I think my second stint of World of Warcraft is starting to come to an end. The timing is about right; since starting City of Heroes in June 2004, I seem to have followed a rough cycle of being heavily into an MMO for about six months (CoH), then ‘fading out’ for a bit, playing a few single player games or trying other things (both the US and EU WoW betas, late 2004/early 2005), then getting into an MMO for another six months (WoW, from February 2005), ‘fading out’ and trying other things (back to CoH a bit, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), back to an MMO for six months (City of Villains in October 2005), other things (Auto Assault and Dungeons and Dragons Online for a month or so each, 14 day trial of EVE, Oblivion, back to CoV for a new issue there), taking us up to the Return to WoW around October 2006, now reaching the six month point.

It’s not a sudden thing, the transition from Playing to Not Playing, I just find myself logging in less often, not devoting quite so much time at work to calculating an optimal character build, and browsing around to see what other games are out there, to which end reports from the recent Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) have thrown up a few interesting possibilities.

A while back, I was contemplating Vanguard quite seriously, but I’m ready for a move away from the fantasy genre, so neither that nor Lord of the Rings Online hold much appeal. Van Hemlock pointed out Stargate Worlds, which has a lot of good looking features. I haven’t particularly watched the series, but game-wise it sounds like it’s shaping up very nicely (then again, everything shapes up very nicely in pre-launch publicity…) Also in the Sci-Fi MMORPG-with-fast-paced-ranged-weapon-combat field, there’s Tabula Rasa, the gameplay videos of that on the Massively Online Gamer podcast look great, and it has some interesting sounding features like character “cloning”, so you don’t always have to totally re-start to try something different. In that same podcast, Fallen Earth gets a big thumbs up for the character customisation; even while formulating a previous rant, I hadn’t considered a “body hair” setting…

Most of those seem to be aiming for a late 2007/early 2008 release; a little sooner than that, June with luck, there’s Pirates of the Burning Sea. The Massively Online Gamer podcast has some nice footage of that; I particularly liked the “foot stamp” move while swordfighting, causing your opponent to hop in pain for a while. Digging around their developer logs, there’s also an account of a naval engagement (“12.01.06 Beta Update – 7v7 battle!”, about halfway down at the time of posting) which, as an expert on age of sail warfare (that is, I’ve read a couple of C S Forester and Patrick O’Brian books), sounds rather fun. I’ll certainly be keeping a weather eye on that one.

Posted by Zoso at 2:40 pm