Red Carpet I A Disturbance in the Force I WoW Moved to New Ground I European D&D I The Funky Space
Issue #53 See You Space Cowboy November 12, 2005

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Sometimes while looking around the internet, I find something that I can't believe. Today was one of those times. When I was growing up, I watched Star Trek passionately. I thought about what fun it would be to go into space, but the reality is that I wasn't cut out for anything that involved great heights. The loss of the Challenger space shuttle was also a big influence on rethinking my ambitions.

Now, through the world of online gaming, you or I can win a chance to take a suborbital space flight. Like many things these days, there's more than one way to win. SpaceShot and Virgin Galactic will be offering gaming competitions to decide who the lucky travelers are. It's a higher chance than winning the lottery, which is what it would have previously taken for someone like me to enjoy a spaceflight.

 Roll Out the Red Carpet

Ultima Online On Tuesday, the Acadamy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announced a new inductee into the AIAS Hall of Fame. Richard Garriott joins a list of who's who in the video gaming industry. Other members of the Hall of Fame include Hironobu Sakaguchi, Shigeru Miyamoto, Peter Molyneux, and Yu Suzuki. Ted Price, president of of Insomniac Games, had this to say about Mr. Garriott:

Richard Garriott has inspired countless game designers over the past 20 years and his influence can be seen in many of today's most popular games. He has become an icon inside and out of the games industry; because of his accomplishments and leadership within the field of interactive entertainment, Garriott deserves to be a member of the AIAS Hall of Fame.
Mr. Garriott is best known for creating and publishing the best-selling Ultima series, including the first commercially successful online game, Ultima Online.

 A Disturbance in the Force

Star Wars Galaxies Sony Online Entertainment seems displeased with the current numbers of Star Wars Galaxies. Drastic changes in the class system will occur November 15, in a move some are labeling a re-launch of the online Star Wars experience. Star Wars Galaxies was created as a place where someone could create a character in the Star Wars universe and live out their virtual lives experiencing what the universe had to offer. What they have found out is those that want to play a Star Wars game want it to be more like a movie, and less like real life. In response to this, the classes will be reduced from 33 to nine. The nine classes will be based off characters from the movies that almost anyone can recognize:

  • Jedi = Luke Skywalker
  • Officer = Princess Leia
  • Smuggler = Han Solo
  • Bounty Hunter = Boba Fett
  • Trader = Lando Calrissian
  • Spy = Leia as Bounty Hunter Boussh
  • Medic = 2-1B
  • Entertainer = Oola
  • Commando = Commander Cody

In a follow-up to last week's discussion about the speed of battle, the new style of battle is now labled "fast-action". The new system is four times faster than the current system, and it doesn't stop there. Weapons fire rapidly and movement speed has also been increased. The new style hopes to bring a new excitement to the game.

In another move to open the new style of Star Wars Galaxies to more players, SOE will also release a Starter Kit on November 22. The Starter Kit has an easier to use interface, and new content to experience the first 30 levels of the game.

This could be the first MMORPG I've seen in a while that boasted that the typical MMORPG experience is the last thing they want. However, I've watched the movies, and know that I don't have the skill to pilot an X-wing as well as half the people in the Star Wars movies. I play RPGs because there's more thought and less twitch required to win. I'd like to know if it's as fast as it sounds, and if I would even have a chance.

 The World of Warcraft Moves to New Ground

World of Warcraft Blizzard has announced that their worldwide hit World of Warcraft has exceeded 4.5 million players. Riding the wave of explosive growth, Blizzard has launched the title in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. These new customers can download the game from the Taiwan site. In order to secure the game in these regions, Blizzard has implemented a CD-key-based authorization system. Blizzard hopes this will keep problem players from hacking in and disrupting gameplay. The CD key comes with 20 free hours of play. To buy more time, point cards can be bought in 30 or 60 hours to spend at any time, or a monthly card to have unlimited hours during the month.

 Europe to Enjoy Dungeons & Dragons Online

Turbine Inc. has been working on their own deals to expand the influence of their upcoming Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach. Codemasters will be responsible for hosting, community management, technical support and billing for all European players when the game launches next year.

 The Funky Space

Entropia Last week I talked about the virtual space station sold in Project Entropia for $100,000. This week the proud owner, Mr. Jon Jacobs, revealed what plans he had for his new toy. Besides the typical tax on sales in the region, he says, "I want to operate this thing at the level of a major nightclub in a major city." He plans to hire big name DJ's once a week to make this happen.

Mr. Jacobs plans to make $20,000 a month from his space station, paying it off in just five months. Roughly $75,000 of the price for the space station came from his own funds, with the rest covered with in-game currency. I just hope he breaks even after all the publicity on this purchase. On the other hand, it does promote that people can play MMORPGs to not just make money, but good money, and I'm not ready to accept that.

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No one emailed questions, so my presumption was correct. That's okay, really. I know there's more than enough avenues to express your opinions, without the need to add another one here. Next week we will definately have some media, but I am looking for something other than Final Fantasy XI. I know you're out there.

And finally, I found a disturbing story about the death of an infant because its parents left it alone to play World of Warcraft. This is a sad story, but it's not in the column because it's not about gaming. As a father-to-be, I am not leaving my infant alone for a trip for milk, let alone to go play a game in a cybercafe. This isn't a story about gaming, it's a story about people who aren't ready or responsible enough to be parents.

Have fun,
Mikel Tidwell

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