Today’s week in review is a bit more interesting than previous works, if I do say so myself as an unbiased outside source. As far as MMOs go, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Lord of the Rings Online with my pitiful leveling speed in an already slow to level game. Currently I am either level 27 or 28, somewhere in the Lonelands working on book 2 of volume 1. To give a better idea of my placement in the storyline, consider the length of a football field, and my position is the Thursday before the game even begins.
I normally prefer games that don’t rush you to end-game, but with Lord of the Rings I think I’d prefer a system that simply doesn’t see three or four level differences in between chapters. Completing a single level 25 quest only to see the following be level 29 is like getting a glimpse of sunlight only to be dragged fifty feet underground and start the process of digging up to the surface all over again.
1. Banned In One Game, Banned In All: EA Origin
Consider this the controversy of the week. Players are understandably angry over comments made by EA Games today regarding the recent Battlefield 3 beta launch. On the beta forums, a DICE employee Bazajaytee posted a warning to players that playing on modified servers could result in your account being compromised, stats to be altered, or even banned from EA Origins.
To complicate matters further, Bazajaytee posted further along in the thread that “if your account gets banned, it does mean that any EA game you have on your account would also be unavailable.” This is concerning, considering my time in the Battlefield 3 beta I could see modded servers directly in the server browser. Will EA be actively removing the modded servers from the browser? Is it possible to join a modded server through the quick join button, and if so does my entering a random server and capturing a point to see +20,000,000 experience put me at risk of being banned and losing access to my other games?
I hate to use the L word, but this sounds legally questionable.
2. The Feeling Of Playing Torchlight, But In An MMO
I love Torchlight. Granted, I bought it way back when it was released and never got around to playing it up until a few weeks ago, but nonetheless I consider myself a big fan of the game. Shortly through my playthrough, I started to understand the positions of people I’d seen posting on the MMORPG forums, about how Torchlight is the game MMOs should aspire to be more like.
So I started taking a list of things I enjoyed about Torchlight that I hated with an MMO. Loot became a thing of the past, because all I had to do was send my wolf off to town to sell my things. Gone were the days of trudging back to town with my pockets full every fifteen to twenty minutes, or doing side by side comparisons of what to keep and what to destroy based on its worth. All I had to do was move the items to my pet’s inventory and click a simple button, and two minutes later my trash became cash. As for my cash, I think I’ve spent most of it on reviving myself over buying anything. The enemies I’ve fought drop so many health and mana potions, not to mention I picked up a heal self spell, that I’m never in need of resupplying.
My favorite part, without a doubt, is upgrading my gear. My weapon cycles maybe once every ten levels, but the feel of finally getting my hands on a more powerful weapon is exhilarating. At one point, I came across a ram head-shaped one-handed mace that carried almost double the attack strength of my sword. So, ditching my sword and equipping the mace, I threw myself into the nearest crowd of mobs and bathed in their blood and crushed bodies. The weapons feel powerful, as though my mace is actually busting some skulls.
That being said, Torchlight also shares my frustrations with MMOs, specifically in the sense that bosses are just bigger versions of existing mobs but with more health, higher defense, and more powerful attacks. Unfortunately with the game’s hack and slash nature, I probably haven’t noticed if any bosses had the capacity for more intelligent tactics than chase player -> attack player, because I’m too busy breaking kneecaps and setting my pointer finger up for early onset arthritis.
3. I Can’t See Why An MMO Lottery Wouldn’t Work
I see this a lot on various game forums, the question generally comes up of “why can’t we have a lottery where players buy tickets and then at the end of the month a winner is decided for the jackpot.” The discussion then rises and buckles under the complaint that players would be rich through sheer luck and with no time invested. Now that is half of a lie.
The real issue that players oppose is the time invested aspect over luck. It has nothing to do with luck, luck is an inherent system in MMOs. After all, it is luck that I managed to kill thousands upon thousands of dragons and never obtained their rarest drop over the course of a few months and a hundred hours of grinding, while the other guy managed to saunter in and grab two of them in a good long five hour play session. If people didn’t like the idea of getting rich in MMOs based on luck, we wouldn’t have any of the systems that we do, and most of your items would be completely useless thanks to high drop rates.
So forgetting luck and throwing off time invested, why not have a system where players can buy lottery tickets and have the chance at winning the pot? It’d be a great idea for a money sink, all the rich players who would gamble away their riches in a lottery and never win anything, with a percentage of the total amount invested going to the actual payout.
4. The Fact That TOR Is Still Buyable Concerns Me
Ever since Bioware announced that The Old Republic preorders would be throttled to allow for a smooth launch, the chatter has not died down at all. Now, we know from an EA financial release that The Old Republic has already become the best preorder title in EA’s history, but the fact that the game is still for sale with release just months away raises a few questions.
The optimist in me is saying that this is a result of Bioware upgrading their server structuring as the preorders continue to roll in, upgrading stability and adding more servers where needed. The pessimist in me says that players are going to be greeted by the exact same closed door server queue that the throttling was designed to prevent, or just temporarily barring accounts on launch day under the name of “first come, first serve.”
As much as I try to ignore the pessimist in me, he is loud, obnoxious, and unfortunately has his moments of insight. The Old Republic’s launch in December is going to come under heavy scrutiny if Bioware doesn’t ensure smooth sailing from the get-go, which as previous titles have shown is akin to the Wright brothers attempting to invent an airplane that not only flies but performs so well that no future model could improve upon it.
5. You Know What? I Don’t Want Those Games Back.
I talk about nostalgia a lot here, but push coming to shove I don’t think I’d want a lot of those old, missed MMOs back in action. I recently got my hands on Freedom Fighters on the PC, and with all that I remembered about it I stopped playing the game about a quarter of the way through the story mode because I just couldn’t stand it anymore. The game was not as I remembered playing it back in 2003, just because I’ve become so accustomed to things changing and, for the most part, getting better.
I didn’t remember the game handling so clunky, or the areas that would instantly kill you if you didn’t perform an action somewhere else, or how your weapons had near zero accuracy. As a result, Freedom Fighters just doesn’t have the same place in my heart that it did before I installed it. So in that sense, I’d like Tabula Rasa, Chronicles of Spellborn, Shadowbane, and the other games to stay where they are: Dead. Otherwise you’d be killing my youth.