Archive for the ‘Archive’ Category

Dateline Dec. 30, 2002: Two Perspectives on Why MMORPGs Suck

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Two recent online articles highlight the darker side of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). Remarkably, neither focused on the soul-sucking addiction associated with such games. One discussed how the games are designed from the outset to be frustrating and aggravating, yet compellingly addictive. The other enumerates some of the shortcomings of MMORPGs.

The first, posted to slashdot, talks specifically about Everquest. According to Sanftenberg, ‘Everquest is a game full of people who want to “win” and “be the best” at any cost. This includes griefing you and your guild, making your gameplay miserable. Why not simply quit then, you ask? If the game isn’t fun and sucks this badly, why would anyone play it? Well, because they are addicted. They are addicted to the mobs, to the loot, and to the social atmosphere with other people in their guilds.’

With many of the advancements requiring highly repetitive actions, prolonged waiting, or other time-wasting elements, the time commitment and drudgery seem to actually enhance the addictiveness as it robs the fun of the game. Mr. Sanftenberg lists a number of other serious grievances that certainly sound legitimate.

A couple of commenters noted that Star Wars Galaxies is being created by the same developers that made Everquest.

The second article, was posted as a comment to the original article. It goes on to say, “… it’s very difficult to do a reasonably good plot-based multiplayer game. I can’t think of any multiplayer games that use plot to much advantage.”

This most telling comment in the article really defines one enormous difference between MMORPGs and Alternate Reality Games such as The Beast.

Both games have some elements of story, but the focus on plot in ARGs rather than attaining levels (or status) lets players compete or cooperate more evenly, regardless of their experience level. Also, the cooperative elements in ARGs foster progress for everyone rather than the potential detriment of one party. By ensuring the mutual success of all players, ARGs will tend to have less player-induced sabotage than occurs in Everquest and it’s ilk.

With that said, I’m on the fence about the impact of prizes on player groups and how it affects immersive gameplay. It seems that the majority of players tend to view the prizes, regardless of value, as a bonus and remain focused on the game and community. Time will tell if this remains true.

Even though both types of games reward players for time commitment and involvement, a well designed Immersive Campaign (aka ARG) should let players jump in at any point without significant penalty.

As more and more traditional computer games and console games make their way online, the choices for online gaming will be staggering. The Beast, as grand and critically acclaimed as it was, has not resulted in any commercial successes in the Immersive Gaming genre.

Ok, I’ve rambled way off topic with no summary in sight. So, in conclusion, what do YOU think?

Dateline Dec. 26, 2002: GameSpot Releases Picks for Games of the Year

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

GameSpot presents their picks for 2002 games of the year in various genres. GameSpot had an unsurprising set of choices for their games of the year. You can read the entire feature or go straight to their “best of” adventure game, Role-playing game, and worst game of the year (all genres).

Here is the short list:

Best Adventure Game: Syberia
Best RPG: Morrowmind: Neverwinter Nights
Worst Game: Demonworld: Dark Armies
Game of the Year: Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

The list closely mirrors the choices made by GameSpy.

Dateline Dec. 24, 2002: Deaddrop announces free hosting for Grassroots Campaigns

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

In an effort to spur the development of grassroot Alternate Reality Games, is pleased to announce the availability of free hosting for free immersive games and puzzle games.

One of the biggest obstacle for many PuppetMasters is the availability of financially and advertising free hosting for domains needed to run an immersive campaign.

To help lower the barrier to entry for prospective PuppetMasters, deaddrop is offering, on a trial basis, hosting for websites. PuppetMasters will have the ability to redirect masked domain names to storage at, post content on [], and utilize the resources available through [].

Each of these domains are hosted on LINUX servers with Apache, PHP 4.x, mySQL, and provide flash support.

To submit a confidential request for hosting, visit deaddrop Hosting.

Dateline Dec. 23, 2002: Gamespy announces RPG Game of the Year

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Gamespy has selected Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind as their RPG Game of the Year. As one of the progenitors of the Alternate Reality Gaming (aka immersive campaigning) genre, it seems fitting that a game for which Gamespy says, ‘You feel that you’re really a part of Morrowind, but even more than that, the world feels like a real place.’ was selected.

They go on to say, “The game engine is a real work of art. Pieces of furniture and miscellaneous knick-knacks fill every home, and you can move or loot or play with just about anything. You can even rob or kill anyone you meet, provided you’re ready to deal with the weighty arm of the law. The result? Total immersion in a fantasy world!’

You can catch the full article [ here].

If RPG is the granddaddy of ARG, then adventure gaming is most certainly the respected grandmother. On Christmas Day, Gamespy will [ announce the Adventure Game of the Year].

Dateline Dec. 19, 2002: TOME: A multi-user LOTR Dungeon

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

If you like to play games with friends and love Lord of The Rings, you might want to check out Tales of Middle Earth. T.o.M.E. is a roguelike dungeon exploration game based on JRR Tolkien’s works.

TOME is based on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and tries very hard to stay true to Tolkien’s world while making the game balanced and playable.

The game is a character based dungeon similar in style to Dungeons and Dragons, but with appropriate characters, artifacts, monsters and skills. If you are looking for a lot of flash and sizzle, this game is NOT for you. But if you wax nostalgic for games of the past where a good story, a good imagination and interaction with other players are key, you’ll get a kick out of this game.

You can either download a single user version and play solo (Windows, DOS, Amiga, and Mac versions available) or download the multi-user client and play online at (Windows only at this time).

And since we all crave interaction with other players, there is a nicely trafficked message forum where you can post questions, get tips and spoilers, and chat.

Dateline Dec. 18, 2002: Alternatives to Xbox Live

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The most obvious is a local network of Xboxes, but there are several other options for head to head play on the Xbox over the Internet without springing for the license fee. I found a very interesting article by Brian Livingston at [Infoworld] about alternatives to XBox Live.

One huge problem for many users is that Xbox Live permanently blocks any units that have ever been modded. Even if you remove the mod chip, the unit still can’t talk to the Live service.

The coolest option is the Xbox Gateway. It’s a gateway for your Xbox to let it talk to other Xboxes over the Internet without using an intermediary. You have to run it on a PC with LINUX, but the developer is working on a version that will boot from floppy so you can use it on your PC without screwing up Windows.

Another nifty choice is the GameSpy Arcade. It requires a couple of PC programs to tunnel the SystemLink traffic, but looks pretty easy to configure. Most SystemLink games work and you then have free access to play online. For a one-time $20 fee, you can play ad-free on their network.

Neither of the above options require any modifications to your Xbox.

Dateline Dec. 17, 2002: Noah Boddy Goes on Hiatus

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Noah Boddy has been placed on hold by the PMs until further notice. They claim that the game is being revamped thanks to additional resources provided by a new investor. The unexpected halt to the game puts NB in jeopardy of losing their audience. With the imminent start of [ Chasing the Wish] and numerous other games in the chute, the competition for attention from groups of players is intensifying.

Further, with the alleged tie-in to Push, Nevada, there seem to be legal questions regarding the status of the game vis-a-vis content and intellectual property rights.

The Full Story (per Noah Boddy PMs):

Greetings, players:As you will notice, we at Team Noah Boddy have just made several changes to this group and to the and site.

Here is exactly what has happened:

Yesterday, members of Team Noah Boddy had a meeting with our original sponsors as well as a new investor. The meeting has gone very well, and we now expect to be able to create a great deal more interactivity and a more productive environment for you, the players.

However, such changes cannot be made overnight. There will be programming and server changes as well as newly designed and more user-interactive sites when we are finished.

As such, we at Team Noah Boddy have no choice but to put this game on hiatus until we are finished. As many have noticed, this group has had several bumps in its attempt to create an enjoyable gaming experience and our new resources will allow us to solve many of these issues.

We apologize for the inconvenience this is going to cause, but after careful deliberation and discussion, it was decided that the best course of action was to freeze both plot and puzzles rather than attempt to continue moving forward while such major re-designs were underway.

For those of you who have enjoyed the game, we sincerely hope you will return and continue playing in the new year. The sites are planned to go live again in January.

For those of you who are upset with this decision, we understand, but as we said in the beginning, this game has been run by several people during their evenings, weekends, and free time. Our new resources will allow a greater time to be devoted to the game and we believe this is the best decision we as a team can make for all involved.

Thank you all for your involvement. You are the reason the meeting yesterday went so well.

Team Noah Boddy

Dateline: Dec. 15, 2002: TerraQuest: New CEO Interview and Game Updates

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Mind-Quest has been busy promoting and enhancing their innovative game, Terraquest. The game scope has expanded to include real world websites.

[ Mind-Quest] CEO, Keith Griffin was interviewed by Steve Peters at Unfiction about [ TerraQuest]. He covered a number of topics and gave a small behind-the-scenes peek at the concept behind the game.

TQ also seems to have refined their view on cooperative play. Initially, they actively discouraged such play, but the current statement appears more neutral.

TQ has also started offering a three-day free trial of the game to allow prospective players to experience the game and whet their appetites for the real thing.

Most excitedly, TQ has expanded the game scope to include related websites in the real world. When you are logged into LARS, the information managemer for TQ, and visit a related site, you will find additional characters and clues in the LARS console.

About the Game
TerraQuest will be divided into six game periods, each approximately one month in length. Each game period a new clue set will be released. The clue sets will incorporate a variety of media types (exhibits), which will provide the starting points and continuation of threads already in place. These threads will lead you down different paths. Some of these paths will lead to critical information, some will not become important until later game periods, and some will be nothing more than red-herrings. The game is pay-to-play with registration fees increasing until the final period. It is currently $25 to play.

Dateline Dec. 11, 2002: Sun and Moon mini-Puzzle. A fun way to spend an evening

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I found [intro.htm] this while scouring the Internet. Ok, by scouring, I meant stalking, er, checking out people who registered at deaddrop :)

It seems to be a mini-ARG. The premise - you get an email from someone on the day they commit suicide. It has a link to their blog. Sun and Moon, a game by David Brain, was an entry in the 2002 Interactive Fiction competition.

At the trailhead, there is a brief introduction by the PM:

This is something of an experiment for me and my apologies in advance to those players who have trouble with this story.

You will find a number of Java and Javascript applets scattered around the various pages, but only one very small Java applet is actually essential to complete the story (the Password applet.)

Note that you do not need to use extreme web-game techniques in order to get to the bottom of this story - you don’t need to examine the source-code for extra information, interrogate the whois database or set up Yahoo-discussion groups!

However, traditional text adventure game techniques might still come in handy…

Dateline Dec. 11, 2002: Alias Underground: New Mission

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Mission 4 of Alias Underground is now available. The mission is called Turkish Embassy: CIA Countermission.

From the mission summary, “Agent Vaughn must infiltrate the Turkish embassy and replace a document with a fake. Can he do it before Sydney arrives — and without setting off the alarm?”

Alias Underground will feature a total of 10 missions this season (including the SD-6 Agent Training Mission). All missions will be posted at ABC’s website. Check the Calendar for planned release dates.

You can download the new mission by signing in at (free registration required). Players are automatically entered into a sweepstakes with a Ford Focus and toys from Nokia as prizes.

Alias Underground is a game featuring characters from the hit ABC show Alias. It is created in the style of a Duke Nukem type game with less violence and a focus on specific tactical objectives for each mission. You can find the missions on [ ABC’s Alias Underground Site].