AoC to Have Festive Launch I Blizzard Store Opens
EVE Avatar Details I Disparaging Tales from China
O RLY? YA RLY! WoW for the Disabled I Media Grotto: Champions Screens

Issue #116 Hyborian Summer
May 8, 2008

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Welcome to MMORPGamer.

As finals descended on me these last two weeks, I was unable to make last week's column. With two weeks to pull from, I've got some great news this week.

  AoC to Have Festive Launch

Age of Conan

In Norway, a festive launch party will be taking place for Age of Conan. The audience will have a majority of press, but even some Norwegian fans will be able to get in on the action at the Nobel Peace center.

Bringing in the launch of the innovative title will be several events including a full movie theater showing of several features in the game, a death punk concert, a classical concert of the soundtrack, and a boat ride. If this extravaganza is any indication of the reception AoC devs plan for future events, I hope they bring some of to this side the Atlantic.

  Blizzard Store Opens

World of Warcraft

The official Blizzard online store has opened. Now, shoppers can purchase anything World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo they could dream of.

The visual design of the site is amazing. Everything is easy to see and interact with. There are even trailers to each of the games available here. I would never want them, but even the official World of Warcraft and Starcraft board games are available for purchase for those who would.

With everything from t-shirts to books and beyond, the shop is a scary place for anyone with plastic. I had to lock my credit card far away before even clicking on any of the links. Beware!

  EVE Avatar Details

EVE Online

As EVE Online developers continue work on Ambulation, more details have trickled out. Ambulation is the name for the process of creating avatars beyond the small picture EVE players now use.

New reports state that the avatars will be able to interact in new visual representations of current space stations. Now, players must use a menu-based system to navigate every space station's amenity. After Ambulation, avatars will be able to walk to their destination to retrieve missions, items, or socialize. Current players needn't worry, though. Everything currently available through menus will still be possible to access this way.

Also of interest is the development of the avatar as a singular entity. It won't be the simple, static avatar of other MMORPGs. Instead, it will change depending on what the player does. It can gain weight and change otherwise during play. Thankfully, space stations will have new plastic surgery clinics and clothes shops, should one decide to change their appearance, shed a few pounds, or visit the big and tall section.

  Disparaging Tales from China

I received an interesting article in my inbox this week (thanks Paws!). Apparently ZT Online has done what we've all feared. Progression in this Chinese MMO is made by paying real money.

The monarchs of the online world are the most advanced of players somehwere near the level cap of 170. These characters can be seen holding holy, shiny weapons and wearing beautiful sacred armor. These characters are rumored to be able to kill other, less wealthy players in seconds.

Is this the future of marketplace MMORPGs? I would hope not, at least in America. This hit might work in China, where microtransactions happen more often, but the audience for it isn't big enough here in the states.

The common argument in support of these games is that it's possible to progress without real money, albeit slowly. This is not the case with ZT. The only thing you're capable of doing without paying a cent is standing. That's right; you can't leave the newbie area or kill anything without a chunk of change.


WoW for the Disabled

World of Warcraft

The video below features a new control option that helps disabled players play around in World of Warcraft. Developed by De Montfort University in the UK and using the "Snap Clutch" software, the system allows players to control the game with their eyes.

Apparently, the controls feature the typical look and blink of regular mouse use, as well as the ability to move your eyes offscreen in a particular direction to change "modes," or alter how the control inputs work. Most of this can be seen in the video better than it can be explained.

This is a surprising development for the MMO. I think that studies in this direction can only benefit society at large and the universe of MMORPGs.

  Media Grotto

Champions Screens

Champions Online

As more Champions Online screenshots are released, I can't help but drool in anticipation.

 Log Out

This week, I played WoW with several alts. Eventually, I made a new one, a Night Elf Druid. This week's call for letters is on the subject of alt-oholics. Are you one or are you friends with one? Do you think that alts suck away time or that they're the best way to play the game? Let me know.

For now, though, it's time for me to celebrate my utter lack of finals. Summer vacation has begun!

Jake Miller (mail me)

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