Forget Wii. Here's a truly wee role-playing game



Sean Howard has been receiving a lot of (deserved) attention for his Three Hundred project, in which he aims to write up 300 original game mechanics in 300 days.

Today's mechanic is number 22: Tiny Quest. The mechanic would be an entire RPG game the size of a banner advertisement, used to advertise a website.
My criteria was that it had to be both a game and a banner. That is, it's primary purpose was to advertise the website and to be compact and quick loading such that others could put it on their webpage with minimal effort. It was supposed to be a game second - something that you could play that would provide a deep and interesting experience. Small in size only.
Sean's description of how such a game would work is detailed and comprehensive, and the way in which he provides a blue-print for adapting RPG standards (inventory screens, stat screens, turn-based combat) to such a small area is pretty ingenious.

Of course, this is all game design theory. If someone were to create a game like Tiny Quest, however, it would probably be - in terms of pixels displayed on screen -the smallest RPG ever made. Yup: wee-er than any Wii title.

The link again: Mechanic #22: Tiny Quest.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:36 PM |

LotR Online Boss: Cash for items not out of the question



Eurogamer spoke to Turbine executive producer Jeffrey Steefel yesterday about the development of a "secondary market" for Lord of the Rings Online. The term "secondary market" refers to the exchange of game characters, items and coinage for real-world money.
"The 'secondary market' is a huge topic of conversation across the industry, and we're watching it really closely," Steefel told Eurogamer. "Our position is pretty straightforward right now. Our responsibility is to the subscribers of the game, to deliver to them the experience they expect. So we certainly do not support people farming or taking advantage of the system in that way. It's against our Terms of Service and we do try and enforce that."

"But, we all know that something will happen in the next two to five years to business models in general, so we're paying attention to what's going on; watching what's going on with Sony Station whose servers support and manage this."
Steefel concluded that, while there were no plans to introduce a secondary market into LotR Online in the foreseeable future, Turbine would keep a close eye on other secondary markets to see how they perform.

One such secondary market is Station Exchange, an official service provided by Sony for the auctioning of Everquest II characters, items and coinage. The justification is that this allows gamers with less free time than others to experience the full reaches of the game's content. The counter-argument is that the secondary market rewards players with more money, rather than players with greater skill, or who devote more time and effort to the game.

You can read the whole interview over at Eurogamer. So, what do you think? Is cash for in-game advantage a fair system?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:54 PM |

Final Fantasy IV [DS]: New Japanese cinematic trailer



RPG fans who've managed to get their hands on a DS are getting spoilt today, aren't they?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:20 PM |

Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart strikes fear into the hearts of RPG developers everywhere

"It used to be fine to make an RPG that was just wandering around and hacking things up with the player having very little effect on the world around them. Why play that game now if you could just play a MMO?"

Feargus Urquhart has warned RPG developers that they need to focus on what makes the genre unique or risk losing out to the exploding MMORPG industry.

"I think those of us that make non-MMO RPGs need to look at what a single-player/small multiplayer RPG can do that MMOs can't and spend our time and effort on those things", Urquhart said.


Read the full interview at CVG.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:02 PM |

Naruto's first RPG set to hit North America



And not just metaphorically hit, as in arrive, but we're talking a real, ninjitsu-style punch. The game is Naruto: Path of the Ninja - the first Naruto title to make its way onto the Nintendo DS for North America.

Careen Yapp, VP of licensing and business development, said: "Some of the best elements from all the Japanese Naruto RPG releases will be utilized to create an exclusive and unique game that no one has ever seen!"

You'd think he got paid to say that kind of thing.

Worthplaying has eight screens. To me, it all looks a little too cute to give off a bad-ass ninja vibe, but I guess all DS titles have to be cute, right?

Spotted at: Worthplaying.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:47 PM |

Today's Quick News

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:18 PM |

BioShock writer tells us a story



Susan O'Connor, who worked as a writer on RPG influenced genre-bender BioShock, has been interviewed at Ars Technica about her experiences writing for games. The interview is part of an excellent three part series covering the importance of story in games.

Part I - Advancing the art of storytelling
Ken Levine is designing Bioshock, a game that draws on the work of Ayn Rand for its story and setting. He may be painting in broad strokes here, but his brutal take on game writers has the ring of truth to it. "Most video game people have read one book and seen one movie in their life, which is Lord of the Rings and Aliens or variations of that," Levine told MTV News, adding, "There's great things in that, but you need some variety."
Part II - Challenges of interactive story-telling
I've always adored the writing in the original Fallout 1 & 2 games from years ago: so many bits and pieces that there was no way to find every piece of the story in a single play through. The Lesbian Library especially stood out as a hallmark of absurdist comedic brilliance. Massive multiplayer games afford the opportunity to expand what Fallout poked its nose into. The trick is to have the means; WoW is a PC application only right now. Though massively popular, it's still not as far-reaching as could be on a console, once consoles can handle those sorts of server loads.
Part III - Creating character with Susan O'Connor

My readers will kill me if I don't at least try: is there anything you can tell us about Bioshock that we don't already know? It has to be exciting to work on a game that has so much buzz behind it.

Bioshock is history for me. I am already heads-down on my next project. It's all in Ken's hands now. And if I breathed a word, he would kill me.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:14 PM |

Blogging Ultima

Via GameSetWatch comes a link to this interesting project: Blogging Ultima, in which gamer Ophidian Dragon "blogs his way through the entire Ultima series, from beginning to end." He's currently working through Ultima VII. Here's an excerpt from the project's introduction:
Welcome to what will presumably be a long-running Ultima blog. The purpose is to blog the experience of playing the now-defunct Ultima series by Origin Systems (plus a few other names here and there) from beginning to end. I will be including all the non-remake spin-offs that I am aware of, under the theory of "If I'm gonna do it, might as well go all the way." I am not blogging as if I am a character in the game, or giving reviews. I'm going to write about the process of playing, the annoying things, the fun things, and the assorted mental musings that arise from any long-term activity.
Anyone who's played an Ultima game will get a kick out of Ophidian Dragon's observations. Those who haven't will probably come away wanting to experience these titles for themselves - all of which are pieces of role-playing games history.

The format could probably by applied similarly to any other series of games, or perhaps not restricted to a particular series, but simply what the blogger is playing at the moment, and their reactions to it. Let me know if you get something started and I'll add a link on the site.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 6:31 PM |

Alter Ego: avatars and the gamers behind them



Alter Ego: Avatars and their creators is a unique book concept containing 70 pairs of images - one of an online avatar, and one of the gamer behind the avatar. Each image set is accompanied by a profile of the gamer. These can be pretty fascinating.

New Scientist has a slideshow of some images accompanied by narration from the author. The gamer above is Choi Seang Rak, a university professor from South Korea. His in-game character is a little girl - purportedly so he can get higher prices for items he sells.

While a number of the avatars are from Second Life, there are quite a few from World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs too. You can have a look at the book, Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators, at Amazon.

Spotted at Game Girl Advance.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:00 PM |

Fallout 3: last teaser art revealed, expect [spoiler] trailer [/spoiler] next week


Feast your eyes, folks, on the last piece of teaser art for Fallout 3. It seems as if there's this unspoken rule in the world that all post-apocalyptic imagery must feature a juxtaposition of ruined iconic landmarks with urban desolation. But hey, I'm not complaining - I like it.

You may have noticed that the bottom left-hand corner of F3's official site reads TEASER: 06. Our wild speculation as to what this cryptic phrase could mean has been mercifully cut short by Bethesda's VP of Public Relations and Marketing, Pete Hines. He's dropped a bombshell on several gaming media outlets, revealing that in six days, when the TEASER count-down reaches zero, a trailer for the game will appear on the site.

Thank you, Pete. Now our minds can be free of the torturous puzzle that has plagued us: plagued us ever since the site began its mysterious count-down to an unknown future.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:49 PM |

Lionhead fan site interviews Fable 2's Dene Carter


Here's what Carter had to say about the mood of the game:
I think that one of the nice things we did in Fable 1 was there was always kinda a bit of a flip-flop in the story between things that are actually very very dark - things that happened to your family in Fable 1 were quite horrific - and there was a lot of quite silly content as well. I think this time because the graphical fidelity is going to be quite a lot higher, and our characters much more emotional, they’re going to be much more believable, we just don’t, if you look at the graphics themselves, can’t quite get away with things being quite so silly and campy all the time.

I think it’s not so much that we’re actively going for something which is deliberately a lot darker, necessarily events will be no more or less tragic than they were in Fable 1, but our delivery of it is certainly going to seem a lot darker because that sense of, well, that extra level of detail which will make things seem not more realistic, specifically, a lot more - compelling.
Even if you're not so into the Fable series, it's worth it for the facial expressions. Here's my favourite, captured by someone who commented on the story.

Woah. Dude. Calm down.

Those stuck in dial-up land can read a transcript of the interview at the Lionhead fan site.*

*Crazy eyes not included.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:27 PM |

Quick News

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:07 PM |

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates, new trailer + scans



DS Fanboy has five new scans of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates, Square Enix's upcoming roleplaying game for the Nintendo DS. The scans are from Japanese magazine Famitsu.

You can also watch a new trailer for the game over at Joystiq.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 5:42 PM |

New Mass Effect screens, interview


Its been a good day for those following Mass Effect with the release of four new screenshots and a piece of concept art over at Worthplaying. BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have also been interviewed at CVG, just a few days after reps from the website were treated to an eyes-on preview of the game.

Here's a snippet of what Ray Muzyka had to say about the game:
In Mass Effect like in all BioWare games we're focusing on the story, the character and amazing digital actors. We're focusing on making really accessible, fun action combat. We've got exploration, the galaxy map, uncharted worlds and your own rover to drive around in.

There's also customisation options; the way you change yourself, the way you customise your characters at the start of the game and who you bring with you on your travels.

All of those aspects of the game are being developed in parallel. Right from the start they were part of the original vision of the game, so they're not separate elements, they're a unified whole. So we're not building separate parts of the building together, we're sort of chaining them together. You really feel compelled to go from a story area to an exploration area, to combat.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:31 AM |

Quick News

Sources (in order): RPG Planet, Worthplaying, Kotaku, RPG Watch.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:23 AM |

Impending re-design

Yeah, I'm already working on another layout for the site. I know, what, we've had this one for like... 2 minutes? But it looks special. If all goes to plan, things should look brand spanking new tomorrow night.

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:19 AM |

People are talking

Some interesting roleplaying games analysis from around the web:

PVP and the Honorable Enemy
@ Got Game?
Gaming academic Andrew Phelps discusses honor (or the lack thereof) in World of Warcraft.

Dialoging @ Frog Blast the Vent Core
Suibhne places Mass Effect's cinematic dialogue system beneath his analytical microscope.

MMORPGs Dead; Pheonix Arise! @ Gamers With Jobs
H. P. Lovesauce proclaims MMORPGs dead and charts a map for their resurrection.

Not Good vs. Evil, Please! @ ProjectPerko
Craig Perko argues against morality sliders and large, open-ended gameworlds.

Danger! @ Patsquinade
BioWare developer Patrick Weekes talks Mass Effect, danger, and... S&M?

RPG Mechanics 'n Stuff @ Joshin' Around
Obsidian developer J. E. Sawyer talks about the strange evolution of game-mechanics in RPGs.

The Real Secret to WoW's Success? @ Game Matters
You can get to the top without having to be social, says Scott Miller.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:44 AM |

Deus Ex vs. BioShock: the moral question of children in games


Kotaku has tapped into an interesting debate around the presence of Little Sisters in FPS/RPG/Adventure/+ more hybrid BioShock. In the game, the Little Sisters look like (or are) little girls who run around stealing the life essence (Adam) from dead bodies. This life essence is useful to your character, and the game will give you the opportunity to claim it from the Little Sisters.

While you won't be able to harm them with weapons, you will have to choose whether to save the Little Sisters or "harvest" the life essence from them. This second process will leave them dead.

The Cult of Rapture has interviewed Irrational Games' Director Ken Levine about the moral implications of this. If you're interested in the story, read it at Kotaku, where you can download the podcast interview.

This poses an interesting question: even if the Little Sisters aren't human, do we still want to give gamers the option to take the life of something which looks like a child?

Strangely enough, I remember shooting one of the kids in Deus Ex. I can't remember if the kid died or just went 'Unconscious', but you could certainly shoot him. And it didn't create any kind of moral kerfuffle in the wider gaming world at all. In its sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, it's actually quicker to beat the game if you shoot a kid in a certain place:
42. Templar Compound - This route is shortest. I shoot at the kid because he talks to you otherwise. I shoot the turret through the wall. (thanks sewerat) Run through.
That's part of Peter Snyder's speed run of Deus Ex 2.

Make of that what you will.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:14 AM |

Mass Effect Revelation: the book review?


There are those looking forward to BioWare's upcoming sci-fi RPG, Mass Effect. Then there are those dedicated enough to buy its prequel book, Mass Effect: Revelations, written by the game's lead writer, Drew Karpyshyn.

SF Signal has posted a review of the book, saying that as a stand-alone science fiction novel it was fairly run-of-the-mill, but its use increased when consumed as background material to the game.
But, not all is negative. As I said, the setting is king here, and aside from not going into too much detail, it is rather interesting, if already used; an ancient race has vanished leaving caches of high technology lying around for the newer races to fight over. Bioware has given it their own twists and it should be an interesting setting to run around in. Karpyshyn also, as stated before, does a nice job on fleshing out Saren, who will be a prominent character in the game. He hates humans, and you find out why and you get a taste of his obsessiveness and ruthlessness from the book.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 8:52 AM |

This Week's Highlights

Another week draws to a close. Here are the best posts from this week at RPG Blog:

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:33 PM |

Blizzard files lawsuit against gold-seller


A statement from Eyonix, an official Blizzard Poster in the WoW forums:
Blizzard has filed a federal lawsuit against the operators of Peons4hire, a popular gold-selling organization which many of you have no doubt seen advertised. As part of the lawsuit, the operators of Peons4hire have been asked to immediately cease all in-game spamming efforts by all entities and websites under their control.
From the thread 'Gold Spam: Our Continued Efforts'. Read it here.

(Spotted at RPG Planet)

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 3:34 PM |

You know it's true: Charisma is a dump stat


When was the last time you made a character with Charisma as their highest attribute? Never, that's when. Why? Here are a few reasons.
  • It's generally the last attribute to fill in on the character stats screen.
  • Most people aren't quite sure what Charisma is, exactly.
  • Those that do know it's a combination of how likeable your character is, and their looks.
  • It's hard to see how this might be of any assistance at all in the heat of battle. As opposed to, say, strength, which has obvious benefits (read: skull crushing).
  • Your character avatar is likely to be ridiculously good-looking anyway.
  • If it isn't a dump stat, it's likely to be amongst those attributes you leave at 10.
  • I believe these should be referred to as the 'Meh' attributes.
It seems redundant. More often than not, you can choose your character avatar. You might have a crappy Charisma stat, but then your avatar looks like Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp, so what's the point. If the game is worth its salt then how well your character is liked will depend on how you handle yourself in dialogue.

I think there's a compelling argument to get rid the Charisma attribute all-together.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:32 PM |

The Mass Effect Game Hub is live


The Mass Effect Game Hub contains links to a synopsis of the game's premise, screenshots, concept art, previews, videos, and useful links for those interested in the game. If you're not an expert on BioWare's upcoming Sci-Fi RPG, you will be after visiting its game hub.

The above video is a trailer of the game from the X06 event last year. There's nothing like a bit of footage to get a game's feel across, don't ya think?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:48 PM |

Eternal Sonata: trailer no. 2



Eternal Sonata (formerly Trusty Bell) is a unique Japanese RPG with a beautiful premise. The second trailer for the game was released yesterday, and you can watch it above. For those unfamiliar with the game, here's a little bit about its story:
The story takes place in a dream world which centers around the piano composer Frédéric Chopin, who died at the age of 39 due to tuberculosis. The plot centers around the concept that three hours prior to his death, Chopin dreamed of a fairy-tale land, in which people with incurable diseases have great magical powers. (source)
The game also promises to feature a combat system based on musical elements and character-unique special attacks.

Eternal Sonata has been officially announced for the XBOX 360, but the ESRB website has listed it as being rated Teen for the Playstation 3, too.

Perhaps it's the whole 'impeding death' theme that earnt it the big T rating. It sounds far too sweet to be naughty in any other way. Chopin dropping the F bomb, for example.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:29 AM |

Today's News Round-up

Sources: Worthplaying, RPG Watch.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:28 AM |

Mass Effect Game Hub


Mass Effect is a Sci-Fi action-RPG under development by BioWare (Jade Empire, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) exclusively for the XBOX 360. No release date has been announced as yet.

Find Posts / Premise / Screenshots / Concept Art / Previews / Videos / Useful Links



Find Posts:
Find all articles and news items at RPG Blog relating to Mass Effect by clicking this link.

Premise:

As one of the first human beings to step onto the galactic stage, you face a grave threat that may destroy all of civilization. Your job is complicated by the fact that no one believes that there is any threat at all. Travel across an expansive universe, exploring the uncharted corners of the galaxy, searching for pieces of the truth in order to discover how to defeat the coming destruction.

  • Explore uncharted worlds: Uncover a mystery that defies imagination as you travel to the far corners of the universe. Visit unexplored planets, finding side quests that unfold parallel to the main story. Discover alien life, new resources, ruined civilizations, and powerful technologies.
  • Fight in real-time: Mass Effect features a real-time, squad-based, tactical combat system. Enjoy intense and exciting third-person action as you face off against your enemies. Engage your foes with ranged weapons, biotic powers, science-based magic, and tech powers, all accompanied by astonishing visuals.
  • Customize your character: Build a stunning, photo-realistic character, expanding your skills and statistics as you progress. Utilize a deep reward system as you travel further afield and discover more about the coming invasion. Change the appearance of your characters with the additions of newly discovered weapons, equipment, and armor to make each one truly unique.
  • Experience the next generation: Mass Effect takes full advantage of Xbox 360 hardware, providing players with photo-realistic high definition graphics, amazingly realistic characters, branching dialogue with A.I. responses, and a massive universe to explore. As the future of gaming continues to expand online, look for premium downloads on Xbox LIVE®. [BioWare]
Screenshots & Concept Art:
Screenshots at IGN, Screenshots at TeamXBOX, Screenshots at The Mass Effect Community, Screenshots at Voodoo Extreme, Screenshots at GameSpy, Screenshots at GameSpot, Screenshots at FiringSquad, Concept Art at GameBanshee, Concept Art at Xboxyde, Concept Art at GWN.

Previews (click to read):
Added 27th of May: Preview at TeamXBOX, Preview at GameSpy, Preview at IGN, Preview at 1UP.

Videos:
Useful Links:
Think your link should be here? Place a link to RPG Blog anywhere on your site, contact me with your site's URL and I'll add it.

Official
Unofficial

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:27 AM |

Soccer RPG might be the world's first


Monumental Games is planning to release an MMORPG in which you control, of all things, a soccer player. The game is Football Superstars, and here's what IGN had to say about its premise:
You control a player and develop his or her career, with the chance to advance from a scrub at the lowest level all the way to stardom. To do so, you must train, develop your talent, learn new skills and employ your abilities both on and off the field. If you perform well in matches and elsewhere, your status in the virtual world may even rival Beckham's in the real one.
If you're interested, read RPG Vault's interview with its Creative and Community Director, Steve Marshall.

I think it might just work. Soccer is, after all, the world's most widely followed game. That's a lot of potential buyers.

It's interesting to see how role-playing is ever-increasingly being applied to settings you might never have imagined. It seems more and more developers are realizing the benefits of RPG gameplay.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:26 AM |

May 26: Quick News

  • IGN test out an upcoming Japanese RPG for the XBOX360, Blue Dragon.
  • NMA-Fallout has confirmed Jeremy Soule did not write the score for Fallout 3.
  • IGN previews the Blademaster and Guardian classes of Hellgate: London.
  • CD Projekt's final piece on the development of The Witcher is up.
  • MMORPG.com has 7 new screens of The Lord of the Rings Online.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:17 AM |

When fans and developers come out to play


Game developers tend to be secretive, isolated beings - at least when they're working on highly anticipated titles. The people behind Fallout 3, however, seem to be breaking with tradition on this point.

The 'Meet The Devs' topic at the Bethesda Softworks forums has entered its ninth incarnation (each incarnation is closed after reaching 200 posts, so we can estimate there's been over a thousand posts so far). In it, fans post questions and the game's developers answer. Of course, they're not giving away anything about Fallout 3, but it is interesting to learn more about the design process, influences, and so on. Even Todd Howard (above), who is producing the title, stopped by the forums to say a few words. Quite a few, actually. Here's a little snippet:
I think I know what it feels like to adopt kids now, because we adopted Fallout and for the last 3 years we have been doing our best to care for it, and now I love it like it had been our child forever; and soon, very soon, we can show him to the world again. I think he’s got something to say, and I think it’s important.
Those of you keeping tabs on Fallout 3 will find the thread an interesting read, but I think it has significance for all gamers. I believe developers can and should engage with fans far more than they do. The 'Meet the Devs' initiative is a little step in the right direction.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:12 AM |

Friday Link-tacular


Think you know video games?
Ahuh.

Want to learn more about stocks? Not really. You're turning me off.

The premise of simExchange is ingenious, though. It's a fantasy stock market of sorts, but rather than buying stocks you buy games. Your profits depend on how many titles other gamers buy, and so does the worth of each title. Here's what Dusty Gamer had to say about his experiences so far:
I signed up immediately to see how I could do, focusing on the Xbox 360 titles. What’s in it for me? Nothing but bragging rights and satisfaction if I do well. It is fascinating, though. The prices of titles seem to be very well in line with their expectations, for the most part. I could immediately see several as of yet under appreciated titles I could get for cheap, confident in knowing that their price will go up.
According to CNET the simExchange is resulting in some remarkably accurate predictions of video game sales. I wonder if game developers have started to keep tabs on it?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:04 AM |

Pokemon Battle Revolution: trailer and screens


I realize I've neglected covering Wii roleplaying games, and for that I apologize. Perhaps it's jealousy. I don't own a Wii, thus it's unlikely I'll ever be blessed with the opportunity to play these titles. Perhaps it's bias - a bias against games in which small, made-up animals cause grevious bodily harm to each other in new and inventive ways. Perhaps it's because there just aren't that many RPGs being released for Wii consoles. Who can say?

I've always been a little confused about Pokemon after seeing the movie. The first one, I mean. I thought the message was something along the lines of: all this battling is futile and will never end, let's stop and be happy. But then it turned out it was all a dream and the main characters and pokemon promptly forgot about the wonderful moment of clarity they'd had. And then Bandai made about a hundred more movies/games.

The latest of these is Pokemon Battle Revolution for the Wii, and Worthplaying has some new screens and a trailer of the game from Nintendo's Media Summit 2007. Which was the whole point of the post, and I apologize for the ranting above.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:15 PM |

The Last Remnant: new scans


JeuxFrance.com is offering 17 scans of Square Enix's new RPG, The Last Remnant. Stylistically, it seems very similar to the Final Fantasy games. Fans of that series will be pleased, those hoping for something a little different might be disappointed.

There's no doubt what Square Enix are thinking: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:47 PM |

Speedruns and role-playing games: strange bedfellows


You probably know what a role-playing game is. If you don't, you're most likely wondering how you got here, what your name is, and where you live.

Some of you might not know what a speedrun is. Those that do, skip to the next paragraph. Those that don't, here's what you need to know: dedicated/crazed gamer beats a game in the shortest time possible, records the experience on video, then uploads it to the web.

I call RPGs and speedruns strange bedfellows because, well, we all know RPGs don't lend themselves to a quick breeze-through. They tend to be plot-heavy, feature long dialogue sequences, random items, random monsters, and even randomly generated terrain. You can see how all these elements might muck up a speedrunner's hours of planning. And yet, still, they find a way.

You can watch the original Baldur's Gate completed in just over 30 minutes, or FPS/RPG hybrid Deus Ex conquered in just under an hour and a half. Someone has managed to beat Diablo in six minutes and seven seconds, while Diablo II's fastest speed-run is an hour and 53 minutes. Fallout? Just under ten minutes. Fallout 2? A little longer, at 17:51. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind? Seven-and-a-half minutes.

There are plenty of other RPG speed runs at at SpeedDemosArchive.com. You can download a DivX video of the run to see how they did it.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:34 AM |

Quick News

WorthPlaying has 16 new screens of Twilight: After the Fall - a post-apocalyptic MMORPG.

The Fable 2 video diary is available at WorthDownloading. You can grab the trailer there too - if you haven't already seen it.

The second Q & A session with Obsidian is up at RPG Vault. The topic? Neverwinter Nights 2.

Chance Thomas, who composed the soundtrack to the Lord of the Rings Online, has been interviewed at IGN.

Action-RPG Dawn of Mana (PS2) has hit the stores.

There's a new Dungeons & Dragons update at WotC. It's an article called Tactics and Tips: The Forgotten Grimoire, Part Three, and deals with the spells Fabricate, Animate Rope and Shrink Item.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:15 AM |

From Interplay to Bethesda


Michael Zenke has written a feature on the history of the Fallout series for The Escapist Magazine. Avid fans will notice that his attribution is not quite right: though Black Isle was the development studio for the original Fallout games it was a sub-branch of publisher Interplay.

It doesn't really make sense to refer to the development branch rather than the publisher (Black Isle) and then to the publisher of the current title (Bethesda). As a journalism student I guess I can see how the temptation to pick alliteration over accuracy may have been too strong to ignore. But it does look like someone has hit up Fallout's Wikipedia entry and taken it a little too literally.

If you're hungry for Fallout info it's worth a read. The Escapist also has a piece on first-person-shooter with roleplaying elements S.T.A.L.K.E.R called 'Worlds from the Zone'.

(Spotted on: RPG Watch)

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:10 AM |

Quick News

Indie RPG pioneer Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software chats to IGN Vault about his upcoming title Nethergate: Resurrection.

Craig Mullins, Fallout 3 concept artist, speaks about the use of pre-existing images in creating concept art. (Source: NMA Fallout)

Worthplaying offers a trailer and ten new screens of FPS/RPG hybrid Hellgate: London.

Hellgate: London developer Bill Roper interviewed at Play.tm. (Source: RPG Watch)

Mythological action-RPG Loki goes gold in Germany. (Source: Worthplaying)

Strategy/RPG hybrid Dark Messiah of Might & Magic: Elements will be ported exclusively to XBOX 360. The new version will feature improved stability and updates. (Source: Worthplaying)

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:37 AM |

New Fallout 3 concept art

With 13 days to go until the release of the Fallout 3 trailer Bethesda have unveiled a new piece of concept art on the official site's splash page. The setting is a ruined 50s-style strip-mall called Paradise Falls.

Mad Max has always been an inspiration for the Fallout series and its influence is pretty hard to miss here. I stayed in Coober Pedy (the outback South Australian town where Mad Max was shot) in 2004 and it strongly reminds me of the surrounds there.

Coober Pedy's brief popularity with tourists during the 80s was largely due to the release of Mad Max and its dubious status as "Opal capital of the world" (opals have since become unfashionable and are rarely mined). The town seems to have died a slow death since then and is thus more stylistically 80s than 50s, but the ruined metal-work, the red dirt and washed-out colors are all still there.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 5:24 PM |

Quick News

JoWood has announced it will be bringing its Gothic series to consoles. Having split from developers Pirahna Bytes (due to issues with the quality and stability of their development work) it is now searching for a major development studio to bring Gothic 4 to PC and Consoles in future. [Source: Worthplaying]

Gamasutra are offering a 6 page feature on what makes a good player character (and what doesn't). Roleplayers will like this one. [Source: Gamasutra]

Those who play The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on PC might be interested in the new Deadly Reflex mod, which ads new combat moves and the ability to decapitate your enemies. The file is causing a right buzz within the TES community and can be downloaded at 3DGamers [Source: RPG Watch]

The Neverwinter Nights 2 Team Q&A is up at IGN Vault. Jonric quizzes them about their favorite aspects of NWN2 here. [Source: RPG Vault @ IGN]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:39 PM |

Dialogue in RPGs

RPG Codex's Vault Dweller has interviewed Brian Mitsoda (working on Obsidian's Project Georgia), J. E. Sawyer (Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights 2), Scott Bennie (Fallout, Star Trek: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary) and David Gaider (Baldur's Gate 2, Knights of the Old Republic) on dialogue in role-playing games.

It's a fascinating and detailed interview. Rarely do we get the chance to pick developers' brains on such a specific and important topic. Make yourself a cup of coffee and give it a read.

Here's a tiny snippet, in which David Gaider talks about what gamers want from NPCs:
I think in order for a character to be memorable you have to strike a balance between entertainment value and usability. The last thing that a player wants, I think (and I’ve learned this over time) is characters that whine, complain or are critical of the player in any way and characters that exist solely to talk about themselves. I think we’re past that point, now.
Source: RPG Codex

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 4:56 PM |

Lionhead.net interviews Peter Molyneux

Who is Peter Molyneux? The brains behind Fable, and the upcoming Fable 2. You can watch a video of the interview or read the transcript. In it, Peter reflects on the games he has created, their strengths and failings, Fable 2's innovative combat system, NPCs, and Project X.

Here's an interesting quote from the interview, talking about gameplay in Fable 2:
... Fable 1, I think, one of the criticisms which I heard from Fable 1 [fans] which we saw ourselves, you had the hero bit, and the fighting bit, and then you had the simulation bit. And they kind of almost felt like two seperate games. And you’ll find much more that it feels like they’re pulled together. I still quite like the idea that I can take, you know, if I don’t want to go adventuring today I’m not forced to go, there’s not just gameplay in adventuring, there must be gameplay in the simulation. So I quite like the idea that I can control when I’m a hero and when I’m not.
Source: RPG Dot

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 4:41 PM |

The Last Remnant official site confirms Japanese RPG's characters will be effeminate, have strange hair-styles


Square Enix's upcoming RPG title The Last Remnant, if the website splash screen is to be believed, will offer gamers several things:
  • Grandeur and elegance.
  • The fact that it has been developed with 'the highest peak of technology in mind'.
  • An effeminate character with blue hair and a lavender sash.
  • A fierce warrior character who appears to have bought Britney Spears' blonde locks from eBay and fashioned himself a wig out of them.
  • Dodgy synth orchestral compositions.
But judging by their track record, probably some awesome gameplay, too.

Source: Joystiq

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 6:35 PM |

Play MMORPGs?

Then you need to watch this excerpt of a documentary on the booming (and exploitative) g.old farming industry in China, rife within popular MMORPGs. These 'professional gamers' are paid a pittance to perform repetative tasks within MMORPGs for the in-game g.old/item rewards. These items are then sold to Western gamers for real money.

I've noticed that since I've started posting about WoW this site has displayed a number of ads offering farmed g.old. I can't control what's displayed but I'd suggest you watch this clip before clicking on such links (or buying farmed gold anywhere else).



Visit the project website.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 4:34 PM |

Good Game + Good Story = Bliss


Interested in writing for games? PJ's Attic has released an open source white paper on games and story-telling models. RPGs, story-centric as they are, feature heavily throughout the article. Here's an excerpt from what it has to say about RPG classic Ultima VII: The Black Gate:
Ultima VII: The Black Gate contained a central plot line, with each town having its own subplot as well. A dedicated player could spend incredible amounts of time solving every mystery and clearing every dungeon, while another might focus exclusively on the interactions which lead directly to the end game. The information gathered regarding your companions by taking the more detailed approach led to a deeper understanding of your character's role in the world's history, thus increasing their awareness of the complexity and depth of the plot.
The article also discusses Knights of the Old Republic, World of Warcraft and several non-RPGs (Half Life, for example).

Source: RPG Watch

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 4:11 PM |

I want an Orc on my Visa

Yep. You read it correctly. Visa have released a series of World of WarCraft themed credit cards. Which you can then use to buy WoW gold online. Or whatever someone with a WoW themed credit card would buy.

The card apparently benefits users with bonus game time, with 1% of every dollar you spend with the card going towards gaming credit.
Accrue World of Warcraft gametime at the rate of 1% of every dollar in qualifying purchases. The World of Warcraft Rewards Visa is the only card that pays you to play.
Now WoW gamers can be more addicted than they already are.

OK, no more WoW jokes/posts for the rest of the day.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:27 PM |

NMA profiles Sharon Shellman, Fallout developer

No Mutants Allowed, a wonderful Fallout resource, has profiled Sharon Shellman, who worked on Fallout 1 and 2.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:36 PM |

Blades of Exile source code released


Older RPG fans will remember Blades of Exile by Spiderweb software, a top-down isometric sprite based role-playing game (gasps for air) from way back in 1997. The game is so old that its source code is now being offered for fans to tinker with, free. So, a little piece of RPG history has died its commercial death and passed into the hands of its users.

Let me know if you see anything interesting done with the source code.

In other news: the World of Warcraft gamer hub is now live. It contains a whole lot of reviews, guides, links, and so on. If you play WoW then I think you'll find it a useful resource.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 6:30 PM |

World of Warcraft Game Hub

World of Warcraft is a pay-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. It was released for PC in 2004 and has since garnered positive reviews, awards, and a massive fan-base of over 8.5 million subscribed users.

Find Posts / Premise / Screenshots / Concept Art / Reviews / Game Guides / Maps / Useful Links



Find Posts:
Find all articles and news items at RPG Blog relating to World of Warcraft by clicking this link.

Premise:
Four years have passed since the aftermath of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, and a great tension now smolders throughout the ravaged world of Azeroth. As the battle-worn races begin to rebuild their shattered kingdoms, new threats, both ancient and ominous, arise to plague the world once again. World of Warcraft is an online role-playing experience set in the award-winning Warcraft universe. Players assume the roles of Warcraft heroes as they explore, adventure, and quest across a vast world. Being "Massively Multiplayer," World of Warcraft allows thousands of players to interact within the same world. Whether adventuring together or fighting against each other in epic battles, players will form friendships, forge alliances, and compete with enemies for power and glory. A dedicated live team will create a constant stream of new adventures to undertake, lands to explore, and monsters to vanquish. This content ensures that the game will never be the same from month to month, and will continue to offer new challenges and adventures for years to come. [Blizzard Entertainment]

Screenshots & Concept Art:
Screenshots @ Blizzard.com, Screenshots @ GameSpy, Screenshots @ GameSpot, Screenshots @ PlanetWarcraft, Screenshots @ GameBanshee, Screenshots @ WoWVault, Concept Art @ PlanetWarcraft, Concept Art @ World of Warcraft Online.

Reviews (click to read):
Detroit Free Press (100/100), GameSpy (100/100), G4 TV (100/100), Boomtown (100/100), GameShark (100/100), Just Adventure (100/100), VideoGamesLife (100/100), Quandary (100/100), Gaming Age (100/100), Xequted (98/100), VGPub (97/100), Game Chronicles (96/100), Worthplaying (96/100), Warcry (96/100), Next Level Gaming (95/100), GameSpot (95/100), Game Informer (95/100), Pelit (95/100), RPG Fan (95/100), GameBiz (95/100), CVG (95/100), Jolt Online Gaming UK (94/100), IC-Games (94/100), Gaming Nexus (94/100), GamesRadar UK (93/100), Firing Squad (92/100), PC Format (92/100), eToy Chest (92/100), Gamers' Temple (92/100), Atomic Gamer (92/100), Loaded Inc. (91/100), Game Revolution (91/100), IGN (91/100), GameZone (91/100), PC Gamer (91/100), ActionTrip (91/100), PC GameWorld (91/100), Total Video Games (90/100), Computer Gaming World (90/100), GamerFeed (90/100), GamePro (90/100), Yahoo! Games (90/100), 2404.org (90/100), Sydney Morning Herald (90/100, Inside Gamer Online (90/100), 1UP (90/100), My Gamer (90/100), Armchair Empire (90/100), Gamers Europe (90/100), GamesTM (90/100), AceGamez (90/100), Edge Magazine (90/100), Play Magazine (88/100), netjak (86/100), 3DAvenue (82/100), Eurogamer (8/10), AltGaming (60/100).

Game Guides:
GameSpot Game Guide
Guides at WoW Vault
Official World of Warcraft Resource Page
Warlock Pet Succubus Tips
Druid Bear Form Tank Tips
Powerleveling and Gold Guides @ Free Warcraft Guides
World of Warcraft Guides @ GameGuides.com
World of Warcraft Guides @ Allakhazam
World of Warcraft Character FAQs @ GameFAQs
In-Depth FAQs @ GameFAQs
Topic Specific FAQs/Guides @ NeoSeeker
Character FAQs/Guides @ NeoSeeker

Maps:
MapWoW.com
WorldofWar.net Cartography
World Map at Blizzard.com
Area and Zone Maps at WoWGuru

Useful Links:

Official
Unofficial

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 3:28 PM |

Quick News

PC + Video Games:

Worthplaying has 35 new screens of Opoona, a 'life-style RPG' for the Wii, and 9 new screens of Eternal Sonata, an RPG produced exclusively for the XBOX 360, and 8 new screens of Loki, an action role-playing game in which you play four different heroes from world mythology.

Two Worlds for PC has been patched to version 1.3. You can download the patch from the Updates page at the official website.

BioWare's latest community newsletter is doing the rounds - if you're following either Mass Effect or Jade Empire it's worth a look.

GameInfoWire has new screens and info on Folklore, a dark fantasy RPG for the PS3.

HellGate Guru, a fan-site for FPS/RPG Hellgate: London, has uploaded four new videos, each showcasing a specific character class.

Tabletop:

The Dungeons & Dragons website has several offerings:

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:08 PM |

No 'World of Starcraft'... yet

Blizzard Entertainment has just announced that its next major project will be Starcraft 2 - a real-time strategy game. The official site is now live.

Don't think they won't make an MMORPG out of it, though. Warcraft was originally real-time strategy, too.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:03 PM |

Game Hubs Project

I'm hoping to add various game hubs to the site for popular RPGs. Each game hub will contain high quality game guides and links to the best fan-sites and content. It will contain content recommended by RPG-fans for RPG-fans. The hubs will be accessable via the links on the right (under Games) and via the Games menu link up the top.

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:11 PM |

Friday Q&A #1

How it works: use the comments form of this post to ask me any RPG-related question. Stuck in a particular area of Dungeon Seige? Ask me. Got a bug in the Shivering Isles? Ask me. Want to know what the average review score of Baldur's Gate 2 was? Ask me. And so on. If it's related to RPGs - even vaguely - I'll answer your question to the best of my abilities.

How you will get your answer: I'll answer all your questions in the next Friday Q&A post - next friday. That same post will be used to post the questions for next week.

I am well aware I may get no questions this week due to the fact that this blog is only a few days old, but I thought I might as well give it a crack, right?

// Below: ConceptArt.org, Deus Ex 3, Quick News.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:39 AM |

Friday Link-tacular

Poking around the web (as I often do of a friday) I stumbled upon a site which I think any person who appreciates fantasy/sci-fi will really like. The site is ConceptArt.org, and it contains a gallery of several hundred pieces of (really good) artwork. Some suggested uses:
  • Use a piece as concept art for your RPG character.
  • Inspiration for modders.
  • Inspiration for world-builders.
  • Motivate your inner artist to do something better.
  • Crush your inner artist in the belief that you could never do something better.
// Below: Deus Ex 3, Quick News.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:29 AM |

Deus Ex 3?


From IGN, 'Eidos Confirms Next Deus Ex':
US, May 17, 2007 - In a recent interview on French-language television station MusiquePlus the director of Eidos France, Patrick Melchior, revealed a new Deus Ex game is in the works. The revival of the franchise is the "first mission" of Eidos' new Montreal studio, currently made up of around 40 people.

Deus Ex is an action RPG series created by Warren Spector and Ion Storm and originally released by Eidos in 2000. The game received a sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, in 2003, but since then the series has been dormant. Ion Storm shut its doors in 2005, and Warren Spector is working on a game with his new Junction Point Studios. Details on this revival are not clear at this time, but Melchior says we can expect to hear more about the next Deus Ex game in a few months.
The original Deus Ex is close to my heart and still one of my Top 5 games. I was extremely disappointed by DX2, but would welcome any revival of the franchise. Yeah, there's a big chance it will suck. But there's also a slight chance it'll be great. And that's better than nothing, eh?

It seems like the FPS/RPG genre is enjoying something of a renaissance - and I'm not complaining.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:02 AM |

Quick News

IGN has new screens of The Witcher, an upcoming fantasy RPG.

The Mass Effect official site has made available Chapter 9 of its Revelation novel.

CVG has released three parts of its four-part 101 Best PC Games feature. A number of roleplaying titles have made the list, including NWN, Thief, and Vampire: Bloodlines. CVG is also offering a preview of Two Worlds.

RPG Vault interviews the Director and Assistant Manager of the development team working on the online RTS/RPG Darkness and Light. Read it here.

Want to work for BioWare? What you need: 1. Neverwinter Nights 1 Aurora Toolset, 2. The patience to create a NWN scenario from scratch, 3. The skill to do it well. Find out more.

Boomtown have posted an 8/10 score and a review for the TESIV: Oblivion expansion pack, Shivering Isles.

// Got a news tip? Let me know. ledriver at gmail dot com.

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:44 AM |

Are you addicted?

World of Warcraft players hold an in-game funeral for 'Snowly', the gamer who died at his computer after playing World of Warcraft for days on end.

Perhaps this is all old news, but I've just today discovered several sites out there dedicated to gamers with a World of Warcraft addiction. Two gamers have already died at their computers playing WoW.

World of Warcraft Detox is a volunteer-run web site aimed at people with a gaming addiction to World of Warcraft. You can post testimonials explaining your addiction or how you overcame it, or post a comparison between something you might achieve in WoW and something you might achieve in the real world. What's remarkable is that there are around 16,000 testimonials (or 665 pages). Here are some examples:
The other day in a conference i started talking wow speak to executives in an important buisness meeting and i missed my sons 10th birthday party because i couldnt leave the computer because i was half way through a karazhan raid. I pulled my graphics card out and broke it in half so that wow cant run on my onboard card so its strictly buisness now.. back to the real world

- - -
i lost my kids, my wife, and my house to WOW, now i live right next to an internet cafe in Anaheim, CA. and i beg people for money in order to eat and live the next day. I am posting this on one of the internet cafe computers. Please, never ever play this game.
Then there is WoW Recovery, another site dedicated to helping addicts. It's arguable that no other game in history has had this affect on its players. So what is it that makes WoW so addictive to so many people? Sure, it's a good game, but it must be more than that.

I believe there are several factors. Firstly, it's an RPG. It offers the opportunity to live a virtual life through your character. Secondly, it's never ending - there's no point where you 'beat' the game. Thirdly, advancement is incredibly slow-paced. Players who aim to reach the highest levels must pour hundreds of hours into the game. And fourth, the ease of communication and variety of activities you can undertake with other players means players develop relationships within the game that are hard to leave behind.

All this raises the question of whether Blizzard is at all responsible for not protecting gamers enough from this addiction. Of course, it's not really in their financial interests to do so.

It's this addiction that has them laughing all the way to the bank.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:03 PM |

about the author

Natasha is a political science student, a gamer, a writer, an armchair philosopher, and a geek. Her first cRPG was Castle of the Winds.

contact the author