Tag Archive for Online

Games Within Games

No, I’m not talking about Puzzle Pirates and its Bejeweled Bilging and Dr. Mario Sailing. I’m talking about fully realized games encapsulated within games.

Many moons ago (okay, a couple of decades of moons), I played Ultima Online. In UO, I had a Chess set, and I could sit down at a table and play Chess with another player. On days when I didn’t feel like making hats with my tailor, or guarding the pass with my guild extorting money from random travellers, I would sit in a specific Inn frequented by Chess players and play.

In EverQuest, it was the one thing I always wanted. They did give us Gems, a game to play while waiting between pulls or watching your mana bar refill. But it was single player, and pretty much sucked.

In World of Warcraft… well, Blizzard gave us jack shit, but the guys who made the Cosmos add on gave us Chess and Othello and other games, and even made them multi-player, but they were global, you didn’t have to be anywhere near your opponent.

Other games also pretty much gave us nothing…

I miss the simple pleasure of sitting in a (virtual) room with another player and playing a board game. I would love to see more encapsulated games inside MMOs. And really I would love to see those games played in the game world itself, and not in a window that passerbys can’t see.

It should be illegal…

So, a year ago, I bought a new computer. Rather than spend the effort building one, and the fact that I can’t really beat the prices of the pre-fab machines anymore unless I spend 3 months piecing it together, I went to Best Buy, saw a good price on a good system and bought it. They offered my a bunch of crap, to which I said no, just the system and the rebates, good-bye. Paid with my credit card, took it home, set it up, and mailed off my rebates. I was happy.

In January, I got my credit card statement, on it was a charge for $21.95 for Microsoft Online Services. Now, it being Christmas time and also floating a couple of charges for work on my card, I just nodded, said okay and filed the statement away.

I’m horrible about my credit cards. If I scan the charges and nothing leaps out at me like “Harold’s House of Fur Covered Fishing Poles” or something, I just nod and file it away after I write the check.

So, its June, and I’m looking at this month’s statement, and there is that Microsoft Online Services again. Only this time, I know I didn’t buy anything from them. I open up my budget program, ironically Microsoft Money, and sort the charges in my credit card statements. Sure enough, from January to June, 6 charges of $21.95.

I get on the net, find the phone number and call up MSN. They ask me my phone number, gave him all three, home and two cells… not on file. Name, gave him both mine and Jodi’s… not on file. Address… not on file. Seven email addresses… not on file. So I say, “Look, its billing my card, why I don’t I just give you the credit card number?” “Umm… sure,” he says, “that will work.”

I give him the number and… presto! Account found. Only, the name on it is “Best Buy Promotion”, the phone number is the number to the store, and the email address is listed as “notprovided@store.com”. But my credit card number and expiration date are correct, and they’ve billed me $131.70 for an account that I NEVER signed into.

I ask him, “How exactly do you justify billing me for an account I never activated?” He tells me that it was activated at the store on the date of purchase. “But, look at the account information, it looks fake. Don’t you guys audit these promotions?” No, he says. “What about account activity? It was activated, and then never used, not once.” There is this pause, a completely silent pause… I’ve worked in call centers, this is the silence of being put on mute while he asks someone else how he should respond.

“Sir, it is not our business to dictate to our users how they do or do not use our service. If they choose to activate it and hold the account as a backup for another provider, never logging in because their primary provider never fails, that is their choice. It is not our place to deactivate accounts in good standing for inactivity.”

I’m dumbfounded. But I ask for a refund. “Sure,” he says, “just let me, okay, its done, it should appear on your next statement as a credit, is there anything else I can do for your today?”

“No.”

“Have a great day and thank you for using MSN!”

And then he hung up before I could yell, “BUT I NEVER USED MSN!!”

Oh well…

So, to you out there, I say this… beware. MSN wants your money, and they love it best when you pay them to provide you with nothing. Watch your credit card statements closely, and when you purchase from Best Buy, even when you say no, they might just sign you up anyway.

Sony is retarded.

Normally I would refrain from insulting multi-national mega corporations, but in this case, at least from the perspective of the Sony Online Entertainment division that is over EverQuest, its a fact.

Go read the websites for the warriors, rogues and monks over the past year. Look at every idea they posted on how to bring melees back into balance.

Done?

Okay, warriors got new taunt skills. With the splitting of disciplines, all melees got a method to more often boost their damage through their use. Monks are getting (if it ever makes it off the test server) an essentially single target lull to assist in splitting spawns.

Now, do you remember all the other stuff you read? Ranged damage, group auras, directed attacks, etc, etc… SOE is implementing all that stuff too, only not for the people who need it. Instead, they are making a new class, the Berserker.

I mean, why enhance the classes you have when you can add a new one? Why make three classes better and more desirable to play when you can make yet another addition to the already overcrowded loot pool on raids?

When beastlords were introduced, they were nice. You could play in groups and you could solo. But in groups they really weren’t needed. Anyone can DPS, shaman have better buffs… so what to do? Why, give beastlords a unique skill! Lets give them a mana and hit points regen buff that stacks with just about everything. Give them a buff that works as a mass group buff heal. Basically, you see, they introduced a new class, then that class complained that they weren’t wanted on raids, so SOE made them desired for raids. So now we will get Berserkers, and then they will complain that they don’t have a role.. so SOE will find a way to give them one.

But most important to keep in mind about the berserker class, it is designed to do one thing.. attract new customers. At some point, there is an accountant at Sony who doesn’t care what is good for the game, nor what is good for its players, he only knows that a new player shells out $60 for a copy of the game with all the expansions, and that equals 3 or 4 months of an active account. So they want sales, and lots of them, because high sales means they financially buy 3 to 4 months to keep thinking of a way to keep the players playing, to keep them subscribed.

Mark my words. Gates of Discord will be released, and within 3 months, Berserkers will be tweaked, and the other melees will be told “With the expansion behind us, we can now address your concerns.”

Back to my comic books…

As you may recall, I have a collection of comic books I want to unload. eBay won’t let me do it as I want to, and rather than spend time and money splitting the sets out to sell them in parts, I need another service.

If anyone knows any online auction place that will let me set up something for sale at around $5,000 minimum bid, let me know.

The Next Game.

Currently I play Everquest. I used to play Ultima Online. I tried to play Asheron’s Call. I beta tested Anarchy Online. I never considered World War II Online. And I’m currently beta testing Dark Age of Camelot.

But what has me really excited these days is City of Heroes.

Most people who are willing to look beyond the minor inconveniences of most games will tell you they play them because they like the fantasy setting. They wanted to hurl a fireball, or draw sword on a dragon. Me, I always wanted to fight crime.

I’ve been reading comic books since before I could even understand the words. I’ve got 15 long boxes of comics (soon to appear on Ebay) of what I have collected over the years. With every page I read, I dreamed myself into Batman’s cowl, I wore the Green Lantern’s ring, I fired bullets while wearing the Punisher’s boots, and every now and then I’d save the world all while wearing a silly looking costume and proud to be wearing it.

There are lots of games on the market. And lots more slowly heading towards it. Of all of them, this is the one I hope for most. This is the game I drool at the thought of playing.

Yesterday they released a “gameplay” demo. Not really much of gameplay, but it does show the in game graphics and some of the interface, and character creation. I am in awe.

This is the game I want to play. I just hope I can survive until Summer of 2002 to do it.