A friend of mine on Facebook told me about Code of Everand, a new massively multiplayer online game developed by the UK government’s Department for Transport (DfT) designed to help children, aged between 9 and 13, gain essential skills for staying safe on the roads. Finally, the government safety MMO we’ve all been waiting for!
Code of Everland
I haven’t played it yet but Code of Everand looks pretty interesting (well, if you’re a kid or have particular problems in crossing roads… and no, jaywalking isn’t illegal in the UK which explains why something like this is necessary). It’s a Flash based browser game and is totally free to play. Much like any traditional MMORPG, your character accrues exp, levels up, embarks on quests, and uses their powers to safety cross the “Spirit Channels”. OK, not quite like your normal MMO then, but heck, at least it’s teaching children something.
OK, I’ll admit it, I’m impressed. Not only has the UK government actually done something innovative but they’ve commissioned a project which might actually appeal to children and help get their point across. Plus it just goes to show how mainstream MMOs are becoming these days. Top it all off with what looks like an actually very comprehensive and full-fledged game and you’ve got a product that’s made me look at the Department for Transport (DfT) in a whole new light. And here I was, cursing their name on a daily basis.
So anyway, I’m going to go register for Code of Everand and check it out properly.
Of course, I can’t help but think that the whole issue of road safety could just as easily be sorted by criminalising jaywalking in the UK like in the US. Yeah, I know all about it in the States… I’ve seen the movies.
So it’s official: Star Trek Online will be released on 2nd February 2010 in the US and 5th February 2010 in Europe (hopefully the usual head start programs will apply and us Euros can get early access along with our American buddies). Not really surprised at such an early release date as after all of the tidbits of news I’d been hearing about STO, I was expecting it. Still, it does make me very cynical about just how polished and ready the game will be. Call me a pessimist but I’ve been playing MMORPGs for a long, long time now and seen my fair share of games being released when they just aren’t ready.
However, trying to objective about it all, maybe STO will be just fine and perfectly polished and good to go. Perhaps I’m too used to Blizzard’s relaxed attitude towards deadlines (turns out Starcraft 2 won’t even beta until next year) and thus feel that if something doesn’t take a dog’s age to release, then it won’t be ready enough. Cryptic may have been working on the game for years already or using some fancy new engine and tools which makes development a breeze so really I shouldn’t pass any judgement until the game comes out and I can try it for myself.
Still, I worry. See, I’m a worrier, it’s just in my nature. We haven’t had the slow build of hype over 36 months to prepare us for this game and the thought “they just want to get it out before Cataclysm destroys every other MMO along with Azeroth” keeps pervading my mind. However, with any luck time will prove me wrong and my worries will be to no avail.
P.S. I’ve decided to avoid the Star Trek Online open beta and just wait for the official release (or pre-order head start). I’m jaded with the whole beta experience and, right now, I feel like I can continue my internal hype machine enough to wait.
One PC game that’s caught my attention lately is Cities XL, essentially a MMO version of Sim City although I don’t think they are related in any legal way (even though the resemblance is incredible). I haven’t played this sort of game in years but I like the online aspect to it and I’m going to download the demo to check it out. The full game comes out in a few days.
As you can imagine, Cities XL sees the player in the role of the city mayor (aka supreme overlord) and they have build up their landscape, attract residents, manage resources and deal with all of those fun issues like trade agreements, global warning and education policies. Awesome. Not sure if there will be a way to invoke the wrath of God like in the original Sim City games (cause let’s face it, half the fun was building up a huge empire and then watching it burn to the ground) but I’m curious to find out. Personally I want to try and see if I can create a city with a vast divide of wealth between native, rich bankers and lawyers and poor, uneducated immigrants and then see if I can re-create the Credit Crunch. Call it a social experiment if you will.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Cities XL though is it’s online capacity. You can play it completely offline just like a normal game or you can take part in what’s called the Planet Offer. This allows you to build your cities in a completely online, persistent planet occupied by thousands of other players. You can collaborate, trade and interact with them, attract or send tourists, or create an avatar and wander around them as a human being etc. Sounds pretty fun and, to me, it’s a big draw to the game even though the aspect does come with a monthly subscription fee. Money aside, this persistence gives a lot more meaning to the game and, in many ways, validates the time you spend playing it. Other people can experience and interact with the city you build and that’s way, way cool.
It’s also interesting to see the developers come up with a new take on the MMO model. The fact that you can play Cities XL as a standalone, single player game without being forced into the subscription model is fantastic. It offers a lot more variety and flexibility. I wonder how long it will be before we start to see this sort of thing effect more traditional MMORPGs. Maybe one day we’ll be able to play World of Warcraft offline for free? I wouldn’t rule it out.
So I had fun with my Aion character pre-selection this morning. Finally finished patching the game, ran it, and was presented with a nice helpful screen of Korean. Awesome. Now, my Korean is a little rusty so I wasn’t able work out much beyond accepting the Terms of Service and randomly clicking on servers. However, it turns out I wasn’t the only one having this problem.
Mantooth, Asmodian Warrior
After checking the Aion Source forums I found a solution to this issue. Basically you have to rename your Aion installation folder to “AionEU” – my original folder was called Aion (US) – and then chose to install it again via the NCsoft Launcher. However, before you run the installation, right click on the tab, select Properties, and point the Install Location to your newly renamed AionEU folder. Doing this correctly will result in a minor 380MB download but if you don’t, the launcher will try to download the entire game again at it’s whopping 6GB.
Suffice to say, everything started to work and I was presented with my native language of English. I cancelled my order of Teach Yourself Korean from Amazon. Whew. I’ve absolutely no idea how a bug like this occurs as I used my installation for the betas and it ran fine. Very strange but at least it was easily fixable.
For those of you interested, I’ve created an Asmodian Warrior on the Perento server called Mantooth. Feel free to look me up either to say hello or engage me in brutal, manly combat. In line with my fetish for fat old men, I tried to make my avatar as old and grumpy as possible. Not bald this time but his beard is truly magnificant.
If you’ve got access to the European headstart, I’ll see you online tomorrow. If not, it will be Friday.
I received a strange email from CCP today. Apparently they are now offering reduced prices for purchasing a second account on EVE Online and they seem to be actively targeting the dual-boxing market. The offer ends on 17th October and is called the “Power of 2″.
Seize The Power Of 2!
For those of you don’t know, dual-boxing is the term used for playing two (or more) MMORPG accounts at the same time either by running multiple instances of the game on your PC or by having a second computer nearby. I’ve met a fair few dual-boxers during my years and even read stories about people crazy enough to play five or six accounts at once but I’ve never seen it actually marketed to players before with an incentive.
CCP’s email uses terms like “having that extra account at your disposal is sometimes indispensable” and quotes the uses and benefits of having a second account as being “extra firepower on missions”, “extra hauler for miners” and “a tag along salvager”. There’s also no doubt that they aren’t just talking about recruiting your friends because they actually state “new alt accounts”.
I have no idea as to whether or not dual-boxing is common in EVE but I can see it’s uses. I don’t know if there’s a /follow command like in many MMOs but I could certainly see the appeal of running a spare salvager or cargo hauler behind your main. I don’t know if I can recommend dual-boxing because it seems like total neural overload to me but I have to give credit for CCP for obviously trying to attract players into giving them some more revenue and monthly subscriptions.
Something that I am tempted by is purchasing an alt account purely for roleplaying purposes. I could create a new character called “Dorothy Jones” and roleplayer her as the wife of my main character, “Mantooth Jones”. I could create an entire back-story about how they met and fell in love and fly them both around together, engaging in roleplay spousal fights and bickering. Eventually I could purchase a couple more alt accounts, create some “children” and end up with the first ever EVE Online virtual Sims family.
Hmm, maybe not.
I’ve had some fun this evening messing around with the new Monopoly MMO called Monopoly City Streets. It’s very impressive actually. It’s not a traditional MMORPG like World of Warcraft or anything like that, instead it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – one giant online game of monopoly. But the coolest thing about it? It’s developed on Google Maps meaning you can purchase almost every single street in the world.
It’s completely free to play and runs in your browser and is very easy to setup and get started with. In fact, when I first loaded it up, it asked if I wanted to purchase the street I lived on. I tried but alas it had already been taken. In fact, almost everywhere I tried was already bought which is both equally frustrating and impressive considering the game only went live two days ago. So, I’m stuck with some piddly little street in the middle of nowhere in whilst waiting to find out if anyone accepts the offers I put down on property around Scotland and Japan.
Monopoly City Streets - Edinburgh, Scotland
I don’t quite know how all of the mechanics work yet but it’s similar to the board game of monopoly by which you get a large amount of cash to start with and the ability to build houses and the like on streets you own. You can also try to buy out your neighbours or sabotage them using Chance cards. I’m not sure how you earn money yet (or even if you can) because obviously there’s no little platic hats, shoes or irons jumping hopping around the streets to land on your multi-million dollar 5 star mega hotel.
The entire game runs until January 2010 and it will certainly be interesting to see how the world shapes up there. My only regret is that I didn’t get on sooner and buy up more property. I’ll be kinda narked if everything’s taken and no one sells up. This is my once chance to actually afford to buy the house I live in after all. I may not be able to get a mortgage in real life but I’ll be damned if I miss out on my virtual one too!
So it’s official. According to Ain’t It Cool News Sam Raimi has signed up to direct a World of Warcraft movie, scheduled to be shot after Spider-Man 4 (so I’m guessing it will be come out in 2012).
To be honest, I wasn’t that excited when I found out. In fact, my reaction was downright “meh”. Maybe it’s because of the slew of terrible video game movies, particuarly fantasty based ones like Dungeons and Dragons and Dungeon Seige, but I just can’t imagine a live-action WoW film being any decent. For starters, WoW makes a great virtual world and has a fascinating lore but it lacks any central characters for a film to follow. Unlike say, X-Men or Batman, there isn’t a hero character (or characters) to centre a film around so it’s likely to follow the idea of a generic “band of adventurers” and that never ends well. I don’t think I could stand the idea of a watching another film about a warrior, rogue and mage on a quest to save the world. Dungeons & Dragons 2 is still lingering in my brain after I had the bad-sense, or borderline stupidity, to watch most of it on TV.
Plus a WoW movie has the problem of the setting. Is it going to take place in the contemporary game time? If so, how can the film have any sort of concrete ending or conclusion without having a dramatic impact on the game world? And what about all of the races? Are they going to be CG or people in make-up? Again, shades of the Dungeon Siege movie are coming back to haunt me. Poor Jason Strathom.
Maybe I’m just being overly cynical but I’m finding it hard to be positive about a movie version of WoW. An animated film, yeah, now that would’ve been nice. They could’ve got Pixar to make it or even Blizzard could have tried to create it themselves – they’ve certainly got a talent for making wonderful game intros and trailers.
The bottom line is that just because a World of Warcraft movie can be made, it doesn’t mean it has to be made. We’ve already got a wonderful product that brings happiness to millions, do we really need to milk the cash cow even more until it’s udders fall off? I’m starting to take exception to Hollywood scraping the barrel of every intectual property it can find. Let be books to books, comics be comics, games be games, and start producing some original films that are an art form in themselves. Maybe then people might feel less jaded about going to the cinema.