Age of Something MMO? I Guild Wars Factions Championship
Second Guild Wars Expansion Preview at E3 I Tabula Rasa Beta Slots I Phantasy Star Universe Beta Slots
Martial Arts MMO I Everquest II Mystery I MMO VoIP
Spyware? No, WoW's new downloader I New WoW Servers I PvP and Online Funerals
Issue #59 Double the Fun April 12, 2006

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I apologize for my column's lateness last week. I had the column finished, but went to bed before finding someone to proofread it.

This week is an entirely different matter. It hasn't been that great a week for me. That and this column is the rare double-length column! Instead of the usual five to six articles, this week we have eleven!

I've noticed that I tend to have a much shorter intro than the other columnists. I should really fix that at some point. This week, however, it would just be a bunch of whining, so lets get on with the news instead.

 Age of Something MMO?

Ensemble Studios, makers of the Real Time Strategy series Age of Empires, has announced plans to make an MMO. Although they have not yet released any details about the MMO, it is a safe assumption that they will be capitalizing on the "Age of" name.

Executive Producer Patrick Hudson has commented that the company will be taking a break from the Age of Empires franchise.

Source: Next Generation

 Guild Wars Factions Championship

Guild Wars NCSoft and Arenanet have announced that the Guild Wars Factions World Championship will take place during the GC Game Convention in Leipzig, Germany on August 24-27.

From what I understand, it works like this. The Championship series takes place in three "seasons," which take place between March 7, 2006 and June 26, 2006. At the end of the Championship series, the top 16 guilds from each season will compete for Championship points. Of those, the top 5 guilds and the guild that wins the upcoming Championship Open Event will be awarded trips to the GC Game Convention, where they will compete for $100,000 (USD) in cash and prizes. The winning team will be responsible for designing the pins given out at Guild Wars events during the following year.

In related news, the Guild Wars Factions preview logged over half a million players and three million hours. Not bad for one weekend.

 Second Guild Wars expansion preview at E3

Guild Wars Continuing on with Guild Wars news, NCSoft will be previewing the second Guild Wars expansion at the 2006 E3. The as-yet-unnamed title will be shown alongside previews for NCSoft's other games, such as Tabula Rasa, Dungeon Runner, and Exteel.

 Tabula Rasa Beta Slots

NCSoft It has been a busy week over at NCSoft. NCSoft is offering Tabula Rasa Beta Test slots to the first 200 people who sign up for an additional month of Auto Assault after its release on April 13, 2006.

See the Beta Contest Official Rules and Conditions for restrictions.

Whether it's worth it or not is up to you. You may wish to consider that RPGamer does not cover Auto Assault, as we do not consider it an MMORPG.

 Phantasy Star Universe Beta Slots

Phantasy Star Universe Sega is looking for Japanese PC gamers to beta test Phantasy Star Universe. The Beta Test period appears to be quite short. The end date is April 17.

Of course, most people who read this column aren't Japanese. I reported on it anyway... because it was there.

Source: Game Spot

 Martial Arts MMO

Just after I started writing this column here at RPGamer, Acclaim announced a martial arts MMO named 9Dragons. I'm not sure how I missed it, but I am apparently not the only one; Joystiq posted about it earlier this week.

The 9Dragons site has a Beta Test application form, for those of you who are interested. Beta Test winners are expected to be notified this summer.

You can also check out a promotional video for the game.

 Everquest II Mystery

Everquest II A mysterious sticker was distributed at SOE's Fan Faire last week.

This mysterious message is supposed to explain the future of EverQuest 2. If you have any ideas as to what it says, email me!


Vivox, a relative newcomer to the Telecom market, is now marketing a VoIP product named Immersion at MMO players.

Immersion will be competing against other products, such as Ventrillo, Teamspeak, and XFire, unless it goes directly to the MMO developers.

It is not clear how the gaming haptics company Immersion will respond to the use of their name in this context. Immersion is a litigious company; it would not be a surprise if Vivox renamed their product to prevent any trademark issues.

Source: Joystiq

 Spyware? No, WoW's new downloader

World of Warcraft I was surprised earlier this week to find a program named BackgroundDownloader.exe running when I examined my computer's process list. Thinking it was spyware, I immediately killed it.

Searching on the Internet turned up some interesting results. It turns out that it's something new in World of Warcraft's 1.10 patch that was not mentioned in the patch notes. Much to the chagrin of those whose ISPs block BitTorrent, it is automatically turned on.

Turning it off in its options dialog does not work. Windows users can use some Registry tweaks to change settings; Mac users are out of luck until Blizzard gets around to fixing it.

 New WoW Servers

World of Warcraft Blizzard has recently started introducing new servers with improved hardware configurations in all zones.

Blizzard is also switching existing servers over to the new hardware configuration in small batches.

These fixes do not seem to affect the Authentication problems currently plaguing the game. The North America/Australia Authentication server had to be brought down for half an hour earlier today and still appears to be suffering from slowdowns.

Blizzard commented on Friday that a new Authentication system would be forthcoming. All I know is that millions of voices are crying out in anguish, but they aren't going to be silenced.

On another note, Blizzard has recently banned over 5,400 accounts and suspended 10,700 more accounts for using gold and item farming programs.

 PvP and Online Funerals

World of Warcraft By now, you've probably seen the WoW video (Warning: Contains strong language. RPGamer was not involved in the creation of this video) where the guild Serenity Now killed those attending an online funeral. I've been asked by other staff members to express my opinion of these events.

Before I start, I want to spell out a few WoW gameplay mechanics for those of you who don't play WoW.

  • Wow has 4 server types based on two settings
    1. Normal
      1. Player vs. Environment - Players can not attack other players unless they specifically allow it
      2. Player vs. Player - Players entering contested zones can be attacked
    2. Role Playing - Players are required to speak in character when speaking aloud, General chat channel is limited to finding storylines
      1. RP Player vs. Environment - Players can not attack other players unless they specifically allow it
      2. RP Player vs. Player - Players entering contested zones can be attacked
  • People from the Alliance can not understand people from the Horde and vice versa
  • There are five uncontested zones in the Horde areas and six uncontested zones in the Alliance areas. The Horde only have five because one of them is the single largest zone in the game. In addition, the three major cities on each side have their own zones. The starting zones are generally the nicest looking zones in the game
  • The funeral was on a PvP server
  • World of Warcraft tops out at level 60
  • With the exception of Winterspring and Un'Goro Crater, the high end zones are ugly. This is intentional
  • The zone in the video, Winterspring, is a level 55+ zone

Knowing the information above, I have no sympathy for the people attacked. Seriously. Knowing that you were on a PvP server, gathering a large number of people in a contested zone is asking for it. Even worse is the fact that they didn't seem to fight back once they were being attacked.

Winterspring does not hold a monopoly on nice locations. There are all sorts of nice locations in Horde territory. Here's a few that I came up with off the top of my head.

  1. Anywhere, Mulgore
  2. Any of the three Oases, The Barrens
  3. The island in Lake Lordamere, Silverpine Forest
  4. Almost everywhere (once you kill the enemies), Silverpine Forest

 Log Out

Surprisingly, even with eleven articles, this column could be longer yet.

Before I forget, assuming that there's no objections from the staff, this column will be officially moving to Tuesdays. Since most of my columns have been posted on Tuesdays, this isn't really a change.

Those few of you who have emailed me in the past I have responded to by email instead of posting your letters in the column. I apologize for that. I would like to start posting email messages sent to me. In case you forgot it, here's my email address. Send me stuff!

Ross "thinks that this column needs to be shorter" Bemrose

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