E3 Recap | MMOrgue 6

E3 Recap | MMOrgue 6

As promised, this week’s episode will be taking a closer look at some of the intriguing bits of MMO goodness to have spilled from the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center during last week’s Electronics Entertainment Expo, more commonly known as E3.

Although most fans of MMOs left the expo talking about the latest trailers and announcements from SWTOR, or the launch of Neverwinter Online’s website and subsequent flood of information, there are few stories which have stood above the crowd in my eyes. Two console-bound MMOs that promise to break new ground with innovative features and business models, and unprecedented presence beyond the confines of games themselves.

The first of these comes from Trion Worlds, the makers of RIFT and End of Nations. Their newly announced third-person shooter, Defiance, will come to PC, consoles, and television. Yes, you heard that correctly.

The other console-bound MMO comes from CCP, the geniuses behind the innovative and unique space sandbox MMO, Eve. In Dust514, players will extend the war for dominance of the galaxy to a new front line, without leaving the old war behind.

Before we get into the details of each of these interesting new software titles, I’d like to first review some hardware that made a big showing at this year’s E3. The cloud-gaming service, On-Live.

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Show Notes:

Disclaimer: On-Live has made NO MENTION of getting into MMOs. This is entirely my speculation and opinion on how their technology could change the landscape. 

Server-Client nature
– Standard faire MMO gamers
– Inability to play offline is not a setback for this genre
– Lack of ownership of title is no big deal
For developers:
– No more client hacking
– Patching – seamless/easy

Sluggish gameplay not a distraction
– Majority of MMO games can be played in lag without bother

System Reqs:
Cloud gaming means that the gameplay is rendered remotely in real-time, then sent to your screen as encoded video transmissions. This eliminates the need for local hardware, other than the bare essentials needed to decode the video (which is very efficient), and a beefy internet connection.
– Many MMO gamers already have strong connection speeds, or would not balk at upgrading their speed to play a new title they were excited about.
– The MMO industry is known for keeping reqs low in order to cater to a more casual playerbase.
** By eliminating the need for high end hardware at the customer’s end, you can push the specs of your game to unseen heights. Making prettier games, that run even on very low end systems.
** In fact, if the game is DESIGNED to be an OnLive exclusive, you can even push the envelope of what’s available at the bleeding edge of technology, and go beyond the graphics capabilities of ANY consumer.
– No more time spent ensuring your client runs on dozens of different hardware setups. You can eliminate that portion of your development cycle by ensuring that your cloud-based servers all have the same hardware. Compatability issues become a thing of the past.

In summary:
If a major development shop joined up with OnLive to deliver a product, it could potentially revolutionize what gamers expect from an MMO. By delivering higher quality graphics, eliminating downloads, and destroying technological barriers for entry other than a strong internet connection speed.

Simply put, the playing field would change. And it’s my opinion that games delivering their content using the current model of downloading patches and


Defiance (interview)

Trion Worlds is partnering with SyFy (NBC) to create an evolving story that ties together across the game, and a TV series.

  • This partnership originated on the NBC/Universal side, so it’s possible that the SHOW comes first.

Yes, there will be an ongoing TV series airing alongside the game, focusing on a cast of a few primary characters.

  • These characters will also appear in game, and if their actions in either affect the world as a whole, players of the game will see those changes occur, and see their world evolve dynamically.
  • It also goes the other way — players or guilds that have an impact on the game’s dynamic world may find themselves written into the script of the TV show (though probably only as a mention, and not an actual appearance).

Also launching on PC, PS3 and Xbox360 at the same time.

  • Devs are “not talking about cross-platform at this time” but other news sites are already reporting that players on all 3 platforms will be able to interact.
  • If true, it would be the first to break down those barriers.

Trion Worlds says the game shares elements of Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption and Halo.

  • From a few fans that saw the demo, it’s also been compared to Tabula Rasa.
  • Could we finally have the spiritual successor we’ve been waiting for?

Arkfall events, very similar to “rift” dynamics.

  • In addition to standard missions (aka quests, but geographically triggered).

DUST 514

Dust 514 details integration with EVE (1, 2, 3)

Exclusive to PS3 (and PSVita?)

  • Not a true MMO, but rather a match-based FPS.
  • Although each individual battle may contain “massive” numbers of participants, there’s no persistence within Dust514 itself.
  • These battles represent, and control, resource conquest within EVE.
  • For example, an EVE player might want to build a space elevator on a planet, in order to take control of that planet’s resources and facilities. He could set up a contract with a Dust 514 player (or even multiple players) to attack a certain point at a certain time, and if a Dust 514 player can win that battle, the EVE player’s corporation could earn control of that area, and all of the spoils therein.

Separate game, unified economy.

  • Respawning and re-equipping in Dust costs ISK, which is earned easily by directly contracting with pilots and corporations in EVE.
  • Once a contract is fulfilled, the ISK is sent from EVE to DUST.
  • Sure, that means you could “contract” your own toon in the other game. But the political intrigue doesn’t stop there.
  • It’s well known that the majority of what you might consider EVE’s “end-game” is played only by the most powerful and well-connected players. They are all a part of massive corporations that seek strength in numbers, and overcome their enemies through a combination of skill and tactics on the battlefield, and political machination and espionage behind closed doors.
  • The addition of these ground-based skirmishes is just another layer to the already complicated interaction of these powerful corporations. And it’s possible that a skilled DUST merc could find himself contacted by multiple corps, and deciding the fate of the larger galaxy through his successes. Or even via his failures.
  • It won’t be unheard of for a Merc to accept a large budget contract to “win” a match, only to also sign an off-the-record deal with a rival corporation to throw the match for a larger sum.
  • Dusters can also join EVE corps, and dedicate themselves to a single purpose instead of merc’ing out for their whole lives.

Two games, one war

  • There will be airstrikes, and ground-to-space attacks
  • Meaning that the games are not as separate as they may at first feel.
  • Also meaning that a group of ground mercs playing DUST won’t necessarily want to risk assaulting a planet’s command center unless they have a fleet in orbit protection against retaliation from an associated EVE corporation.

UI design?

  • While CCP has plenty of experience running massive worlds and maintaining online servers, its only prior product is EVE.
  • EVE is a mire of spreadsheets and UI elements that combine to form an immediate information overload even for low-end players. By the time you’re a veteran of the game, you look at boxes filled with complicated text and figures more frequently than you get to enjoy the stunning beauty of the game’s space environments and ships.
  • A shooter requires a streamlined, easy-to-use, intuitive and minimalistic interface. Although there are plenty of models to aspire to on the market, CCP is going to have to overcome their own tendency to overload players HUDs with information. Keep it simple, stupid!

CCP is marketing this to NON-EVE PLAYERS

Cost to play?

  • Free, with box cost. (no box, distributed via PSN)
  • But the box cost is refunded in ISK (which can even be spent to buy game time in EVE).
  • You can then purchase additional ISK if necessary. And since re-equipping after death will require ISK, it may very well be an expensive game to play, if you’re not very good at it.

To date, no other MMO has launched an entire second GAME that directly interacts with their predecessor project. The interconnectivity of the economic and political portions of EVE and DUST set an unprecedented standard as an evolutionary leap forward towards at last experiencing dynamic, player-driven, sandbox events at every scale of human experience.

Other E3 News

New Titles:
Wizardry Online
Dragon Nest

More Info on Known Titles:
TERA Online announces Political System (1, 2, Q&A)
Black Prophecy enters Open Beta
SWTOR… was there (1, 2

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