A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “Champions Online

Stepping Back Into MMOs

Until this past weekend I’ve been mostly playing single player games. That ended as I jumped back into Star Trek Online.

My current project is to make my Chimera-class Heavy Destroyer a fully functioning ship that I have fun breaking out every now and again. The first job is building the three parts to the Nukara Appropriated Munitions set, followed by building the Nukara Strikeforce Technologies set. I recognize that they’re not the best sets in the game, but I’m here to enjoy myself and I’m turning the Chimera into a beam-boat, so nyah. Also, it’s going to take a while to build up enough dilithium for all the parts I’d like to put on her. I’m currently uninterested in working on fleet projects, so that works in my favor. Once this is done, I think I’ll be able to focus on the fleet again. Side note: I’m going to be naming her after my dearly departed dog, Terra, once she’s done and ready for deployment. Durable, fast, and powerful… that’s Terra.

I’ve also had a bit of an itch to hop back into Neverwinter. I haven’t had a chance yet to see just how amazing it looks on this machine, but I did hop in briefly to max out all the settings when I installed it. Shouldn’t be anything short of spectacular looking.

I’m craving some DC Universe Online as well. I made a Power Girl facsimile (Power Girl is my favorite) and I’m hoping to get back to her soon. She’s so satisfying to play!

Other MMOs on my machine right now are Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Lord of the Rings Online, Champions Online, and Uncharted Waters Online. Multiplayer only games are Mechwarrior Online, ME3 Multiplayer, Star Conflict, oh, and Warframe (which I have very little opinion on right now since I’ve barely played it and I’m just not willing to spend time there yet).

If anyone has a recommendation for a fun free-to-play MMO that I could step into and check out, I’d appreciate it.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. Instead of a quote, here’s a helpful article for Star Trek Online players who might be new or at least not entirely aware of all the things you can do in the game.

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Discussion – The Urge to Replay

I’ve had this craving recently to dive back into a game that I’ve already beaten. I’m not entirely sure why though. Let me try to convey my thoughts on the matter.

First of all, I have plenty of games I haven’t beaten yet:

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Splinter Cell: Conviction

Lord of the Rings Online

Champions Online

Hellgate: London

Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Spiral Knights

DeathSpank

SpaceChem

Police Quest Collection

Space Quest Collection

Roller Coaster Tycoon

X-COM Apocalypse

X-COM Terror From the Deep

These are just some of the games I have access to right now. I haven’t even touched the stacks of handheld games I haven’t beaten yet or even the console games I haven’t beaten. Seriously, I could focus on one or more of these and actually FINISH a few more games, but I have this craving to keep playing/replay certain games even after I’ve finished them. Here are the siren songs that keep calling me.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Cross

Final Fantasy XII

Star Trek Online (I consider it beaten, but since they keep adding new stuff, I dunno)

Mass Effect 2

Republic Commando

I’ve successfully resisted replaying a few of those games lately by focusing on LOTRO, but Final Fantasy XII has been calling me exceptionally often lately. Whenever I look at my dormant PS2, I have this craving to play FFXII and I don’t really know why. I beat it rather soundly last time, but for some reason I just want to start a new game and pound the crap out of it again. It’s a massive investment of time though, so I’ve been able to resist it successfully. Resisting Chrono Cross is kind of easy though, however sad because well, I can resist it because it doesn’t have voice acting and I’m afraid the game might put me to sleep without enough stimulation. Strange, right? I know, but I once nodded off while playing Final Fantasy VI on the PSX and that’s my most favorite FF game of all time. I managed to whet my Chrono Trigger appetite recently when it came available on the Wii and I also own a handheld copy of the game (but it’s so much more fun to play on the TV).

Lately I’ve been having this strong desire to play a game where I can shoot things. Obviously, this rules out games like LOTRO and Chrono Trigger, so I’ve been giving sidelong glances at Splinter Cell: Conviction and Hellgate: London and a few other games with colons in their names.

I’m not sure about the details behind my desire to replay a game over finishing a game, but hey, that’s why this little site is here! To let me expand upon my random thoughts and help me discover what’s going on! I seriously think that I have a problem with finishing games because deep down I don’t want the experience to end. Further, I like replaying certain games that are quick and exciting or allow me to carry over information from a prior game. It’s possible (since FFXII doesn’t fit this mold) that I might have a strong desire to replay a game if I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the original playthrough. I did kind of give up on the extras in FFXII when I realized I just wanted to beat the game at level 70 or something as a result of losing to a stupid extra boss that was an hour or so away from a save point. I’ll never understand why they don’t put save points in front of every boss fight, however optional. FFXIII has save points galore, but I guess when you really need one it’s never there.

Anyways, I’m off to work some more on my Captain in LOTRO. I got him to level 50 last night and he’s currently working on upgrading his first legendary item to level 10 so I can go back and put a hurting on the Watcher in the Water. It’s a decent halberd I’m using, but I’d prefer different legacies. We’ll see what happens.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Congrats on finishing the game. Now get a life!!” – Eiji Nakamura in the “Programmers'” Ending of Chrono Trigger


Impression – Forsaken World and Global Agenda

Last week, Steam announced a few free-to-play games that you can play through their service. In this short list was Champions Online, Forsaken World, Global Agenda, Spiral Knights, and Alliance of Valiant Arms. Seeing as I’ve already talked about Champions, I’m not interested in Alliance or Spiral Knights (right now, but Spiral Knights art design is/was lead by Ian McConville), I’ll talk about Forsaken World and Global Agenda.

I was playing some Daggerdale a few days ago with a friend. We quit at about 9:30pm or so and we were wondering what else to play. I offered up the new free-to-play games on Steam. After chatting about our options (ignoring Champions as we weren’t in the mood), we settled upon Forsaken World (made by the company Perfect World who has recently acquired Cryptic from Atari, I believe). I was having internet troubles, so I didn’t get to play it right away. My friend built a Kindred Assassin and declared that it was fun.

The next day I hit Forsaken World with a vengeance, trying out a Kindred Vampire for a little while but then switching to a Dwarf Marksman. Later, I even made a Stoneman Protector, a Human Warrior, an Elf Bard, and an Elf Priest. In fact, you can see some gameplay footage of my Human Warrior below. Let me just say (before the imbedding of videos) that I have a lot of fun playing this game. It’s very pretty, I suffer very few technical issues (if any) and it’s easy to play. I’m constantly hitting I for my inventory screen when it’s actually B, but other than that, it’s okay. I actually find myself preferring the Stoneman Protector, Human Warrior, or Elf Priest thus far (levels 17, 17, and 23 respectively). Definitely fun. Oh, the loading screens are fantastic… they’re pencil drawings initially and as it loads, they shift into full color. Lovely.

 

Now, Global Agenda was apparently originally designed to be a group PvE/PvP game with no real solo content after the tutorial. Recently (I suppose) they added some solo content to appeal to a wider audience. There isn’t a lot of it, but I suppose it’s enough for people to do stuff while they wait for queues to fill up. It’s a refreshing change of pace since there aren’t a lot of science fiction style MMOs out there (some, but not many). The tutorial is very well built, but the game overall is kind of fragile. My first playthrough, the game hung up three times, forcing a restart of the game. Also, when accepting or turning in quests, the game has a bad habit of not processing properly and essentially you wind up waiting around while the game realizes “Oh crap, he clicked FINISH for this quest! Give him the reward! Let him continue!” The graphics are very good, the game is rather easy to play, and I love having a jetpack and body armor. I’ve got a series of videos that’re showing a playthrough of the tutorial.

 

I hope you check these games out for yourself. They’re quite fun and provide different approaches to the existing MMO models out there. I especially enjoy Global Agenda, but I think I’d really prefer to have a few more friends playing with me so I can do the 4 player PvE content. Oh well. I’m enjoying what I can do.

Until next time, keep on playing!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne


Discussion – What’s in a name?

The hardest part of creating a new character for a game (new or old) is the name. Seriously. In the 10 or so years I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons, the name is the last thing I think of and it usually takes the longest to come up with. It’s really no different with MMOs and so forth.

Occasionally I get really lucky. I was walking through the store not too long ago with my friend and I was reading the labels off of things as I walked past (something I love to do). There was some packaged gouda cheese and it had a single word or phrase describing the flavor. So I saw “Gouda: Intense” and turned to my friend and went “Intense Gouda?” At this time, I was trying out Champions Online to see if I really liked it or not, so I was looking anywhere for a superhero name. We kept on going on about Intense Gouda until I finally said, “You know, that’s a great superhero name!” Thus, Intense Gouda was born on the Champions Online servers.

I have a pile of names I go to whenever I really need something in a game… I pull from books no one really reads any more (Enchanted Forest Chronicles anyone?) and I tap a couple of names I’ve been using for the last 10 years. When these fail me, I do my best to pull stuff together (Saxolfyr my Dwarf Guardian in LOTRO was one such name).

When a game chooses names for me… well, it’s almost a vacation. I don’t bother to change Shepard’s first name in Mass Effect, I keep the baseline names in Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, and I kick back and enjoy the show.

On a side note (now that I’ve mentioned Mass Effect 2) I think I want to replay Mass Effect 2. Here’s why: I was shown the weapons from the Firepower Pack DLC and dear lord, I want to use them! Unfortunately, I beat the game very soundly (including the Arrival DLC) and I’ve got nothing left to do in the game! Maybe this play through I can finally grab those pesky side missions that require you to scan the planet.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “For those lucky enough to be baptised with a middle name, they don’t ever have to wonder what it would be like to be without one.” – Franklin P. Jones.

P.P.S. “Bending is my middle name. My full name is Bender Bending Rodriguez.” – Bender


Discussion: MMO Pricing Models

Today I’m going to talk about something that stirs up a lot of feelings in a lot of people all over the net: pricing models.

Here’s the three different primary types here:

Free to Play

Microtransaction

Subscription

Allow me to explain…

Free to Play is just what it says: Free. To. Play. Seriously, you download the game, you install it, you set up an account, and bam, you’re ready to go. It’s that simple. Examples of these games are Champions Online, D&D Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and several of the games I’ve previously mentioned like 9Dragons and ACE Online. For future reference, I’m abbreviating this as F2P.

Microtransactions (I may have explained this in the past, but humor me) are where you throw a few dollars at the game here and there. Typically this goes hand in hand with a F2P model. The point is to purchase in a cash shop of sorts a few extraneous objects or such that you don’t normally get with your usual account. An example of the things that are usually available in such a shop are extra character slots on the server, additional character classes or capabilities, costume items that have no effect outside of changing your appearance, experience bonus items, and so forth. Frequently the company running the game invents some sort of point system that goes with the shop. Champions Online and Star Trek Online both have their C-Store (Cryptic Store) and they take advantage of Atari Tokens. D&D Online and Lord of the Rings Online are both run by Turbine and they each have very similar shops with points named differently (DDO Points and Turbine Points, respectively). Sometimes the company running the game doesn’t even bother to do point transactions. In the case of games like Star Wars Galaxies where there’s a separate card game built into the game, you just buy booster packs and such using your credit card or whatever. Sometimes these points are easy to get (in LOTRO, you can gain Turbine Points by accomplishing deeds that award 5, 10, or 15 points and you can save them up), other times you can only get them by buying them (Star Trek Online), and still other times you can get a stipend of points per month for subscribing (D&D Online and Champions Online each offer 500 and 400 of their points per month, respectively). All in all, you’re typically not spending a lot of money at once (if at all), hence the term “microtransactions”. Me, if I like a game well enough, I’m cool with throwing twenty bucks at it (like LOTRO).

Subscriptions for MMOs have always been a touchy subject but most frequently they’re priced around fifteen dollars a month. Some games (once again, LOTRO) offer the occasional discount to ten bucks a month and a few games out there are five a month (I believe Dungeon Runners used to do this). Sometimes if you buy a bunch of months in a row (like 6 or 12) you can get a discount. $120 bucks a year changes your subscription to ten bucks a month instead of fifteen… which isn’t bad if you intend to play the game for the whole year. Like I’ve implied, subscriptions can run monthly, annually, bi-annually, or whatever. Also, some few games offer lifetime subscriptions where you pay one large lump sum (often enough to buy an XBox 360 or a PS3) for permanent subscription services for as long as the game is up. I recently acquired a lifetime subscription to Star Trek Online for the paltry sum of $300 (hah, paltry) and there’s really no difference between a normal subscription and the lifetime (except for a few nifty concessions). Once upon a time, I said (upon discovering Everquest was fifteen bucks a month) that I would only truly pay to play a Star Wars game. Well, I’ve been proven wrong (DDO, LOTRO, STO and now another SW game is coming out soon).

Admittedly, those are the primary models above, but companies love to mix and match to their own delight. A prime example of this is in what Turbine and Cryptic have  done to their games. Let’s take a look at D&D Online and then Champions Online:

D&D Online offers a free to play model. There is a cash store where you can buy points and spend said points on objects you want. There’s also a variety of subscription options (monthly, 3 months, 6 months I believe) available for those who want free access to all the restricted content that’s available for purchase in the store (more or less). Further, for those who subscribe, you gain 500 DDO points per month of your active subscription. If you allow your subscription to lapse, you downgrade to a “Premium” account which has more benefits than a regular Free account, but considerably less than a subscription. In this case, if you’re playing a class (like the Monk or Favored Soul) that is specifically given to you because of your subscription, you lose access to that character until you purchase the class in another way (via favor or money).

Champions Online has recently gone free to play. There’s a cash store where you can buy points and spend them on objects you want. They also have subscription options, but they also offer a lifetime subscription with additional benefits on top of the standard subscription. The entire game is available to play, but certain quest trees are unavailable except to those who subscribe or purchase said quest packs. For subscribers (lifetime and otherwise) you gain 400 Atari Tokens a month. If you are no longer a subscriber you revert to a “Silver Player” (as opposed to Gold) and lose access to all the things that Gold Players get specifically (you lose access to your Freeform characters and quest packs) until you subscribe again.

Personally, I’m a fan of these combination models. I feel that they appeal to wider audiences and in many cases allow people to try the games until they feel like they want to spend money on it to get the extra stuff (like me with D&D Online, Lord of the Rings Online). Champions Online is now a current favorite for me and I’m highly tempted to get a lifetime account with them.  Don’t worry, I make myself come up with three good reasons before I splurge on something so expensive.

When looking to invest in a game, it’s encouraging that so many are going free to play with subscription options. I’m certainly a fan of being able to try stuff out before buying (like test driving a car). I have a hunch that subscription-only games are going to be phased out in the future and “choose your own pricing model” games will become the business standard.

Regarding the lifetime subscriptions: personally I like to buy and not worry about things any more, hence why I’m a fan of these. Further, Star Trek Online has held a lasting appeal for me in the last six months and I felt it was a worthwhile investment. Also, STO is still a growing game. It’s been around one year (celebrated its one year anniversary the first week of February). If Galaxies had a lifetime subscription option, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Until next time, choose wisely so that you can have a great time!

– Elorfin

P.S. In hunting down links to put up above, I found something particularly awesome that some friends may or may not appreciate. Neverwinter.

P.P.S. I was right about the Dungeon Runners subscription. Booyah.

P.P.P.S. “Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.” – Publilius Syrus


Discussion: My feelings on Star Wars Galaxies today

I’d like to share something that’s been bothering me lately: my drive to play Star Wars Galaxies is pretty much gone. I’m still paying to play it, but I just would rather play other things (new or old). I’m going to try to explain this as best as I can, so bear with me.

Let’s get something straight first: I WANT to play Star Wars Galaxies. The issue I’m having is that, well, I’ve already done everything I wanted to do in the game. I want to do more than there is. Star Trek Online is fascinating to me because they’re constantly releasing new content. Galaxies kind of stopped doing that. If you will, they decided to focus more on the in-game card game than the game itself. They haven’t developed a new planet since Trials of Obi-Wan, they haven’t released genuinely new content since Halloween of 2008 (I think) with the release of Death Troopers and the zombie problems on Dathomir.

I think what I really want is something that SOE is unlikely to give: new life to the game. Maybe it’s a change in pricing model (Free-to-Play/Premium/Subscriber/Lifetime seems to be the way things go these days with a couple of games). Maybe it’s the addition of locations that would give a huge amount of variety into the game like Nar Shadda or the ruins of Alderaan or maybe a genuine visit to locations like Hoth (instead of PvP instances)… or how about giving guilds capital ships that they can craft or adding more to spaceflight and space combat? No, the latest update to the game just adds another quest series to Dathomir with the Witches and a revisit to the Officer class that was sorely needed. Last time I played, they had added the Rare Loot system…

I’m frustrated because I want to play. I’m sad because there’s nothing left for me to do aside from these extremely difficult to solo (or even handle with group) quests. I’m genuinely disappointed and I wish I wasn’t.

It’s almost like there’s this approach to games from the stone age still out there… that developers want a “fire-and-forget” game that they can release onto the market and not have to bother patching or releasing updates in the age of high speed internet and discerning consumers. I suppose they ask “why keep investing in one project when we can make so many more that can get us more money?” I thought the point of an MMO was to keep investing to develop a loyal player base that continues to purchase all the expansions and add-ons that you create? There hasn’t been a TRUE expansion to Galaxies SINCE late 2005 and that was the New Game Enhancement and the Trials of Obi-wan release.

Star Trek Online’s developers at Cryptic get it. Every once in a while they release a weekly series of episodes that are fresh, new, and fun. This keeps me coming back, wanting to be prepared for the next series of episodes. I’m looking forward to the eventual release of the Romulans as a playable faction (fingers crossed!) and the ability to eventually craft my own Delta Flyer. I can’t wait to go toe-to-toe with whatever menace is lurking over the horizon, my friends and their ships ready to go. Galaxies has lost the spark it once had and I think an overhaul of approach is needed. I will admit that if they ever offer a veteran reward or an option to purchase a lifetime account, I’ll be the first to jump on it. Seriously though, I’ve been paying to play Galaxies for so long that I think I’ve EARNED a lifetime subscription. I can only hope that good things happen for Galaxies and I hope I’ll still be there to see them. In the mean time, I’ll be playing Champions Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Star Trek Online while I occasionally glance at the icon for Galaxies and feel that pang of sadness.

Until next time, here’s hoping everything gets better and better!

– Elorfin

P.S. “There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm.” – John Heyl Vincent