The Repopulation Worries

Rescued from the drafts folder…

Blatantly stolen from therepopulation.com because I don’t have any screenshots.

I was initially glad to hear that The Repopulation will be coming back. I splurged in a moment of weakness and bought it for $20 on Steam back in February 2015. I don’t remember why I bought it. I think I had heard some positive feedback about it, and I had heard also it described as being heavily inspired by Star Wars Galaxies, and I was curious to see what a SWG-like game looked like. (I’ve never even seen SWG, let alone played it.)

I played it for an hour or two, and I would give it a solid “meh.” It definitely had it’s roots in older MMORPGs, and it had potential as a complex sandbox. It’s one of those games you have to study before you can play it. It was such a throwback that it actually started out with a tutorial! And I don’t mean quests that serve as a tutorial, but an honest to god tutorial, like in days of yore, where the tutorial is directed at the player, not the character.

But the reason I didn’t like it so much is that the game had significant graphical problems and a distinct lack of optimization, so I didn’t think it was very playable at the time. It was like playing a game written in Visual Basic 6, if you know what I mean.

When last I heard about The Repopulation, they were porting it from the Hero Engine to the Unreal Engine. I thought that was a great idea. Then it disappeared off the face of the earth.

Then I heard it was coming back. I thought this was great news.

Until I heard how it was coming back. I credit this revelatory information to the MassivelyOP podcast 100.

Apparently they are transferring ownership of the game from Above And Beyond to Idea Fabrik, the makers of the Hero Engine. The speculation is that they will be abandoning the Unreal Engine port, and resuming operation as a Hero Engine game. It sounds like there’s a pretty strong chance that they are going to release the game in its unfinished state and call it a finished game.

If that’s the case, I would recommend avoiding it. Unless they sell it for like $5 or they make it free-to-play. And if they do make it free-to-play, do not buy anything.

Idea Fabrik will apparently have The Repopulation back online soon.

P. S. I played a few hours of Fragmented, the survival game spinoff of The Repopulation, and it actually wasn’t terrible. I was expecting a train wreck, so maybe not such high praise. If there weren’t so many other survival games to play, I might play more of it.

Progression Report – March

March was definitely a low point in my 2015 MMORPG activity, but don’t panic. This is normal for me. There’s usually one or more months during the year when I end up watching television instead. Still, I accomplished a few things.

In Rift, I continued to log in every few days to collect Minion rewards and send them out again. My bank and inventory is bursting with useless junk.

In Final Fantasy XIV, I forgot to mention that I joined the cool blogger Free Company on Cactuar. Unfortunately every time I log into FFXIV I stand around feeling like I don’t have any goals to accomplish. I do have goals, but none of them are interesting to me right now, which is a shame because it’s awesome to see so many other people *cough* finally *cough* getting on the FFXIV bandwagon.

In a surprise move toward the end of March, I created a Romulan faction character in Star Trek Online and ran around for less than an hour. I could see myself playing some STO in April because it feels “new” to me right now, but historically the game has never clicked with me.

In Neverwinter, I finally put the time in to level my Great Weapon Fighter from level 59 to 60. That took about 2 hours.

In Guild Wars 2, I played about 3 hours and finished up the Echoes of the Past story. And the most amazing thing happened: I found a staff!!

GW2-Monsoon-Staff

This is literally the first staff upgrade I’ve seen since I hit level 80 like two years ago. Unfortunately it’s a stupid useless healing staff, and I normally use an axe anyway, but just knowing that it’s possible to still find gear upgrades out in the world is encouraging. But as a super casual 3-hour-a-month player, I guess I will have to wait another two years to find another one.

SWTOR held another double-XP weekend from March 27-30, which salvaged a month otherwise completely devoid of logging in. I spent 4 hours questing in Balmorra over the weekend, leveling my Jedi Guardian from 32 to 35. (Still, I cancelled my subscription which ends on April 11.)

Now for something completely different. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how great Marvel Heroes is, so I went ahead and downloaded it. I’m not a superhero person but it’s kind of a fun game in a super-casual kind of way. I played a whopping 12 hours and after trying a bunch of heroes, went with Colossus and leveled him up to 19.

Rawr.
Colossus practicing his skiing stance.

I played nearly 13 hours of Trove in my quest to get a character up to level 20 so I can get a free Budgie mount in Rift. My Fae Trickster is now up to level 13. I typically play just long enough to fill up that bar in the top-right corner, then log out.

Topping the list for March, I spent almost 17 hours playing Path of Exile, another ARPG which arguably doesn’t even belong here. I played most of the different archetypes but I’m sticking with the Templar as my main, who has reached the god-like level of, coincidentally, 17.

I didn’t play any TSW or The Repopulation in March.

In the single-player game department, I played mainly Banished and Civ 5 with a smattering of Dragon Age II and Legend of Grimrock thrown in.

In April I’m planning to work on a story for Camp NaNoWriMo, so my gaming time might be further limited. But I hope to continue leveling my Fae Trickster in Trove, play some more STO, and hopefully get back into FFXIV. Maybe I’ll work on my Black Mage class.

P.S. I don’t know if I can keep up this pace of monthly progression reports, I might switch to quarterly. :)

On The Radar For 2015

Last time I did this.

Note that some games aren’t on the following list because I have either a) forgotten about them, or b) never heard of them.

MMORPGs I’m Looking Forward To

These are games that I’m still anxiously awaiting the opportunity to play, because I haven’t yet seen or heard anything to wreck my enthusiasm.

Black Desert. I keep seeing good things.

Skyforge. I keep hearing good things.

Otherland. I have enjoyed some Tad Williams books in the past, so surely a game based on some of his books I haven’t read would be good.

MMORPGs I’m Ambivalent About

I’m not excited about these games per se, but I’ll probably buy or try them because of hype and/or boredom and/or peer pressure.

GW2: Heart of Thorns. I’ll play it, but because it’s GW2 aka. The One RPG Without Meaningful Rewards I’m anticipating that I’ll get bored quickly.

Crowfall. To me, this isn’t even an MMORPG, and I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed by that after the hype wears off. My latest concern is that the ambitious class customization plans will result in PvP balance issues that will ruin the game. (Everyone will keep chasing that one overlooked combination that is bugged and overpowered, resulting in an endless cycle of nerfing disappointment and forum rage.)

EQNext. I’m not burdened by EQ nostalgia, plus I have no reason to think this game will be good. (Where is ACNext Turbine??)

Pathfinder Online*. I’ve never played the tabletop version, and the gameplay appears uninteresting (and the animations are terrible), and it’s open world PvP. When will they learn?

Camelot Unchained*. I hear a lot of buzz about this game but it doesn’t look that great to me. That YouTube video honestly makes it look like the most boring thing in the entire universe. Given the way the devs talk about it, I get the impression that this game is more about being a game engine technology demo than a game.

MMORPGs I’m Undecided About

These are games that are on my radar, but I don’t know enough yet to form an opinion about how much I’d be willing to spend on them.

Shroud of the Avatar*. Seems to be flying under the radar. I hear little or nothing about it, but the gameplay looks tolerable.

Gloria Victis*. I like the look of this game but, you know, it’s open world PvP so it will mostly be a game of staying in town or hiding from people.

Wander. Saw it on Steam. It looks cool. It’s not clear to me if this is a PC game or not though.

MMORPGs I’ve Lost Interest In

These would probably have to be free or sold at a deep discount for me to even try them, unless I start to see a lot more positive buzz.

Star Citizen*. Honestly I’m not sure what this game is right now, but anything targeted at EVE players probably isn’t for me, plus we all know this is vaporware, right? (Just kidding! Don’t freak out!) But seriously, I think the smart money is on this game self-destructing from too much ambition.

Life is Feudal*. I thought there might be something to this game, but so far it looks like a plain old survival building game, and the models and animation need serious work.

Das Tal* and Albion Online*. Overhead views plus open world PvP. Why, god, why?

Pantheon: Something of Something*. Seems unlikely this will ever see the light of day, but if it does, only those handful of people who backed it will delude themselves into thinking it’s fun to replicate late-1990s mechanics. Sorry but this game looks awful right now.

H1Z1*. I don’t even consider this an MMORPG.

Pre-Launch MMORPGs I’ve Already Bought

Trove*. (I think it’s still technically beta.) I like it. Good casual game.

Landmark*. Meh. Just meh. Do we really need a game that’s a thinly-disguised 3D modelling program with a 1980s-style UI font?

The Repopulation*. I haven’t played enough to know what to think of it. But I feel like it’s probably trying to do too much and it’ll never capture that SWG feeling.

Advice To Game Developers

Please perfect your basic artwork assets, models, and animations before releasing anything to the public. It’s a huge turn-off to see placeholder models and animations that make your game look like a high school project. It’s literally the first thing I evaluate to determine if your development effort is serious business or you’re just a bunch of kids messing around in somebody’s basement. Great results can and do come from people’s basements, but honestly not very often.

* These games can be bought and played now in some early access form or another. (I think. Don’t hold me to it.)

Progression Report – February

I think I’ll make this a “thing” and do a monthly progress report of all the MMOs I’m playing. I started running a time tracking program* called ManicTime so I can actually record precisely how much I’ve played every game now.

Games on my desktop

FFXIV (22** hrs). I unlocked most of the new 2.5 dungeons and World of Darkness, however I haven’t actually gone into any of them yet. (To this day I’ve only done one level 50 dungeon–Amdapor Keep for the Relic quest.) In other news I leveled my Rogue class from–you might want to sit down for this epic achievement–10 to 15.

Crazy Pirate Outfit
Got this crazy-looking pirate outfit from Syrcus Tower.

Now that Syrcus Tower no longer has the weekly restrictions, I’ve run it with my Bard to pick up more of the level 100 Amon’s patchwork pirate outfit. I only need the boots to complete the set, which of course never drops no matter how many times I go through there. I’ve also picked up over half of the Atmas I need from FATEs for the next part of the Relic weapon quest, and I’m inching closer to maxing out the Sylph Beast tribe reputation. (The only reason I’m doing that is to get that freaky goobbue mount, which is the only mount I’ve ever wanted in FFXIV.)

Just recently the Manderville Gold Saucer was added. I’ve only played a little bit of cards so far.

Guild Wars 2 (4 hrs). I finished up Dragon’s Reach Part 2, and started Echoes of the Past, so I only have to finish four more Living Story Season 2 episodes to get caught up. At every turn, there’s an annoying boss battle to get through so it’s slow going. I’m starting to see the origins of the Revenant profession now though. I try to log in every day for the login rewards but I only remember to do so every other day or so.

Landmark (2 hrs). I dropped into Landmark once or twice since I re-rolled and at least it seems like they’ve removed the impossible-to-beat monsters from around the starting area. (In fact all monsters now seem to be gone.) I like the big checklist of things-to-do that shows up on the right. I still have no clue how to reach the “underground” layers though. It’s now been, what, a little over a year since it was released to the public and it’s now looking to be about where I thought it would be back then. Onward and upward… hopefully.

The starting point of the new island in Rift 3.1

Rift (2 hrs). I started looking into the new island released in 3.1, but it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. Since my Mage is already 65 it seems a bit pointless to go through another quest chain. If you’re into lore, it seems like this new area is trying to tie the stories of the Storm Legion and Nightmare Tide expansions together somehow. I sort of feel like I can’t progress much further in Rift without joining a guild.

The Repopulation (2 hrs). A $20 edition became available on Steam so I went ahead and took a chance on it. I haven’t played much yet because the game is still pretty rough–I haven’t even left the tutorial area. (Yes, it’s so old school that it actually has a tutorial area!) The animation is a bit janky and the graphics are a bit slow. If you get it, be prepared to jump right on into the deep end with overwhelming amounts of information right at the start. If this is what Star Wars Galaxies was like, it’s no wonder people went for the much simpler WoW instead. :) (Though I don’t know what any of it means, I’m impressed by the amount of stuff in the 15.1.1 patch.)

My dude in The Shadowy Forest

The Secret World (19 hrs). My most exciting MMO development of the month was finally getting past a TSW mission that had me stuck in the Besieged Farmlands for, oh, I don’t know, the past year or so? It was the main story Mortal Sins, Tier 4–the one where you had to find a woman spying from a hilltop or something, but there was no mark for it on the map. After getting past that, I pushed on through to the end of the Mortal Sins quest line which presumably was the end of the main story at the original launch. It’s hard to quantify my progress since there aren’t any levels in TSW, but everything in Transylvania now ranges from “Normal” to “Hard.” I tried some Scenarios but I have yet to come anywhere close to succeeding at one, even on Novice level.

On a technical note, I had a major problem with frame rate hiccups in TSW, especially during combat. I thought it might have been Verizon screwing around with traffic shaping again but using Battleping didn’t help. However, when I switched from DirectX 11 to DirectX 9 the problem entirely vanished. (This was on a GeForce GTX 770.)

SWTOR (12 hrs). Last time, I reported that I had gotten back into SWTOR and re-subscribed. Well, that didn’t last long. My interest faded toward the end of January and I only logged in a couple of times a week. Not that there’s anything wrong with SWTOR. I enjoy it when I play it. But, you know, the quests are all pretty much the same, and the leveling progress is a bit slow. Kira Carsen’s witty banter can only entertain a person for so long.

Then, luckily for me, there was a double-XP weekend from Feb 13-17 so I played a lot more during that time. I usually miss promotional events so it was pretty exciting that one of my game-du-jours actually aligned with a “bonus stuff” weekend. Since my last update I leveled my Jedi Guardian from 22 to 32 and finished Tatooine, Alderaan and all of Chapter One, surpassing the progress I made with my original 28 Scoundrel who hit a brick wall in Alderaan.

Trove (1 hr). I popped into Trove now and then but I can never figure out where to find all the cool stuff they keep advertising. Still, I get a bunch of… I dunno, some kind of yellow coin thingy… every time I log in, so it’s fine.

ArcheAge was not on the above list because my patron status has run out and I don’t particularly want to log in anymore to see what abominable thing has happened to my house and farm.

And that’s pretty much all of the MMORPGs I’ve been playing. With my recent forays into survival games I’ve been thinking of re-installing Fallen Earth. And next month I predict I’ll be playing some ESO again.

P.S. My biggest time-sink was Google Chrome at 32 hours, 12 of which were spent writing and editing blog posts. :)

* I only started ManicTime on February 13. Next month I’ll get a much better sample.

** I don’t believe ManicTime on this. There’s no way I played more FFXIV than TSW since February 13.

Goodbye Massively

So yeah, there was a post recently in the MMO blogosphere that basically trashed Massively. I guess they’re entitled to their opinion, but it didn’t make any sense to me.

I liked Massively for the exact reason that this other blog trashed them: They didn’t take themselves too seriously. I always felt like there were human beings behind their articles and podcasts. Real people doing the best they could with clearly limited resources in a super fast-paced environment.

I get the feeling that people expect gaming news sites to have the same sort of gravitas that CNN or The New York Times has. That seems unrealistic to me. Most of these places are operated by gamers. That’s sort of like having The Times staffed by writers who are simultaneously running for Congress. I never viewed Massively as a hard-hitting news journalism site. I never view any gaming news as hard-hitting journalism. Mainly because they talk about games. It’s inherently a frivolous topic. There are a lot more important things in the world to worry about. If you haven’t learned that yet then, well, I envy you.

I don’t think it was a secret that Massively was always a purely editorial site. To me, they were essentially a regular blog with multiple writers who just happened to have a corporate sponsor and an expensive web platform. They wrote articles with opinions, and I never saw them try to hide that. I didn’t always agree with them, and I liked some of the writers more than others, but their voice was what I liked about them. They never pretended to be a lofty, objective source of pure facts, because such a beast doesn’t exist, especially when you’re talking about games. The Massively staff clearly liked some things and didn’t like other things, which makes them pretty much the same as you and I.

There have been complaints that Massively just re-printed press releases. Maybe they did and maybe they didn’t, but I don’t understand why anyone would take issue with that. I mean, press releases are supposed to be printed as news items. That’s why they call them press releases, you know? Everybody reprints press releases. It takes a lot of time and energy to research the credibility of every single press release, and most online news sites just don’t have the manpower. Even big places. That’s the world we live in. It’s mostly up to you the news consumer to sort out the facts nowadays, if it’s something you really care about. If you let someone else do it for you, you’re almost always going to be misinformed.

There was some mention of the poor quality of the Massively comment section. This is another topic that baffles me. As a blogger, it probably doesn’t behoove me to mention this, but I rarely read or participate in comment sections. There is a very popular philosophy that a web site is only as good as its comments, but I don’t necessarily subscribe to that philosophy. I look at web sites not as communities to visit, but as publications to read. That makes me a Luddite in today’s Internet, but that’s just how I am. (Part of it is that I’m not very good at writing off the cuff, and I usually need time to cogitate on my ideas and edit my writing before I feel confident publishing it. This very post is driving me crazy because I feel like I’m rushing it out the door too soon.) Anyway, the point is that I almost never read any comments on Massively, but the ones I did didn’t seem any better or worse than any other site’s comments.

That being said, I’m fully aware that commercially viable web sites need a thriving community to sustain a web-based business. It probably doesn’t matter if the community is for or against you, as long as people post comments. It’s the most visible metric of how successful a web site is. Therefore, it makes excellent business sense to post articles that will generate conversations; good, bad, or indifferent. Let’s face it. Most people are jerks. If you give them a chance to write a comment, they’re probably going to write a jerky comment. (That might be cynical.) I recently mentioned a Massively Soapbox article that I didn’t care for. But it did its job perfectly: It generated conversation, both in its comment section and in the blogosphere. And that’s exactly what a sustainable for-profit web site is supposed to do.

Beyond all of that, the only way I can think of to moderate comments is to delete the ones that aren’t appropriate. But that goes against the idea that more comments equates to better commercial success. It also takes a lot of time and energy to moderate, which again is something that most news sites don’t have. I wouldn’t expect them to be able to do more than skim through the comments and take care of the most obvious offenders.

The other things I enjoyed about Massively were the podcasts and the streams. The Massively podcast was the most laid-back, unpretentious podcast about MMOs ever. Most of the time it was just @Sypster and @nbrianna sitting around chatting about games. Usually one of them had a much higher volume than the other, which drove me crazy as I kept having to adjust the volume in the car, and every week I wished somebody over there would learn the value of audio compression. (I wish that for most podcasts, actually.) Anyway, I loved how the two of them represented polar opposite viewpoints about MMOs: Syp usually favored the soloing, gaming parts, while Brianna usually favored the roleplaying and economy parts. It made for great discussions.

Massively streams were great for giving us a look at games before we had to plunk down some money for them. Most recently, I learned from watching MJ on the H1Z1 streams that I had no desire to pay money for early access to a game where random strangers are going to run up and actually speak with voice chat at you. *Shivers* I also found it fascinating to watch how MJ plays MMOs… the things that she finds interesting in a game is incredibly different from me, so it gave me some perspective on how other people play these games. Mike was also great at streaming (and Jasmine before the cutbacks). They all sort of form the template for how I think game streams should be. Informative, inclusive, entertaining, but not shock-jocky.

So all in all, they weren’t perfect, but they did a pretty good job in a tough business. Also, based on what I’m hearing in a Repopulation stream from MJ, I have a feeling we’re going to see them again in the future, which is awesome. For me and the genre.

P.S. The Repopulation has nice visuals. I’m somewhat impressed.