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    • You might remember OnLive, a streaming service to bring you gaming everywhere on any machine. Well, they are back, and they partnered up with Valve!
       
      OnLive was the first company to offer cloud gaming, meaning that your games were rendered and streamed from one central server. Your save games, settings, etc would all be stored on that server and you could access your gaming from everywhere on almost any computer system, all you needed was a proper internet connection.
       
      This time they are teaming up with Valve. There is currently a (closed)beta test running for Steam users. When this beta ends and when it will be available for every user is unclear at the moment. The idea is to have a subscription plan for your Steam games, so that the Steam games that you have purchased can be streamed to wherever you are and whatever device you are on, this service is currently set at a monthly subscription of $14,99 a month, and requires you to have purchased the game you want to play (unlike their streaming netflix like streaming service).
      Currently there are twenty titles available that support this;
       
      Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY, Batman: Arkham City GOTY, Batman: Arkham Origins, Darksiders II, Dead Island GOTY, Dead Island: Riptide, LEGO The Lord of the Rings, Metro 2033, Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition, MX vs. ATV Reflex, Painkiller: Hell and Damnation, Red Faction: Armageddon, Saints Row IV, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Strike Suit Zero, The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles, The LEGO Movie Videogame, The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, Truck Racer, Type: Rider.
       
      As you can see there are quite a few major titles missing, but OnLive has said that more will follow. Unlike before they now don't need to modify the gamecode to be able to stream games to your computer, which apparently was an issue for some publishers.
       
      NetLive & OnLive Go
       
      OnLive will also continue to offer their stream/netflix'ish gaming catalog. For $9,99 a month you get access to 250 older game titles, ready for you to play without having to purchase them. They are also introducing their new service 'OnLive Go'. This might be something interesting for MMO's players and hopefully future MMO publishers. That service is aimed at letting you play/test the MMO without having to download the massive amount of data that usually comes with a mmo. So play instantly, no need to wait.

    • The author of the paper we are going to talk about is Professor Richard A. Bartle, co-writer of the first virtual game world, the MUD. There is no denying that as a MUD and MMO player, I have the uttermost respect for the man. You don't become a professor in game design by not liking games.
       
      The paper is called "The Decline of MMOs" and can be found here: http://mud.co.uk/richard/The%20Decline%20of%20MMOs.pdf
       
      I am not a professor, but I have played MMOs for as long as they existed and prior to that the text MUDs (MMOs before we had 3D graphics). I have also created content in both dikuMUDs, in MMOs using the Hero Engine and tried to written my own gameplay engine in Unity.
       
      The pupose of the article is primarily to provide a link to his interesting paper, but we are also going to look at a few of the points through the eyes of an avid, even hardcore MUD/ MMO player.
       
      We're not gonna go through all of Bartles paper, but I have selected a few areas that are easy to tackle in a short form. Just like Bartles paper ommits sources other than references to himself, I will go ahead and just use myself as primary source - It seems this is a privilege us veterans have. Many of the points I will make has already been written down previously by myself in other articles or posts, but for those who are new, let us go for it anyway.
       
      The following presumes that Bartles premise of the article is correct, namely that MMOs are in an actual decline. Wether they are or are not, is not debated here and we go by the premise of the paper.
       
       

      Causes
       

      Development costs
      There are no objections here. Incredible amounts of money is spent, which makes risk-taking and experimenting near impossible. Why did they hire John Cleese to do voice acting for Elder Scrolls? - Maybe a relatively cheap marketing tool, but to me, there is nothing in the world that is better for marketing than a great game and word of mouth.
       

      Too many clones
      This is something I keep repeating quite often, that we've done this before. That is fine in most cases, the real interesting thing here is the mention of the tools being used and that the tool in many ways define your game. Remember that old lens-flare effect in Photoshop back in the 90s? Every logotype and picture featured a lens flare for a while and you can bet your shoes on that if the tool makes it incredibly easy to create fed-ex styled quests in the style of slay 10 rabbits or collect 10 flowers, there will be plenty of that in the game. It's a fast an easy to create faux-content.
       

      Player expectations
      We keep seeing this where players ask for features available in other games. My approach has always been that a game of poker is played like a game of poker. You don't expect to be able to win with a full house when you play chess, do you? A new game is a new game with different sets of rules. That being said, there are things that works and things that simply do not work. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, but perhaps replacing hardware buttons with a multi-touch-screen might be a good idea?
       
       

      Lack of understanding of design
      There are so many things done in MMOs by lesser developers or designers that they put in the games "just because" with no or little afterthough why it is there. An example I constantly bring up is the user-interface design.
       
      In every new "WoW clone" you'll find a character portrait with your characters status up in the left corner of the screen, below that your groups status, and in the top right corner you will see a round mini-map.
       
      The roundness of the mini-map I can forgive. They moved from the square design of the then revolutionary EverQuest XML interface and wanted something that felt new, so they made the mini-map round instead of square, even if it reduced it's usefulness, while it still takes up nearly the same amount of screen real-estate. There are very few round maps used in the rest of the world, for that simple reason. If you find a round map that is not a representation of a planetary body - show it to me and I would love to put one on my wall!
       

      If a user interface detail is important enough to be presented at all times, then it should be visible at all timesWhen the UI for WoW was designed, we still played on 4:3 screens, which meant that most items on the screen were close to our focused vision. With todays widescreens, the corners of the screen is moved into our periferal vision areas and you have to shift your eyes or even your whole head to see the corners. If a user interface detail is important enough to be presented at all times, then it should be visible at all times - Namely in the focus area of your vision. Refreshingly in Elder Scrolls Online, most UI parts have been cut down, but they still put the group window up in the top left corner. If the health of your group is of no importance, so we don't need to see it all the time, then why show it at all? - I personally feel it is a very important part of the gameplay and would naturally then place it closer to the middle/bottom to ensure that it is visible for the player even during stressful times, when your periferal vision decreases significantly. 
      There is the reason the HUD on a fighter jet is small and in front of you, instead of spread out around the cabin.
       
      Now this was only talking about the UI, there are many other areas where things are done with not all that much afterthough - Take the fed-ex quests for example. If they do not drive the story and only serve a puropse of giving you a meaningless mission to advance your character through the areas, why do you nearly always have to run back and deliver things to the original quest giver? Surely to increase immersion and prevent needless repetitiveness, this could be handled differently, by for example pigeons, outposts, traders or messengers. A few games have tried this at times, but many keep falling back into fed-exing to artificially slowing down progression and exploration.
       
       

      Fixes
       

      Development
      It is magnitudes easier to write content for a MUD. I write over 100 words per minute and to create a generic MUD area, you need the following:

      A short description: "A thick forest".A long description: "The thick forest is looming over head and the underbrush makes it slow to move with twigs and thorns constantly scraping your legs. To the east you can spot a clearing among the trees and a feeling of freshness is in the air."
      Exits: "West, East".
      Interactions: "Listen, smell, touch, push, drag, look"
      Interactable objects: "Tree stump"
      NPCs or MOBs "Inherit animal { 'Squirrel', 'Cute and furry', '100hp', '10power'}"
       
      Boom. Done. That took almost exactly one minute. Naturally you'd want to polish the area more if it is of importance, but at least I created a piece of forest. While modern world creation tools could create a forest just as easily, the creation of the squirrel could take several days to model, animate, texturize and add sounds.
       
       

      Size Doesn’t Matter
      I slightly disagree with that statement, mostly because we have this magnificent private club we call a guild and because we like to fight other players. 250 is never going to be enough for a team like ours, but it might be great for other things - When I played MUDs there were rarely more than a hundred people playing and that was great.
       
      What for me is more troublesome with the large servers is the instancing that anonymizes the players and removes any and all consequenses for alienating behaviour as well as ensures that "you dont matter".
       
      Some game designers seems to have through that we don't want to matter, that being visible to other players is a deterrent, like in Guild Wars 2 where they made us all anoymous. In The Elder Scrolls we are also quite anonymous, but that seems to be more for roleplay reasons than the irrational fear that people will not consume content (PvP) if they can be recongnized. (There seems to be quite a few GW2 devs on ESO, so they might have carried over some of their ill-founded fears though, and I am half-wrong about the roleplaying part).
       
       

      Remove the Elder Game
      I don't think a single person I have talked to disagrees with this. The single player story driven gameplay of SWTOR was amazing. But when that was done and you went to take part in the galactic conflict, the servers lagged, the raids were buggy and limited and the gameplay was a repetition of the games predecessors, just worse.
      In EVE Online, the players are the content and everything you do matters in one way or another. There are constant carrots that lasts for years and the game allows you to play it in any way you'd like. There is never, ever a stop to the carrots and the story. Surely some people might stop playing because they no longer desire the carrots, or they feel there is nothing more to offer for their specific playstyle or desires, but the game itself nearly never limits you and allow you to actually win. And then keep going after that. And win again.
       
      While I prefer a much more action based gameplay, EVE Online is as close to our ideal MMO as you can get - The players make the world and there is no limit (nearly) to what you can achieve or experience.
       
       

      Let designers design
      Before every MMO launch, or every alpha/beta we play, I keep mentioning it: Evolution of gameplay is not close to revolution in gameplay. To keep veterans interested there has to be significant evolution, or a revolution. In most cases, the evolution is merely cosmetic and Battlefield 4 is still Battlefield 3 and it's still Battlefield 1942. However, Battlefield 1942 was close to a revolution compared to Quake or Doom, but anything after that was just an Evolution.
       
      We don't mind Evolutions, but they have to be significant steps. To use the above Battlefield as an example, Battlefield 4 was not nearly enough of an evolution (levolution) for us to not feel quite cheated on our money.
       
      Another example of evolution that we often talk about is Rift, which we felt was an incredibly polished and well made game by passionate and talented people. It was however, still World of Warcraft in a new costume, which naturally is not viable in the long run for seasoned gamers. We do have to admit, that they made their game so well, that we almost, almost forgave them for only slighly evolving in a new dress.

    • Geographic guessing game? Are you for real? How can that be educative or fun?
       
      Geoguessr's basic idea is to have the player guess (or know) locations of pictures shown. Each game has 5 locations and you get points based on how good your knowledge is. You can also set up challenges, like time limit. Some pictures are also really hard to guess from first look, so you have to zoom around and search around for clues or hints (like signs in different language).
       
      This makes the game innovative, educative and fun at the same time. Once you've cleared your first game, you get options to start a new game, or share your game to your friends f.ex in Facebook. They can then either be astounded of your geographical knowledge or ask you for hints in next lottery draw.
       

      Above is a picture of a house I somehow got inside to. Can you guess where this location is at?
       
      With new tools for creativity even learning can be fun. Who said learning can't be fun. I'd say from a gamer perspective, this game is as addicting as flappy bird is. It even has the same side-effects of getting frustrated, when your opponent doubles your score you were so proud of.
       
      You can find more about Geoguessr and play it here: http://www.geoguessr.com/
       
      Thanks Mohaiken for tipping about this jewel of a game.
       
      How did your knowledge of atlas score at? Was it easier to pinpoint picture of Poland than a location of Azeroth (or any other game you've played before)? Comment below if you tried the game!

    • Coffee is boiling and food you can eat with less than one hand is being prepared - Time to do some more exploring of Cyrodiil!
       
      As an ESO guild we are desperately praying that this time we will get to show our guildtag, but it seems unlikely to happen. We will just have to die in a big pile - That is as good sign for Ginnunga as anything!

    • If you defeat your enemy in PvP combat you are winning.
       
      If you win the fight in a dominating fashion, you are owning.
       
      If you are dominating even more, and you subtract 15 years from your age, you are pwning.
       
      Then there is a new level. We call that clowning.
       
      To be able to clown, you have to purchase The Elder Scrolls Online: Clowning Edition. Only Lyngs knows where to find it.
      To be able to clown, you have to purchase The Elder Scrolls Online: Clowning Edition.  
      In Guild Wars 2 we coined the phrase "clowning" when you win in such a ridiculous fashion that using common terms as "owning" is not nearly enough.
       
      You are winning to such a degree that it is almost comical, but also a bit sad and tragic since winning in such a convincing manner is not really what you signed up for.
       
      What is then comical but also tragic? - You've got it, the clown.
       
      Clowning was born.
       
      We expect to tragically do a bit of Clowning in The Elder Scrolls Online, but we also hope to be roflstomped quite a few times. roflstomped is another phenomenon and it cannot be explained in words, it has to be experienced. So in the middle of all our clowning, we pray for a reversed roflstomp every now and then.
       
      To ensure that a significant amount of clowning will be done, Lyngs prepared for us The Elder Scrolls Online - Clowning Edition. It is even more expensive than the Imperial edition and nobody knows where you can find it other than Lyngs.
       
      Disclaimer: We are not actually selling anything. This is satire.

    • Ernesto

      TitanFall in Eyefinity

      By Ernesto, in News,

      The menus are streched and distorted in Eyefinity, but the game itself looks absolutely stunning.
       
      The performance is stellar and my computer marched on without a hickup in 6048x1080 with settings maxed.
       
      The gameplay is very quick and the matches overly short, but there is some fun to be had - and who in their right mind hasn't dreamt about driving a huge killer robot machine? If it wasn't for my Eyefinity setup, I am not sure it would be nearly as appealing as it currently is, but oh my does the game take you into the battlefield.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

    • Muuman

      Insurgency

      By Muuman, in News,

      This game is a fast-paced FPS which can be described as a semi-simulator. They've gone lengths to make sure it has enough realism to feel good, but not too much for the less hardcore players out there. Crosshair is a history in this game, you will die to a well placed bullet to the head.
       
      http://www.playinsurgency.com/
       
      Playing as a team is recommended, as you'll need some tactics to break enemy defenses. It's fun and intense and it's one of those games that do well playing with buddies!
       
      Here's some quick and dirty sniper action!
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      There you are!
       
       


    • The game runs well in Eyefinity, with a few quirks. The UI is absolute positioned and does not make use of any multi-monitor API to identify the center screen like many other modern games do.
       
      In MMOs it is generally not an issue since you can just manually move all the UI elements to the center screen, but they are static in ESO, so some vital elements, like the group window, is on the far left screen, making it impossible to see other than with your blurry peripheral vision.
       
      During the beta weekend, the Fullscreen alternative in the game options did not work as intended, which means that Crossfire solutions like mine cannot make use of the power of any additional video card. Luckily the game is not so heavy to run, so it is still playable at massive resolution with a single card, but it would have been nice to be able to keep a steady 60 FPS all the time, which would have been possible if both cards worked as they should.
       
      SLI users can still use some of the power of their extra card even if not running in fullscreen, but it is at a reduced capacity.
       
      The tilted effect you can see on the sides is an effect of the field of view. It looks a bit weird now, on a flat surface, but as you play in Eyefinity, the monitors slightly surround you and in the corner of your eye, the trees will be straighter (although not perfectly straight since your monitors are not smoothly bent like a globe).

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