Early access

Back in the day when I grew up computer games were still something very magical and exclusive. And yes people pirated games like crazy even before the Internet. As an 11 year old I had a social network bigger than the one I have today and we had no internet. I had 25 games and demos on cassettes in my mailbox every week with new C64 games and I sent out as many to my friends all over the country.

 

cassettes2

 

Years later games came on CDs and the concept of BETA testing with the help of the public started. It was still very exclusive. Being chosen to participate in a BETA of a new game was something like winning the lottery for a serious gamer. My first BETA was a game called Anarchy Online around 1999, a game I after release spent almost 6 years in until my computer got stolen and my account hacked but that’s an whole other story.
It felt like a very exclusive artifact had arrived
It’s my second BETA I still remember best. When I applied for the Star Wars Galaxies BETA back in 2002 I could never dream that I would get in it. This was the first massively multiplayer Star Wars online role-playing game and the hype was enormous. It was Star Wars, and it was online. Can you imagine? The chance of me getting in this BETA was slim to nothing. Yet I applied and then I forgot about it.
A couple of months later a mysterious package arrived in my mailbox. It was so large it barley fitted and you could see it had been traveling by boat for a long time. The outside had stamps i’d never seen before and the logo of Lucas Arts, Verdant and Sony (Lucas Arts had a partnership with Verdant Interactive inc. and Sony Online Entertainment for SWG). It felt like a very exclusive artifact had arrived, like some object from a digsite in egypt that you only see in Movies like Raiders of the lost arc. Inside was a couple of CD’s, a poorly copied manual and some legal documents (I never read them). This was like Christmas and birthday at the same time.
sw2
A package that looked that it had litterly been around the World (and it had!) containing a game that the rest of the World would not have acess to for a year and yet it was the game everybody was talking about. I had it in my hands!

This is where I come from.

Early access is one of the top five trends in 2013 
So now 2014 we have this new trend called “early access”. Gamasutra considered the concept of early access, particularly Steam’s approach, as one of the top five trends in 2013 that defined the direction that the video game industry was headed. For indie games, which are typically distributed without a publisher early access can be the thing making or breaking an idea, possible obtaning both resources and enough feedback prior to release. For the hardcore gamer it’s a way to get your hands on a game early. However, this comes at a price.. The game is in a playable state but may not be feature-complete, or may still have several software bugs to be found.

Now almost every game has a early access program, even the big publishers uses it, and the model validates the use of unfinished games as a “valid business strategy”. Im not sure I like this trend. besides beeing at risk that the game will never be completed I as a gamer find myself playing a game that’s only half finished. Even if I get the game when it’s finished, will I ever play it again? In my own experiance the negative feeling an unfinished game gives me (even if I know it only a alpha) will make me stay away later when it’s released. For the developer that might not be a problem, the have my money allready. But for me as a gamer and a lover of a good story it sure can be. If I was a developer and a artist I still would feel this way.

I would never release a half finished song
Take Planet Explorers for example. A fantastic sandbox idea with great potential. I scooped it up on steam for almost nothing, i have played it, endured the bugs, had some fun. Will i come back when the game is finished? Probably not. By then other games like “No mans sky” will be finished and fully playable and my initial feeling about Planet Exporer will be the same, fantastic idea but in my mind it will still be that alpha. It’s like a early access game looses it’s magic. It’s allready released and that “special moment” is gone.

What im trying to say is, use early alpha access programs with care and don’t let it be only a business modell. Done right it can create a synergy between developers and gamers that is extremly powerful. But remember that it’s the finished product you want the gamers to experiance. As a musician I would never release a half finished song..

I feel a little bit ashamed..

But im actullay thinking about resubing Anarchy Online – the game still has me in it’s grip https://blackmoore.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/the-game-where-i-lost-my-virginity/

Just a video, or the music is enough to get my reptile brain going again, and BAM! im thinking about trying it out again. Sad enough I cant acess my old 220 character as it got stolen, sold and then banned during the years I was away (long story).

But I have a new Blackmoore waiting for me logged out somewhere in Rubi-Ka.

Might check him out later tonight.. or not.. or..

Unplanned But Exciting Event!

For those of you no longer present in Anarchy Online, someone got ahold of an account with GM powers and proceeded to have fun with it on the live servers for a period of almost two hours.

” this individual really did go out of his way to put on a spectacular show with special guest stars like The Beast and Tarasque making special appearances in Borealis.”

http://www.anarchy-online.com/wsp/anarchy/frontend.cgi?func=publish.show&template=content&func_id=2615&table=CONTENT

I wish i still was in the game to se that – but then again… naaah!
Playing AO 2011 would be like using pen and paper sending mail the oldschool way – just plain stupid!

The game where I lost my virginity..

My real passion for online gaming started way back when a rumor circulated on the Internet about a game in development, a game that could hold thousands of players simultaneously in a persistent 3D world, this world would have shops, clothing, PvP action. As a newly arrived colonist you would have to make a choice between the corporate Omni-Tek and the rebellious Clan. With nothing but the clothes on your body you would have to choose sides and work your way through society, being able to level to the amazing(!) level 100 and manipulate  every skill you learned as you explored the waste lands of Rubi-Ka.. Yes, I’m talking about Anarchy Online – the game where I lost my virginity.

For years, I read everything I could about this game, following its progress and waiting for the release. So finally it got released in the summer of 2001, the first game in the genre to include a science-fiction setting, dynamic quests, free trials, and in-game advertising.

“woot!”, “AFK” and “leet!”
I can still remember that feeling when I logged on for the first time in the “backyard” where you spent your first five levels.. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, and the manual was pretty basic. The GUI was non-existent, and most of the things was done via the command line. But I loaded up my guns and went out hunting. After a couple of minutes I realized that I was actually fighting side by side by real people from around the world, my heartbeat raised and suddenly my little computer room felt connected to the whole world for real.. People was chatting, screaming “woot!”, “AFK” and “leet!”, teaming and hunting. It was a totally amazing feeling, we all felt like pioneers for real, exploring a new world (which in fact was what we were doing).

I phoned my brother and got him in the game
I was totally blown away, and I played 24/7 for the first couple of weeks. I phoned my brother and got him in the game, he was hooked just like me in minutes after logging in. I spent  about 4-5 years in AO, raiding at the highest level, got every item there was, bought every expansion and did the same thing over again, in the end I even was the leader of one of the largest raiding guilds in the game. It was crazy, and many of the friends I made in the game will be my friends for life.

My addiction almost cost me my marriage
Finally it had to end, my addiction almost cost me my marriage, I was totally burnt out with several characters with the best gear possible, raiding the highest content on a regular basis.

I have no regrets for the time I spent in Rubi-Ka, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Since then the sci-fi genre has a special place in my heart when it comes to mmo’s, and the lack of good sci-fi mmo’s has made me frustrated over the years, and more so lately..

Just for fun i tried to round up as many mmo’s as possible, both the active ones and the ones in development to be released later. Just to get an overall picture of what genres being developed.

Well fuck me sideways.. wtf is up with all this fantasy shit?
Well anyways, from the 60’ish sci-fi mmo games there’s actually only one that get my hopes up for a “new Anarchy Online”, a game called Earthrise.
And besides the franchise titles like Stargate, Star Wars etc. the rest actually looks like poo..

So check out Earthrise http://www.play-earthrise.com/ due to be released later in 2010 (I would prepare for 2011 actually, with a open beta in 2010)

The Secret World

This is kind of old news, but it’s nice to see The Secret World still being developed. I still have some hope for this game as long as Ragnar Tørnquist is still attached to it. Funcom and Anarchy Online will always have a special place in my “gaming heart”.

Anyway they released their first cinematic trailer (for what it’s worth) so check it out. There’s really no point in saying much more before we get some real ingame footage or gameplay videos.

so for now – dream on!