Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dungeon Defenders II

PAX South has made a very bold statement for 2015: It will be the year of RTS.

The floor was littered with real time strategy/simulation games. I don’t want to say literally out the butt, yet it was pretty close to hitting that mark. And it’s an excuse to say “out the butt” and have it out of context in regards to a bodily function. As far as the eye can see, RTS made itself known. It’s coming back into gaming with a vengeance. The two largest booths at the convention were Twitch and Greybox, a developer for the soon to release Grey Goo and Dreadnaught, both space-faring RTS titles. The booth was so large, and the demos were taking up to 30 minutes per person, it was impossible to get into the line. So we made use of the free spaces on the floor to check out the other games available.

One product that we enjoyed, so much so that we had to pre-order it for the early access at the booth, was Dungeon Defenders II. It’s an action tower defense game. You could call it an RTS to an extent because it requires you to act and react as the game play occurs, while giving you a chance to build up your defenses to ensure your home point isn’t destroyed by the enemy. Developed by Trendy Entertainment, the game builds off of the successes of the first Dungeon Defenders and adds new content.

For those who have not heard of or played the first game, the game play is relatively simple. You choose a hero to defend your home point. Each hero has a set of abilities that allow you to place towers or traps around the course and kill the enemy goblins as they try to overrun you. In order to place more traps you need to build up mana by killing enemies. Your hero can also move around the map and attack enemies that the traps may have missed; thus the action element of the game.

Some of the changes made in DD2 deal with abilities and mana. Mana was necessary to heal your hero, build your towers, and make upgrades. Mana is now split into Gold, to buy things, Building Mana, and Skill Mana. Hopefully those are self explanatory. Healing now no longer costs mana. It’s completely free, but there is a timer on how often you can use it. Heroes now have 4 abilities and 4 towers to use. Map progression contains minimum and maximum levels. If a high level player wants to jump to a lower level map, their stats will be balanced to reflect the level requirements. I approve of the level balancing.

As a first-timer to the game, they set the mode on easy. I felt that easy was too easy. I was given the role of the Huntress, who utilizes more traps then towers, and has a variety of long-range abilities such as a venom flask (which can be combined with the Squire or Sorcerer to create combos). She was also the only female Hero so take what you will from that. Her role is focused on supporting the other Heroes, but her arrows did pack a punch. I found myself handling one of the funnels of Goblin’s by myself, more often than not. I was hoping for a challenge, but mindless fun? I'll take it.

Part of the RPG elements in the game come from buffing up your Hero. As you kill goblins, some will drop new equipment for you to use, such as boots, chest plates, and weapons. These items are only accessible by you, so no one can sneak in and pick up the item. You also have the ability to view the item before you equip it. If you find it’s a crappy pair of sneakers, you can sell them off for Gold, and turn that money into another tower. I found this part of the game more enjoyable because you had some control over the customization of your character as your progressed in the game.

The game can be played solo or up to 4 players. While our headsets were busted, I could easily see why a team is preferred in this type of game. The game’s set-up emphasizes cooperative play. There are too many turns, corners, and alleys where the enemy can overwhelm one person. And your base stats, along with gold reserve, are just too little to handle everything by yourself. You need a team to progress. It’s as simple as that.

Now it’s possibly that as we are experienced gamers, we figured out quickly how to form up and execute the plan of attack. Squire and Monk on the front lines while Sorcerer and Huntress at the back. The Sorcerer’s towers work best on hilltops or open areas for AOE. Huntress’ can use her slow traps at the front to reduce enemy speed, or in tight corners. Monks and Squires are best for funneling enemies on a large field into a smaller area. So the lack of vocal communication didn’t hurt us. We had everything figured out in a few minutes and kept on going. You attack with your left mouse button and move your Hero using WASD. It’s an intuitively simple control scheme that even beginner players can easily adjust to.

As a whole I found the game enjoyable, and it will definitely be an entertaining time waster. The graphics are stylized like Wildstar, with colorful clothing and over-sized characters. The music was upbeat and didn’t feel forced. There were touches of ambient sound that surprised me. Typically a game like this wouldn’t think about such an insularly detail, but hearing birds chirping on the battlefield made the game feel real. Well, as real as it can be with goblins and talking cats.

I think this will be a fun game for Steam-heads who want a break from their first person shooters. The game currently has no release date, but it’s estimated to be out in 2015 on PC and the PS4.

All the PAX South Things!

Wow. What a weekend.

PAX South is the newest iteration of the expo franchise, now reaching most segments of the U.S. In their inaugural year, they didn’t disappoint. With floor space that rivaled the Boston Convention Center, South will only grow over the years, and I’m curious to see where it goes next.

Consider this my general, insider review of the experience. This round we went to a lot more developer panels then at past PAX experiences, and played a couple more games. I’ll be reviewing those separately from this post, because they each deserve to have a pedestal of their own.

Unlike other convention reviews, I won’t have a positive/negative column. No day-to-day entries. No meters or gauges. Not even an underwear rating system. This is a list of 10 things I have learned about PAX South, in no particular order:

1.) Cell reception blows. But that’s to be expected when 40,000 people descend into one area at the same time. What really kicked up the “ouch” factor is the WiFi, or lack of access. The Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio has only one tiny spot of free WiFi. The rest of the center requires you to pay to connect, which is horrid. We are in an era where free WiFi is expected when attending events of this scale. Yes, we understand that it won’t be the best service when everyone attempts to clamor onto it at the same time, but at least it’s there. No wonder the expo hall vendors were able to run credit cards so quickly. No one else was on the WiFi because they have to pay for it. For an expo of that scale, focused on digital content, having basic WiFi access is essential to your attendees.

2.) Enforcers are cool. They always are and always will be. But the Texan Enforcers really went up a level. Everyone was so nice! And it’s a comment I hear over and over again from attendees who have been to the other PAX events. Texans are just nice, friendly people. That’s all I have to say. You don’t have to be afraid of yelling or getting talked down to in order to make room in the hallway. They’ll come up to you, tap you on the shoulder, ask you quietly to move, and then chat with you about the event. Thank you for keeping up the Southern protocol.

3.) First year expos are always the testers. The convention will grow over time. Developers are testing the waters to see how the community will react after the first year before adding more to their lineup. And PAX only utilized half of the convention center space. The other half was taken over by a jewelers trade show. I’m sure we gave them a scare when they saw the throng of crowds coming through. PAX South will be bigger in the future.

4.) The location was puzzling at first. Why in San Antonio? Why not Austin where it’s a livelier night life? But seeing the city, I understand. San Antonio’s convention center is right on the river walk, one of the infamous touristy things one can do in the city. It also means there are a lot of hotels and restaurants within walking distance of PAX. It’s one of the few spaces where I didn’t feel trapped on-site and had to eat the $5 hot dog and $4 micro bottle of water. I could go out, get a good meal, and come back within an hour and not feel that I had my time wasted away from the Expo. San Antonio has the space to accommodate an over-sized expo crowd. Downtown Austin can’t say the same thing.

In that same breath, it was great to see local developers come out and support the show. A number of people I spoke with mentioned that it was their first PAX because their company couldn't afford to send representatives to the other locations. Texas is in the spotlight now and we have a huge gaming community!

5.) You want panels? We got panels. That’s the PAX South motto for the first year. There were panels, panels, panels, and more panels brought to us by the developers. We were able to see exclusives and game content not yet released to the public. I’ll have a full overview of Sid Meier’s Starships and Homeworld, among other games, but this is the type of thing that I felt PAX East was lacking in my trips out to Boston. Developer panels. We came for the gaming news and that’s what we got.

6.) Access to developers. This is a tricky technique that you have to master at conventions and expos: getting to talk to people in the industry. On the show floor it’s a bit easier for the independent devs because they are right there. They are trying to promote their products and want to talk to you. The bigger guys can be a challenge. Your best chance is to stand in the 5 hour long, get a front row seat, and bolt to the presenters table the second the panel is over to get in a few words before you’re ushered out. PAX South was much more relaxed. Big names hung around after panels, signed autographs, and talked with the attendees. There wasn’t pomp and circumstance. There wasn’t a crowd of Enforcers blocking people from their favorite gaming celebs. They walked around just like everyone else, and that was awesome. Really awesome. I met Sid Meier, a gaming icon I respect. I would never have been able to do that at PAX East.
7.) Posting the after parties online was a dumb idea. I point to reason #1 on my list. I think the only time I had a stable WiFi connection was as I was leaving San Antonio. The rest of the time it was loading bars. I’m sure the parties were great, but not knowing where they were because people were posting online kind of sucked.

8.) The anime fans looked confused. Texas has a lot of anime conventions. A lot. We host the third largest in the country annually. So seeing a few anime fans in the crowd was not unexpected. But you could tell that they were lost and had no clue what was going on. PAX runs very differently from anime conventions. The Expo floor is not a dealer’s den. Can you buy things? Absolutely. But the purpose is to drive pre-orders and future purchases of upcoming games by allowing you to test out the product before-hand. There are t-shirt vendors and table top content, but mostly the expo hall is to game, not to buy. If you want DVD’s and plushies, check out your local anime con. I wouldn’t be surprised if the set panel rooms of non-fan content also seemed foreign to the anime fans.

Note: I’m not dismissing anime fans. Everyone is welcome at PAX. I just wonder if they got the memo that this was an expo, not a convention.

9.) Gamers are just as bad as the other conventions attendees. They still don’t know how to bathe. Is a daily shower and deodorant that bad?

10.) Gamers are better than the other convention attendees. If you ever want to meet a more open, welcoming, thoughtful, considerate, generous group of people, come to PAX South next year. You won’t be disappointed.

Side note: We unintentionally took over a restaurant one evening when a crowd of 10 turned to 40+. We apologized to the wait staff all night, and did our best to be considerate, say our please and thank you’s, and tip well. We know that it’s a giant inconvenience to take over a large group when you’re a waiter/waitress. Part of your paycheck is based off of tips and the more table turn-over’s you have (i.e. the faster people get in and out) the more money you make. When it’s a large group, they tend to sit for the long haul and you’re less likely to make extra tips. But we did our best to be nice and tipped well (maybe a bit too well, the food was bland). The staff all thanked us for our kindness and for being well-behaved. They’re use to seeing large parties trash the space and not tip at all to compensate them for the time. But you know what? Pretty much every gamer is like this. We’re good people and we like to spread that to others. It’s just the few extreme cases that put us in a negative light.

Stay tuned to The Geek Spot for exclusive peaks from PAX South all this week! And check out all of the photos from the weekend through Flickr or CosPod.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PAX Going South

PAX South is 2 days away, and I'll be there this year to soak up all of the gaming goodness. For it's inaugural year, the PAX show is moving below the Mason-Dixon Line and letting the Southerners take a look at a video game expo. And it's going to be big.

The new Nintendo 3DS model will be available for play on the show floor along with the re-release of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Sid Meier will be making an appearance to talk about his latest game, Starships. Even Dreadnaught, a hit with E3 fans, will be on the floor to test.

Gearbox and NCSoft will be butting heads with their developer days planned for the weekend. Even BioWare is competing for space with their room, offering content that will only be available to those who make it to their hide-away.

If you can't make it, Twitch is happy to provide you with some of the content with a lineup of panels and show-floor info.

Expect a flood of news from The Geek Spot starting next week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Sid Meier's Game!

Now for those of you not into strategy or building games, or you were maybe born in the last 15 years, you probably don't know about the greatness that is Sid Meier. He's great. Best known for the Civilization series, he has been a beacon of influence in the gaming realm since the 1980's and continues to publish innovative content today. Take a look at his Wiki page if you don't believe me. His content is one of the few that you can experience and say it is both fun and educational. It's where you learn what an 'almaty' is and what language Attila the Hun spoke. Meier's games prep you for Jeopardy.

2K Games and Fireaxis Games (the company Meier co-founded), are releasing a new game this spring for PC, MAC, and iPad. Sid Meier's Starships. It's Sid...his name has to be in the title somewhere.

The game will be more of an adventure-driven title, taking place in the Beyond Earth universe, where Meier takes you outside of the box of history. There will be a cross-connection between the games, but no word on how that will work quite yet. Starships is focused on exploration. Building vessels to take you out into space, more into combat, and see the universe. Meier was interested in seeing what happened after colonizing outside of Earth - what happens next to those people?

It's a new twist to the Civilization franchise by giving players more active components in the game. I can't wait to see a demo in action.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Is Rock Band 4 In Our Future?

Will a new Rock Band be coming soon? That's the buzz according to a survey released via social media posted by Harmonix, prompting fans and gamers to provide input on what they would like to see in a future Rock Band. The series is touted as fine-tuning the "band" process of the musical game genre. While we look to Guitar Hero as the king of metal, Rock Band provided us with a group experience, and variety.

This isn't the first time Harmonix has done this. Back in 2010 when the fad for music games began to cool, they prompted users to provide feedback on the type of band games they might be interested in for the future. The survey listed 5 bands ranging from U2 to The Eagles and asked would you buy their product. There was an optional fill in feature where I listed Depeche Mode, and then went back and said South Park. Because a South Park music game would be fantastic. Wouldn't you like to belt out 'Chocolate Salty Balls' from your living room and freak out your neighbors? I know I would.

The survey goes through the usual: location/country, which games do you own, which functional peripherals do you have, etc. It also asks you to rank which features of Rock Band kept you playing. Was it the music? The online multi-player? The ability to get DLC on a weekly basis? This time around there are no notes or fill-in-the-blank options. Sorry kids. But I do hope they will consider South Park as an option. Still. To this day. I will buy it. Guaranteed.

It's funny. We were just talking about Rock Band last night while I appeared as a guest on the podcast Trade Paper Hacks. My drum set has a layer of dust on it, while one of the hosts was playing his the night before. "People still play Rock Band?" Apparently so. Get ready to pull out those guitars from the depths of your closet, and hope that your microphone is still working.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Rarer They Are...

Over the past few weeks I have mentioned a few posts regarding older video games, trade-ins, and how to get the most value for your product. i100, an independent British news source, came up with a list of the top valuable games to sell, should you be cleaning out your closet anytime soon. Keep in mind that the amounts are in the British Pound.

The top game listed is Gamma Attack for the Atari 2600, ranging from 13,200-32,900 pounds. That's roughly 20-50 thousand dollars. The rest of the list marks games that most of you probably don't know of. Stadium Events: Gold Edition is there and continues to be a commodity. But why the disparity? And where did the reporter get their facts? There are no link backs, no ties to any form of research. And the giant leap in pricing for Gamma Attack has me questioning the accuracy of the list.

I believe the article found it source at RacketBoy.com with a list of the rarest video games sold online. The source is old, circa 2009 with the last published update in 2012, but it does point out WHY some of those games are rare. Gamma Attack for example had a limited production life and there is only 1 known copy of it to exist in the world. The original EBay listing in 2008 didn't sell, but there was a rough estimate that the value of the game was $5-10 grand. By today's estimate, people believe it's worth up to $50,000. So who know. But the chances of you having this gem in your stockpile is 0 because so few copies exist.

That's the big difference between a mint condition copy of E.T. and a cracked case Stadium Events. An estimated (and probably over-inflated number) 750,000 games are buried out in New Mexico and a lot of them have E.T. on the label. E.T. is a dime a dozen. They flooded the market. Only 26 copies of Stadium Events in it's gold form exist. It's a simple numbers game.

More product, less demand, lower value. Less product, high demand, higher value.

Another rare game, Atlantis II, falls into the same scenario. Back in the 1980's, when many of you were still toddlers or maybe just a flicker of hope in your parent's eyes, game companies would hold game tournaments to help boost sales of their products. Top contenders typically received special cartridges of their flagship products as a reward or to use in competitions. Atlantis II is just that - an evolved version of Atlantis for the Atari 2600, a faster paced, more challenging version of their original game. Competitors vied for a chance at a $10,000 grand prize (which is still a lot today, I would argue) and some cool scuba gear for the other winners. But no one collected the games after the contest ended, and additional copies were never produced. Now it's considered a treasure by many.

It is possible to have a gold mind in your house that you aren't aware of. I know my prize possessions include some versions of Final Fantasy that have never been opened, and contain art work only used in certain releases of the original games. I have an unopened FF3 from Japan. gorgeous box. But I'm also realistic about my expectations of my collection. A general Google Shopping search shows that the pricing is all over the map. Some people are giving away their unboxed versions for a few bucks. Some want over $900 for FF3 the NA edition. The game is 'maybe' worth $500. Maybe. I realize the rarity of it, but $900 for FF3 NA? No way.

This is reinforcing the idea to be honest with yourself about your games. Treat them well. Keep them safe.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Music on Twitch

Copyright laws are tricky. There are so many nuances and caveats that it can be a minefield to navigate. What is and isn't protected? Can I play 'this' music even though it's owned by 'that' composer? Do I have to pay money to play that song? What about remixes and remakes; aren't those protected by free speech that I don't have to pay royalties on?

In the digital realm, it becomes even trickier. YouTube videos with a music overlay from a popular song/artist can help drum up hits, but if you're making a single penny off of it, it's considered illegal if you did not get the consent of the artist/recording company to use the song. That's the issue Twitch has been facing as of late. With millions of people using the service daily to stream and watch videos, copyrighted music playing can lead to legal recourse. If you want to be the next Heavy Metal Gamer on Twitch, you probably shouldn't use Metallica as your background music.

To curtail the legal woes, Twitch has launched a service called, appropriately, the Twitch Music Library. It is a database of songs that have been cleared for use for streaming over Twitch videos and with archived gaming sessions without worry that you have to pay "the man."

Currently the system lists over 500 songs. Mostly independent or free-share music has been added, but they plan to grow over the years to include current Top 40 hits. Essentially, it's a blanket copyright system that YouTube has adopted to help ensure their users are less likely to be sued, and thus the company as well. As long as you use music from the database, you're good. Earlier attempts by Twitch to mute or remove audio from archived videos proved faulty, sometimes removing crowd noises in the game, deleting the streamer's voice entirely, or blanking out music that was owned and created by the streamer. No system is full-proof, but it's a good start for streamers who are worried about using content that may bite them back later once they start making a profit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writer's Guild Awards for Gaming

It's award season, and even the Writer's Guild of America gets in on the action. We can't leave the writers out, now can we? They make up the stories that are told on the screen. What you may not know is that the Guild also has a Video Games category.  Since 2008, games have been included in the ceremonies as the media continues to expand and take over film and television viewers.

The 2014 nominations were announced on Monday, and applied to games released December 1, 2013 to November 30, 2014 and include on-screen credits for writers that are members of the guild. Which is why you'll see the likes of Call of Duty and almost no independent developers. This year's list includes:

  • Alien: Isolation, Writers Dan Abnett, Dion Lay, Will Porter; SEGA
  • Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, Lead Scriptwriter Jill Murray; Scriptwriter Melissa MacCoubrey; Story by Jill Murray, Hugo Giard, Wesley Pincombe; Ubisoft 
  • Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Story by Alexandre Amancio, Sylvain Bernard, Travis Stout; Scriptwriting Alexandre Amancio, Travis Stout, Russell Lees, Darby McDevitt, Ceri Young; Additional Scriptwriting Jeffrey Yohalem; Ubisoft 
  • The Last of Us: Left Behind, Written by Neil Druckmann; Sony Computer Entertainment
The Last of Us did win in 2013, but this is the re-release with the added content, and since it's considered "new" it qualifies for another award. See. People in the business do care about video games. If you're a member of the guild and pay your fees. It still counts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dev Diary Questioning Gaming Maturity

Dontnod Entertainment partnered up with Square to publish their latest game Life Is Strange, an episodic series set to release starting January 30th on PC and consoles. In their first Developer's Diary on YouTube, they're stirring the pot, calling out other publishers who denied their game because the lead character was female, and praising Square for allowing them to keep the game as it stood.

"Square is basically the only publisher that didn't want to change a single thing about the game," said creative director Jean-Maxime Moris. "We had other publishers telling us 'Make it a male lead character,' and Square didn't even question that once."

This isn't the first time Dontnod experienced this. Their first game Remember Me, which critics enjoyed and has one of the most sensible female characters I've seen in decades, went through the same tribulations. Publishers wanted the lead character to be male, and to remove a kissing scene because "now it involves 2 men and we can't have that."

"You can't make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that's going to feel awkward."

Capcom eventually published the product for the PS3.

We're all fully aware that anyone who isn't a white, straight, male is not going to be on the cover art for a video game. But to hear a developer being told to change their character's gender, therefore changing the content and context of their entire product, is, well, shocking. Knowing it versus hearing it are different things. According to EEDAR, a private consulting group, male-only hero games sold 25% better then a female options, and 75% better when there was only a female hero. 

Some news publications such as Tech Times say we should support companies like Square for providing more variety in the marketplace.

I think Tech Times forgot about the alterations to Lightning from FF13 to give her a bigger bust and slimmer waist, as well as the all male cast of FF15 including a very chesty/low clothing option female Cid. Mad Moxxi in her "hoodrat" mechanic clothing is covered up a lot by comparison, and she oozes sexuality.

In their video, Dontnod makes a very valid point that the industry will never mature if we keep placing games into a box and ask developers to not move outside of those confines."The only games that will sell are white, male heroes." Much like Hollywood, games are stuck in the old methods of development - the same ones that caused the bust in the 1980's, and we really don't want that to happen again. (Or maybe we do. Imagine a sea of Call of Duty games being buried in the dirt.)

While there have been a few games here and there with female leads, such as Beyond Good and Evil, they make up the tiniest margins of the gaming pool. It makes me wonder if the EEDAR research is even valid. Because the market is saturated with one type of hero, it's what we are accustomed to and would default to that based on our past experiences. The other options are almost always never available. If you want to be a different race? Best pick up a football game, because the options are limited. That's sad when you think about it. There's an inherit bias in the research.

I honestly don't know what it'll take to get publishers and developers to wake up and realize all of the content they are missing out on by limiting their scope of who should play the hero. Maybe it will require another video game bust to make it happen? None of us want that, but sometimes hitting the bottom of the well can bring clarity within the tight space.

Monday, January 12, 2015

GameStop Streaming Services Coming Soon?

The motto "better late then never" is very much GameStop's creed as the retailer looks to start streaming promotional content to customer's mobile devices and their stores. Imagine, GameStop on your phone 24/7.

That's a creepy thought.

The company plans to work with Microsoft and their cloud platform called Azure. With it, they plan to stream content to consumer's phones and Windows-based tablets everything from advertisements, to game trailers, and potentially a digital check-out process so that you don't even need the store associates! Well, except to put the game in the case... They also plan to expand the services for those who opt in to the promotional e-mails and marketing bursts. Customers can receive a customized shopping experience based on your past purchases and items of interest. Yes. GameStop does keep tabs on what you buy with your Edge Card. But now, they can use that to bring you more stuff if you want them to!

It's unsurprising that GameStop is moving down this path, but they're a little behind the curve. No word on a date of release, but if you're a GS fan, then step right up.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Is Elder Scrolls Online Going Free To Play?

That's the murmur in today's headlines after EB Games Australia began pulling The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) from their stores along with the prepaid gaming cards. Everything related to the game is to be removed from the retailer by January 14th, based on a reported notice sent to stores. According to EB Games Facebook page, this is part of a recall by the manufacturer. It also includes pulling games such as Destiny and The Evil Within. Which is a really vague way of saying "the publisher wants their game back."

Having worked with the company (EB/GS) for years, a 'recall' can mean one of several things: the product is being discontinued, there is a physical flaw in the product (games are patched all the time these days so digital flaws are no longer tagged for a recall), or the publisher is altering the product for future consumption.

But there is a concern amongst fans of the game, when just a week ago TESO users found the 6 month subscription model removed from the system. Weak subscription numbers are typically the reason on why a publisher would pull an MMO. Unfortunately Bethseda has been very quiet about releasing this information. The last check was in June at 770 thousand subscribers, based on a report from a research company not affiliated with the publisher. I remember a lot of hype leading up to the release of the game, especially in 2013. The booth at PAX East was enormous and the line was never-ending. Once you were in, you could expect a 5-6 hour crawl before you touched the demo. From what I saw, it looked pretty. Couldn't get into the line fast enough to test.

But when you factor in the layoffs of some TESO team in September and the general decrease of subscription numbers across the board for MMO's (except World of Warcraft), it's easy to see why people are under the assumption the TESO will go to the Free-To-Play format. Recent history of MMO's such as The Old Republic have shown that FTP is almost expected. The Star Wars game is living on with this model well enough that it developed an expansion pack. The logic is consumers who love the game will pay for it; customers that subscribe get perks that the FTP consumers do not see. And those who are FTP are not cheated out of the story. Unlike some flash MMO's and RPG's such as Maple Story, which restrict you on story, character choices, items, etc. until you pay, TOR, Guild Wars (which has always been FTP after you purchase the boxed game), and Age of Conan allow you to play the game in it's entirety. If you want to reach level 50 as your warrior in AoC, you can do that. Even in WoW there is a Free to Play aspect. Restrictions are there, such as limited inventory space, a limited number of trades per day, things of that nature. But when you purchase the game, you're getting the game. The limitations are non-existent by comparison to the flash MMO's.

There is also the concern that TESO may shut down entirely. It's not exactly unheard of. Warhammer Online did this in 2013. There was no early warning. No time to say goodbye to guild members and friends. The company posted a notice on their website and gave everyone a few hours to grab their last screenshots before the servers were turned off. Even better, those who paid their subscription fees only received a partial refund, and time card users had to argue with the stores for a refund. (I snicker at the latter, because those time cards can not be refunded at any retailer. Brick and mortar stores make a tiny percentage off of those sales - it all goes back to the publisher because it's an even exchange of money. Just as if you buy a Best Buy gift card at your local grocery store. The cards are there as a way to lure you to purchase other things. That's why they're typically situated around candy and magazines, products that are easy to pick up and add to your cart because "it's just another dollar." That's how the stores get you. But I'm digressing. Once that game card is purchased, all responsibility is on the publisher to help you with any concerns. Stores do not have a way to activate, deactivate, exchange, or refund those products. They are, essentially, a store-front for the product but have 0 control over them. If you ever have a game card issue, go to the publisher. The retailers hands are tied. And that's a good way to keep the money, Warhammer! Offices are closed. No way to issue a refund!)

To be frank, some games are not meant to be MMO's. Taking a racing game or a single player RPG and transforming it into online content is not an easy feat. Elder Scrolls is about the solo experience. You are the lone warrior set out to save the world from whatever evils may await you across the landscape. Part of the game's lure was to explore the space and face perils by yourself. There's beauty in that concept, and it doesn't translate as well when you throw a thousand people into that mix, all attempting to do the same thing.

Games such as Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft were developed with the group experience in mind. The RPG's of Final Fantasy always centered around you AND your bounty of companions saving the world. It was never one person that saved the day, but a collaboration. This is where properties that currently exist trip up when they make the move online. If you don't have that group dynamic already in place, it doesn't work. That was one of my biggest concerns when Alpha and Beta testing TOR. What about this game would convince me to play with a group when the story and content is focused on the single player?

I get the feeling that is the struggle TESO couldn't overcome.

Given that TESO was only released in April of 2014 and still has a lot of life in it, the game servers going down is unlikely. We'll just have to wait and see what happens next in the Elder Scrolls saga.

Mint Condition Stadium Events Up For Grabs!

And look at that. Just as I post an updated version of "How to Sell Used Games" someone went and started a bidding war for an unopened copy of Stadium Events.

Factory sealed? Wow. This may top the last bid, around $40,000 USD, and it has 6 days until the auction is up. Track pad not included, but this is an item collector's should be frothing at the mouth for.

Time to break open the piggy bank and cash in those checks from grandma.