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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Random WoW Items

There is an article in the New York Post (which Consumerist picked up on) about issues Time Warner Cable customers are having with lag and disconnects while playing WoW. Both Blizzard and TWC seem to be pointing the finger at each other. There is an official thread gathering information on the issue.

As a current Time Warner Cable customer (I can't get FIOS where I live), I'm curious to see how this all plays out.

Update: The digital communications director from Time Warner responds here.

While I was browsing the WoW forums, I came across the Blizzcon forum and the massive levels of customer anger being expressed therein. Apparently, in addition to the fact that the tickets available for Blizzcon 2008 were limited in terms of the sizable customer base, there were a number of issues with the website on which customers purchased (or couldn't purchase) tickets.

WoW Insider has a
number of posts on the topic, Relmstein has a blog entry on it and CNet's Crave has a post as well. Someone even made a video. I see that a Blizzcon ticket on eBay is currently at $710. The ones on StubHub are $1,500 for a pair so it's looking like seven hundred and change is the current FMV for a ticket.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Weirdest MMO Promotion Ever?


I've heard of promotions that give you in-game items or maybe even a poster. But only Richard Garriott would give you the opportunity to send your DNA into space or have your MMO character data uploaded and stored on the International Space Station.

You can check out his Operation Immortality and read more about it. You do need a Tabula Rasa account but you can still be elgible with the free trial. Each week, 8 Tabula Rasa players will be selected to have their DNA sequenced and the data uploaded to Garriott's Immortality Drive. And when he travels to the International Space Station in October, he'll be taking that data with him to store there.

Even if you don't get your DNA selected, Tabula Rasa players have the opportunity to have their character data uploaded to the Immortality Drive or leave a message to be stored on it.

In this Wired article on his journey to space, Garriott also mentions that he has ideas for an MMO that "shares more in common with Ultima Online than today's popular virtual worlds."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Always Go Right

Well, I have a special announcement to make in this very post. After all these years, I can finally admit it. I'm Ceciliantas.

Okay, no - I'm just kidding, but if you got that I'm impressed by your memory. My actual announcement is that I'm here to tell you about a brand spanking new website: Always Go Right.

What is this new website, you ask? Well, about 14 months ago I started my own gold-farming and power-leveling company in Peru. I felt that the public would be quite interested in the ins-and-outs of this new venture. This new website will take you inside my world and tell you about the day to day life of farming for gold and items and about the wacky bunch of employees I've come to love. Okay, you got me - I'm just kidding again.

But the new website, Always Go Right, is for real and actually covers all manner of geeky topics. And don't worry, it's not just me, there is a group of writers including myself, Karnatos and Anskiere, with Bandit joining us soon. And even though today is the official launch, there are 37 posts already published for you to check out, as we've been "warming up" over the last month or so.

We've all been very connected to the geek community at some point or another but have also stepped away from it for a time. This is our journey to reclaim our geekhood and to learn about all the fascinating interests and subcultures that exist in this wonderful world. We will discuss the things we are passionate about: technology, fantasy and sci-fi novels or movies, comics and anime, and, of course, games. But that's just a thumbnail - you'll have to follow along to see what else happens!

We are officially launching today, Sunday, July 27, in honor of Gary Gygax's birthday. As a geek icon and the co-creator of a game that has touched our lives in tremendous fashion, both directly and indirectly, we salute him. So for the next ten days, we'll be focusing on the topic of Gygax and D&D. But we will be mixing in a variety of other items during that time, before embarking on our wide-ranging quest. And you can get a taste for the normal content of the site in the archives.

But I promise you, we're just getting started. So I urge you to bookmark the site and add it to your feed-reader. And please comment on whatever interests you or contact us with your ideas. We rely on your input and contribution and know the community is the most important thing. Well, go head over there already!

If you're curious about the details, I'll explain how this came about. I took a break from playing MMO's and from writing for quite a while. The urge to write came back more quickly than the urge to play MMO's. So whenever I read a great fantasy novel or saw a horrible sci-fi movie or played a cool board game, I thought, "This would make a great post!" But I love this blog and want to keep it the way it is. I've been posting more and following MMO news carefully. I'm definitely getting tempted to start playing again. I'm going to give in very soon and then I can get back to my more detailed analyses and jokes. But for the other topics, I thought a fresh start was the way to go.

If there's one thing I've learned with this blog, it's that it is best to find a very small niche you are knowledgeable about and stick with it. So of course, I've completely ignored that lesson by opening Always Go Right to a wide variety of topics. But it will be fun.

I have long wanted to do something as a community effort. The best part of this website was always the community: the comments, the forums, the wild roleplaying game, the collaborative pieces, the guild that sprung up. So I wanted to do something that was truly a team project, that would allow the different points of views and divergent interests to make us stronger than we would be alone. If you've been reading this blog from the beginning you'll certainly recognize the names of the other people involved. They've been supporters and contributors to this site for a long time and I think we're a great team.

Finally, this new site allowed me to learn about WordPress from the ground up. It may not seem like it, but Karn and I have spent months on Skype for hours each night debating and tweaking every detail.

Many changes from this site are obvious: the artwork, WordPress, the design. But there are a few items I wanted to specifically address.

Advertising: You know I've never advertised anything at all on this site, never even put up a single referral link. I honestly never even thought about it - it's just about passion for the subject. And we're doing AGR with the same exact passion, all of us. But we've included some advertising since we have big goals for the website and some of those cost money. I'm happy to finance the initial outlay but no one is going to be comfortable with me endlessly pouring money into the site. We're not in this for the money. In fact, we've all agreed to put whatever small amounts we earn directly back into the website.

But I am very aware of the ethical dangers and issues that come with advertising, even if it's for the right reasons. I get way too annoyed all the time at things I see in the mainstream media and even some blogs. I am very committed to giving you the most honest, transparent experience possible. No advertising will ever affect content and it will always be disclosed. I could go on about this forever, and, actually, I already have. If you visit the About tab on the new site you can read in much greater detail about our policies and about the specifics of the advertising used. If anything changes, I will be sure to update you.

If you ever do see a gold-farming ad, let me know so I can block it (I've already put several filters in place). Or if that becomes a problem, we'll switch to a different type of ad entirely. We're still learning.

Language: This blog has always been completely work-safe both in terms of images and in terms of the actual language. But with a team of writers and guest writers to come there is no way I would censor anyone's writing or tell them they can't curse if that's the way they do their best work. So, while the website will always be worksafe, some of the language may be strong. It hasn't worked out that way yet, but I'm being upfront about things.

If you've read all this - thank you! I hope you'll not only visit Always Go Right but keep checking back there and become part of the community. As for this blog, nothing will change from the norm here. I'll take a week to focus on the new website but I think things here will only get better as I get sucked back into MMO-land.

So join our quest for the Fountain of Geek and remember to always go right! I look forward to hearing from you. And I look forward to this new adventure.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reasonably Priced Realms


I've been doing some research on SOE's "family friendly" MMO, Free Realms. Or is it "FreeRealms" since some articles apply a one word title? Well, I'll go with Free Realms as that seems to be more prevalent.

Anyway, this thing has apparently been covered to death on the interwebs, so I'll just provide you with some of the better links I found rather then rehashing what's already out there:

Gamasutra posts an interview with Smed.

Rock Paper Shotgun has an SOE E3 report (other SOE titles are also covered).

Kotaku discusses the real money transaction aspect of the title and also asks if it is, perhaps, the best MMO shown at E3.


Eurogamer takes a look at the game, stating that "It's the slickest, cleverest prospect due out in the next year - including the increasingly impressive Warhammer Online - with the broadest appeal."
TenTonHammer gives their input with this article.

Wired has a short piece, calling the game "the most impressive showing at Sony Online Entertainment's booth."

It's clear that most reports are positive and that Sony put a lot of effort into this. It sounds like the game will run on even low-end machines, which is a smart move on SOE's part for this type of title.

I don't think this is quite as revolutionary as people are making it out to be, since there are a ton of free MMO's supported by micro-transactions or optional subscriptions already out there. But this might be the best of the class. It certainly seems to have the highest production values. I'll wait until I get more information or a hands-on before giving my opinion, but the potential for crazy fun seems there.

Although these are the Free Realms, SOE's not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, right? There is some discrepancy in the articles I linked as to just how the game will be monetized. Will it be ad-supported? Have subscription only content? Utilize micro-transactions?

Wired says "SOE is leaning towards a microtransaction or ad-supported model for Free Realms, though a standard MMO subscription model is still being discussed."

TenTonHammer seems to suggest that all three of these techniques will be implemented. And if I had to guess, I would agree. I think they will experiment to see what works best for Free Realms and to gain experience in preparation for future entries into this space. Again, I'll wait until I hear the specifics confirmed by SOE with details.

Maybe I'm crazy, but am I the only one bothered by the name? I haven't seen anyone else complaining so I've possibly lost my game-addled mind. I get it, it's FREE (and even that is debatable). Do you have to hit me over the head with it by putting the word free in the name of the game? I haven't seen any other free games deem it necessary to shoehorn the word free into the title.

Well, I'm thinking the word free will also tie into the backstory somehow. Perhaps these are known as the Free Realms because they are kingdoms of liberty and independence, not because they don't cost money. But backstory aside, it's obvious what SOE is going for by putting free in the title.

I just think it might create better perceived value to give it a normal, cool title. People will figure out that it's free. If you had a choice between a trip to Free Hotel or the Atlantis Resort (and both were actually free), wouldn't your inclination be to choose the Atlantis?

One kid asks another, "What are you playing?" And the other kid responds, "Free Realms!" Wouldn't they be worried that it sounds a bit cheesy to relate that to their peers?

To be fair, I'm sure they focus-group'ed it to death. And perhaps they found it was more important to get the free concept out there than have a cool title.

I would change the title but it's probably too late at this point. So I'll shut up about the name of the game the next time I post on it and review it on the merits.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

MAG-ic?

The idea of 256 players waging simultaneous war in an online action game is inherently interesting to a large number of people. Of course, any concept of that nature also raises many doubts: Will they be able to pull it off? Will gameplay suffer? Will it all devolve into chaos? Is bigger really better?

But while we all have our doubts, this is still an exciting idea that's worth trying. I'm glad to see Sony taking the risk with this game. At the very least it may lay the groundwork for things to come.

The game in question is MAG, short for Massive Action Game (though the title will certainly change before the planned 2009 launch). It was announced at E3 as a game set in a war-torn near-future setting in which up to 256 players (broken down into 8 person squads) would battle it out.

The information released was so minimal that it was hard to get excited. But Kotaku then posted an inside report from a playtester with a ton of details on the game. These type of games are not my specialty and it's still very early to be making judgments one way or the other. But at the very least, the potential for something different and fun seems to be there. If you are interested I recommend you read the report and see what you think.

Today we got an update on the Sony PlayStation blog. What surprised me the most about this update is that they went ahead and actually linked to the Kotaku piece. I would have expected them to ignore a report like that, not give it credibility by linking to it. I'm not complaining, I think it's a good thing that demonstrates an ability to react well to surprises.

The screenshot they include is pretty impressive at well. And they do state in the comments that it is an actual screenshot running on a PS3.

Many things can go wrong with a project of such tremendous scale, but it also has the possibility of being a major hit. It's been a long time since Planetside was released and the public seems ready for a game like MAG.

Monday, July 21, 2008

KotOR MMO Fun

I've been playing a little game lately. When reading a mainstream article about a new MMO, I count how many sentences it takes before the author mentions WoW. For example, in this post, I linked to an article in which the author held off until paragraph four. Well, the article that is the basis of this post only makes it to sentence one.

The article in question is this piece on Portfolio.com. In it, we get EA's chief exec, John Ricitello discussing the two MMO's EA has in development. And he drops some Star Wars upon us:

"And the one that people are dying for us to talk to them about -- in partnership with Lucas, coming out of BioWare, which is, I think, quite possibly the most anticipated game, full stop, for the industry at the point when we get closer to telling you about it.

"Does Riccitiello mean the oft rumored Knights of the Old Republic Online? "Yes," he said.

Well, this KotOR MMO certainly has been oft rumored to say the least. But we've never had any official word on it until now. There is a lot of discussion in the comments on whether this is a good or bad concept for a game, but what interests me most is the way this was handled.

Was that the proper venue or manner to announce something of this magnitude? And does it even count as an announcement?

I headed over to this (21 page and growing) thread on the BioWare forums. In response to a forum post that the KOTOR MMO has now been confirmed, Chris Priestly, Community Communications Coordinator (those are a lot of C's in that title), states:

"I will post this again in the new thread. There have recently been rumors about the BioWare MMO. Once again, these are just rumors and we do not comment on rumors."

But isn't a statement by EA's chief exec more than a rumor? Priestly adds (on page 5):

"BioWare is working on an MMO. That is not a rumor. BioWare is not working on KotOR 3. That is not a rumor (we are also not working on Baldur's Gate 3, Neverwinter Nights 3, Barbie Dream Home 3, etc). We are making an MMO, but the subject of what that MMO will be is rumors. We do not comment on rumors. Sorry for your confusion."

I had high hopes for Barbie Dream Home 3 but I guess I'll have to be content with my three-story Barbie dream house.

The "sorry for your confusion" came off a bit passive-agressive. But okay, so maybe KotOR MMO does not equal KotOR 3. And it's absolutely fine that BioWare wants to hold off on commenting until they can release the news in their own way. But I just wonder how they feel about a suit from EA dropping these comments?

In response to the tight lips at BioWare, the forum posters play internet detective and pull up these trademark links.

Over on Joystiq, Christopher Grant tracked down the writer of the Portfolio.com story who told him:

"...when asked specifically if this game was "KotOR Online", Riccitiello responded unequivocally, "Yes."

Well, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

In terms of the fan base, you have some people excited that there is a new Star Wars MMO in the works because it is still a powerful IP to many. But then you have some KotOR fans who don't like the idea of their beloved franchise departing from the single-player format.

I've always thought that the reputation of a company does factor in, on some level, to the initial success of a game. For example, Blizzard's fantastic record definitely didn't hurt when WoW was released, and some people are so down on SOE that they need convincing when it comes to a new SOE MMO.

But what's intriguing in this case is the varied reputation of the entities involved. Most people definitely don't have a lot of respect for EA and I don't blame them. And although they are not actually developing the game, they are essentially in charge. There's always the concern (unfounded or not) that they could really screw with the product. Since LucasArts is in on this as well, you have to look at their rep. I'd say it was quite good in the old days but I'm pretty sure things have gone downhill in terms of overall perception. So that's one big negative and one neutral/negative factor. But then you have BioWare, a company that is absolutely highly respected by the vast majority of players. So how will it all pan out? Will BioWare's rep be strong enough to counteract the others?

Of course, there is much concern in the community over how the mechanics of the game should, could, and will work. A popular debate on the forums is the whole "everyone wants to be a Jedi" can of worms. Massively suggests a solution is to make other classes (Wookies, Mandalorians, Droids) super compelling. I like the ideas in the article and I think that could surely help, but I don't think it will ever completely override the draw of the force.

Personally, I would just give into the whole Jedi thing and let people play one right out of the starting gate if they wanted to. Just because there are a lot of Jedi doesn't mean they all have to be the same. There could be sub-classes of Jedi (healers, warriors, etc.) or people could go down different paths in the Jedi skill tree that would focus on different aspects of the Jedi powers. Of course, there is always the issue that so many Jedi breaks with the canon of the Star Wars universe. But there were plenty of Jedi during the time period the game will cover. I will be very interested to see BioWare's solution and wouldn't be surprised if they had a better one.

And in case you forgot, there actually is a Stars Wars MMO out there already. What was it called again? Oh, that's right, Star Wars Galaxies. In this interview on Massively, Smed reminds us that the live team is still very active and promises a ton of content ("vehicles in battles on Hoth") of expansion quality will be released for free.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dofus Levels

Back when Dofus was first in beta and for a while after its release, I played it quite a bit and found it to be an interesting experience. Heck, I even posted about it. But even though I liked some aspects of the game, I tired of it pretty quickly and haven't played it since.

I usually love games with strategic or tactical play and enjoy SRPG's. But in a cooperative multiplayer setting, it just didn't work for me. The game also felt unpolished and the english translations were ridiculously bad. The quests were the height of tedium and I never really felt connected to the game world or cared about the story. I also recall frequent load times.

But as I stated, this was quite some time ago, back in (wow!) 2005. It may very well have improved since then. I lost touch with Dofus, although I did stay on their email list because I enjoyed the wacky gems they would send my way. However, they piqued my interest with their latest email announcing Dofus 2.0.

You can see a video on the main site and read more about it here. The graphics did impress me, considering the game is in Flash and the system requirements are quite low. It sounds like there are plenty of behind-the-scenes changes to the code as well. I'm not familiar enough with the game anymore to really judge the whole 2.0 thing, but I am considering checking it out.

What really impressed me the most was this post by Tyn, the Client Developer Manager. When I used to play Dofus the english on the website was awful and it was very hard to glean any actual information. It is great to see that Ankama now communicates well with the english-speaking players.

What's more, I liked with the way he addressed many of the issues and questions people had on the forums about the new version. Rather then hide from criticism or avoid issues, it seems Tyn did a good job of taking it all head on and making sure the customers feel like their concerns have been heard.

It appears I missed out on a few other Dofus-related announcements in my long absence. They released a game called Dofus Arena which focuses on tactical PvP and sounds like it has potential. Another game called Wakfu is in beta-testing and takes place 1,000 years after the events of Dofus.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blitzed


Every so often I get hooked by a casual, web-based MMO. You know, the type you don't have to check every single day and you can play around with at work. For a while that was ForumWarz for me. While I'm still into that game, lately I've been pretty taken by a new contender.

The game is Goal Line Blitz, and the creators describe it as:

"...a web-based American Football MMORPG. We've written a custom football simulation engine to provide you with the ultimate football experience on the web."

Well, ultimate is a little strong but this game is fun. You start off by creating a player. You pick the position for your player and a name. Note that "glamour" positions like QB or WR are far more popular and it can be harder to find a team if you go that route.

The game then "rolls" your starting stats for you, both physical (speed, vision, etc.) and football (tackling, blocking, etc.). You can re-roll these and, when you're done, you can use skill points to add to those base stats. Skill points can also be used to work your way up skill trees which give special abilities (i.e. Big Hit, which increases the chance of causing a fumble).

Once your player is set up, it's time to join a team. You can join a human-run team but this can be tough at first when your player is low level and you don't know anyone. However, there are also CPU-run teams which will offer you a contract.

You never actually "play" in the games - your player does but it is just simulated. There is still plenty to do though. You can tweak your training regimen, buy equipment, set your in-game tactics and keep an eye on your morale and energy level. As you earn XP from training or playing in games you get additional skill points to spend.

This game would be fun enough if you could only have one player. But it's a lot more fun to have multiple players going. Of course, creating a player costs flex-points and you start with a limited amount. Flex-points can also be used to buy equipment for a player or "boosting" stats.

You earn flex-points by referring other players. The other option is to buy them with real money. I am not crazy about the whole flex-points thing. I hope you can also earn them just by playing, but I'm not sure on that. I believe they give some out at the end of the season.
Of course, the game itself is free. And your player can be absolutely great without using flex-points - it just might take longer. You start with enough to create multiple players and can get them back by retiring. I just wish there was a way to purchase a team without them.
It looks like things get exponentially more fun when you can get your own team. That adds a ton of other options and strategy (team chemistry, depth charts) to the game. I have not reached that level yet. But I think it's a good idea that you get familiar with the game first before you jump into team ownership.

If you are interested, I recommend you check out the faq and some of these guides before creating your first player. My one tip is to add skill points to bring your stamina up to at least 20 when you are first setting up your player. I screwed that up the first time...but you can always retire and begin anew.

I have definitely not played enough to give an actual review of this game. I'm a noob who just started over with a new player. But I know Bandit has played for a longer period of time and enjoys it quite a lot.

I'll revisit the game when I have more experience with it. However, I wanted to give you a heads-up now because a new season is beginning soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tomorrow's Griefers and Exploiters

Kids try to get around profanity filters in online games: alert the media.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Babbling

The one post on this blog that most surprised me in terms of the amount of comments and search traffic is definitely the post I did on Psychobabble. With 86 comments (probably the second most in this site's history) it's become a bit of an ex-Psychobabble player hangout. Since people are still coming here looking for Psychobabble information, I feel a duty to update them in my search for similar games.

Psychobabble was a genre of game I call a "creativity game." You really had to use your creativity and sense of humor to succeed.

Recently, I've been playing a game that taxes the same creative juices. It's an acrophobia game in flash called acroBabble. It's a very well done version and I always have a ton of laughs whenever I play. The players are good and new features are added frequently.

What's more, I heard the site's creator is working on doing a version of Psychobabble. Here's a mini-interview:

What was your inspiration to start the accroBabble website?

I was playing around with some new technologies - Flex SDK, some new Java features etc. I've always maintained that the best way to learn a new piece of technology is to write a real-world app with it. About the same time, there was an article about how traditional games were catching on in social networks. I researched acrophobia to see if it was still around. I realized that there was perhaps an opportunity for an acro-clone and hence decided to embark on the acro adventure.

What are your plans for the future of acroBabble?

I have quite a large list of features to add. There are the obvious - sound effects, game features like private rooms, teams etc. Beyond that I would like to experiment with allowing players to play acro over IM.


Recently, I've added a feature to declare the first person as the room admin with powers to boot unruly players. I've also allowed players to be designated as "trusted." These players cannot be booted by a room admin but they can boot a room admin (gotta keep the admins in check too :)

And what about my precious Psychobabble?

While researching acrophobia, I came across the phenomenon of psychobabble and came to discover its loyal and zealous fan base :) Since acrophobia and pyschobabble are very similar (except for the core creative task), I've been building the code base for acroBabble to factor out the common parts so that I can launch a pyschobabble clone very easily. In fact, I've got a domain for it -
http://www.crazybabble.com/ . It currently points to acroBabble.
---
Well, I know I'm definitely looking forward to that Psychobabble version. But for now I'll keep playing acroBabble whenever I want to have some creative fun. And I do have a couple more "creativity" contenders that I'll blog about soon.

Monday, July 07, 2008

SOE Goes All Out


I've been meaning to post about this for a while, but, man, SOE is going all out with this Living Legacy thing for EQII.

I mean, sure, plenty of other MMO companies have done the marketing maneuver where inactive subscribers can log back in and play for a time for free. But I've never seen anything like this concerted effort.

Not only can you play for free until July 31, 2008 but you get a free (digital) copy of the Rise of Kunark all-in-one pack if you convert to a full subscription. Then there's the ability to earn free play time by recruiting friends. And, hey, why not throw in a $5 coupon for the next EQII expansion. But wait - that's not all! If you call right now they'll give you unique in-game items.

Holy smokes. I was expecting the next thing on the list would be that Smed will personally come to your house and power-level your character for you. This is quite a promotion.

I think this will pull in more players which is always a good thing for the game. And I'm sure SOE has worked out the financial angle so it is a net gain for them. I don't have any problems with this kind of thing (although the referral bit does strike me as slightly cheesy).

The modest risk you run with stuff like this is seeming too desperate and causing people to wonder if your traffic numbers are really bad. I honestly do not think that is the case, I'm just saying it's a danger of perception.

I think it's just a nice big marketing push. They're doing something similar for EQ .

The great thing about it is that EQII has really changed tremendously since launch (largely for the better - although I can't vouch for the most recent content). So I think that a lot of people will be quite pleasantly surprised if they give it another chance.

I also think SOE did a good job on the websites for the promotion. And my favorite part about the whole thing is that they seem to be doing a great job with tying it in to new in-game events and content.

You can read more in an interview with SOE Senior Producer Bruce Ferguson by Michael Zenke over on Massively.

Hmm...I was just thinking that if SOE had held off on that free server transfer week they did in May and combined it with this promotion that would have been absolutely killer. But now I'm getting greedy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gaming for Dollars


"Work is for people who can't play video games." - Jillian Wiebe in 'The King of Kong' quoting Billy Mitchell.

So how about it? Can we make a living playing video games? I know a bunch of different companies are working on shoehorning a gambling aspect into gaming. I was going to use Kwari (I've never tried it) as an example of an FPS for cash game but they are apparently not doing too well.

I decided to try out a casual contender:
WorldWinner.

Please note I have absolutely no relationship with this company and I'm not getting compensated in any way for blogging about them. Well, I'm not even really recommending them so I guess that's obvious.

I signed up and deposited $20. Then it was time to survey the list of games. Now, we're not talking Bioshock or even Shiren the Wanderer here. No, these are decidedly casual games. A modified version of Diner Dash is probably the most flashy.

Before I actually wagered my hard earned ducats I tested out a number of the games. The problem is that, while you can test any game for free, I couldn't figure out how to compare my score with the scores of people playing for real money. So it wasn't until I actually played a real money game that I figured out if I was good (or not...usually not).

I gave up on Bejeweled and the solitaire variants right off the bat. Too many people play those games 24/7 for me to be competitive. I thought I had a shot at Catch-21 because I'd played that type of game quite a bit before. While I was in the ballpark in real money games, I was winning only about 1 in 4. I think I could have improved but it honestly started to feel like work.

I know playing games all day sounds fun but a lot of these start to feel like work after a bit. The whole mentality is different.

I got excited when I saw SkillGammon because I was a tournament level BG player once upon a time (though my cubing was always atrocious). But it turns out that SkillGammon is Backgammon with all the probablility sucked out. And for me that means with all the fun sucked out.

I finally settled on (drumroll please)...Family Feud! I know that sounds crazy but for some reason I'm apparently a good Family Feud player. I think it's the type of game where tons of repetition is not really important but your ability to think quickly is. This version is not the whole game but a quick, modified game.

Well, the point is, when I'm playing 1-on-1 in Feud I actually win 2 out of 3 games (I checked my stats). So should I quit my job? Not exactly.

You see, WorldWinner takes their cut. And it cuts deep. Example using the 2 player game:
Balance: $2.50
Game 1: You enter for $2.50 and win $4.00.
Balance: $4.00
Game 2: You enter for $2.50 and win $4.00
Balance: $5.50
Game 3: You enter for $2.50 and lose.
Balance: $3.00.

So for playing 3 games and winning 2 of them...you're up a whopping 50 cents.

And winning 2 out of 3 is pretty good. There are times you're just going to get unlucky with words you don't know, have a bad game or run up against a super good player. And you can't just beat up on noobs forever, the website does something called FairMatch to put you up against people of equal skill level.

Of course, there are larger tournaments with larger prizes, but I find you run up against truly amazing players.

I've been hanging in there (I'm around $27 now) but I can't seem to make much headway. You do rack up rewards points as well as money which you can use to purchase game credits or other stuff. To be honest, I probably wasted money playing games I'm not good at and entering tourneys I had no hope of winning. But I just think for the number of 2 player games I've won I should be doing a little better.

I would really like to see WorldWinner be a lot more reasonable with their "take" of the action. You do get something of a rush playing for real cash and it's kind of fun to mess around with. But, overall, I think it's a losing proposition.

Monday, June 30, 2008

DC Details

PS3 Fanboy recounts some of the first details on Sony's DC Universe Online MMO as revealed in Edge magazine. I was always more of a Marvel person myself, but I am interested in how they plan to be better then City of Heroes/Villains. The character creator better be darn good to top CoX's.

The information about meeting famous comic book heroes and villains is not surprising or interesting. The focus on action is probably a smart move with this genre, especially since the game is a PS3, as well as a PC, release.

I do like this idea: "Lee also hinted at story events in DC Universe Online happening simultaneously with comic book DC Universe."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You Think It's Easy to Make an MMO?

I'm a little bit behind on this news but if you haven't already seen it, check out the freeware game MMO Tycoon. Monitor forum buzz, add content and set level ranges as you try to increase your MMORPG's popularity.

I thought this game could have done a bit more with humor since there is so much potential for hilarious parody in this concept. Some more depth to the gameplay would also be nice. But I did find it an amusing and enjoyable way to waste some time.