Elder Scrolls Online We Love You Long Time

by on Apr.30, 2014, under game reviews, games design, mmo, mmorpg, rpg


Oh look, a covertcreations post! Yes, it’s true we are back after an epoch. Or two, however much an epoch is.

Gaming has moved on in the last few years, that’s not news. VR is here (almost), sequels come and played and gone again, mobile games come and not played and gone again, and so on, on and on.

In keeping to the spirit of shorter, pointed posts I shall say this : I FREAKING LOVE Elder Scrolls Online!


Oh look, we’re goblins! No, that’s not a selling feature (unless you like goblins). Aside from this random bit of information, I shall provide another. If you like exploration-puzzling-social-crafty-questing-gorgeous-interesting-zomgepicbattles type of MMORPGs, then I will implore you to give ESO a try. We did, and if you didn’t pick up on the subtext here, I’ll just say it again : I FREAKING LOVE Elder Scrolls Online!

Detailed review to follow, hopefully before epoch#3. In the meantime, check out my lovely gamerwifeunit’s Geek Girl Review blog. Peace out.

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Report from Auraxis : The New Planetside

by on Nov.06, 2012, under FPS, game reviews, mmo, pc

Planetside 2 has been beckoning me, as daily rants and ideas trickle in from the community of /r/Planetside , a subreddit where the Sony developers have opened the gates and talk openly about their game.

Finally, after a many months of looking over the shoulder of early beta testers, I got my chance to play the new game. I also note that this thing is definitely beta – it goes through a bi-weekly cycle of updates.

So what do I think so far? Planetside 2 rocks. As long as you don’t compare it to the original.

You see, once you start the comparisons, you open up a severe critique. Planetside original (or vanilla, or ‘one’) was a cutting edge game that pushed the boundaries of the technology of the time. They innovated and shaped it into something awesome, carving out a new genre in the process : the MMO FPS. Before the inevitable decline, brought about by a couple of noted expansions and balance issues, we enjoyed massive campaigns in an endless struggle of epic proportions. Tanks, aircraft, troops, transports, resources, bases, hacking… it was endless. And it was fun. There was a place for everyone in the original Planetside, whatever the skill level or latency. The key to PS1 was the scale : your tiny struggle could easily map into larger macroscopic objectives within the game. And this quality is important to remember.

Now, here we are in 2012. The new Planetside is a game that attempts to merge the nostalgia into a modern shooter engine, copying elements from popular squad shooters like Battlefield 3. What I really enjoy is its solid shooter qualities, along with a strong base defense/offense mechanic. The game rewards you for playing the objective. It rewards you further for playing in a squad or a platoon. I enjoy the deep certification trees, reminding me that this is indeed a MMO that we’re playing. I can follow my whims in where to spend my points, and the promise of a vast amount of choice in future is what’s going to keep me coming back. A word to the wise : when you join up, join a squad as quickly as possible. If you luck out like I have, you’ll find a decent amount of teamwork and coordination, and enjoy the experience so much more.

The bad : I know that this is beta, so I expect a fair amount of bugs and issues. What I’ve found most wrong with Planetside 2, ironically, is in the places where it tries to be like Planetside 1. What they’ve cut, and what they’ve added, doesn’t make a lot of sense from a holistic standpoint. For example, the presence of the Galaxy as an airborne troop transport, is not justified in how the game plays out. I can instant spawn all over the place, without requiring me to wait (and wait, and wait) for a Galaxy to land in my area to take me to the next objective. And these things are so weak in the face of deeply certted players in their anti-air capabilities that they inevitably get shot down before they become useful. And the only reason the GAL exists is because it was there in PS1. This is just one example of many. And another riff I can go off on is the wider, macro-field gameplay. PS2 base and territory mechanics leave a LOT TO BE DESIRED. Capping territory has very, very little benefit at all. So you could log in and play for an hour, capture a vast swathe of territory (if you’re good) and when you leave and return again? Lo! You’re back to square one. There is very little inter-connectedness between the bases, no player sanctuary, no holistic benefits to gaining territory, and most importantly : no opportunity to win in the ‘greater game’. PS1 had this stuff, so it makes me want it. And therein lies the issue : PS2 is not PS1. It’s an epic shooter, no mistake, but if it’s going to enjoy any longevity it’s got to improve the meta-game.

Enjoyment without a greater goal is not how epic memories are forged. It’s just a distraction. PS2, for now, is a great distraction.

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Buzzing about the GW2 Buzz

by on Aug.12, 2010, under games design, gaming, mmo, mmorpg

(Thanks for the video link, Mr. Headcrash)

Can I say Nextgen? Oops, I just did. I hate that word. Thank-you Areanet for kicking the bar aside and ratcheting up a whole new one.

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Planetside 2???

by on Sep.29, 2009, under FPS, games design, mmo

I would very, very, very much welcome this.

According to RPS, this may be in the works. Per

As a somewhat seasoned (but inexpert) Planetside player (CR4), Planetside had a great mix of teamplay, massive battles, and a wide variety of individual player choice (specializations, vehicles, objectives). It’s probably one of my favourite games of all time. I moved on when it was clear the game was dying a slow death (empty servers, etc.).

My thinking on PS2:

  • A PVE axis that contributed to the overall battle (and your XP). This was planned for, and never implemented in the original. There was a real lack of solo content in PS, and this would have really helped.
  • Better base design, thus removing the layout silliness that players would exploit. Also base placement was a huge problem, very odd design decisions were made in that regard.
  • Better LFM/LFG system. Enough of the hunting for extra squad members.
  • Proximal VOIP system would allow you to shout at nearby players to get them moving. Teamspeak was great if you were already grouped, however the whole server couldn’t be on your TS server.
  • If the game has a “Command” specialization that allowed them special privilege to direct the battle, then reward players who following your orders. This would ecourage better organization and get groups moving in the same direction. Having more people on one side of a battle made all the difference.
  • Reward the support activities of players who chose to perform roles that don’t involve battle. The ANT drivers and the GAL pilots should be encouraged, not excluded.
  • Outfit/Guild Housing is absolutely required. The implementation of Outfits was an aborted design, obviously. There must be clear benefits to joining an Outfit and sticking with it. And then rewarding the successful ones. A game built around teamplay should structure itself around the entire concept of “Team”.

The list goes on, now that I start thinking about it. Planetside was THE GAME that realised the goal of most MMO games. Massive battles, massive coordination, esprit de corps, and most of all, fun! I miss that game.

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Massively online communities : the genre paradox II

by on Jan.24, 2007, under games industry, gaming, geek culture, mmo, mmorpg, new media, WoW

fitting communities together

As mentioned in my previous article, gamers expect a community from the game publisher. In a sense, this demonstrates the unique position of videogames in the landscape of entertainment. Consequentially, feedback and community become a cost of doing business.

I believe we’re quickly reaching the point where publisher-run communities no longer serve their purpose. The communities are too vast. Moreover, the gamers themselves have evolved toward a deeper level of sophistication. Gamers are the reason we’ve come this far, and we simply demand more.

(continue reading…)

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Massively online communities : the genre paradox

by on Jan.17, 2007, under games industry, mmo, mmorpg, WoW

massively online communities

The nature of things

When online gaming was getting started, there was a certain novelty in spending vast swathes of time with the same people on the same game servers, night after night. It seemed inevitable that we’d eventually all team up. And team up we did. Forming groups is the most basic of human qualities, and is certainly no less true in virtual worlds.

(continue reading…)

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Aiming at Vanguard

by on Oct.23, 2006, under games design, mmo, mmorpg, WoW


Quiz. What do these three things have in common?

a) Hockey
b) Artillery
c) MMORPG Design

Give up?

The answer : it’s where you aim your shot.

In the immediacy of hockey, players don’t pass to where their teammate is, but where they’ll be in the next 0.5 seconds. In artillery, shots follow a ballistic trajectory. In sum, the game isn’t won by playing the current game. It’s won by anticipation.

(continue reading…)

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MMORPGs, Security, and the Grand Promise of Middleware

by on Oct.06, 2006, under games design, games industry, games programming, mmo, mmorpg, security, WoW

WoW and SecurID

A big congratulations goes out to Neardeath Studios on the 10th year of Meridian 59. What a fantastic accomplishment. M59 is the first, the longest-running, and most respected MMORPG of them all.

This article is in response to M59 co-creator Brian “Psychochild” Green’s post, “Why middleware will not save us“. He hits pretty hard, and sets his sights on the “middleware market” in the MMORPG space. I’ll say I agree with the bulk of it. Yet, some of the specifics cause me trouble. Thus this post.

His argument noted two levels of the MMORPG industry, the indies and the AAAs (“the blockbuster games”). The gist of his article is that, as a technological cure-all, MMORPG middleware companies fail in their promise. They will make little impact on game development in MMORPG games. A gross-oversimplification on my part, so I’d encourage you go read Psychochild’s post.

First off, how does one define middleware?

(continue reading…)

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