Diablo 3 Website Launched

[[innerindex]]The exciting news of Diablo III was confirmed to the world this morning when Blizzard unveiled it in its week-long splash screen! Shortly after my previous post on the topic, the Diablo III website was launched too! The site, as is typical with Blizzard sites, is gorgeous…here’s some info that was gleaned.

Storyline

It has been twenty years since the events of Diablo II. Of those who faced the Lords of Hatred, Terror, and Destruction in the battle over the fate of Sanctuary, there are few still living who can bear to remember the horrors that the Prime Evils wrought upon the world. And of those who did not witness the terrible events firsthand, most believe the stories to be little more than myth. But something evil is stirring once again in Tristram, and it may already have claimed its first victim: Deckard Cain.

Character Classes

There will be 5 character classes in Diablo III and classes can be either male OR female.

The Barbarian

Picture 2

This old favorite is back! See the Barbarian page. Some skills that are definitely returning are: Cleave, Ground Stomp, Leap, and Whirlwind! Check the barbarian page for videos on these moves!

The Witch Doctor

Picture 1

Here’s the newbie! This guy seems pretty freaking sweet. Check the Witch Doctor page for more information. This class will feature spells such as: Firebomb, Horrify, Locust Swarm, Mass Confusion, and Soul Harvest.”

Video

Currently on the Diablo III site there are two trailers. Cinematic and Gameplay. I can’t find any version of the two in decent quality yet so I’ll have to post those puppies later. In the mean time, check the videos out on the Diablo III site!

Release Date

As with any Blizzard game during announcements…there is no release date announced. Meh. But that’s why we love it. They polish a game until it glistens beyond compare and THEN deliver it to the world. I just wish they’d wait to announce things until a day before it is released so I don’t have to drool for years on end :P

Diablo 3 Officially Announced!

Diablo 3 Announced

Blizzard has had a splash screen that changed daily for the past 5 days, today was its final day and I was extremely surprised to see that it revealed what has long been rumoredDiablo 3! This is exciting news!

The graphical announcement looks freaking awesome and I look forward to the link on the announcement to actually go to the Diablo site rather than a broken page! w000000t!

DotA 6.51 Released

DotA 5.1 has been released! You can get it here or here. Here’s the changelog:

  • Fixed a bug with Kellen’s Dagger that caused it to sometimes not get disabled when hit
  • Fixed Land Mines tooltip
  • Increased cast range of Kelen’s Dagger
  • Undid previous Bottle changes. Bottle now works as follows: Costs 600 gold, does not require mana to refill, auto-fills it when you are near fountain, rune refills it to full, resells at 50% like normal, purchasable at base only, regenerates less than previously, has no usage cooldown.
  • Fixed Medusa’s Mana Shield from triggering Essence Aura
  • Fixed Searing Arrows’ tooltip
  • Changed Hyperstone purchase hotkey to fix a conflict
  • Fixed a bug with Invoker when creating illusions
  • Updated Kelen’s Dagger tooltip
  • Undid some of Morphling’s base damage buff from last version
  • Fixed Bloodrage tooltip
  • Fixed Pulse Nova and Invoker’s Reagents from triggering Last Word
  • Smokescreen interrupts teleportation once again
  • Color coded Invoker’s spell descriptions (203050)
  • Improved Sange’s percentage and Yasha’s percentage, and lowered the recent buff on S&Y a little
  • Fixed Vladmir’s Offering sell cost
  • Increased Counter Helix chance by 2%
  • Minor bonus armor in True Form
  • Improved the effect timing on Split Earth (187877)
  • -swapcancel code is triggered when a swap is successful (to prevent other accidental swaps)
  • Improved Shuriken Toss cast range
  • Added new Backtrack icon (183079)
  • Changed Battlefury recipe slightly
  • Lowered Poof casting time from 2 to 1.5 seconds
  • Lowered Elder Dragon Form’s manacost and cooldown a little
  • Added neutrals field to -cs
  • Changed Phantom Edge’s secondary ability from evasion to magic resistance
  • Replaced Phantom Assassin’s Shadow Strike with a different similar ability (132694)
  • Fixed a minor coding bug with Time Lapse
  • Fixed Impale based spells from moving Juggernaut during Omnislash
  • Added new icon for Melting Strike
  • Reduced some lag with Invoker
  • Fixed level 1 March of the Machines doing slightly less damage than intended
  • Removed stock cooldown on Ironwood Branch
  • Added a new system that tracks when you help an ally kill a hero (no gameplay ramifications at this point)
  • -swap is now allowed in -sd
  • Fixed some minor neutrals’ vision and pathing glitches
  • Lowered level 1 and 2 cast range on Replicate
  • Lowered Phantom Assassin’s cast animation time
  • Fixed a bug with Exorcism’s cooldown after leveling Witchcraft
  • Fixed some issues with -ah
  • Refined how some kill related messages and sounds are shown
  • Increased mana regeneration on Perseverance by 25%
  • Lowered Buriza recipe by 250 gold
  • Changed Voodoo Restoration to heal over a smoother interval (same total regen)
  • Lowered Manta Style’s cooldown a bit
  • Fixed a bug with Voodoo Restoration and Impales
  • Fixed a bug with invoker in -spreverse
  • Fixed some inconsistencies with tower visions (TheLoneWolf14)
  • Increased duration of Lycanthrope’s wolves a bit and allowed them to attack air
  • Temporarily disabled -unstuck command

DotA v6.48 Released!

DotA version 6.48 has been released! There is 1 new hero :D You can download the map here or here. Check out the changelog:

6.48 Changelog
===============

* Added a new hero from the Model-To-Hero contest (see below)
* Added a new ability for Animal Courier to change its model.
* Fixed Planeswalker’s Cloak and Hood of Defiance stacking issues on various heroes’ innate magic resistance abilities.
* Fixed an old rare bug with Leshrac (and recently Storm) that would cause them to constantly drain mana.
* Fixed a bug when killing heroes with Crow
* Fixed Flesh Heap to work properly with suicides
* Fixed a bug in -dm -nd that causes the hero after Bristleback to have Warpath if Bristleback dies with the buff on, and the player quickly picks a new hero.
* Fixed the game mode text to display in proper order
* Fixed Starfall doing extra damage on the second hit
* Restored Freeze Hero functionality
* Added a command -test to enable single player commands to be usable in multiplayer for easier extensive testing
* Added new command ‘-terrain snow’. This transforms the current terrain into a snow terrain. This is a very experimental mechanism and is still very much a WIP in the visuals department.
* Fixed Death Pulse to hit properly non-magic-immune Ancients
* Improved Alchemist’s movement speed a bit
* Increased ranged creep’s mana pool
* Rebalanced Sanity’s Eclipse (Less damage, better leveling)
* Improved Harbinger’s casting animation time
* Fixed a visual glitch with Dispersion that would make it look like it did more Dispersions than it actually did
* Fixed a bug with Unstable Concoction when used during the transformation of Chemical Rage
* Fixed a bug with Greaterbash
* Improved Lion’s movement speed a little
* Fixed Panda’s Storm Wind Walk stats
* Game now gives an error message when attacking Roshan from a disallowed area
* Added -nr(-norepick)
* Added -mute as a custom player command to disable kill sounds
* Fixed a bug with Weave and Reincarnation

DotA v6.46 Released!

A New version of DotA has been released…this release filled primarily bug fixes. You can download it here and here.

6.46b Changelog
================
* Fixed Furion’s Treant stats
* Fixed the neutral creep spawn time in -rd
* Fixed how Psi Blades damage spill area is calculated (149031)
* Undid some of the previous Primal Split duration buff
* Fixed a bug in -sc
* Improved Leoric cast animation time
* Fixed a bug with morphling in -sh
* Improved some issues with Omnislash
* Lowered Null Talisman recipe cost from 175 to 150
* Temporarily disabled the leaver freeze functionality until next version (too many issues, not enough time while its being abused)
* Fixed a bug with Nature’s Attendants
* Fixed a bug with Grapple and Aegis
* Improved text presentation a little with swaphero
* Fixed a bug with Earthshaker and picking up DD rune

6.46 Changelog
===============
* Reduced overall bandwidth used in games
* Fixed a big exploit
* Improved Waaagh!TV compatibility
* Fixed a potential issue in -dmar and respawning
* Fixed a bug with the recent recoding of Death Pulse that causes it to hit invisible units
* Lots of internal coding improvements to get it to a stable state
* Reduced Greater Hawk’s movement speed
* Added a timer in -rd/-xl/-lm to show you how much time you have left to pick your hero
* Fixed various fatal error potential issues
* Fixed Land Mines doing a little less damage than advertised
* Fixed a bug with Battle Hunger that caused it to sometimes fail to detect the hero killing with a couple abilities
* You can now disassemble Helm of the Dominator (157261)
* Rewrote how swaphero works, all old glitches with swaphero are now fixed (You can use -swap instead of -swaphero as well). You can now also select more than one hero to swap with.
* Fixed a bug that changed Bloodseeker’s model scale up
* Fixed Suicide Squad, Attack! from killing wards
* Improved Medusa’s Intelligence Growth
* Lots of misc glitches fixed
* Added new icons for Reincarnation, Berserker’s Blood, Life Break, Remote Mines and Conjure Image (142075, snork, eva00r)
* Fixed a workaround that still allowed flying courier to steal base items
* Fixed some buff stacking issues with Malefice
* Changed Rabid icon
* Improved some lag problems that happened with nature’s attendants
* Fixed a bug with Enchant that sometimes caused it to slow the converted unit
* Fixed Wall of Replica from working on Meepo’s clones
* Added overhead text to show how much damage Test of Faith does
* Lowered Replicate mana cost
* Adjusted Tree Respawn code to not respawn if a hero is standing near it, as to not accidentally trap it.
* Fixed a bug with BKB that caused heroes with full ability card (like nevermore) to lose access to one ability during Avatar if done in a certain order.
* Fixed some lag problems with various abilities
* Added an ability to the Circle of Power to allow you to freeze an allied hero that has left the game (to prevent him from being killed due to things like Thundergod’s Wrath)
* Fixed a bug with Spirit Bear in -dm with -nd on that caused the bear to not restore the bear’s items (this is only a bug with -nd)
* Lightning Grapple no longer pulls creeps (temporary solution for some creep abuse, better ai will be attached in the future so they can resume their path properly)
* Fixed an exploit that is possible with Surge
* Fixed Arcane Orb from dealing bonus damage to Warlock’s Infernal
* Fixed a bug with stun chance on level 1-3 Chaos Bolt
* Fixed Vacuum from working on BKB’d units

StarCraft II Announced

Cinematic Trailer

Note: YouTube doesn’t do the videos much justice as the quality is lacking. To see the videos in all their glory, check the StarCraft II website

I became as giddy as a school girl when I found out that Blizzard had announced the much rumored and anticipated StarCraft II! As of now, while the game is still shrouded in Blizzard mystery (unannounced launch date, lack of details on planned game features, etc), the game is far along enough to provide some seriously stunning gameplay videos.

A few things are known about the game thus far: The 3 races that we know and love will be returning (Protoss, Zerg, and Terran). The way Blizzard words the FAQs leaves them open for adding a new playable race, however…that’d be nifty. What it would be is anybodies’ guess. Secondly, we know that Blizzard is stepping it up a notch with collision detection and how units interact with each other. What we see in the gameplay videos made me drool like an excited bull mastiff. Before I get to those, here’s the game announcement on the official site:

StarCraft II continues the epic saga of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg. These three distinct and powerful races will clash once again in the fast-paced real-time strategy sequel to the legendary original, StarCraft. Legions of veteran, upgraded, and brand-new unit types will do battle across the galaxy, as each faction struggles for survival.

Featuring a unique single-player campaign that picks up where StarCraft: Brood War left off, StarCraft II will present a cast of new heroes and familiar faces in an edgy sci-fi story filled with adventure and intrigue. In addition, Blizzard will again offer unparalleled online play through Battle.net, the company’s world-renowned gaming service, with several enhancements and new features to make StarCraft II the ultimate competitive real-time strategy game.

Features:

* Fast-paced, hard-hitting, tightly balanced competitive real-time strategy gameplay that recaptures and improves on the magic of the original game
* Three completely distinct races: Protoss, Terran, and Zerg
* New units and gameplay mechanics further distinguish each race
* Groundbreaking single-player “story-mode” campaign
* Vibrant new 3D-graphics engine with support for dazzling visual effects and massive unit and army sizes
* Full multiplayer support, with new competitive features and matchmaking utilities available through Battle.net
* Full map-making and scripting tools to give players incredible freedom in customizing and personalizing their gameplay experience

Gameplay Video 1 of 4

Gameplay Video 2 of 4

Gameplay Video 3 of 4

Gameplay Video 4 of 4

Dota 6.43b Released!

DotA has released version 6.43b! Download it here or here. Here’s the changelog:

6.43b Changelog:
=================

  • Fixed some big performance problems lower end machines were having
  • Fixed some rare bugs that caused heroes to not revive
  • Fixed -swaphero, neutral creep spawn time and initial gold in -xl

6.43 Changelog:
================

  • Added new mode -xl(Extended League Mode)
  • Reworked the Roshan Terrain area for improved Sentinel accessibility (lots of miscellaneous tweaks and mechanics to that area have been done beyond simply terrain change)
  • Fixed the multiple hero exploit
  • Recoded the death timer. It is more accurate now (the display was off before, you don’t revive any faster than you used to)
  • Items with armor bonuses no longer stack (Vladmir/Basilius/Assault)
  • Fixed a bug with Satanic that was giving it extra life steal
  • Fixed some bugs with Mekansm, Morphling Stat Change and Hand of God that caused the death timer to not properly show
  • Added Bottle to the new secret shop
  • Undid some of the Toughness Aura buff from last version
  • Tinker no longer Rearms Arcane Ring
  • Slightly reduced creep collision size due to the increased number in the last patch towards the end of the game
  • Fixed Sentinel ranged creeps having slightly less regen than Scourge ranged creeps
  • Mekansm and Bloodstone now tell the user when they fail to heal him properly due to stacking rules
  • Watchers give slightly less gold (due to their new radiance vulnerability last patch)
  • Fixed various typos
  • Fixed Ring of Basilius ability from working on CotS and Essence Aura
  • Song of the Siren properly sleeps units out of its vision
  • Items that can be disassembled now tell you when you buy them
  • Fixed a bug with chicken that lets you sell unsellable items
  • Fixed Throne not providing the lifesteal capability that World Tree does
  • Reduced Radiance damage bonus from 70 to 60
  • Fixed Phantom Assassin’s Blink Strike range
  • Death Board is on by default now (-don)
  • Observer Wards last a little longer now
  • Reduced Avernus’ movement speed by 5
  • Temporarily disabled Meepo in -dm to fix some bugs
  • Fixed the Doppelwalk and Lothar’s Edge “0!” text
  • The icon for turning Rot off is now more obvious
  • Changed Meepo Attribute Bonus from 40% to 25%
  • Improved Unstable Concoction (When you cast it, you lock vision on the target while you channel)
  • Various nerfs to Alchemist: Acid Spray AOE (700-550), Acid Spray Mana (120->160), Str/lvl (2.4->1.8), Int/lvl (1.5->1.0), Lowered health regen on level 1 ultimate, Greed Stack Duration (20->18), Greed Gold Cap (20->18), Movement Speed (300->290) but level 2 and 3 of his ultimate give him a minor boost back to his normal speed, Slight base armor reduction
  • Fixed Cheese to heal the proper amount
  • Fixed the creep spawn sound from happening too early in -mm

Google Maps: Map World of Warcraft

mapwowGoogle Maps has been taken to a whole new level. The greatest mashup of the gaming world has been created using data from World of Warcraft and the Google Maps API. The end result is brilliant! Its name? MapWoW.

What is it exactly? Well, its a map of World of Warcraft that you can zoom in and out on Blizzard’s wonderful MMORPG world with the familiar controls of Google’s mapping tool. MapWoW gives a good description on what can be done with the tool:

The map utilizes the Google Maps API and therefore behaves just a like a Google Map. Clicking on the controls on the left side of the map will let you zoom in and out. Dragging the map around lets you scroll the map and view different areas. It’s that easy.

Use the menu to the right of the map to select resources and labels that you wish to display. Currently you can display herbs, ore, treasure, zone names, and city names. There are over 15,000 data points covering 69 resources with their exact map location in our database. The bottom of the menu provides quick links to popular locations in the game. Found a great area that you want to share with your friends? Go to the location on the map, click on the “Link to this Location” and then copy the URL.

We are always looking to make the site better; so more features will be coming shortly. If there’s something you’d like to see on the map or have an idea for a new feature, please [contact MapWoW].

The following herbs can currently be mapped: Arthas’ Tears, Black Lotus, Blindweed, Briarthorn, Bruiseweed, Dreamfoil, Earthroot, Fadeleaf, Firebloom, Ghost Mushroom, Golden Sansam, Goldthorn, Grave Moss, Gromsblood, Icecap, Khadgar’s Whisker, Kingsblood, Liferoot, Mageroyal, Mountain Silversage, Peacebloom, Plaguebloom, Purple Lotus, Silverleaf, Stranglekelp, Sungrass, Wild Steelbloom, and Wintersbite. The following ore can currently be mapped: Copper Vein, Dark Iron Ore, Gold Vein, Ooze Covered Gold Vein, Incendicite Mineral Vein, Iron Deposit, Lesser Bloodstone Deposit, Mithril Deposit, Ooze Covered Mithril Deposit, Silver Vein, Ooze Covered Silver Vein, Small Thorium Vein, Ooze Covered Thorium Vein, Rich Thorium Vein, Ooze Covered Rich Thorium Vein, Tin Vein, Truesilver Deposit, and Ooze Covered Truesilver Deposit.

Overall, a fairly groovy mashup with a lot of functionality for World of Warcraft! Awesome.

UPDATE: It seems the guys at MapWoW have an Outland map as well. w00t!

World of Warcraft MySpace Layouts

WoW MySpace

Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom has blessed MySpace with its presence! Over the past few months I’ve received a number of requests for World of Warcraft MySpace layouts and I’m happy to say that Blizzard has created a number of those layouts for anyone to use!

They’ve got one for each WoW race. To get them, simply head over to the World of Warcraft MySpace account and scroll down to the Skin your MySpace section and click on the races…or grab them directly from these links:

No More E3?

It seems big name corporations may have lost interest in spending money on advertising at good ‘ole E3.

Uber-geeks writes:

The buzz is that E3 as the gaming industry has come to know it will cease to be what it has been since the mid 1990’s. The hugely popular Gaming Expo has lost its interest from big name gaming corporations that claim the cost isn’t worth the benefit. :(

[…]

E3 is speculated to not be cancelled entirely, but have a much smaller event next May with fewer of the big names. It seems like companies such as Blizzard can manage on its own. *cough cough Blizzcon cough cough* I dread the official announcement (coming this Monday, perhaps).

DotA v6.34 Released!

dota An article from Uber-Geeks says:

I am happy to announce that Icefrog over at DotA Allstars has released the next version of Defense of the Ancients (DotA), version 6.34! You can download it at GetDotA.com.

What does this new version bring? Well, firstly it provides the same game modes as its previous version (v6.33b). The rest I grabbed out of the changelog.

You can read the change log at Uber-Geeks. w00t!


New World of Warcraft Forums

WoW Forum Icon Blizzard’s forum software has always sucked balls. It was about time that they re-code it and give it a face lift. Well, they have released their new forum Beta test for World of Warcraft, check it out! Features:

  • New design
  • New Avatars
  • Most Valuable Poster (MVP) Status*
  • A Search that works (their non-working search had always pissed me off)
  • Faster

*Most Valuable Poster (MVP) Status
To participate in Blizzard Entertainment’s MVP program, one must be a positive influence to the forum community in helping other users, as well as regularly active. If you meet this criteria, and the community team views such actions on a regular basis, there is a possibility you may be asked to participate in the program. Very few people are chosen for this honorary role, which may be revoked by Blizzard at any time. Please do not contact us requesting to be a MVP.

Good work Blizzard! Keep it up!

UPDATE: I guess I’m a tool, MVP status has been around a while. I suppose its just uses SUPER rarely.

Most Popular MMORPG

WoW Well, as expected, Blizzard has once again created the most popular game of a given category! In a press release on Blizzard‘s site they announced meeting the 1 million paying customer mark in the US! Bringing the total of paying customers world wide to over 4 million. Assuming ~4 million customers @ $15/month…thats $60,000,000 every month. $720,000,000 dollars in a year (assuming the membership stays at around 4 million). Thats a lot of cash.

Its just amazing how this industry has been growing…A number of companies have been in the MMORPG market for a while, but it has been Blizzard’s World of Warcraft that has brought the industry to its full light. Blizzard’s followers from the hit Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo series seemed to have simply followed the Genious company into their new realm of domination…and they brought their friends and family :) With numbers this high in the MMO industry (and growing) who knows what this could hold for the future!

World of Warcrack and the future of MMOGs

[[innerindex]]WoW Dude I began gaming in the early 90’s. Looking back at what gaming was then compared to what it is today causes me to do a double take. Things have changed so much so fast. Of particular note is the Online Gaming industry. What started out as geek-only text-based fantasy games has morphed into a globe encompassing communication/entertainment mega-games….Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). Before I explain my awe when it comes to these games, I’ll start out with a short definition and a little history.

What are MMOGs?

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (a.k.a. MMOG, MMO, MMORPG) are pay-to-play games where a player interacts with an evolving game-world and hundreds (to thousands) of other players at the same time. Within these games, players typically wander around killing monsters, collecting/crafting items, creating organizations, and often times Player Killing (hunting down other players and killing them for experience, loot, or simply just for fun). In addition to the above…MMOGs tend to be highly addictive! I, myself, have been prone to spurts of MMOG addiction :)

A Brief History

I suppose the best way to fully understand these MMOGs is to see where they come from. Back in the ancient days of 1977, the first MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) was born. These geek-only games of sweetness gained popularity due to their ability to connect like-minded fantasy buffs to interact with eachother in a text-based reality, however, the popularity remain primarily in the geek community due primarily to the fact that most MUDs contained no graphics beyond ASCII art. While cool to some, many people found them fairly boring…I mean sheesh. read?!. (I was one of those geeks that played MUDs… EotL to be exact)

It wasn’t until 1997 when Ultima Online launched that MMOGs began to really take off. Ultima Online reached 100,000 users fairly quickly which spurred a whole industry of MMOGs with a variety of gaming engines, rules, and monthly price ranges. Some of the most popular: Asheron’s Call (AC), Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC), EverQuest (EQ), Ultima Online (UO), and the fairly new World of Warcraft (WoW).

Why Are MMOGs So Popular?

Oooo Doggy. Good question. MMOGs aren’t just games for geeks anymore. As the games become more advanced and appealing to the eye, more and more people are buying the games and paying the monthly fees. All types of people! Geeks, teachers, athletes, construction workers, housewives, etc!

  • Its a Role-Playing Game.

    MMOGs allow us to be an object of our own fantasy and participate in a world with very loose rules that allow us expose us to experiences when we want to experience them. In WoW I have the freedom to create a character that walks around being a bastard to people: swearing at them; stealing their items; player killing defenseless characters (griefing). While at the same time I could make a second character that is the perfect angel. Always willing to help those in need; an active contributing member of a guild; a good party member. I could make a third character with a whole different personality. Thats the beauty of it, you can play how you want with minimal fear of Real Life retaliation. You are simply a character on a screen, nothing more. When you get tired, you simply log off the game and you are back to your real life. A co-worker of mine directed me to this essay that explains this mode of thought:

    If you don’t understand the gravitational pull of an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), I’m going to enlighten you with just a dozen words: you get to pick what you look like and what your talents are.

    That’s the real beauty of it. The first thing you do in the MMORPG World of Warcraft is design your own body and decide what your strengths will be. You pick your race. What could be more seductive than that, the ability to turn in all of the cards you were dealt at birth and draw new ones from a face-up deck? If you have friends who’ve gotten sucked into the WoW black hole and you don’t understand why they never talk to you any more, this is it. I remember being a chubby teenager with bad skin and astigmatism and pants that didn’t fit quite right. What would I have given to be reborn as a strapping warrior with rippling pecs and armor of hammered silver?

    On that kid’s screen now is a dozen noble warriors of exotic races, brandishing elaborate weapons and charging a gigantic demon across a fire-scarred mountaintop. The dwarf next to him is controlled by an accountant planted at his own computer in Cleveland, two babies sleeping in the next room and his pregnant wife on the sofa. The robed priest in the back casting healing spells is actually a 250-lb. ex-gangster, playing from the computer lab of a maximum security prison in Pennsylvania. The elf on his left, sprinting and drawing his mighty magical bow, is the digital body of a wheelchair-bound 12 year-old girl in Miami.

  • For some its the social aspect of the game. For example:

    I get my kicks from MMOGs for this very reason. Most MMOGs have some ability to create in-game organizations (in WoW they are called Guilds) and from these organizations grows in-game politics. Bylaws are often created; characters vie for rank; hierarchies are established; there are inter-guild events and disputes. It may seem silly at first glance because its “all a game,” but more often than not these organizations are taken very seriously by their members – despite the fact that they may have a guild name like “Vicious Chickens of Bristol” – and many Real Life friendships can be won and lost. So whats the draw? The ability to socialize with people from around the world and organize under one purpose. People are simply drawn to structure and conflict. I am. I love it :)

  • Yet another reason for MMOG popularity is the story.

    MMOGs typically have a wonderfully rich background story that explains the hows and whys of the virtual world. World of Warcraft (yes, I’m using WoW as the example again because I love it so :) ) has a very wonderful story line that allows its characters to participate in quests that unfold the WoW story to that user. The quests can be anything from a short delivery quest where you take one item from point A to point B, or it can be a whole chain of quests that build up an epic plot, OR it can be a comedic side story that gives an amusing reward. In WoW there are hundreds of quests and every few months many more are added/tweaked. The world is constantly evolving giving those that thrive on storylines plenty of story to keep them active for months and months on end!

What MMOGs Have Become

MMOGs have become an addiction and a communication powerhouse.
I’m a World of Warcraft addict. I play a Human Priest (named Heuric) and help run a guild called the Crimson Eagles. The scary thing is, is the fact that I get so excited even talking about the game (whether verbally or typing). It has become a very real part of my social life. And before you can ask the question, I’ll answer it: No, it is not my only social life…I spend maybe 5-15 hours a week in the game. Seem like a lot to you? Well, I’m considered an almost non-active member in my guild. There are people I know that spend almost all their time at home playing these games…sometimes more than 40 hours a week!

You see…weekends allow for game play times of 10+ hours straight! I have been known to do this and have also been known to forget to eat because of it. Yeah. I often suffer from the “five more minutes….I just need to kill 3 more” syndrome. Well sometimes I don’t miss just one meal…I sometimes may miss 2 and on a couple of rare occasions I have missed 3. Remember when I said that I am considered pretty inactive? Scary huh? Thank god I have a wife that keeps me in line :) (I only miss meals when I’m home alone)

Its an MMOG addiction. And I’m not alone. There are over 3 Million people in the world that own and play World of Warcraft…and thats just one game!

Ten years ago when I wanted to talk to one of my friends, I’d call them up on the phone. 7 years ago I’d e-mail them. 4 years ago I’d instant message them. Now…I log in to WoW. There they all are, running around PKing in Alterac Valley; questing in Searing Gorge; trading in Iron Forge; raiding in UBRS; or grinding in the Western Plaguelands. (all locations in WoW). Despite the fact that they are all doing their own thing, I can type or pop on a headset microphone and and talk to them. We plan get togethers, discuss work, news, politics, religion, etc…right there in game.

MMOGs have become a source of income (and I’m not talking companies)
WTF!?!?! Yeah. People can play for money. While generally frowned upon by both the companies that produce the games and by the average player, the buying and selling of accounts, items, and in-game currency has become a very profitable business. Here’s an article at TechAngel that talks of a man that makes ~$1,800 a month! In this article at 1up.com they explain how game profiteers are establishing Gaming Sweatshops in China, India, Mexico, etc where people are forced to play outrageous hours farming in-game currency for measely wages ($0.59/hour).

This is bad on multiple levels…first and foremost, the workers work long hours for very little money and are placed in situations where if the quit their jobs they’d lose their homes too. Its also bad for in-game economy. (yes, these virtual worlds have their own economy) These gold farmers jack up the prices of items causing many under-handed players to resort to purchasing money on E-bay and various game currency reseller sites…just to purchase a rare item in game! Its amazing to what lengths someone will go simply for the satisfaction of attaining certain items and a certain in-game status.

Where are MMOGs going?

They aren’t leaving any times soon, thats for darn sure. I can speculate that they will continue to grow in popularity and be taken more seriously. Even now we are seeing how serious some are taking these ‘games.’ MSNBC has an article where one man killed another because an in-game sword was stolen…Its a sad story that shows just how real some people believe these to be:

Qui went to the police to report the “theft” but was told the weapon was not real property protected by law.

“Zhu promised to hand over the cash but an angry Qui lost patience and attacked Zhu at his home, stabbing him in the left chest with great force and killing him,” the court was told.

More and more online gamers were seeking justice through the courts over stolen weapons and credits, the newspaper said at the time the case went to trial.

“The armor and swords in games should be deemed as private property as players have to spend money and time for them,” Wang Zongyu, an associate law professor at Beijing’s Renmin University of China, was quoted as saying.

As these incidents occur (and mark my words…more will come) what laws will be birthed because of them? Southeast Asia tends to be on the bleeding edge of gaming/tech culture and obsession. It is here that many of the ‘firsts’ occur (such as the murder mentioned above). Because of these incidents they are attempting to prevent them with some interesting laws:

What laws will carry over world wide? Will there be Real Life implications for what we do in game? Only time will tell…and I will be watching the clock with curiosity and a wary mind.

UPDATE (9/7/2005):
It seems that Slashdot has a post going on how WoW is now the 800-pound gorilla in the room…the big question from the New York Times:

WoW is now the 800-pound gorilla in the room. I think it also applies to the single-player games. If some kid is paying $15 a month on top of the initial $50 investment and is devoting so many hours a week to it, are they really going to go out and buy the next Need for Speed or whatever? There is a real fear that this game, with its incredible time investment, will really cut into game-buying across the industry.’ What is the Slashdot opinion on World of Warcraft’s impact on the gaming industry?