Home / FileBlog Home / Archives

FileBlog Archive

05/27/2007 - 06/02/2007

Good MMO Games Never Die

June 01, 2007


I has a flavor. I still have my Ultima Online Collector's Edition box. I'm serious! Somehow, across three states and over the course of one decade, I've managed to keep that sucker. And the cloth map that came with it. (For future reference: "Cloth map" sounds really cool on the back of the box, but when you get it home, you realize you're holding a printed hanky. That's my advice to you, and it's free.) I'm not sure any collectors would actually want to collect my collector's edition box -- at one point it was clearly stepped on.

But I treasure that box because Ultima Online is a gaming landmark. At launch it represented a bold new era in gaming -- a graphical virtual world with a quarter of a million people sharing an online space! These days MMO games are a dime a dozen. It's hard to imagine how it was ten years ago, when UO was a wild and risky experiment in a relatively untested area of game design.

I bring it up because here at FilePlanet we just launched the Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn Beta Test! It's the same game, but with all-new updated graphics. Feast on these before/after shots:

Behold! Ultima Online, but, pretty n' stuff.

Yes, Ultima Online is still going strong after ten years. How many games can claim that? Massively multiplayer games are a strange animal. They're social. They're sticky. And if they're good ... they never go away.

I think one of the main reasons that Ultima Online continues to have dedicated fans is that, even by today's standards, it's an ambitious design. Plenty of titles have run with EverQuest's MUD-derived gameplay, but UO's deep player-driven crafting economy and player-housing has not often been duplicated (Star Wars Galaxies comes to mind. Vanguard also marks a recent attempt). Ultima Online is a fundamentally social game -- and that makes it deep. Which means certain players will stick around.

The new graphical overhaul is probably aimed at keeping those long-time Ultima fans happy, but in the process, EA might pick up a few new players or even re-capture soms old fans eager to check it out. I include myself in the latter group -- I'll be tooling around on the servers this weekend visiting my old haunts. I was once a Grandmaster Tinker, you know! (It didn't end well). You can join me during the beta:

Join the Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn Beta Test!

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 10:33 AM PDT
Edited on: June 01, 2007 11:02 AM PDT
Permalink

Death to Cutscenes!

May 31, 2007


I has a flavor. As long-time readers know, I love studying the different techniques people use for storytelling in games. It's always great to hear from writers in the industry who are trying to push the envelope. I was especially impressed reading this IGN interview with Darkness writer Paul Jenkins. Paul is coming at games from the comics industry, but he's got an integral understanding of what makes a good game tick. And he takes it seriously:

"I think it's a shame that a lot of developers don't see what they're doing as creating art and that the games industry, as a whole, doesn't treat its games as art forms." - Paul Jenkins
Do not mess with The Darkness.
Do not taunt The Darkness.

In my essay on storytelling I talked about cutscenes as one of the ways developers squeeze a story into an interactive experience, a technique that's popular but has a lot of baggage. Jenkins doesn't like it. "We should also try to get rid of those movie-style cutscenes because they force you to interact differently with a game you've previously been playing," he complains, "turning it into a film, rather than a videogame."

But when The Darkness hits store shelves next month, gamers will see some pretty neat storytelling tricks:

"Of course, there are moments in videogames when you'll be snapped out of the gameplay - like the load screens. I hate load screens because it interrupts your enjoyment of the game. Games should always be either pushing the gameplay or story along and you shouldn't just be staring at a loading bar... It'd be like watching a blank screen while the projectionist changed the reel during a film. So, one of the ideas to overcome the problems of load screens was to have a character delivering a monologue to hide the fact the game was loading a new level..." -Paul Jenkins
I've not played The Darkness yet (check out the IGN Preview or this GameSpy Hands-On), but it's one of those rare games that puts a premium on atmosphere. Here you've got a game where, when your character steps back into World War I, soldiers stuck in the trenches will quietly read gloomy poetry if you idle long enough. If the gameplay lives up to that promise, it could be one of those games that has everyone talking.

Download The Darkness Trailers on FilePlanet!

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 10:20 AM PDT
Edited on: May 31, 2007 10:25 AM PDT
Permalink

How Long Will the Wii Ride High?

May 30, 2007


I has a flavor. While most videogame analysts and pundits had a favorable view of Nintendo's next-gen console after last year's phenomenal showing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, I don't think anybody predicted just how successful the system would be. It's a Wii, Wii, Wii, Wii World.

So now the big question: Is the Wii a fad that'll peak early and decline before the end of this console generation, or is Nintendo sitting on a product that's got serious longevity? The analysts are split. This LA Times Story runs down the different opinions. Some point out that the graphics for the Wii will look increasingly dated in the coming years and developers push the Xbox 360 and PS3 to the limits; I disagree with that. The fact is, the Wii's graphics already look dated -- but that's not slowing down the system any. It's all about the gameplay.

Still, I think that Nintendo has some work to do to make sure the Wii isn't a flash in the pan. It was brilliant to package Wii Sports in with the system: it's a riot to play, it's a great multiplayer title, and it shows off just what's possible with the controller. Nintendo needs more games like that! It's funny that months after the system's release, Wii Sports is still cited as the big game that people are playing. But Nintendo is rising up to the challenge: in a recent Wall Street Journal interview (Summarized in this Gamasutra Article), Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime was grilled about third party Nintendo support and talked about great new games coming out from EA (check out Boogie!) and Activision.

So long as Nintendo ensures a steady flow of fun party-style games, I don't see the Wii as being a fad. But the ball's in their court.

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 10:48 AM PDT
Edited on: May 30, 2007 10:49 AM PDT
Permalink

The Sims: The Movie?

May 29, 2007


I has a flavor. It's true: Fox has bought the rights to a movie based on The Sims. That's right, the PC game. That's right, the open-ended PC game with no fixed characters and no plot.

At first blush, the move makes absolutely no sense. It's easy to piece together a scenario where there's some bigwig at the studio, whose job it is to buy the rights to potentially lucrative franchises, doing the numbers. He or she realizes that The Sims has enormous name recognition across a broad demographic, so he/she snaps up the rights "just in case" Fox might be able to work something out. That makes some sense, but still leaves me scratching my head as I try to figure out what you could do with the license.

Rod Humble, who's handling the license from EA's side of things, dropped a hint about what's to come to Variety magazine: "The Sims has done an interactive version of an old story, which is what it's like to have infinite power and how do you deal with it," he says. "Given that that's an old story, you can imagine how easily that would translate to traditional story telling."

So after further reflection, there are a couple of angles that might actually make for an interesting movie. One is taking your average Joe and giving him God-like powers over his fellow man -- sort of like the Adam Sandler remote-control movie "Click." Another take that's true to the source material is a scathing parody of consumer culture. After all, one of the reasons that The Sims came about was when Will Wright's house burned down. Forced to move into a new place, he had to replace everything he lost, a process that made him realize just how much junk you feel like you need to get by every day. I'm not sure how to make that into a movie, but the door is open for a really cutting satire on our Ikea lifestyle.

I can't wait for the scene where Mortimer Goth, played by Antonio Banderas, buys a couch. There won't be a dry eye in the house.

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 9:57 AM PDT
Permalink

FileBlog Weekly Archives

10/24/2010 - 10/30/2010
10/17/2010 - 10/23/2010
10/10/2010 - 10/16/2010
10/03/2010 - 10/09/2010
09/26/2010 - 10/02/2010
09/19/2010 - 09/25/2010
09/12/2010 - 09/18/2010
09/05/2010 - 09/11/2010
08/22/2010 - 08/28/2010
08/08/2010 - 08/14/2010
08/01/2010 - 08/07/2010
07/25/2010 - 07/31/2010
07/18/2010 - 07/24/2010
07/11/2010 - 07/17/2010
07/04/2010 - 07/10/2010
06/27/2010 - 07/03/2010
06/20/2010 - 06/26/2010
06/13/2010 - 06/19/2010
06/06/2010 - 06/12/2010
05/30/2010 - 06/05/2010
05/23/2010 - 05/29/2010
05/16/2010 - 05/22/2010
05/09/2010 - 05/15/2010
05/02/2010 - 05/08/2010
04/25/2010 - 05/01/2010
04/18/2010 - 04/24/2010
04/11/2010 - 04/17/2010
04/04/2010 - 04/10/2010
03/21/2010 - 03/27/2010
03/14/2010 - 03/20/2010
03/07/2010 - 03/13/2010
02/28/2010 - 03/06/2010
02/21/2010 - 02/27/2010
02/14/2010 - 02/20/2010
02/07/2010 - 02/13/2010
01/31/2010 - 02/06/2010
01/24/2010 - 01/30/2010
01/10/2010 - 01/16/2010
01/03/2010 - 01/09/2010
12/27/2009 - 01/02/2010
12/20/2009 - 12/26/2009
12/13/2009 - 12/19/2009
12/06/2009 - 12/12/2009
11/22/2009 - 11/28/2009
11/15/2009 - 11/21/2009
11/08/2009 - 11/14/2009
11/01/2009 - 11/07/2009
10/25/2009 - 10/31/2009
10/18/2009 - 10/24/2009
10/11/2009 - 10/17/2009
10/04/2009 - 10/10/2009
09/27/2009 - 10/03/2009
09/20/2009 - 09/26/2009
09/13/2009 - 09/19/2009
09/06/2009 - 09/12/2009
08/30/2009 - 09/05/2009
08/16/2009 - 08/22/2009
08/09/2009 - 08/15/2009
07/26/2009 - 08/01/2009
07/19/2009 - 07/25/2009
07/12/2009 - 07/18/2009
07/05/2009 - 07/11/2009
06/28/2009 - 07/04/2009
06/21/2009 - 06/27/2009
06/14/2009 - 06/20/2009
06/07/2009 - 06/13/2009
05/31/2009 - 06/06/2009
05/24/2009 - 05/30/2009
05/17/2009 - 05/23/2009
05/10/2009 - 05/16/2009
05/03/2009 - 05/09/2009
04/26/2009 - 05/02/2009
04/19/2009 - 04/25/2009
04/12/2009 - 04/18/2009
04/05/2009 - 04/11/2009
03/29/2009 - 04/04/2009
03/22/2009 - 03/28/2009
03/15/2009 - 03/21/2009
03/08/2009 - 03/14/2009
03/01/2009 - 03/07/2009
02/22/2009 - 02/28/2009
02/15/2009 - 02/21/2009
02/08/2009 - 02/14/2009
02/01/2009 - 02/07/2009
01/25/2009 - 01/31/2009
01/18/2009 - 01/24/2009
01/11/2009 - 01/17/2009
01/04/2009 - 01/10/2009
12/28/2008 - 01/03/2009
12/21/2008 - 12/27/2008
12/14/2008 - 12/20/2008
12/07/2008 - 12/13/2008
11/30/2008 - 12/06/2008
11/23/2008 - 11/29/2008
11/16/2008 - 11/22/2008
11/09/2008 - 11/15/2008
11/02/2008 - 11/08/2008
10/26/2008 - 11/01/2008
10/19/2008 - 10/25/2008
10/05/2008 - 10/11/2008
09/28/2008 - 10/04/2008
09/14/2008 - 09/20/2008
09/07/2008 - 09/13/2008
08/10/2008 - 08/16/2008
08/03/2008 - 08/09/2008
07/27/2008 - 08/02/2008
07/06/2008 - 07/12/2008
06/29/2008 - 07/05/2008
06/22/2008 - 06/28/2008
06/15/2008 - 06/21/2008
06/08/2008 - 06/14/2008
05/25/2008 - 05/31/2008
05/11/2008 - 05/17/2008
05/04/2008 - 05/10/2008
04/20/2008 - 04/26/2008
04/06/2008 - 04/12/2008
03/16/2008 - 03/22/2008
03/09/2008 - 03/15/2008
02/24/2008 - 03/01/2008
02/03/2008 - 02/09/2008
01/06/2008 - 01/12/2008
12/30/2007 - 01/05/2008
10/28/2007 - 11/03/2007
10/21/2007 - 10/27/2007
10/14/2007 - 10/20/2007
09/30/2007 - 10/06/2007
09/23/2007 - 09/29/2007
09/16/2007 - 09/22/2007
09/09/2007 - 09/15/2007
09/02/2007 - 09/08/2007
08/26/2007 - 09/01/2007
08/19/2007 - 08/25/2007
08/12/2007 - 08/18/2007
08/05/2007 - 08/11/2007
07/29/2007 - 08/04/2007
07/22/2007 - 07/28/2007
07/15/2007 - 07/21/2007
07/08/2007 - 07/14/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/07/2007
06/24/2007 - 06/30/2007
06/17/2007 - 06/23/2007
06/10/2007 - 06/16/2007
06/03/2007 - 06/09/2007
05/27/2007 - 06/02/2007
05/20/2007 - 05/26/2007
05/13/2007 - 05/19/2007
05/06/2007 - 05/12/2007
04/29/2007 - 05/05/2007
04/22/2007 - 04/28/2007
04/15/2007 - 04/21/2007
04/08/2007 - 04/14/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/07/2007
03/25/2007 - 03/31/2007
03/18/2007 - 03/24/2007
03/11/2007 - 03/17/2007
03/04/2007 - 03/10/2007
02/25/2007 - 03/03/2007
02/18/2007 - 02/24/2007
02/11/2007 - 02/17/2007
02/04/2007 - 02/10/2007
01/28/2007 - 02/03/2007
01/21/2007 - 01/27/2007
01/14/2007 - 01/20/2007
01/07/2007 - 01/13/2007
12/31/2006 - 01/06/2007