Category Industry Insights

Weekend – Open Beta Version

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed in EQ2. There are so many different things I want to do that I find myself paralyzed by choice.

This weekend I decided that what I needed was a change of scenery and since both Champions Online and Fallen Earth had open “betas” I figured I’d give them look. I plan on writing a more detailed post on each of them later but here’s my one line review.

Champions: City of Heroes 2.0 or maybe CoX evolved and that’s not a bad thing.

Fallen Earth: The love child of Fallout 3 and Eve with a crafting system that I find very compelling.

More later – the iPhone is ok for short posts but not so much for longer writing.

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Grinding Levels

I think it all started a couple of weeks back with Tom Chick explaining why MMO’s are Broken which was basically a re-hash of every “Why this game suxors” post on every MMO forum out there. The next day Trembling Hand jumped on the bandwagon. Scott Jennings over on Broken Toys tried to explain to both of them that first, MMO <> WoW, and secondly, while most MMO’s are fantasy based, they’re not developed in Fantasy Land.

As I said earlier, all of this is stuff that those of us that have been playing these games awhile have heard thousands of times and Scott pretty much nailed the response that we’ve all hashed out over the years. However, yesterday a friend of mine, Pentane, linked this Scientific American article on the Expert Mind. I highly recommend it for all you armchair game designers – even you real world designers will find it interesting but I’m guessing quite a few of you have already read it or some of the books that have been written from those studies. Also yesterday, Psychochild, posted the first in a series of articles on How to Replace Levels.

These two articles combined got me thinking about the whole levels in MMO’s debate again but in a slightly different way and I came up with a kind of challenge – design a multiplayer that doesn’t have levels of some sort.

The trick here is to think of a “level” as a game mechanic that meets the criteria in Psychochild’s post. In other words anything that is used to mark Achievement, provide others Information or help with Pacing through your game world is considered a level. So far I’ve only come up with one way that it can be done and while I think the game might have some interest it would be a decidedly niche game and I wouldn’t want to propose it in today’s market.

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EvE TV, a primer for game TV?

This weekend I found myself experiencing that same engagement watching people play a video game that I have very little interest in actually playing myself, EvE Online. This weekend, and again next weekend, CCP is running a series of in-game PvP matches and they're streaming live coverage of them over the web via a service they're calling EveTV.

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E3 Reviews

It’s been a week since E3 and I’ve been going over my notes to finally put together my review of the games, besides Hero’s Journey, that I had a chance to look at.

This was my first experience at E3 and while it was a lot of fun it was also very tiring, I think my feet started proceedings to disown me on Thursday, and loud. I understand that they had some strict noise policies in place and this year they were enforcing them but still, when you’ve got 100’s of games playing at even normal volume the din can be overwhelming. I heard that the NCSoft booth got fined for one of their bands being to loud and I can believe it, lets just say that watching someone playing Aion on a system 10 feet from the stage is NOT where you want to be when the drummers started up.

The demise of the booth babe was also overly exaggerated, they were still out in force and there were still lines of gamers lined up to get their picture taken with them…kind of sad really. There were also quite a few women gamers/developers there too which just goes to show it’s not strictly a “boy’s game” anymore – a good thing if you ask me.

And now on with the reviews…

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On Death and Penalties

Over at MMORPG.Com there is an editorial debate on Death Penalties. While I’m a strong believer in the theory that challenging MMO’s will have a longer lifespan than those with little or no challenge and that death in an MMO should be something that the player is encouraged to avoid I don’t agree that this requires the harsh death penalties advocated by Frank Mignone in this article.

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Women, Marketing and Magazines

UPDATE: June 10th 2018.

I originally wrote this in October of 2005 and the only reason it isn’t as relevant today as it was then is that I focused on gaming magazines. Those are no longer as relevant as they once were.

I have to admit that browsing the major gaming websites (Kotaku, IGN, Gamespot etc.) today the front pages look mostly benign. Of course, today is the start of E3 2018 so it’s mostly about who’s announcing what but at least they  have images from the games and not tons of photos of booth bunny’s.

So while it may be improving I think things like GamerGate and the way women are treated in the majority of the gaming community’s still show that many of the sentiments expressed 13 years ago still hold true today.


Next-Gen is reporting on a speech by Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka, the Conference Director, at the Women’s Game Conference being held in Austin this week. In it she claims that there are plenty of games out there that women would find enjoyable if they would just sit down and play them. According to her, the issue isn’t the games and their content but in how they’re marketed and how the gaming press presents them.

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