burning Sea so I was surprised to see Arkenor's comment in my Planetside post that PotBS had already merged servers.
Sure enough, I read about the mergers on Ark's Ark and Tobold's blog. So is the analogy Auto Assault and the game is in dire straits? Or is the analogy Eve and this is a game that will start off slow but build up a solid, loyal fanbase over time?
I've been reading the official forums (specifically this thread, which is cheerily entitled "Has server mergers stopped the player exodus?"). There definitely seem to be significant problems but there are also a lot of interesting design choices. Most people agree that the ship-to-ship combat is very good. It sounds like the UI was terrible on release, which is a major pet peeve of mine.
Reading about the game, good and bad, has piqued my curiosity to the point where I want to try it. But I think I'll let them get a couple more patches in first. I would expect the price of the game to drop as well.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Long Live the King

I mentioned going to see the movie King of Kong (official site) when it was playing downtown but I don't think I ever reported back on how much I enjoyed it.

Well, I purchased the DVD last week (first DVD I actually bought since I joined Netflix). So let me tell you now: This is not a good movie. This is a great movie.

The King of Kong is a documentary film on competitive retro arcarde gaming, Donkey Kong in particular. The film focuses on Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe's quest for the Donkey Kong high score. But, as Weibe notes, there comes a point where it's not about Donkey Kong anymore. The characters are amazing, the culture is fascinating and the story is an incredibly compelling one.

This film is absolutely hilarious, heartbreaking and inspiring. If someone presented this as a script for a fictional movie you would think the characters were too unrealistic. But these are real people. There are so many instant classic, memorable lines in this movie, made all the better by the fact that they are unscripted. All of the music used in the film is wonderful and I thought it was genius that Weibe's own music is used to score parts of the tale.

This film passed my ultimate test: showing it to someone who has never played a video game and has no desire to. That person was still absolutely enthralled by this film. But don't take my word for it...check out the
overwhelmingly positive reviews.

There has been some complaints and mild controversy over the way the story in the film was framed and what was left out. If you're interested you can poke around the interwebs and find a ten part statement by Walter Day or lengthy forum posts by Rob Mruczek.

Is the film a bit heavy-handed in getting across the story? Sure. Did the filmmakers choose sides? Absolutely. But check out any other documentary and you'll see the same. The bottom line is that this is an incredibly entertaining, magical film. And I think in the long run the film will definitely benefit Twin Galaxies and everyone involved.

Did I mention everything about the DVD is awesome? The menus, the music and most importantly the extras all rule. There is a ton of extra footage with extended interviews, cut scenes and some Q&A's from the festival showings. I loved every minute of it. There is also a commentary track by the filmmakers which was fairly entertaining. There is even a side-by-side comparison of Weibe and Mitchell playing Donkey Kong.

Those are the key elements but there's some other minor stuff: a glossary, a brief history of DK and some DK inspired art and music from I Am 8-Bit. The only thing I didn't care for was the second commentary track featuring someone from IGN and I Am 8-Bit. But on the whole I was very impressed with the amount of content on the DVD.

I strongly suggest you consider buying or renting the DVD. You will not be disappointed. But I will tell you that they will be showing this film for the first time on television on June 1st on G4TV. So at the very least, check it out there. Don't chumpatize yourself.

Here is the trailer:

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Humor: Certified Virtual Life Coach

You may have heard about the growing trend of having a "life coach." Yes, life coaching can truly help you become a better person, advance at your job or even have a more fulfilling personal life. A life coach can encourage you to succeed and push you to new heights of personal growth!

But seriously, who cares about that?

Isn't your virtual life much more important?

With our new Aggro Inc. Virtual Life Coaching Service (certified by the International Association of Virtual Coaching) we focus on what really matters - your virtual life.

* Are you a complete freaking noob?

* Have you been unable to get your level into double digits?

* Does your guild spam for members in the newbie zone?

* Do your friends laugh at your sad little weapon?

* Do you embarrass your group time after time?

If you answered yes to any of these questions - you need our services!

We have on staff some of the finest virtual life coaches in the multiverse and they are waiting to help you! We’ll push you to new levels…of levels!
Question: Can you really just choose to stop being a complete noob?

Answer: Yes! But you have to take the first step and contact us!
Before: Boo-hoo! I don't have time to level up as fast as my friends! I have a marriage and a job and I like to go outside.

After: Heh. I am an accomplished level 70 Paladin with great gear. Virtual Life Coaching gave me the courage to quit my job, leave my wife and move back in with my parents.
Proactive! Synergy! Meta-strategy! Do these words mean anything to you? Of course not - you can barely log into your account, you worthless loser.

"But Virtual Life Coach! I'm already a high-level dood with awesome gear! But this cute Elf healer won't talk to me. How can you help me?"

Well, we have specialists for just that situation! Lay some delightful neg hits down ("Um, that staff is an 'interesting' choice") on that HB 9.7 Elf maiden and move from chump to PUA in days! Do you know what all that means? Of course you don't Mr. Nice-Guy! We revolutionized virtual kino and text based-NLP!"

Whatever the situation...Virtual Life Coaching is here to help. Virtually.

Hello, empowerment - how are you today? I'm empowering - thanks!

Just listen to this testimonial:

"I am now uber!" - Some guy

"I'm the most popular guy on the vent server!" - Some other guy

As Heidi from the Hills so eloquently put it: "Virtual success is 92% perspiration and 10% inspiration!"

Let us give you that inspiration! And perspiration! Call Aggro Inc. Virtual Life Coaching today!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Figgy Pudding

"My team has collaborated on an overarching epic storyline..."

"Essentially, new [players] enter [blank] Universe with nothing: no money...no stuff. Then they go through the world completing challenges, defeating enemies, gathering goods, discovering treasures and unlocking secrets."

Okay, try to guess the MMO these quotes are referring to (I redacted a few giveaways).

Gee, could be anything, right? Those serious sounding quotes could describe WoW, Everquest, LOTRO...

But they actually describe LEGO Universe Online.

I ran into
this post on Kotaku, and since then I've been poking around the LEGO website.

When I first heard about this game I figured it would be a more family friendly version of Second Life. But the descriptions make it sound more like WoW. They're talking about "defeating enemies" to earn "plastic," the currency of the game, in the midst of an overarching storyline.

The question on the current poll is: "Minifigs love minigames, and LEGO Universe will have massive amounts of each! Which minigame will your minifig love the most?"

Apparently a minifig is a miniature figure - one of those little LEGO people and your avatar in the world. The answers to choose from are:

Collecting hidden sets of trinkets

Rebuilding broken LEGO models within a time limit

Timed Obstacle Courses to jump and bounce through."

Okay, the second one does sound really fun and fitting with the LEGO theme. But the others?

I envisioned making an insane lego creation. And then another one. And then having a friend check it out. I thought it would be less limiting then real legos because you would have access to every lego ever made and endless storage space.

I'm not saying there won't be some LEGO creativity. The designer, Brian Booker states that he is the most excited about:

"The systems that allow users to generate their own content—things like original, highly customizable creatures as well as static models. It’s just amazing to be able to build your own creation, deploy it and have it come to life in the game world, and then show it off to your friends."

Which is great and what I was expecting. But the following surprised me:

"Essentially, new minifigs enter LEGO Universe with nothing: no money, no bricks, no stuff. Then they go through the world completing challenges, defeating enemies, gathering goods, discovering treasures and unlocking secrets. Along the way, the minifigs find bricks and collect a highly valuable currency— plastic. "

I could be totally wrong but I imagined most people's expectations (children and adults alike) were that they would log on and start building lego creations right away. I expected you would have a sizable number of building options to begin with.

"But an individual minifig may have to scale back their dreams if they haven’t collected or earned enough bricks to build their creations. "

I don't like scaling back my dreams - not when it comes to legos. Are people going to have the patience to play mingames, grind for plastic and participate in the "epic" storyline in order to have suitable building options? I get that this game is targeted to kids - I do. But it's the creativity and endless options that made legos so popular with kids in the first place.

I can't say they are making the wrong design decision. The decision to make LEGO more of a game and less of a sandbox may be based on research regarding subscription numbers and player interest. I should have just remembered the success of Lego Star Wars and realized that they would go that route. The sandbox aspect might be quite limited by obscenity concerns, so perhaps they had to focus on questing and mini-games.

The designers may very well have made the best decision based on what they were aiming for and the limitations they were faced with. Even though the direction of the game surprised me, it could still be fun.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

And Then There Was One...

I received an email from the peeps at Planetside yesterday. They are merging the two remaining North American servers into a single server named Gemini on May 20, 2008. As a past player, they also offered me the chance to play for free until May 21, 2008.

"With the goal of maintaining a high level of battle between the three Empires of PlanetSide, the two North American servers, Markov and Emerald, will be merged into one server, Gemini, on May 20, 2008. Starting today, as a part of a select group of past PlanetSide players, you will be able to log in for free until May 21, 2008.

Preserve your Legacy! After the merge, many character names will be duplicated and priority will be given to players who have logged in most recently and to those who created their names first. As an added bonus, special merits will be given to native Markov and Emerald players to represent your loyalty to your past server. Characters will receive their merits upon logging into Gemini for the first time after the server merger is complete.
If you haven’t played in a while come check out what’s new in PlanetSide! Experience elevated battles and more competitive play! "

If you want more details you can find them, along with a faq, in this thread. Another thing to note is that if you want a deleted character restored, you have to request it prior to the merge. See here for details.

I read the reaction thread and most players seem pretty happy about it. The ones who were not had the following issues:

1. What about Werner? (the remaining non-North American server)

2. It's a short term fix.

3. Fix stuff instead: hacking, TR MAX.

But again, most seem excited about the increased population. Any bets on how long Planetside can hang around for?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Barkley: Shut up and Jam: Gaiden

Ah, yes. To give the full title: Barkley: Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden: Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa.

If you haven't played this hilarious game yet, please check it out.

Barkley is simply one of the funniest games I've ever played - right up there in the top 10 with Portal, some Infocom stuff and a few old Sierra graphic adventures. It's not just a parody of all RPG's - it lampoons anything and everything.

I could take a screenshot at any point in the game and it would crack me up. Did I mention it's free?

I thought the humor would get old after an hour or so but this thing kept me rolling right until the end. I figured that the actual gameplay might be awful but it turns out the combat is actually more fun then most Final Fantasy games. I ending up varying my skills and attacks to a greater degree then I usually do in RPG's.

I love this game. I hate Jordan. I cherish the save points.

If I keep writing I'm just going give stuff away - I can't control myself. Just go play it. The specific brand of humor in Barkley might not work for you but you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mount and Blade

I've talked about Mount and Blade before so I thought I'd mention that version 0.950 has been released.

I still wouldn't call it polished and I'm not crazy about the graphics but the mounted combat is incredibly satisfying. I even love the sword and shield battles on foot - crazy fun.

The fact that the version number is so close to 1.0 makes me think that time is running out to grab this game for a mere 25 bucks. But check out the demo and see what you think.

I recommend starting out by doing tournament after tournament. It's a good way to gain some cash and renown and, more importantly, you really get the hang of the combat.

Trading seems a bit too easy and you can get pretty invincible with the right gear relatively quickly. But I find myself returning to this game quite a bit.

Did I mention that Mount and Blade is
very mod-friendly? There are some insane mods already and I bet they only get better.

Friday, May 02, 2008


I've been enjoying ForumWarz lately. It's a browser-based, multiplayer rpg that parodies internet forums and internet culture in general. The brand of humor is not for everyone and may be considered offensive but I think it's really well-written and funny.

The game is very polished and the tutorial is quite smooth. Your main mission is to pwn various forums. This happens as a kind of turn-based battle in which you use various skills or items.

The "world" of ForumWarz feels pretty deep for a free, browser-based game. You can talk to various NPC's via an IM client, send and receive e-mails that advance the story, visit various websites for goods or services and even mess with a google type search engine. The NPC's are very distinctive and the dialogue is really well written.

There are character classes to choose from and you can select various upgrades to your character as you level up. Not surprisingly, I play as a Troll. You get a certain number of forum visits each day which prevents you from rushing through all the content too quickly. It's a great way to kill some time.

For a multiplayer game - you don't really interact with other people during the main gameplay. However, there are community features which lend a social nature to the game. There are leaderboards, achievements to be gained and a weekly challenge called Domination. But the most fun way to interact is with forumbuildr - a collaborative way to create new forums. Users can come up with ideas for new forums and write dialogue for the posts and thread titles. It's fun and, once complete, anyone can play through the user created forum.

They recently added another multiplayer feature called INCIT (still in test mode) in which users caption photos. And of course, there are actual forums (on which some people even roleplay as their ForumWarz characters).

The community/multiplayer aspect of ForumWarz does seem a bit divorced from the main game. But the community is a good one and the game itself is perfect for a fun play at work.

There's a good interview with one of the developer's here but it's probably best to play the game before reading it.

Evil Bloggers

This has nothing to do with gaming at all but the bloggers out there might find this ambush of Will Leitch (of the sports blog Deadspin) on Costas Now interesting. It was amazing to see the pure rage Bissinger, representative of the "old guard media," explodes with. This video is not safe for work, not because of the "vile blogger" but because of Bissinger's own profanity-laced diatribe. Even those who agree with his arguments (I don't) have to admit he did a terrible job by becoming just what he was railing against and turning Leitch into a martyr.

Video here.

It was so bizarre I actually found it more amusing then annoying. But I did get annoyed when Mad Dog Chris Russo (of Mike and the Mad Dog WFAN radio fame) got ambushed by Michael Strahan in the show's second segment (unfortunately not in the video). How can anyone not love the Mad Dog?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Be A Hero and Create Your Own Content

The idea of user-created content in MMO's is something that's long been discussed on this site. For instance, I talked about it here and Karnatos wrote about it here. It is not something that is right for all games. But there is definitely so much opportunity to utilize community created content in the right framework and it is a facet of gaming that will be huge in the future. The public is definitely hungry for it. I don't know if it's humanly possible for me to hear any more about Little Big Planet and it's user created content from the gaming media.

So it is very exciting to see that City of Heroes will feature user-created content in the future, according to Lead Designer Matt Miller (Positron) in his post

"One of the things I can talk about is a feature that we are planning. Similar in concept to our character creator, it allows you, the players, to create missions and story arcs for your characters and others to participate in. You’ll be able to pick the map, villain group, and objectives, as well as write the dialog and any clues needed for the missions. When you are satisfied with it, you can upload it and have other players across all servers play it and rate it. Fame will come to the players whose stories rate the best overall."

As I said, community created content would not work for all games. It would be extremely difficult to implement in EQII to this level. But COH seems perfect. The beauty is that COH is not at all item-centric and is a relatively simple game. People have called it a "shallow" MMO, but now that very shallowness may be a great asset, as implementing this type of content will be so much easier.

Take a moment to think how cool it would be to design your own superhero mission with your own dialogue! People are going to have so much fun designing their own missions. I can pretty much guarantee that when this feature is released, I and some friends from this site and going to be jumping to re-sub and work together on some missions - funny, serious and everything in between.

And don't forget, it provides much needed additional content to players without any work on the developers' part. Someone who is bored with the "official" missions can do some top-rated user created ones. And that extends the subscription life of the game.

The community certainly seems super excited about it to say the least. That is a positive reaction - page after page.

There still will be some difficulties. The first thing people will do is try to abuse the system to farm. But who really cares about farming in COH? I mean it's not that kind of game - we're not talking about WoW here. I'm sure they will try to have safeguards in place anyway. For example, I noted that Positron did not refer to the placement of individual mobs but rather referred to the ability to pick the "villain group." So it seems to me like you select the type of villain and the game populates your zone. This is less control, I know, but it also makes preventing abuse a lot easier. You have to start somewhere.

I guess the main problem I see is dealing with user-created dialogue that is mature, racist or otherwise problematic. I don't see an easy answer to this. I predict they will have users "flag" content of this nature and then look into it and ban the party involved. But is that enough? Reviewing all dialogue before it goes live would be impossible. There will be a filter but human creativity will always top that.

Well, it will be very interesting to see how the whole system works and I'm sure other MMO developers will be watching closely. There will be a lot to learn. If COH pulls it off I think it will be an amazing step.