Aion Ascention – Rising to the top?

Apparently, Aion went F2P on the 11th of April, though it looks like few news sites made much note of it. Not surprising; as good as the gameplay has been, ti didn’t have a whole lot that made it really stand out against other games, and after a bit of a rocky launch that led to a very sharp drop in subscriptions it kind of faded to the background. It’s gone the way of Lineage II in it’s truly free model, with absolutely no subscriptions or locked gameplay content. And they just opened a new feature that is one of my favorites – player housing.

I am very, very stoked to try this out, though I will have to get a character up to level 21 to do it, and I have yet to start a toon as I’m just in the process of moving today and tomorrow. Rest assured, I’m going to plow my way through as soon as I’m settled, though; after the stress of moving yet again, some time gaming will be a really big de-stresser.

Player housing has always been half of a key MMO component that I’ve loved, but it’s rare to find a game that has the whole thing. Lineage II had some of it with castle sieges, Age of Conan has it with Guild Cities and City Sieges. Lord of the Rings Online and EverQuest 2 did player housing fairly well, but I found the aesthetic style of the games got very… grating on me. LotRO has graphics that are just too dated for my taste, and EverQuest 2 just seems… I dunno, it’s hard to say. It’s sharp but cartoony in a way that I just can’t get used to. The gameplay of both games overall was average, so going solo got boring and repetitive quickly. The two that did player housing the best, I feel, were Star Wars Galaxies and Shadowbane. I’d especially love to see a Shadowbane 2 made, with better gameplay and better gameplay mechanics, as long as they preserve the basic story and the sandbox world.

Aion has always been gorgeous. I’ve been longing to explore this unique world for some time. Now that they are F2P, nothing is stopping me, and having player housing to tempt me, starting as early as level 21, sealed the deal. I loved Lineage II for many years, but when i tried to get back into it during their recent switch to F2P… I dunno. Something was just different. Maybe it was just me. Aion is pretty much unexplored territory for me, so maybe I can get into it more. I’ll keep everyone updated on what I find there.

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World of Warcraft – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… No.

"Trust me, our game is da shiz, d00dzor!"

I don’t think I’ll ever do a serious blog entry dedicated to praising World of Warcrack Warcraft unless they switch to a completely F2P model. I’ve been completely turned off by it now.  The graphics are dated, the gameplay is considered “standard” and they’re not really getting uber creative with the new expansions, outside of some of the story. It’s become boring to me, especially the majority of the community. It is to MMO games what the majority of FPS console gaming has become to consoles – the poster-child of juvenile rudeness. I might hop back in here and there if they produce a game mechanic I’ve not seen done often before, but I don’t forsee anything spectacular coming out of WoW any time soon, even with the upcoming Mists of Pandera. Honestly, they’re like the Apple of the MMO gaming worlds – they didn’t do anything very new, they just improved what someone else did and made it easy for the laman to use. The majority of their players claim to be “hardcore l33t shiz” but most of the time, it’s hot air. They may know WoW well enough, but put them in any other game with truly hardcore gameplay, and they are whining babies.

"Yo, homie, check out my fly threads; I'm so damn pimp..."

Blizzard has apparently been seeing a steady decline of it’s player base. Why? Because better games are coming out on the market and giving it a run for it’s money. Aion, Tera, Rift, STO, SWTOR, etc. – all good, solid games and decent competitors. Will they kill WoW? Hell no. I may dislike WoW for a lot of reasons, but those are only my reasons; the game can be a lot of fun, with the right group of friends, and is a Juggernaut. It’s not going away any time soon, and I think that’s fine. I don’t want to see WoW die; I want to see it improve. I’d love to see a complete overhaul of the graphics engine, keeping a similar art style but massively upgrading textures, modeling detail, shaders, all of it. Do I see WoW continuing to dominate the MMO market in the western world? Nope. It’s had it’s day in the sun, and it’s time for WoW to share the spotlight and the market. I do not ever see it’s numbers dwindling lower than 4 or 5 million players, but I do see other games coming up to match that level of subscriptions, too.

I’ve never been able to get into WoW very much, it just never could hold my attention the way other games have. The quests are kind of dull, and frankly, the community has been elitist and hard for me as a new player to get involved in. Almost all the stuff they have was actually ideas taken from other, lesser known games, and just tweaked or dumbed down then put into WoW. I would not be surprised if they added an in-game marriage mechanic to the game of some kind. You want to know the one thing that really turns me off about WoW? Their unofficial mascot that really embodies the best WoW has to offer as a community.

Goddamn Leeroy fucking Jenkins.

Leeroy fucking Jenkins.

Well, at least he has chicken.

WoW jeapordy Question

...Seriously? This is the best you could come op with, Alex?

This is, I know, not the entire WoW community. But my point is that it is an example of the kind of arrogant stupidity rampant through the game. This is what a lot of people know about WoW. Hell, he was featured in a damn Jeapordy question. It’s what I hate about it, and why I will not pay my hard-earned money to be a part of it. It does not matter how awesome or great the game mechanics are – the community, as a whole, is crap. And MMO gaming is about the community. You can try to argue that it’s about the challenge and the gameplay, but it’s bull, and we both know it. You can get that same challenge from single-player games. You play MMOs for the people. Different games seem to attract different people. WoW, from my experience, attracts more idiots and elitist douche-bags than anything else. RP servers have more ERP than RP, and have more non-RPers than RPers. And I’m an RPer, so why go play on a game with so little decent RP, especially when the non-RPers that overwhelm the game are such pricks? The only things that could make me interested in playing WoW steady is 1) if they went completely F2P and included a system similar to STO’s Dilithium (Guild Wars 2 is implementing a similar system already), and 2) if the graphics engine also received a decent overhaul & upgrade. Frankly, I could even live without the second, as long as the first is there. But at $15 a month, it’s just not got enough bang for my buck, when half the selling point is supposed to be the community, and so far that’s just turned me right off.

MMO video journalism – current level: laughable.

I don’t usually like to tear into other people doing the same kind of thing I’m doing, but frankly, I started this blog because I wanted to see something better than what I was finding out there. I’m tired of half-assed or censored game news and opinions, which is why I started writing my own.

I just watched Pokket’s review of the Firefall Closed Beta and I have to say, I’m not impressed. Oh, the game looks gorgeous and I can hardly wait to play it; what I’m not impressed with is Pokket as a serious and professional game journalist. I’ve watched a few of her videos and though her Blogs are pretty awesome, I just can’t take her seriously at all as a video journalist. I tried, I really did. I have no doubt she’s an awesome person & fun to game with. I know she has some honestly good opinions about games and I thoroughly enjoy her written blog. But as a video journalist, I just cannot take her seriously anymore. She mumbles, constantly trips over her own words… It’s like listening to a 15 year old girl talk about her boy-band obsession while on a long road trip. And you know something, I’ve watched numerous video podcasts by other people, too, with the same M.O. – just some gamer who thinks their opinion is important enough to share but has no actual ability to report “news” on camera and no “stage presence,” thinking that a gimic,  some pretty graphics, their name, and their opinion is enough to make a “quality video podcast.”

The guys over at Jupiter Broadcasting do a pretty damn good job, but they spread their topic focus way too much past gaming itself, I feel. They are also still lacking in some professionalism in their demeanor. Sometimes friendly & relaxed can be taken too far, and I’m looking for something a bit more focused and robust. Jeremy was, to me, the best part of the JB team, and I watched STOked & MMOrgue rabidly. Both were amazing shows, and I loved his simplistic explanations of complex workings in both games and the gaming industry. His hiring on at Cryptic was awesome for both himself and for Star Trek Online, but JB took a huge blow that I don’t think they’ll ever truly recover from.

I’ve seen a few Video Game video podcasts, but there’s not that many out there, to be honest. There’s lots of audio podcasts of various qualities (both in production and in performamce) and tons of blogs dedicated to MMO gaming, but apparently there’s not many video podcasts out there for games in general, and for MMO games specifically.

Why is that? I want that to change. I want to see a good video podcast with news, tips, reviews, tutorials, etc. that doesn’t give the impression that it was the brain-child of a couple of bored guys during a night of drunken WoW. Even if I bloody well have to do it myself. What I need is a team, though; I can’t do an entire endeavor of the style and quality I’m looking for all by myself. Do I think I could do better? Given the resources and time, hell yes. I could do a lot better. Do I have the resources and time? I wish, but no, I don’t right now. But you better believe I’m working towards it.