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MMO Weekly 9/12

9 Dec 2008  by   Paul Younger
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Hello, my dearest fellow game-geeks, and welcome to this week’s edition of MMO Weekly! In this week’s writeup, we probe the very depths of online geekery, telling tales full of adventure, heroism, epic dorkiness, and unrepentant nerdishness. Stay tuned.

Have you ever seen Conan portrayed as a weak-minded simpleton? Sure you have; it’s a common misrepresentation of the character. (AoC avoids this gaffe, correctly portraying everyone’s favorite loincloth-wearing muscle-man as cagey and clever.) For reasons unknown, Tor Publishing this week took issue with the whole “Conan is a dummy” portrayal, going to great lengths to demonstrate that Robert E. Howard’s epic barbarian is surprisingly bright. Considering how popular ol’ Conan is, and how long this little misrepresentation has been going on, this is an odd thing for Tor to suddenly become concerned about.

Our good friends over at Vox ex Machina pose a very interesting question: is Age of Conan a dying game? We’re not sure, exactly, what the answer is, since the guys at Vox are smarter than we are and use some pretty fancy words. Quite a convincing write-up, to be sure.

If you ever get sick of simply role-playing superheroes, now’s your chance to actually be one. All you have to do is build your very own super suit. As this video demonstrates, a super suit can help you withstand wiffle-ball bat attacks, and can almost stand up to a trash can strike to the face. Almost.

Darkfall Online issued a groundbreaking statement this past week, and it went something like this: “January 22nd is the official release date for the game. But only in Europe. We think. Maybe in North America too. But we’re not really sure. We’ll let you know.” Yeah, so that was a little bit vague for most people’s tastes, but the vagueness was largely overlooked. This was because everyone was completely stunned by the fact that Darkfall actually has a release date. The game has been in development since the bronze age, so it’s apparently imminent release is nothing short of stunning.

Have you heard of Ripsaw? It’s a robotic tank that’s nearly indestructible. Well now it’s got a gigatic chain gun mounted on top, and is ready to take over the world the very moment Skynet becomes self-aware.

Bill Roper is heavily promoting Champions Online, and this week he visited G4TV. He sat down for a lengthy interview with everyone’s favorite gaming hottie, Morgan Webb. Bill talked superheroes, he dished on how itemization worked in Champions, he discussed the role of a player’s nemesis, and he wore some damn crazy shoes. (In my book, anyone who wears shoes which make them look like their feet are on fire while doing a nationwide video interview is a hero.)

Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment is the studio that’s currently developing Stargate Worlds. While the press coverage of Stargate Worlds has been pretty positive, employee satisfaction may not be quite so high. Of course, I’m just surmising this from their website called Days-Since-Cheyenne-Mountain-Employees-Have-Been-Paid.com, and it consists entirely of a numeric ticker that updates once a day. (The current figure, as of this writing, is 26.)

Mythic has been embroiled in a bit of controversy lately. It seems that the public quests, so loudly touted during promotion of the game are, well, rigged. See, public quests involve large, informally gathered groups all attempting to accomplish the same goal. When that goal is accomplished, every participating player gets a score. That score is comprised of two elements: a numeric rating based on that player’s performance, plus a random element. The highest score then gets some nice loot; next highest gets some lesser loot, and so on down the line. (Usually, I’m so far down on the scoring chart that I end up with nothing whatsoever.)

This system is designed to keep things fair; high level players aren’t guaranteed the best loot every time but, overall, better performance generally results in better loot. There was only one problem: it appears the “random number” part of the score wasn’t exactly random. In fact, some players figured out how the system worked, and determined that Mythic wasn’t using random numbers as advertised. They were actually assigning numbers to players the moment they entered the zone, and this fact just completely bungholes the entire concept of fair loot drops.

Mythic’s response to this controversy was both thoughtful and classic. They admitted that the problem existed, promised to fix it immediately, and then released a very funny video of Paul Barnett publicly punishing and humiliating the programmers. Nicely done, Mythic.

Was that story a bit too mentally intense? Here, try a video of an old lady shooting an invisible gun. Or how about some dirty hobbit tricks? Or maybe a video of Casey Schreiner versus Runescape? Good, simpleminded fun, all three.

To bring things to a close, there’s this little story: someone in the United States Army thought that recruiting in Second Life was a great idea. Now the ol’ US Army will be building two islands. The first is largely informational, while the second is a game of sorts. SLers will have their avatars shoot guns, rappel out of towers, and parachute out of airplanes. If they score well, they can win some hats, t-shirts, and other strictly non-explosive loot from the Army.

I have to say, I’m a bit curious if the “idea man” behind this one had ever actually visited Second Life. If he had, he would have seen furries cavorting in open fields with kittens, people attending “virtual concerts”, and giant purple teddy bears protesting various governments around the world. Then everyone would have attacked each other with pillows shaped like giant penises. (Peni? What’s the plural for that? Oh, whatever. [Ed- penises was right, Pig…]) The point is that Second Life is a hybrid of Woodstock, Greenpeace, PETA, Timothy Leary, LSD, and The Burning Man all rolled up into one. It’s not exactly the kind of place you’d find a lot of potential soldiers. It’s more the kind of place you’d find recruits for a fashion design reality show.

So that’s all for this week, friends. Next week we’ll bring you more from the virtual universe, where anything at all can happen. For now, ciao!

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