Archive for April, 2008

Thank Goodness For That

Posted by Stropp on April 19, 2008

From the MTV Movies Blog and Filmonic comes the news that the director of the worlds worst game to movie adaptations has approached Blizzard to bring World of Warcraft to the big screen.

Uwe Boll (IMDB reference) has directed such shockers as Bloodrayne, Bloodrayne II: Deliverance, and Alone in the Dark. It's also been reported that his productions are designed to use as some sort of German tax write off -- apparently loss making movies earn some sort of large tax credit. Make a flop and earn a lot of money. It doesn't sound like that's the sort of situation any game developer would like to see their IP in.

It seems Blizzard feels the same way. Uwe Boll according to the MTV Movies report approached Blizzard's Paul Sams to buy the movie rights to World of Warcraft and was soundly rebuffed.

Sams, reportedly (by Boll himself) said:

‘We will not sell the movie rights, not to you…especially not to you,’” Boll revealed. “Because it’s such a big online game success, maybe a bad movie would destroy that ongoing income, what the company has with it.”

Thank goodness that the folks at Blizzard have the sense not to hand their valuable property over to someone who would only destroy it on screen. The rumor according to Filmonic is that Blizzard is interested in making a World of Warcraft Movie --  I've heard the same rumors -- but that they are highly invested in getting a movie of the quality of The Lord of the Rings.

I'm still burned about what Hollywood did to the Doom movie. (That wasn't Boll.) Getting rid of the decent into Hell aspect and turning the whole scenario into a biohazard gone wrong cliche. I still can't believe the Id Software guys let that happen.

Hollywood unfortunately doesn't have all that good a track record with turning game properties into movies, something that was also the case with comic book movies up until a few years ago. Fortunately those have improved immensely. I wonder how long it will be before game movies catch up in quality.

Let's have a little fun now. I've put a post up on the forums about what you'd like to see in a hypothetical World of Warcraft movie. Do some brainstorming, share your celluloid fantasies and who knows, you might end up with a career in the movies.

Reviving a Legend

Posted by Stropp on April 18, 2008

Tobold has an interesting post up about the eventual decline of all MMO games. His argument is that with time players grow bored of the game, and as the game ages, the players depart for greener pastures. I touched on that idea a few days ago when I asked why game developers don't upgrade their games.

However, I'm not going to post about that. I'm on a different track here. Tobold made the following comment:

EA certainly regrets earlier decisions to have canceled UO2 twice, because now the Ultima brand is dying.

I think Tobold is correct here. There would have to be at least some amount of regret in the EA camp about the cancellation of the sequel to Ultima Online simply because that game is now fading into obscurity.

I find it quite ironic really. The reason given for the cancellation of Ultima Online 2 was that EA believed UO2 would hurt UO by dividing its subscriber base. Instead, by not having a successor to Ultima Online, subscribers ended up drifting off to other companies products. Business rule numero uno -- When you manage to get a customer, do everything you can to keep him.

So. Is it game over for Ultima Online?

Not yet. Ultima Online is still operating. It still has subscribers, a loyal bunch who won't go quietly into that virtual night. But Ultima Online's days are numbered. Eventually EA will consider the cost of running the game outweighs the benefits of keeping it going, and will switch off the servers. Then Ultima Online will exist only in our memories and on the countless unofficial servers running it.

The only hope of keeping the Ultima Online legend alive is for EA to, as soon as possible, revive the development of Ultima Online 2.

It's important that a new version of UO isn't WoWified. It also shouldn't simply be a modernization of the original game. Here are a few ideas.

  • Keep it as a skill based game. Don't use classes for character development.
  • Make it unique. Don't try and emulate World of Warcraft or any other games. Perhaps try and develop a unique art style.
  • Keep as many of the game systems of the original Ultima Online. There's a reason the game has lasted this long.
  • Implement modern game systems as makes sense to the UO style. Players like new MMO systems like quest icons, and instances.

Do you think that it's even worth saving Ultima Online?

What sort of features do you think the successor should have?

I'd like to hear your opinions.  Leave a comment below, or continue the discussion in the forums.

Rotten Timing

Posted by Stropp on April 18, 2008

I guessed this might happen.

The news is out that Funcom has announced that the Age of Conan open beta will commence on the 1st of May. Good news for all of us who have been waiting with bated breath to finally have a look inside this new MMORPG.

My timing sucks though.

I'm traveling, starting on the morning of the 4th of May. Given the timezone differences, the beta will be available for us Australians on the 2nd.

Hmmm. I wonder if I'll have the time to download, install, have a bash, and write a quick update here?

The Flawless GTA

Posted by Stropp on April 18, 2008

I was just reading a report on Game Politics about the Take Two shareholder meeting. Yep, I know. Boring stuff for most of you. You want commentary about games don't you. Read on, there's not much about the meeting there anyway.

It's this snippet I'm interested in, a comment by T2 chairman Strauss Zelnick.

We’ve already received numerous [GTA IV] reviews, and to a one, they are perfect scores. My mom couldn’t write better reviews…

Maybe if he paid his mum more, she'd write better reviews.

I'll make it clear first off that I haven't played any of the Grand Theft Auto games. I play more MMORPGs than anything -- and as we all know, a MMORPG doesn't really leave time for other games -- so aside from the the time deficit, the GTA games have never been my cup of tea.

Having said that, over the last few years, the GTAs have got some great reviews, and deservedly so. Rock Star has produced some dreck in the past, but Grand Theft Auto doesn't qualify in that category.

But perfect. Sorry. There's no such thing. And if game reviewers are giving 100%, 5/5, 17 thumbs up, or any other perfect score, then they aren't doing their jobs.

With the recent controversies over Gamespot sacking reviewers because they gave games poor reviews and lost sponsors, how can players trust sites that give perfect scores? The first thing that came to my mind when I read the quote above was that Take Two must have been spreading the lurve around to get those ratings.

Nothing is flawless, not even GTA.

Nostalgia – Can You Go Home Again?

Posted by Stropp on April 17, 2008

There have been a few bloggers lately posting about going back to games that they haven't played for a while. A sort of trip down a virtual memory lane. The latest is Stargrace of MmoQuests who has just reinstalled Everquest 1, and is finding it a bit frustrating remembering how to do everything.

This all started because Tipa of the West Karana blog recently challenged her readers to go back and get into the MMORPGs that they played a long time ago.

I must admit I gave it a bit of thought. I recently mentioned that a few months ago I checked out Anarchy Online, only to find it much the same as Stargrace is finding EQ. But this new wave of nostalgia making the rounds got me thinking about my first MMORPG, Asheron's Call. So I checked it out.

I got as far as the web page for Asheron's Call before I had second thoughts. Perhaps if I wasn't focusing on getting to 70 with my WoW hunter, didn't have an EQ 2 Shadow Knight on the backburner, a lifetime subscription to LotRO, and an eagerness to play Age of Conan when it is released in a month, I might have been more inclined to reload AC.

In a lot of ways the cliche -- You can never go home again -- is completely true.

Maybe it's the law of first impressions, but the first MMORPG that a player gets into is often looked on more fondly than later games, even if those later games were better. With AC being my first game, I still find myself being influenced when judging new MMOs. I have some great memories of that game.

AC had a lot of great features. Big world, great story and lore, regular monthly updates, an interesting magic system, and an innovative use of armor and weapons. It also had a sense of wonder. I recall traveling across the countryside to climb a mountain to see what the view was like, something I still do occasionally.

I know that if I did reload Asheron's Call, I would be disappointed. The game is old. There were a number of flaws, especially economic. The interface is now quite dated, and I'm not sure how they manage quests anymore. I expect that the features of modern MMORPGs, absent from the early models, would be too much missed.

Trips down memory lane are not all they're cracked up to be. Everyone has experience at some time or other, returning to a place of fond memories, only to find that the memories had glossed over many of the negatives.

Nostalgia is best left where it belongs. In the memory.

New Age of Conan Trailer

Posted by Stropp on April 16, 2008

Funcom have posted up a new retail trailer for Age of Conan on their website. It's quite large at 114MB and is took a while to download, around an hour. Longer than normal. I expect there are a few folks downloading. I also selected the 720p option which was a larger file, and I was only getting around 20 KBps.

There is also the option to view the Age of Conan Retail Trailer using YouTube. It will give you a much faster experience, but I have to say, the 720p trailer is a sight to behold, and worth the extra time to download.

I reckon Age of Conan may be one of the best looking games that I've seen. The graphics look gorgeous. Funcom have done a masterful job with the graphics and animation.

It's one of the reasons that I am looking forward to the launch of AoC in just over a month.

There are some concerns though. Game developers have been known to develop beautiful looking games that have fallen short in the gameplay department. I'm not expecting this to be the case here though.

No. The bigger concern is what I've read around the traps. Keen is concerned about the type of players that Age of Conan will attract. To be honest I haven't really given that aspect much consideration, but thinking about it now, Keen may have a good point.

Age of Conan is touting itself as a hardcore, action based, primarily PvP game. That does tend to attract a certain type of gamer, the highly competitive gamer. It also tends to attract the griefer types. Will this mean that AoC will be filled with trash-talking, fun-stealing gamers?

I hope not, and in any case, that's just something to keep an eye out for. It's not something to stop me from getting the game.

And one thing that will minimize the impact of this is being in a good guild. That should make a lot of difference in enjoying the game.

Morality Group Calls Constitution ‘Suicide Pact’

Posted by Stropp on April 16, 2008

Don't ya just love the expression 'Watchdog Group?'

It has the connotation of a group that looks out for the community, to protect it from invading nasty things. In reality, most of the time these days, it's referring to a group of busybodies who want to control their own environment by exercising power over others who don't think the same way they do. 

Morality in Media is just such a Watchdog Group. It's their mission to watch media and make sure it's all nice and clean for the rest of us. But there's this pesky thing called a Constitution that is making it hard for them to keep all that nasty media out of our innocent and naive hands.

Game Politics is reporting that Morality in Media is using the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy to blame the massacre on the perpetrator's use of violent media -- btw, didn't the violent game link get disproved mere days after the event?

The press release from MiM essentially blamed modern media's (as opposed to medieval media I guess) blind adherence to modernistic (as opposed to anachronistic) Supreme Court decisions that have made it impossible to hold entertainment companies responsible for the effects of their violent media.

I guess these are the same decisions that refuse to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the misuse of their products as well.

Personally, I hold the person who does the crime responsible for his actions, not the guy who made the gun, or the alcohol, or the video game.

I like the US Constitution. It's one of those great little documents that limits the governments power over the individual. The government can't tell you what you can or cannot say or think, as long as it's truthful. If the government can't stop you thinking or speaking for yourself, neither can any other group like Morality in Media.

And they don't like that.

I reckon it's great that Morality in Media can use the same provisions in the constitution that protect the free expression of game developers and other media producers to say what they like. The First Amendment allows game developers to express themselves through their games. Fortunately for Morality in Media, the First Amendment exists, or they might not be allowed to have their say either.

Fortunately for us, the First Amendment exists, or watchdog groups like Morality in Media would be free to censor us as much as they'd like.

Someone, anyone, please save us from watchdog groups.

Having a Bit of a Twitter and the Fall of Democracy

Posted by Stropp on April 15, 2008 twitter Twitter is one of those Web 2.0 things that has been on the edge of my radar for quite some time now. I don't remember where I first heard of it, but lately there has been a lot more fuss about it. Apparently Twitter has gathered quite a few followers and has reached a sort of critical mass and is now a force to be reckoned with. For those of you who haven't looked into it, Twitter is a micro-blogging and social networking tool. It's designed so that a user can't write Lord of the Rings in a single post, it has to be a short, less than 140 characters message. Here's an excerpt from their FAQ.
What is it? Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? Bloggers can use it as a mini-blogging tool. Developers can use the API to make Twitter tools of their own. Possibilities are endless!
The idea is that Twitterers would post lots of messages about what they were doing, where they were going, and follow other Twitterers doing their own things. In my case, I won't be posting when I feed the cat, go to the bathroom, or do the ever more exciting going to work -- aside from the fact that my employer has blocked all social networking, dating, and games sites from the office network. Doh! Can't even check Stropp's World at lunch! I've been wondering for a while if I should be including any of the social networking applications in Stropp's World. I've played with widgets like MyBlogLog in the past, and have done some stumbling with Stumbleupon, but not much else. With the growth of Twitter, I thought I'd give it a go. You can expect to see me twittering about this blog, what I'm playing, and perhaps what I'm doing in game if I can Alt-Tab myself away for a few seconds. Twitter has a number of widgets that can be added to web-sites. I decided to use the Flash version in the sidebar. It's just above the Poll. You may need to enable or install Flash to see it, if you haven't already. Speaking of the Poll, now that I have the forums installed, I am considering moving the monthly Poll from the front page of the blog to The MOG Life board. The reason is that the Democracy plugin simply doesn't have the features I'm looking for. It's a reasonably old plugin, and the creator hasn't done any work on it for well over a year now. The polls that the Simple Machines forums provide are light years better, not to mention I can have more than one at a time. Forum users can add their own as well. So April may be the last month of Democracy. I'd also like to hear from you regarding the forums. I've put a post up there asking you to contribute some ideas about what you would like to see in the Stropp's World forums. I've got some ideas that I'm working out, but I'd love to hear yours.

Write for Stropp’s World

Posted by Stropp on April 15, 2008

As I mentioned in my last post, and a few weeks ago in Guest Posters Wanted, I'm going on a driving holiday in a few weeks from Adelaide to Sydney. All up the trip is about 2000 kilometers each way, and should take about five or six days to get there. (I'll be taking it slow.) I'll then spend a few days with friends, and about four days drive back (across the top this time) and I'll be gone for a full two weeks.

During that time I won't necessarily have access to the Internet, or enough time to write for that matter. So I'm looking for some help in filling out the blog while I'm away.

If you've always felt that urge to write for a blog, then give in to that urge, feel the freedom, write up a post on anything MMORPG related, and send it in. You can use the contact form to do that, or email me directly at

You'll need to submit it by April 30th so that I can put it in the queue by the time I leave on the 4th, but aside from that, that's all there is to it.

Too easy, eh?

And, if you're interested, here is the route I'm planning on taking to Sydney.


WoW, Gadgets, and a Plug

Posted by Stropp on April 15, 2008

Wow. What a weekend.

I finally hit level 63 with my Orc Hunter. I got a little bored with the quests in Zangarmarsh about three quarters of the way through the level and decided to see what Terokkar Forest held in store for me. I'd already done a little bit of exploring and had got the flight point in Shattrath City -- needed to get a portal back to Org at level 62 in any case -- but I decided to ride in.

I picked up the first quests near the Cenarian Thicket and worked on those. It was then into the Bone Wastes where I found a bunch of refugees who needed my help and while doing those quests found myself in Stonebreaker Hold. So many quest markers, not enough space in the journal.

So I deleted a bunch of quests left over from Hellfire Peninsula and the group quests from Zangarmarsh. I then loaded up on the Stonebreaker Quests, picked up the flight point, and got stuck into it.

While I was hunting Warp Stalkers I popped the level. Woo Hoo!

A little after dinging my ADD kicked in and I decided to have a little vacation in Nagrand. So I rode around there for a while and uncovered quite bit of the map. I also got to see the biggest diamond in the universe. Selaeya, my Belfadin, wants it. After all diamonds are a girls best friend. All she has to do to get it is to level high enough and wrest it from the cold dead hands of the demons guarding it.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to be taking a trip to Sydney in May. Well that's still on, and partly what I spent the other bit of my weekend on.

I headed into town on Saturday morning to buy myself a new camera. I had already decided on a Nikon D40X DSLR, and just needed to find a store that sold them and had one in stock. They're a pretty popular camera from what I've been told. I ended up buying from a place called Ted's Camera Store at Rundle Street in Adelaide.

Why the plug for Ted's?

I was also looking at buying a GPS system for the trip, and the brand I had selected was around 600 to 850 Aussie dollars. The unit I wanted, a Tom Tom, was recommended as the best in Choice Magazine (an Australian consumer mag, they review heaps of products and rate each one, I also used them for the camera) and Ted's only had the display unit left. The camera was A$1100, and Ted's did a deal for the camera, a free case, extended warranty, lens protectors, and the GPS for about A$1500. I walked out of the store very happy.

Needless to say, the rest of the weekend -- aside from WoW and a birthday dinner -- was spent playing with the gadgets. In retrospect, it's amazing I spent any time in the game at all!