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..

Reverse engineering Life

One of my friends said a while ago – “Man, you think too much, and most of it is just useless”. He might be right, but anyway that got me thinking about life. Would I Play my life if it was a mmorpg? Would the level curve be too steep? The mobs too hard? Would it have enough content and enough challenging raids to keep me interested?

And the final question, do I have what it takes to reach the max level in the game of “Life”?

An idea started to take form in my head.. What if I reverse engineer my life into a mmorpg? Would I wanna play that game? I toyed around with this for a couple of weeks in my head think tank. Now this is harder than you might think. As in gaming, there are a lot of things we just take for granted in life. There so much stuff just too obvious for us to notice, content we just miss out on. After a couple of days I just had to stop – this “thinking project” just got too big and intangible. The variables too complicated and the details too many. A couple of weeks later, thinking about other useless stuff (for another post in the future) it finally hit me. What would I do if this really was a game?

Alt+Tab whenever in doubt!
The solution was simple. I would google an easy step-by-step guide and Alt+Tab to whenever in doubt! So I decided this was the way I would approach the question – Write a step-by-step and then deciede if I would wanna play my life if it was a mmorpg..

So L.I.F.E Inc. presents:

The easy step-by-step guide to L.I.F.E
(Gameplay may vary depending on location and hardware)

Continue reading

The most trolled mmo in history

So “Vanguard – Saga of heroes” just went “Free to play” on steam.. Or did it?
Anyone remember Vanguard? One of the most anticipated games to be released in January 2007? Vanguard, beeing the brainchild of Brad McQuaid (formerly Everquest) came with very high expectations among MMO fans and the press. Right after the release it came clear the game had some serious problems and some months after that we all realized not only the game had problems..

Crash and Burn
On May 14, 2007, the staff of Sigil Games Online were told to meet in the parking lot at 4:30PM and to take with them what they would need for the rest of the day. The employees were told that the launch of the game had not gone well, the company was in financial trouble and they were selling the company to Sony Online Entertainment. Director of Production, Andy Platter, then told the employees “You’re all fired”..

The day after Sony Online Entertainment announced that they had acquired Sigil’s “key assets”..

The most trolled mmo in history
This was the starting point for some of the most exciting trolling around a mmo seen in history. The truth about missmanagement, the fact that microsft left a 4 year long partnership with Sigil, the lack of seroius leadership by founder and visionary Brad McQuaid and then the imminent death of the game following the SOE takeover was all over forums. Players left the game,like rats leaving a sinking ship. It was exciting times – and Blackmoore was there, a proud warrior roaming the plains of Talon, fighting for honor and justice.. Both ingame and on the forums.. It was actually one of the reasons I started this blog and one of my first posts was one of dissapointment with the state of the game https://blackmoore.wordpress.com/2007/03/

A game with vision but lack of management
I had a three months sub and then I had three more (by mistake). I really enjoyed the game, sure it had some issues, but it was really a open world with some (for the time) amazing graphics. Vanguard had ideas with merit, some of them really, really good. The dimplomacy system for instance – a skill with a card game you could play against other players and gameworld AI to take control of a city or it’s resoucres. Or the Crafting system, making wepons and armour, a careful process wich had to be learned and played like a game in itself.


Diplomacy, a game within the game

It had the potential to be a really cool game but time and poor management was against it from the beginning. During the following years the game was run by SOE with a skeleton crew – releasing some minor bug fixes and some very lame content.


The crafting process. This was no “wow crafting” where you made batches of 100 while watching TV. This was a game craving interaction and skill to suceed.

I went back to Vanguard over the years, 2008, 2010 and the last time this spring 2012. But I have to be honest. The only thing this game did really good was the diplomacy system. Still I cant help myself to think of the game from time to time – missing it (or what it could have been) in some odd way..

Anyway the game is now drawing it’s last breath going F2P on steam – but be carefull, it’s only free to play untill you reach level 20.. After that it’s a full $14.99 USD/month..
http://www.vanguardthegame.com/free.vm

Is it worth $14.99 USD/month?
Hell no!

Get out of my comfort zone!


120421: Blackmoore get stressed out by the Elin race in crowded places while Beta testing Tera Online..

[Area] [Blackmoore] Can all of you pedophile Elins get the **** out of my comfort zone ffs!!

Tera Online Open Beta
So this last weekend Blackmoore ended up in the Tera Online open beta, mostly by accident and boredom with BF3. Game is easymode with great graphics. The combat system was what got me hooked over the weekend. It’s built up by combos with baseskills that unlocks certain follow-up’s when fighting. The system works very well but takes a bit of practise. It’s worth testing, but unless your a pedobear the game really has very little to offer.

Pedobears and 12 yo girls dressed up like porn stars..
The big topic in chat during the weekend was the Elin race. In classic asian fasion they look like flatchested 12 yo girls dressed up like porn stars.. This was to much for many players, while some just thought this was normal.. For me any male player who creates a female character or a little bear (the race called Popori) in any game is a retard..

Needless to say the game world was Heavily populated with middleaged males from word of warcraft running around looking like 12 year old pornstars.. That’s enough to keep me the fuck out of any game.

So god luck with that shit – i predict the game goes f2p before the end of 2012

I stopped smoking crack for RIFT

So once again Blackmoore ventures forth into another game. This time RIFT finally comes out of Beta and into “headstart” (The offical release is 4/3 in europe and 1/3 in US).


Yet another Blackmoore, this time in RIFT

The main idea is “We make a copy of a very popular mmo and make it better, with cooler graphics, smarter gameplay and make it all totally configurable so that any player can make whatever macro, UI they want”

The game was great in Beta, the game in headstart is totally awasome. It runs smooth, looks great, handles great and most important – It’s fun!
Besides the concept of “rifts” (kinda open world raids open for anyone) it’s the little things that made me fall for RIFT troughout the Beta – Like when teaming up with your friend get the question “Your friend is in another playfield, you want to go there?”. Or the connection to twitter, where the game auto tweets your achivements and sends a screenshot. etc. etc.

The only problem now is there’s not enough servers, Withefall had over 3 hours waiting time today, and It’s the same on any server now..
Trion has to seriously fix this asap!

Besides that –  this is a game any serious mmo fan has to try out for themselves tbh – so preorder now and get your head in the game!
http://eu.riftgame.com/en/