mystRecently it was announced that any future developements of the MMO Myst Online game will have to come from the games players. Cyan worlds announced that it is unable to afford to run the game and has made all the game code and assets open source.

I remember first playing Myst and being very excited, puzzled, frustrated and spellbound by a game that had no other characters in it. The other area that I’ll also remember was the scenery, ok ok, so it was prerendered but it was still breath-taking at times.

Myst was and still is rather unique in the game-sphere being crammed full of puzzles andwith very little in the way of clues to help you out. Hardcore puzzle gaming at it’s best.

I normally discover the lore of games and world after the fact, but in the Myst games it really unfolded as you played. The lore of the D’ni people has been published in 3 books that I really enjoyed really reading.I still to this day think the linking books are a very diverse and wonderful method of introducing very different and wonderful worlds to a reader and to gamers.

I’m unsure how the games future will pan out, but I truely hope that whatever the result the Myst world and history sticks around for many years to come, no matter the format it takes.

A pint of milk and a new costumes please

cashThere is much chatter at the moment regarding Real Money Transactions (RMT) AKA microtransactions, this is largely due to hints that Bioware could made SWTOR will be driven solely by RMTs and with no subscriptions. Additionally in the last week other have announced RMTs for other games, SOE has released the Station cash that can used with EQ1 and EQ2, and Blizzard have introduced character remodelling service.

Recently the Shut up we’re talking, Spouse Aggro and Van Hemlock podcasts (via Virginworlds) have all taken time out this week to discuss the topic of RMTs. This lead me into think about the current climate of RMTs and the future potential for the MMO game-space.

I’m told that Eastern MMO games are more frequently Micro-transaction based than Subscription being a complete opposite to the current Western gamer model. Of course it’s not completely new method to generate extra incoming from a game, many have allowed users to buy items like server transfers for many years.

A non-subscription game that has excelled in this area is Guild Wars, allowing for various purchasing options from extra character slots to PvP Skills packs. This appears to be a rather proviductive method to generate income, outside of the Game sales.

Closer to my gaming heart is the recent NCSoft released add-on packs for City of Heroes/Villains, delivering new costume parts and emotes, In addition to allowing the in-game purchase of extra slot options, rename tokens and server transfers.

So how good is the new black?

I’m a fan of RMTs, providing they are balanced, they can generate increased/renewed interest in a game title, plus the other benefit is they give extra revenue to the games owners. Now whether that cash is then injected back into the games development, is down to the company, but either way it’s good tidings for that game in general.

I think that in the current climate of financial uncertainty, any game that is advertised as non-subscription with micro-transactions is certain to gain favour of the masses.

As the changing face of the Western MMO market morphs into a thick-skinned old man, we’ll see that main established games will ramp up their focus on RMTs content to ensure that players gaming experiences are kept fresh.

So i think that providing that it isn’t at the expense of main content development I’m very happy to pay a little extra, to see a game I like, succeed.

Unobtainable Highs

MoH airborneAsk any gamer and they will have favourite title in their gaming history that defines the benchmarks that we apply to each and every game we play. Whether is was in a MMO or just a standard console game, these experiences weave a complex matrix of “ideal” qualities that us gamers tend to seek out in each new game.

It is this normally jaded hindsight that determines how we each evaluate and judge a game.

For example I recently completed the campaign mode on Medal Of Honor Airborne, I really enjoyed the MoH titles before so was quite looking forward to playing this.
There are some wonderful scenes and missions,but I was quite shocked when I finished it in a few sittings.

Once completed I instantly begin to evaluate and comapre it to the original game and to more recent games like Battlefield and Call of Duty.

I’m not a tester or reviewer so I get to cherry-pick only those games I’ve a high chance of enjoying anyway, but many fall short. The first thing that struck me was the duration of the game, I managed to complete it in under 8 hours, which was considerably shorter than the original title. This is a feeling that I got in Call of Duty 4 and thats a big reason for me avoiding COD 5 at this time. One recent exception to the rule was Rainbow Six Vegas which I played last year, that delivered a sizeable chunk of campaign mode game play that wasn’t over in the blink of an eye.

Sadly it seems alot of recent games fall to capture my attention or provide enough enjoyment, well at least for it to match up to my seemingly inflated expectations.