Jun 24th 2010 10:53AM Aion. Made it to level 4 with my first character, hating every moment of it. Logged off, telling myself I should give it more of a chance, and I'd come back to it. Every time I thought about firing it up again, the thought was too much to bear.
It's hard to succinctly describe what I disliked about it (unless I just say "everything"). One thing was that it seemed relentlessly pretty and precious, to an annoying degree.
Runner up is Star Trek Online. I bought Champions Online early on, partly to get a look at the game engine that would be used for STO, and partly to get into the STO beta. I actually liked Champions up through about level 14 (which is about where you discover that the world is small, boring, repetitive, tedious, and plagued by a relentless sameness and a serious lack of verisimilitude). The Champions character customization is rightly touted as great, and the power systems are tons of fun. If only there was anything interesting to do with your powers once you have them.
Then STO hit and it had all the bad parts of Champions, without much of the good parts. In addition, it has an interstellar travel feature that somehow manages to make galactic space seem small, cramped, and boring.
Jun 22nd 2010 7:20PM I'm interested to see what you have to say about the Tree of Life cooldown in the next column. Honestly, it's been months since I paid attention to Cataclysm's restoration talents because loss of the Tree of Life as a full shapeshift form truly made me lose interest in playing a restoration Druid. I'm part of a longstanding gaming group that organizes gameplay projects that run months to years; we are presently running a last-gasp all-Druid team through all of the WOTLK content, giving our members a last shot at experiencing the pre-WOTLK Tree of Life. My own reaction is widespread in our group; loss of to Tree of Life to us means loss of interest in Resto Druids.
I'm not saying that anyone *should* feel that way; and for those who don't, I wish them well. They'll have a chance to enjoy something that I and some others of us may not. But for me, and for some of the others in our gaming group, the Druid's shapeshifted forms are a major part of the class' appeal, and loss of the Tree of Life leaves us poorer.
For us, the comparison to the Warlock Metamorphosis talent is unavoidable. No one in our group plays a Warlock with Metamorphosis. We have many experienced Warlock players, and the consensus is that Metamorphosis is undoubtedly a cool toy, but it's just not something we feel is worth the talent points. It's a novelty--something to talent for in order to experience it a play around with it a little, but not something you actually want to use on an ongoing basis. I think we would all have preferred that Blizzard handle the parallel between Metamorphosis and Tree of Life in exactly the opposite way from the choice they made: fix whatever problems they see in Tree of Life in a way that makes them feel all right about letting us keep it, and while they're at it, fix Metamorphosis so that it becomes a proper shapeshift form that you can usefully use on a long-term basis.
Blizzard went another way, which is certainly their privilege. I'm not making any grandiose claims here about knowing better than they about what they ought to do. I'm just saying that I and some of my comrades are disappointed, and are not particularly excited about starting any new projects with resto Druids in Cataclysm. The release might change our minds, of course, but I think present consensus is that our current Trees and Boomkins team is sort of a last gasp for our group with WoW Druids.
That being the case, I'm certainly interested in your next column, and whether it might soften our stance toward the new Resto.
Jun 11th 2010 3:41PM LOTRO is often described as having one of the best player communities in any MMO, and Landroval is nearly as often described as having one the best communities in LOTRO.
Besides Weatherstock, Landroval is the home of "Ales and Tales," a weekly storytelling event founded by The Lonely Mountain Band:
It was also the home of the great Oathbreakers event last Halloween:
...and the same people who brought you the Oathbreakers battle are next bringing the Axes of the Dwarves event, beginning June 19th:
If you want a good player community, Landroval is definitely the place to be.
May 4th 2010 9:05PM Let me just acknowledge right up front that we're picking nits here, and the most appropriate response of a sane person might well be a roll of the eyes and a quick movement to the next topic.
Both "highborne" and "highborn" almost have to be figurative, rather than literal. You can easily imagine calling a whole people "highborne", but it pretty much has to be figurative, unless maybe they have some sort of universal rite of passage in which they take an elevator to the top of a tall building, or something. A literal interpretation of "highborn" is even harder to justify. Their maternity wards are all on the peaks of mountains, maybe?
But the literal versus figurative distinction doesn't have much to do with which is the correct vocabulary for "children of noble birth." "Highborne" doesn't mean "children of noble birth." If "high" means "noble", then it can mean "children of noble carriage," or "children of noble portage," or even "children of noble riding-the-elevator-to-the-top-of-a-tall-building." But not "children of noble birth." "Birth" and "portage" are fairly distinct concepts.
"Children of noble carriage" sort of makes sense, if you think of the "highborne" as elves that have been "carried high" by their queen's fiat, when she arbitrarily declares that some are better than others. It even has a kind of appealing poetry in it, in light of the lore. It doesn't seem to get a lot of support from Blizzard's text, though.
May 4th 2010 6:12PM '"Highborne" is simply "quel'dorei" in Common'
Well, not quite.
"Highborne" means "carried high" or "lifted high". If "quel'dorei" means "children of noble birth" and you want a one-word equivalent, the word you're looking for is "highborn".
Blizzard always spells it "lifted high", but from the context of their quest text, I assume they're systematically making the same mistake, and they actually mean "highborn", even though they consistently misspell it.
But who knows? Maybe they really do mean "lifted high". It would actually make some sense, given the general arrogance of the elves who call themselves that.
Apr 14th 2010 8:08PM Like many other commentors, I really want to shop the whole cafeteria line for my meal of MMO:
- the large, varied, and mostly seamless world
- the terrific responsiveness of the characters in play
- the excellent freedom of movement
From Champions Online:
- the excellent character customization
- the great (fun!) powers and abilities
- the cherry-picking of powers to build your own "class"
- the character-naming system that forever eliminates the problem of finding that someone has already taken your favorite name
- the incredible attention to detail in everything
- the beautiful and engaging world; the verisimilitude; the strong sense of place
- the numerous, varied, rich and copious questlines
- Legendary items
- the care and craftsmanship that is devoted to updating and improving every part of the game all the time, not just in major expansions, but continuously through the year in small patches that add to and rework questlines and hubs throughout the whole game, including the starting areas
From Guild Wars:
- henchmen and heroes (companions that can fill out parties when players are scarce)
- the rich, varied, competitive, and opt-in PVP
- Guild houses and PVP battles in them
- the opt-out grinding
- keep and city sieges; PVP objectives worth fighting over
- numerous nice PVP details (example: characters in a PVP fight can't walk through each other, which makes it possible for tanks to actually hold positions, which in turn makes entire families of tactics possible that otherwise aren't)
- PVP forts that are actually forts, and that must be taken by siege, instead of "forts" that are just arbitrary indefensible walls with zillions of gaping holes in them
Apr 9th 2010 7:56PM Obviously, using someone else's product without their permission isn't kosher. Obviously, allowing a third party to modify your flagship investment and profit from your work isn't going to be attractive to a game developer.
But those aren't the interesting ideas. The interesting idea is designing an MMORPG that is intended from the start to support 'private servers'. More specifically, the interesting idea is a framework for serving a game world with tools to modify and customize it, and a business model that permits third parties to resell (or give away) access to customized worlds, for a fee.
Not all players of games are passive consumers. Some are authors, artists, and creative hobbyists, and would enjoy the chance to build characters and settings to share with others. There are large, long-lived guilds who organize grand efforts of creativity to create such things for one another in conventional MMORPGs. Undoubtedly, they would welcome an MMORPG that would give them greater power to invent--as long as it's a basically good game.
Why don't publishers give us products like this? Because nobody's ever done it. Putting up the millions of dollars that it costs to build a decent MMORPG is enough of a risk for investors, without asking them to believe that you can succeed when no one has ever seen the game mechanics or the business model working.
That doesn't mean that such a model can't work. It just means it's a really really hard sell to guys who have some investment capital and are looking for a place to grow it.
Some studio might manage to pitch an idea like this successfully to some investors at some point. What's more likely is that a small group of industry professionals or gifted amateurs might put together a hobby project that eventually turns into something pretty fun. If that happens, then there will be a model that studios can point to and say, "look! that worked. Now let's do one for real, as a product."
Oct 9th 2009 5:42AM Thanks for including my post.
My name is mikel evins, rather than "Mike Levins". That's a new and interesting typo for my name. I think my favorite, though, has to be "Mike Elevens", because it's pronounced exactly like my actual name. Maybe I could spell it "Mike 11 11".
Readers may find the layout and typography of the essay more appealing at
The essay appears there dated October 1, 2009, under the title "Redefining MMOs: The game no one is making".
Oct 1st 2009 9:32PM I've commented on related matters before quite a bit, but this post provided an excuse to do it again. You can find the resulting rant at
If you'd rather see it in a more typographically appealing form, you can instead look at
and find the October 1st entry.