Monthly Archives: February 2011

And the winner is…

It’s Oscar time, and a sad indictment of the game industry that only one of the ten Best Picture nominations, Toy Story 3, has a tie-in video game (unless you count Facebook). After devoting a great deal of thought to the matter, KiaSA Industries are pitching several projects to cash in on the success of the films in question:

The King’s Speech: Based on a Lips/SingStar karaoke-style engine, players have to work through a series of vocal exercises, tongue twisters and vigorous swearing before the end-game challenge, delivering a speech announcing the outbreak of war.

The Fighter: Quick re-brand of Wii Sports Boxing. Sorted!

Black Swan: A modified version of Dance Central with more ballet moves, plus a bottle of psychotropic drugs

127 Hours: One for the motion-sensing controllers as players start off with a nice bit of hiking in the manner of Wii Fit or similar, then have to shove their arm down the back of the sofa and stay there for five days. Wii version comes with a pretend plastic penknife blade to clip onto the Wiimote.

Inception: A virtual world, within which is a computer that runs a virtual world, within which is a computer that runs a virtual world, within which is a computer that lets you play Midwinter to an Edith Piaf soundtrack.

The Social Network: if Facebook itself doesn’t count as the tie-in game, Zynga could surely step into the breach with SocialNetworkVille, a game on a social network about developing a social network on which can be developed games. Hang on, this might be Inception again.

True Grit: DLC for Red Dead Redemption, with extra mumbling dialogue

Bit stumped for the last two on the list, so in the grand tradition of terrible 8-bit games with, at best, tangential relations to their film namesakes I reckon a side-scrolling beat ’em up where you work through wave after wave of junkies for Winter’s Bone, and a jolly platformer where you bounce around collecting DNA test results and Joni Mitchell records for The Kids Are All Right.

Businessmen, they drink my wine

After doing what seemed like the hard work of Pirates of the Burning Sea shipbuilding (cutting down trees, sawing logs into planks, making oak frames, sewing hemp into ropes and canvas), I had almost everything required for the grand launch of HMS Will This Thing Float? Chucking a bunch of sailors on a ship with no food isn’t the best idea, though, so the final items I needed were some packages of Ship Provisioning. Turns out they’re one of the trickiest elements of a ship for a sole trader to put together, needing goods from all over the place: cheese, hardtack (made from wheat grown in plantations), cured meat (from hunted game or cattle from pastures), cured fish, beans, refined sugar, rum (from molasses from the sugar refining process, plus barrels) and wine (made in a winery from grapes grown in vineyards). The Van Hemlock Provisioning Company, Suppliers of Comestibles to the Gentry (Fine Cheeses a Speciality) had some of the list covered but the only vineyards in the game are in the north-west corner of the map, a bit of a trek from our base in the south-east corner. There was only one thing for it: a Booze Cruise! Off to Tampa, pick up a load of wine, back via a distillery in the Antilles for some rum, that ought to get the shipbuilding party swinging.

After the short hop (2237.576 miles, according to Google maps, though that’s as the crow flies and doesn’t take into account skirting around Haiti, or bumping into Santa Clara for about ten minutes while AFK making dinner) we burst into Tampa’s auction house much like Withnail, demanding the finest wines available to humanity. At this point the plan hit a slight snag: it turns out that the French traders had got wind of my participation in the occasional sinking of a merchantman or two of theirs, and despite protesting about the legitimacy of the action in a declared warzone, they refused to deal with me.

Fortunately the Freetrader representative of the Van Hemlock Provisioning Company who’d also made the trip had been sensible enough not to repeatedly open fire on potential trading partners, so I shuffled around a bit outside the auction house and tugged at their sleeve. “Scuse me, mate… if I give you a load of doubloons, can you go in there and buy me some wine?”

King of the Lags.

The Burglar is the latest class which I have picked to play in Lord of the Rings Online; I’m quite a fan of utility classes when they’re thoughtfully designed, and the Burglar is one such veritable bag of proverbial tricks. The initial problem I found with the class was, as with many things in MMOs, not due to the thing itself but with other players’ perception of it. Although any fan of Tolkien’s work worth their salt will readily understand the type of Burglar being alluded to in the title of the class, the general populace (more ‘general’ than ever since the game went free-to-play) will take most classes at face value, and as such, a character that can enter stealth and dual-wield weapons is quite clearly a stabby Death Machine. Optional theme song: I’m Just A Death Machine to the tune of Girls Aloud’s Love Machine.

There are many common misconceptions amongst players in MMOs and it’s something developers should constantly be striving to guard against; I believe that if you expose players to the targets of their misconceptions early in the game, through tutorials which then go on to explain the true nature of things, you can create a greater level of harmony within the game’s community. Knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding leads to sympathy.

Alas, without understanding, a great majority of players will judge a book by its cover. Worse, they’ll take the book and stick the cover from their favourite book on it instead, and then judge it based on whether its content matches up to that. And then they’ll bend the pages back and break the binding, and I hate that, and … this metaphor isn’t really going anywhere.

In summary so far: Books. Covers. Judgements. It’s all starting to sound a bit biblical.

Anyway! Perhaps what we really need is some sort of publicist class for MMOs. The Max Clifford class would run around extolling the virtues of the various misunderstood player classes, driving much needed publicity for those roles that are underplayed and misunderstood. The local herald in Bree could yell headlines such as BURGLAR CLASS ATE MY HAMSTER, and then the publicist class would put some spin on it and everyone would have a good laugh, but the Burglar would also be foremost in their minds when the next Kill Ten Rodents dungeon raid came along…

As an example of such misconceptions, I would offer to you a simple excursion into the Great Barrows with a pick-up group. The Great Barrows is the first major dungeon that players encounter, and is therefore the place where a bunch of strangers (often including a number of new players) all get together, try to coordinate themselves, and attempt to execute a number of flawless battle strategies against tough opposition without really knowing their own class’s capability in a group role, let alone those of other classes. In short it’s the perfect recipe for a Good Time.

Where I use ‘good’ quite, quite wrongly.

And where the infinite expanse of foreverness implied by ‘time’ doesn’t really do the experience justice either.

Of course, with the recent influx of new players and the fact that Turbine have changed the dungeon system, such that running any dungeon will now reward you with a number of tokens which you can spend with a vendor to gain armour set pieces, and which is now also coupled with a dungeon interface that lets the group teleport instantly to the dungeon from anywhere in the world (sounding familiar?), dungeon running with pick-up groups has become a lot more impersonal.

Therefore, instead of the usual polite greetings and ‘how do you do’s at the start of a dungeon run, followed by an exchange of business cards, and perhaps a short but powerful Powerpoint presentation on the complexities of your class and what paradigms you can leverage in order to empower total performance for your group’s orc-stabbing synergies, you instead enter a dungeon and get:

“Good morning, my name is Dildo Daggins and I’ll be your Durglar…uh, Burglar today. What can I offer the group? Well, I’m not a rogue in the traditional sense, but instead I offer a complex class combination consisting of debu…”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.”

At which point (and I expect primarily because I’m a hobbit) I’m flung bodily into a set of angry Dourhand dwarves, with yells of “shut yer pie hole and get stabbing” falling away rapidly behind me as I sail through the air. And, unfortunately, what happens next only serves to strengthen their misconceptions, because much like an unsuspecting cat jokingly launched by their owner’s swept arm into the path of a large but altogether harmless dog which the cat had otherwise been calmly observing with tail-swishing disdain from the lofty safety of a chest of drawers, my Burglar can do nothing at this point other than that which instinct dictates: spread his limbs as wide as possible in order to futilely attempt to enter some sort of glide path, while at the same time making as many of those limbs as sharp and pointy as possible. Upon landing in the midst of the somewhat bemused targets, the Burglar then proceeds to slash away at everyone in the immediate vicinity – including himself – like some sort of frenzied cross between Loony Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil and Kick-Ass’s Hit-Girl, before leaping away and alighting on a nearby corpse, his back arched and hissing all the while. The rest of the pick-up group look on in wide-eyed pale-faced horror, some with hands clasped over mouths that blockade bulging cheeks, as my Burglar pants and stares frantically around, wild eyes peering out from behind gobs of gore dripping from his hood. A short pause follows before he’s suddenly freaked-out by the shadow of his own cloak, leaps six feet straight up into the air, and then attempts to escape by failing to run up the sheer face of a nearby wall. Finally he determines to regain some dignity, and so sits himself nonchalantly down and begins to lick his toes clean.

Of course the Burglar really offers far more than DPS to a group, in fact it could well be considered a secondary or tertiary role, but the common misconception is still sadly rife. I hope to expound in another post on what makes the Burglar special, along with the joys I’ve experienced in playing the class, but at least for now with this post you have hopefully found some level of understanding of what it means in Tolkien’s world when they call someone a cat burglar…

Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger DEMO DEMO!

Not long now to Dragon Age II, and the demo has just been released with the prospect of a shiny bauble: “Finishing the demo unlocks a new weapon in the main game”. Seems a bit odd, I always thought the main purpose of a demo was to have a look at a game if you weren’t sure if you might like it, whereas that looks like an incentive to diehard players, who probably already have the full game pre-ordered, to go and play the demo too. And badger their friends into downloading it as well, as “If there are 1 million or more demo downloads on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 combined, two more in-game items will be released.”

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea

Until recently our little fleet in Pirates of the Burning Sea had been patrolling the Caribbean on behalf of His Majesty, preserving the shipping lanes by hunting down pirates or seizing the ships of the dastardly French and Spanish when they challenged our rightful governance (it’s all legitimate with letters of marque and everything, honest). Then, while searching through the hold of a Spanish merchantman that was definitely supporting their war effort and didn’t just look like it might be loaded with gold or silver, certainly not, Flamboyant Admiral Sven found some weird book thing about Wealth and Nations or something[1], and he hasn’t been quite the same since… Alongside the usual cries of mainsheet splicing and yardarm hauling can now be heard “set sail for the quarry, we need more limestone!”, “does anyone have some common cheese, cured fish, hardtack, rum and a few sacks of beans?” and “avast, #ERR! off Column D, hoist revised inputs and prepare to recalculate SUM() functions!”

PotBS has a deep economy, a bit like EVE Online; resources such as limestone, iron ore, forests and fertile soil are distributed around various ports, and players can set up quarries, mines, logging camps and plantations to exploit them. The raw materials are converted into manufactured goods in player-built mills and forges, which in turn can be made into outfittings, consumables or further components that can eventually be assembled into entire ships, which other players promptly try to blow into matchsticks, a few of which can be gathered up to start the process again. There is heavy interdependence between the various resources and components and no quick way of transporting limestone from a quarry in one port to a forge in another port, you have to load it up onto a ship and sail it over. Materials can be bought and sold at auction, but again need hauling from the place you bought them if they’re required elsewhere.

All in all, there’s quite a lot to get to grips with. There is a good tutorial mission that gets you set up with a logging camp and lumber mill and takes you through the process of producing material, but I did it right at the start of the game at the same time as learning everything else in lessons such as Basic Ship Control, Leading a Boarding Party, Which One Is Starboard (Hint: Not Left) and Skull and Crossbones Flag: Good or Bad? By the time we actually got interested in production my logging camp was shuttered, and the lumberjacks were all off shopping and having buttered scones for tea; for anyone just starting up, I’d perhaps suggest leaving the economy tutorial for a while until you really want to get into production so that it’s fresher in your memory, but it’s not too tricky to go back to.

Our first goal was to produce Unrest Supplies, a method by which traders can contribute to the overall PvP campaign through economic warfare. It’s not like our rag-tag crew are going to be a critical component of the British war effort, but the Unrest Supplies need components from a few different types of structures so it seemed like a good way of dipping a toe into the ocean of manufacturing before taking the plunge into bigger enterprises like shipbuilding (or, if it turned out to be a bit cold, running back up the beach of naval combat and having an ice cream instead). Slightly randomly we’ve plonked down a bunch of structures from Guyana to Nicaragua, hauled a load of ore and tar around, and made a pretty decent start. Suitably emboldened I’ve set up a shipyard and, as as per the title quote of this post from some Antoine de Saint-Exupéry geezer, taught my fellow society members to long for the endless immensity of the sea. I don’t know how things work in French shipyards but I can tell you it’s sod all help in PotBS, so after we’d been staring out to the ocean for a while I figured collecting wood and assigning tasks would actually be a much better idea, so I… well, I’ve… it’s just that… I… downloaded a spreadsheet to help. It’s pretty simple, though, couple of VLOOKUPS, no dynamic pivot tables, I can give it up any time. Really. Just one more shift-F9 and I’m done…

[1] (Pedant’s Corner: if you spotted that Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations was published 50 years after the setting of Pirates of the Burning Sea, award yourself one point)

Thought for the day.

I like a moderate pace of combat action in my MMOs. Put another way: I like to have time to consider my options in combat, but not enough time to draft those considerations into a thesis. At the same time, the frantic finger ‘pile driving’ required by games like Starcraft doesn’t really interest me.

Mixing the pace of combat based on role seems like it might add an extra level of flavour to character classes. Some classes might play slower but require more critical thought – the mage archetype seems apt – where the player mustn’t play for the moment but instead should consider the big picture, slowly and carefully building a foundation of power before unleashing their game-changing abilities, yet still having to adapt their plans based on the ebb and flow of battlefield. Other classes might require split second decisions – warriors being a prime example – where reacting to your enemy from moment to moment is the difference between victory or defeat.

With the primary aim being to give players a choice of pace within the same game context, is it wise to mix several types of combat into one game system?

SOE launch new EverQuest progression server, announce server transfers and planned closure

GUNBARREL, CO – With a virtual queue of massively multiplayer online role-playing game enthusiasts awaiting their chance to play EverQuest the way God and/or Brad McQuaid intended on the new Fippy Darkpaw progression server, Sony Online Entertainment have announced the launch of another progression server, Vulak’Aerr, to cope with the demand.

“We knew there was some late 90s nostalgia we could tap into” said SOE spokesman Reginald T. Furby, adding “wee-tee-kah-wah-tee” and putting on a CD single of Freestyler by the Bomfunk MC’s, “but we hadn’t anticipated this level of interest. We’re delighted to be able to open Vulak’Aerr so that everybody who wants to experience Old Skool EverQuest only has to queue for the spawns, not to get into the server.”

In other EverQuest news, Sony Online Entertainment have announced plans to allow character transfers from the Vulak’Aerr progression server onto Fippy Darkpaw, with Vulak’Aerr closing within three to six months. “It turns out nostalgia only takes you so far” said SOE spokesman Reginald T. Furby, hastily ejecting a B*Witched CD after remembering just how awful it was, “and after that initial wave of excitement and comparatively quick early levels, the sheen wore off a bit. On the plus side many of our players reported significant progress in household chores such as doing the washing up, ironing shirts, and other tasks that can be performed while waiting for mana to regenerate between pulls. Of course some players genuinely prefer this style of game, but not enough to sustain two servers.”

Asked about extending the progression server idea to other SOE games, Furby replied “well we thought about it for Star Wars Galaxies, but the Combat Update and New Game Experience were such unqualified successes that I really can’t see anybody wanting to go back to the old rules. We’re very excited about the progression development model we’re using on The Agency, though, giving players the chance to get hyped for the release of the game in six to twelve months, just like in 2007!”

1^1 + 2^2 + 3^3

There’s something about level thirty two in Lord of the Rings Online, and I’m starting to wonder if Douglas Adams wasn’t off by ten in his estimation of the Ultimate Answer. I now have four characters at level thirty two, and although one of them is a member of a static group who will surely continue on past the illustrious company of the others, my character screen at the time of writing looks like one of those uncanny messages in a movie, delivered by some unknowable force which is attempting to communicate with the puny minds of humanity in the only way it knows how.

32. 32. 32. 32.

You do have to wonder about these superior alien intelligences sometimes: whether the colleagues of this particular intelligence are looking over its shoulder and smirking as it tries to reveal the secrets of the universe through the medium of levels displayed on the character login screen of a middle-aged man in the south of England. The problem with the English is that we’re pragmatic and generally unperturbed by events, but also a bit slow:

“It’s most strange, darling. All my characters in this game seem to stop at exactly the same level, and I just can’t explain it.”

“Never mind, dear, I’m sure you’ll work it out in the end. Speaking of which, have you figured out what to do with that mysterious piece of alien technology that you found in the garden last night? It’s just that it’s still hissing and smoking frightfully, and it’s making a bit of a mess of the living room. And I think it may have disintegrated the cat.”

“Well no, not yet, I’m afraid I’ve been quite tied-up with the conundrum of my MMO characters to be honest. Anyway, the device has me a bit stumped, it seems to have a panel that requires a couple of numbers to be entered, and the symbols carved on the side seem to indicate some sort of massive evolution-of-species event, but I’ll be blarmed if I know what those numbers could… Oh damn and blast! I’ve just got another character stuck at level thirty two!”

“Perhaps I’ll take it down and show it to the ladies at the WI, dear. Mrs Cranny-Futtocks is a bit of whiz at the Guardian crossword, perhaps she can work it out.”

“Right you are. I’m going to roll-up a Lore-master; I haven’t gotten one of those to level thirty two yet. Sixty five! I meant sixty five. What in the seven hells of Bexhill-on-Sea is it with the number thirty two?!”

I mean, not all of my characters are at level thirty two, there are a few level one placeholders (which probably shouldn’t count) and the rest are level sixty five. It seems that level thirty two is a mid-life crisis for me when it comes to my character relationships in LotRO, the point where we either decide to buckle down and get on with one another, or we split in bitter acrimony and lengthy divorce proceedings.

Perhaps levelling a character for me is a bit like some sort of fictional soap opera marriage then:

  • Initial Courting (Levels 1 to 9) – Enthusiasm is high. Everything is fresh, new, exciting and unknown. We spend most of our time hiding our relationship from disapproving peers, but those who do find out will tut and mutter “It’ll never last” whilst exchanging knowing looks from behind their cups of tea and slices of Battenburg.
  • Marriage (Level 10) – The hidden potential in my new partner is suddenly revealed and I decide to commit to them. We have a huge tacky wedding, and at the reception afterwards all my previous characters sit at tables, looking miserable, and plotting our downfall.
  • Period of Sustained Happiness (Levels 11 to 20) – It’s the honeymoon period, life gets tougher but we both plough on through it together, unstoppable. Ratings soar and we are featured on the front of the TV Times.
  • Niggles Start to Set In (20 to 23) – My new character seems not to be developing that much as an individual any more, almost as if they’ve given up trying now that we’re both committed and comfortable. I, in turn, find myself not putting as much effort in to the relationship as I ought.
  • Rough Patch (24 to 30) – Things start to get tough. Everything is a slog. Every little thing is a problem, and every problem is their fault. Most of our scenes involve lots of shouting and throwing vases and cats across the living room at one another.
  • Breaking point (30 to 32) – This is where the character divorce happens, usually after the dramatic discovery that I’ve been having an affair with a low level alt from two doors down the character selection screen.
  • Happily Ever After (33 to 65) – If I make it this far, then it’s usually for keeps, and we grow old to the level cap together, whereupon one or the other of us is written out of the show after tragically dieing in an explosion resulting from a high-speed bowls collision.

Other reasons for me getting stuck at level thirty two could include the fact that it’s a power of two, and my brain – having been wired to deal with them – is only running a very basic 32-bit operating system (which would explain a lot). Thirty two is a Leyland number, and as we all know Leyland were a British motor manufacturer famous for their cars breaking down, so it’s a suitable point for my characters to break down too; but it’s also a happy number, so I’m not sure how that works – perhaps I’m glad for the chance to level a different character. Thirty two is also the freezing point in degrees Fahrenheit of water at sea level, which would explain why, when I get a character to level thirty three, their level rarely gets frozen again. A full set of teeth in a human adult, including wisdom teeth, is thirty two in number, so maybe this represents the point in character development where I start pulling teeth. And in the Kabbalah there are thirty two Kabbalistic Paths of Wisdom, so perhaps it’s simply the case that I’ve finally reached MMO enlightenment.

It could be any of those, really. I mean, it’s either that or just a curious coincidence that got turned into a slightly demented blog post. Which doesn’t seem terribly likely at all.

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the problem is I do not know which half

One of the first things I tend to do in a MMOG is shift general/shout chat channels off onto their own tab, labelled (depending on mood) something like “General”, “Chatter”, “Spam”, “Bozos” or “Why WoW Is Better And/Or Worse Than This Game” (or in the case of World of Warcraft itself, “Why WoW Was Better And/Or Worse Than WoW Is Now”). It’s not entirely being unsociable, I like to have the tab there in case I want to reach out and connect with humanity (or find out why WoW is better and/or worse than this game), but those channels can easily swamp slightly more important guild/party chat or game messages, especially if a nefarious gold spammer is hawking their bargain in-game currency every few seconds.

Every Monday night the Hipster Battalion sallies forth to liberate another café in Warhammer Online (see, or indeed hear, the “What We’re Playing” episodes of the Van Hemlock Podcast for the continuing adventures), a game for which “polish” isn’t necessarily the first word that springs to mind with the odd bug you encounter, such as whenever you man a piece of siege equipment, regardless of your chat window settings, the General channel starts showing up again. It’s made all the more obvious because every week, without fail, there’s a gold spammer there, glowing orange promises of fast delivery scrolling with distracting regularity as you swing a battering ram at a keep door or lob rocks at a besieging army.

I’m slightly baffled, as I can’t think who would being buying gold in WAR. So far I’ve mostly been wearing PvP armour sets, bought with medallions that drop when you kill enemy players, accessorised with the odd quest reward or item from a public quest loot bag, with any gaps being filled in by vendors in the capital city who sell cheap items so long as you meet the renown rank requirement. The vast majority of the tokens, medallions and bits of armour themselves are bound to the player, so there isn’t an awful lot that can be listed for sale on the auction house; I’ll have a bit of a browse now and again, but in the last few months all I’ve bought is a couple of shields and an axe that were cheap enough to make the slight upgrade worth it, and a small pile of the cheapest helmets I could find just to try on for cosmetic purposes. Nothing I’ve seen suggests the end game is much different, though I could be mistaken. Of all the MMOGs I’ve dabbled in, the only example of in-game currency being less important that springs to mind is the early days of City of Heroes, when just about ever high level character had piles of “influence” and nothing to spend it on, apart from costume changes (in which respect there are some similarities with WAR, you can spend far more on dyeing armour sets into this season’s colours than on the armour itself.)

Maybe there is a thriving market after all that makes it worthwhile for the spammers to keep going; maybe it’s Mythic themselves, not actually selling currency but pretending to do so to give players the chance to use the /ignore function to work up to The Exiler achievement for having 100 players on your ignore list. I prefer to think, though, that there’s a monolithic gold selling corporation that shut down their Warhammer Online gold harvesting and supply business a while ago, but thanks to an oversight or a typo in a database someone still gets on a train each day, arrives in Basingstoke (I know China is more traditional base for gold selling, but go with it) eleven minutes late, hangs up their bowler hat and umbrella, and settles down to it… “Good evening, Miss Jones, any word from CJ on a change in the overall strategy? No? Still targeting the WAR-market? Right you are, off we go… ‘FAST RELIABLE GOLD DELIVERY AT…'”

The making of a picture ought surely to be a rather fascinating adventure.

From the ArenaNet blog:

To build incredible online worlds, ArenaNet starts by hiring incredible people. You’ve seen some of the breathtaking work our artists have produced, and you’ve undoubtedly heard the groundbreaking ideas our designers have incorporated into Guild Wars 2. Well, even though QA isn’t responsible for making art or designing game systems, ArenaNet ensures that our team members are the best in the industry.

Looks like ArenaNet’s marketing has moved from game promotion into shareholder fellating. It’s the second time in as many posts that their marketing has grated, so for me it’s time to switch off the feed until the game gets released.

Honestly, if you can read through that post without throwing up in your mouth a little, well done you, and do carry on. I’m sure there’s a drinking game in there somewhere though; perhaps, take a drink every time you read a sentence that screams ‘I’m only saying this because my boss wants me to, then I can hopefully get out of QA and become one of the “legendary designers and developers that make up the staff here”‘. Perhaps I shouldn’t picture it being written by some poor sweating sobbing dishevelled individual, as marketing drones in tight black uniforms stand behind spot lamps and bark orders at him. “ACHTUNG! MORE GUSHING! SCHNELL!”

I rather like ArenaNet as a company; Guild Wars is an excellent game, and I’m looking forward to the new iteration of it, but for me the marketing tone has shifted from promoting to pimping, and it’s more likely to drive me away than make me want to play the game.

Maybe this is the way marketing has to be in the industry. Perhaps this is the sort of glossy rose-tinted reality that the ‘true’ fans are after. People within the industry may say that the sort of frothing self-congratulatory adulation that paints a picture-perfect presentation of how remarkable this particular MMO will be – of the sort that helped Mythic to win through so convincingly with the release of Warhammer Online – is a perfectly acceptable part of participating in the carnival of pre-release hype for an MMO. They may be right. But I don’t have to like it — and I don’t.