MMO Weekly 02/12/08

2 Dec 2008  by   Paul Younger
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Hello, friends and neighbors, and welcome to your favorite summary of the hottest news in online gaming, MMO Weekly! This week’s news comes from all corners of the globe (wait, does the globe have corners?) and features everything from acts of true heroism (the virtual kind, of course) to moments of epic geekery. Strap on your seat belt, it’s going to be a dorky ride.

This week we learned that Funcom is giving away lots and lots of prizes to Age of Conan players during their holiday give away. Simply by sending an email to Funcom, AoC veterans have a chance of winning one (or all) of the following:The War MammothThe Killer RhinoRing of AcheronDrinking CapeBag of HoldingAmazon BowTotem of OriginsNot that I’m one to look a free gift in the mouth, but I couldn’t help noticing that the prizes seemed somewhat familiar. I just felt like I’d seen them somewhere before….like in the AoC collector’s edition. In fact, many of the aforementioned prizes aren’t new at all; they’re recycled. They include the “exclusive” in game items offered to players who ordered the CE, and those that pre-ordered the game through specific retailers. Apparently, Funcom can’t afford to give away any new items, so it’s re-gifted presents for everyone this Christmas!

As it turns out, this thrift-store give away may be related to the problems Funcom is facing. The company recently laid off more than 70% of their US staff, and the rumors about diminished subscriptions are legion. Despite all these problems, there was this one bit of happy news: players can now purchase a brand-new snow mammoth. Sure, it’s just the same ol’ war mammoth with white fur, but it may make everyone forget that AoC is in trouble.

We also received word this week that the venerable and much beloved game Dungeon Keeper is being made into an MMO. DK is a classic game, one that puts the player into the role of a dungeon designer bent on slaying adventurers that enter his underground lairs. It’s classic fun, and now it’s being made into an online RPG. Gamers everywhere rejoiced.

Sadly, their rejoicing lasted until they read a bit further down the press release. It seems that EA owns the rights to Dungeon Keeper, and they negotiated an exclusive deal with Netdragon Websoft. Netdragon will be making the DK MMO exclusively for Chinese players, and those of us who live in the West won’t be able to play it. Considering that DK was a hugely popular game in the US and EU, and was practically nonexistent in China, this deal is about as strange as they come. Good job, EA!

Well, it seems that Richard Bartle, doesn’t like being called negative. You’ll remember that in last week’s MMO Weekly, we rather satirically questioned Bartle’s celebrity status in MMO development circles, as well as the steady stream of negative criticism Bartle has graced gamers with over the years. Well, Richard wasn’t too happy with this, and defended himself at length.

We can’t say we’ve seen a defense quite like it, at least not in recent memory. Bartle denies he invented MUD, and states that he co-wrote it. He also asserted that he’s not really negative. To prove this, he points out that he often criticizes other things not related to MMOs, like a local car park. What’s more, he once gave a positive presentation at a conference way back in 2005. He wrapped up by linking to additional examples of his influence in the genre. Point taken, Richard. You are obviously one extremely positive guy!*

Speaking of screechy, are you familiar with the “Wilhelm Scream”? It’s a famous sound effect, a man dying while uttering an extremely high-pitched death-cry, that has appeared in countless Hollywood films. It seems the scream is now showing up in a lot of video games, too, including Pirates of the Burning Sea and the soon-to-be dead Hellgate: London. If you’d like to learn more about this famous non-masculine outcry, go here.

The term “nerfed” may need to be redefined. It seems that workers in a Nerf factory in China, after learned they were going to be laid off, rioted. It got really bad, as the workers trashed company computers, battled security guards, damaged police motorcycles, and even turned over a police car.

From the “I never thought people could be this nerdy” department comes this classic: college quidditch teams. Players run around, holding brooms between their legs, and try to throw volleyballs through metal hoops. It’s even more geektastic than it sounds, and we’ve got video proof.

While Wrath of the Lich King is enjoying unprecedented success, it seems a few things got left out of the expansion. These included highly anticipated things like new dances, dual specs, swimming mounts, and player housing. Recently, players and fansites began asking Blizzard why these things were left out, and when they’d be put into the game. Blizzard’s answers were pretty much the same in each case. One, they were left out because they weren’t “up to standards” and two, “not any time soon”.

Felicia Day is enjoying quite a bit of geek popularity these days. She produces The Guild, a funny (and hugely successful) MMO-based video series, she’s doing celebrity signings, appearing on TV shows, giving interviews, and showing up in commercials. This week she appeared on G4TV to talk about her show, playing WoW, how a man can win a woman’s heart in-game, and other geek-a-riffic whatnot. What’s even better is she’s interviewed by the queen of the gamer chicks, Morgan Webb. Check it out here.

Sure, it’s a little late, but Wrath of the Lich King lead developer J. Allen Brack gives a great interview over at Wandering Goblin. The interviewer is fat and not funny, but the Blizzard dev is awesome, and it’s a great interview nonetheless.

And that, my friends, is all we have this week.

*IncGamers is in the process of contacting Richard Bartle for a response on this issue.

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