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MMO Weekly 26/03

26 Mar 2009  by   Paul Younger
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Hello there, my dear fellow gamers and newest BFFs, and welcome to this week’s edition of MMO Weekly!  In this week’s probings of the dark underbelly of MMO games, we do a lot of scoping out of the very soul of online geekery, and then we mock everyone when they’re most vulnerable.  It’s simply more fun that way.  So….on with the news!

Among the bigger stories in MMO gaming came from BioWare this past week.  BioWare announced they’re introducing the Bounty Hunter class to their upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, and from what they’ve show us so far (which is not all that much at this early juncture, quite frankly) it’s looking sweet.  Bounty Hunters pretty much get all the things you’ve come to expect from the Star Wars universe.  Wrist flamethrowers?  Check.  Mandalorian-style body armor?  Check.  Blasters galore?  Check.  Cool little gadgets?  Check.  A ‘twitch-action’ jetpack?  Check.  

In fact, pretty much everything that the father-son duo of Jango and Boba Fett ever used in a Star Wars film is, from what we’ve glimpsed at this point, in the game.  The producers go out of their way to ensure players that the BH is going to be just as cool to play as a Jedi.  In fact, they seem to feel quite strongly that they want players to have a nice bunch of cool choices when it comes to character classes, and not have everyone feel that they have to be a Jedi to be ‘leet.  The Bounty Hunter is the first of these ‘viable alternatives’ to be introduced, and it seems to be a good one.      

In what seems like a clever bit of cross-marketing savvy, the Clone Wars cartoon series introduced a very cool new bad guy, Cad Bane.  Guess what Cad does for a living?  That’s right, he’s a bounty hunter, and he has some of the coolest moments in the show so far.  Cad’s premier makes him out to be about the baddest character in the universe, he travels with a deadly crew of bad boys and girls, and he’s full of tricks and gadgets.   Now, it’s possible this is all a coincidence, and the cartoon and the guys at BioWare all just serendipitously generated some publicity for one another, but we doubt it.  

If you’d like to see a nice gallery of some pics and concept artwork, along with a couple of vids showcasing both Cad Bane and the BH class overall, go here.  

In other news, the upcoming MMOFPS CrimeCraft showcased a couple of trailers recently, but they may not have helped the game all that much.  In the first, the game appears to be more of a military shooter (think a somewhat futuristic CoD4) than a gritty, cops-versus-robbers kind of game.  Don’t get me wrong; the gameplay looks great, the weapons are cool, and the environments are dead-on to the theme, but the whole shebang looks like…well, it looks like a shooter set in the year 2049, not a crime-based game.  I’ve never seen crooks use rocket launchers, or the cops set out anti-personnel trip mines, so this one is throwing me off a bit.

There is a second piece of CrimeCraft video floating around as well, and it, too, makes you raise your eyebrows.  It showcases an NPC, one that players can access between missions, who’ll sell you weapons, help you trick them out and, in general, make your equipment better.  And that’s pretty much the extent of the video, which is short and ends rather abruptly.  

We’re not sure what to make of all of this, but we’re still hoping for the best for CrimeCraft.  The game has promise, and we’re still pretty early in the development cycle, so there are bound to be a few fits, starts, and WTF moments.  The game may turn out to be a winner after all.     Vin Diesel, movie tough guy, is apparently an MMO gamer.  He appeared on late night UK talk show with Jonathon Ross, during which he discussed the fact that he’s got a “deadly” level 80 WoW character.  Ross’ wife apparently also plays, which duly impressed Vin.  Also, Vin recently revealed he owns his own game company, working on an independent MMO based on the life of Hannibal (it’s called Barca BC at this early point).

There was a bit of controversy in the world of superhero MMOs this week.  It may seem silly, but this story has certainly gained a life of its own.  It seems that men in tights are serious business, and everyone is pretty upset at these latest shenanigans.  

The story begins waaaay back in the day, when Cryptic developed City of Heroes.  It was originally published by NCSoft, and the two companies had a good partnership.  In 2007, NCSoft bought all the rights to City of Heroes/Villains (affectionately known as CoX), and Cryptic moved on to develop their new games, Star Trek Online, and the newest superhero MMO on the horizon, Champions Online.  

The problem is that many of the old Cryptic developers continue to play CoX.  Normally, this doesn’t cause any problems.  However, recently, they began to offer their fellow CoX players beta keys to Champions Online.  And this, friends, caused a rather large tempest in a teapot.  

The reason people are balking is because it comes across as predatory.  Remember, Cryptic no longer owns CoX, and is inviting paying customers to play their competing product, Champions.  Of course, this raised the ire of bloggers, journalists, fanboys, fangurls, elitist gamers, and nearly everyone else with an opinion.  

Is it really that big of a deal?  Probably not; it’s unlikely that the Cryptic devs had any malicious intent behind this, and not many players have been affected.  However, Cryptic has a bit of egg on their face because of this faux pas.    

So that’s all for this week, friends.  Next week we’ll bring you more from the virtual universe, where pretty much anything can happen, and we’ll report on it, as long as it’s weird.  For now, ciao! 

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