The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Invite

The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Launcher

When Zenimax and Bethesda Studios announced the making of The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) MMORPG, I was thrilled!! Having played Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim … I am completely familiar with the TES Lore. The one pet peeve (which almost all TES players would agree) was the fact that none of the games hitherto did not have multi-player support.

Multi-player Support

Multi-player is not a health factor in making a game famous … Skyrim has already taught us that. However the way the games industry is evolving, it makes sense to make the game multi-player and evolve the game over a period of time. A good example of this is World of Warcraft. I keep coming back to this game because it is by far the highest revenue grossing MMORPG out there. It is true that even WoW is loosing subscribers to the other games out there … but this is the only other game which has successfully shown that a 15 USD per month subscription can work.

The Elder Scrolls Online is also structured around the same subscription concept. If you want to play, you have to pay.

Does a Payment Subscription work?

A payment subscription is not something many gamers like shelling out. Having played World of Warcraft for more than a year, I stopped playing the day I realized that I had spent well over 50,000 INR in subscription and upgrades. However, the effort and content that needs to be put in to make this work is huge. Many have tried and failed at making their games a paid subscription. The most notable among this would be the Star Wars MMO, which started off as a paid subscription but did not gather enough users … to attract more users they eventually changed their model to a free to play + pay 2 win.

Many game critiques have already declared this game as 2014’s game disaster, not only because of the payment subscription model but also because of the huge budget that both the companies have declared.

Time will tell

There will be people who will make predictions … yes it will be a huge success, no it will be a trouncing failure. When the dust settles, one of these parties will say … see, we told you so! We said it first.

However, for now instead of making forecasts, I would rather focus on getting into the Beta this weekend. The amount of hype generated this weekend will help in understanding whether people are willing to give more attention to this game and whether TESO can reach mainstream adoption rates … just the way Skyrim did.

WoW on Wine

No, I don’t drink and raid :)

I recently have taken a lot to playing World of Warcraft during my free time (I think this also reflects pretty well on the blog :-)). I also have bought a good powerhouse of a desktop, and had dual booted it with WinXP and Win7. The problem with Win7 is that I have the 64-bit trial distribution and it hangs a lot, it has driver issues. The problem with WinXP is that its WinXP :-)

I am not that much of an operating system nazi, but the machine slows, down, the wireless network card that I am using is not fully utilized (WinXP sucks when it comes to driving the wireless interface!!). All in all, when it comes to playing an Online RPG, the environment does not deliver it’s 100%. Thus, I tried to give Ubuntu a try.

  • I already had the 11.04 distro with me, so the first thing I did was update all the repositories, include the third party repositories, and install Wine. Wine stands for WINdows Emulator. You can read more about Wine here.
  • After Wine, I went for installing Winetricks, which is a third party software. It’s used to easily streamline commands via a wizard which otherwise I would have been forced to use the console.
  • Somehow the Wine commands that get integrated into the shell (the right click menu of your explorer) are a bit different from the wine that got installed. So at first the program refused to run giving some obscure access management errors.
  • So, refusing to be let down, I went and searched for third party alternatives. You can skip this step, and definitely do not install the Crossover Games application because its just a trial, however, the PlayOnLinux (POL) application is recommended here, since after installing that, at least the icons of the .exe files will be visible
  • However, when I ran the Launcher.exe of World of Warcraft via the custom command console (by right clicking on it and selecting Open with Other Application, and then simply typing wine in the command box)
  • That’s it. Now the World of Warcraft launcher will run, and the game runs seamlessly

Since the game does not use the latest DirectX drivers, instead it replaces them with its own set, the textures and the games will be slightly different. I noticed a different texture for the water in WoW for example. But otherwise, the game is perfect for running. The network card works better, so I get a faster ping rate.

Diablo 3: Updates

diablo3 I have been waiting for almost three years for this game to release. Along with me thousands of other Diablo fans are waiting for Blizzard to announce the public beta launch date. Truth be told, it’s going to negatively impact the subscriptions of the other Blizzard games, especially World of Warcraft. Perhaps they are working out on when to announce the launch of the 4.3 WoW patch, and when to announce the Diablo public beta. Here’s a list of all things that I have heard about the game.

  • The private beta has been released last week, and is open to all the friends and family members of Blizzard employees. Not only is it a way to find beta testers ;-), but also it’s a brilliant HR ploy.
  • The game will fear an Auction House (AH) like the WoW series, but this time players will have an option to use real money in the AH. This is going to be a game which will somehow impact the economy, at a micro level albeit, but interesting to note that no other game has the balls to try this out. Then again, this idea might just backfire.
  • The solo game will require the player to still be connected online. I guess the online part is made mandatory due to the ease of operations. The game can be updated later on, DRM issues are resolved, piracy goes down, instead of a one time purchase a player can be made to pay the subscription amount month on month. Most of the game houses are trying to include this concept (even Microsoft with X-Box live).

Having said all that, the game is still widely awaiting and you can start checking out the game play videos of Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard and Witch Doctor. With the private beta now live, you can always hope to see a lot more content and videos on youtube.

Here’s hoping that the game releases before 2012!!

Fortune Online: Diablo2 style MMORPG

After power leveling my first level 85 Dranei Hunter on World of Warcraft, I kind of realized that I need to slow down on the WoW front. Not only was it eating a significant amount of my free time, but I had gotten a bit jaded by it.

So after staying away from it for half a week, I tried to give this a whirl. FortuneOnline is a free MMORPG which has the look and feel of Diablo 2 … took me back to my days of engineering … bunking lectures so that I could stay back and slay Diablo/Baal or his uber-minions. I think that game is the only game I played to its fullest (for a full 6-7 years).

Pros:

  • Interesting power-ups and skill trees for different classes
  • It’s a browser based game – no pesky bulky client downloads
  • Platform dependant as long as you can install Adobe Flash
  • Diablo clone MMORPG (I can’t get enough of this)
  • Good controls and game controls are extremely responsive
  • Game is divided into different sections very nicely
  • It’s free

Cons:

  • Not many players online who seem to be active on the general chat
  • The consumable items do not work sometimes (I hope the developers sort this glitch out)
  • Game can get a bit repetitive after some time
  • The item drops in the game suggest presence of more classes that the player can have, however when I was in character creation, I did not see those classes (don’t know if there is a premium mode)
  • The plot is not riveting, or perhaps I am still too jaded for really engaging into the game plot.
  • The graphics are meh! … however, even Diablo was not that awesome (remember it was 1999), now our expectations have gone up

All in all, a good whirl and you can idle by a few boring hours with this game. I do hope that the Torchlight folks can turn out a better MMORPG

Torchlight

TorchlightRetailBox I am a huge fan of the Diablo series, so much so that when I had an important exam to study for, I had a friend come over and play on my machine … that way I could study and not get tempted to play the game!! 3 months later, I cracked that test, Nikhil got hooked on Diablo :-). After battling the hordes of Baal, both of us tried different variants of the game, I think I have completed the game with all characters while Nikhil has completed the game in all difficulty levels (yep! Hell!!).

It was 2009 and the folks at Blizzard were keeping the Diablo3 plans hush-hush. So how do we fill the void? Believe me, I have tried … Oblivion, KOTOR, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout … RTS games like Rise of Nations, Rise of Legends, Anno 1404 … the list goes on. My thirst for Diablo remains, until I saw on the xfire community a game which seemed to resemble Diablo, a LOT!! Screenshots looked like an old friend with a new hair-do … sleeker, trendy … but underneath, it was the same old friend.

I did my research and read through the wiki of the game, an excerpt –

Pre-production on Torchlight began in August 2008, shortly after the dissolution of Flagship Studios. Runic Games was founded by Travis Baldree (lead developer of Fate and Mythos) and veterans of Blizzard North and Flagship: Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer and Peter Hu. The “entire Flagship Seattle team” consisting of 14 people (the branch of Flagship which created the original Mythos) signed on to Runic Games at the time of its formation. Having lost the rights to Mythos, the Runic team saw the development of a new game as a way to “finish what [they] started,” although they would have to start over with none of the code or art assets from Mythos.

The game is touted to be the best Diablo clone that is there in the market. With a standard storyline, and lots of drops, I found the game an excellent hack and slash game. Also with an upcoming MMO to be launched soon in tie-up with Perfect World (a Chinese firm), the rights to play online would be free with the game.

One more game to look forward to in 2011 :-)