World of WarCraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King “Sorry.” Varian grinned at him, and Arthas reluctantly gave a small smile back. Although their first meeting had been laced with grief and awkwardness, Arthas had discovered that Varian had a strong spirit and a generally optimistic outlook. “I just wonder why your father didn’t do the same for you.”
Tribal village view WAR2 InnoGames companies continue to introduce new features to the popular resource deposit MMORTS Tribal War 2. In these deposits, the player to get more resources to run errands. They can choose from six different quality of their errands and modify every six hours. Complete errands rewarded with extra iron, clay or wood. Players can 250,2000 and resources to achieve milestones 10,000 collected. After each milestone will give them extra valuable reward. These may be military units, such as swordsmen, archers or light cavalry. However, if they are lucky, the return may be a powerful resource upgrade, even grandmaster, who can raise ten percent of the entire attack. Thus, active players have a good chance to accelerate the growth of which century empire.
In the tribal war 2, players find themselves in a small village, the leader among the medieval world. Responsible for planting and expansion of the war-torn landscape in their empire, they are fighting for survival. In the online game is focused on real-time, with a strategic campaign against other players. The purpose of this game is to serve as a cross-platform browser and mobile games, the player using the same account, but also encountered the same game world, the same opponents and allies. The game is released for the browser and Android; iOS applications will follow in the coming months.
VR is best as a seated experience but it’s not being sold as that to gamers. We’ve all watched promotional videos of people jumping around. If you want to run and jump with a headset strapped to your face, chances are you’ll fall over unless you’ve shelled out for some serious hardware such as the Cyberith Virtualizer or Omni.
Exis Interactive think they may the solution in the form of the SprintR, a foot pedal device which they say will let you easily walk, run, and jump in VR.
“SprintR is all about easy, natural movement in VR. On one hand you have VR controllers that require an entire room cleared of furniture, or massive treadmills that require a harness and special shoes, and on the other hand you have SprintR, which sits at your feet and makes movement simple”, says Peter Kojesta, founder of Exis.
The SprintR looks like a sleeker version of the Stinky Board which we reviewed back in 2013. The Stinky Board was a decent piece of kit depending on what you were trying to use it for.
Having fallen over in VR many times, become motion sick and generally hard a hard time controlling some games, the idea behind the SprintR is a sound one. It may not appeal to all VR users due to the fact it’s designed for the seated VR experience but it could prove very useful for some games.
Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have finally been allowed by Microsoft to admit that, yes, Rise of the Tomb Raider will definitely be coming to the PC.
We all already knew this from about five minutes after the Xbox One “exclusive” was announced at E3 2014, when all questions about other platforms were met with responses amounting to “look over there!” and disappearing footsteps. But now it’s official and stuff, so that’s nice.
The PC will be getting Lara’s latest outing early in 2016. Here’s the precise wording from the announcement: “will be available for Steam and Windows 10 PC in early 2016.” I’m fairly sure that doesn’t mean it’s some stupid Windows 10 exclusive (the “and” makes it feel quite safe.)
All of the previous pussyfooting around whether the game would come to PC (it was always going to) looks a bit silly now, doesn’t it?
Lara’s latest jaunt will take her off to Siberia, where she’s searching for “the secret of immortality” before some dodgy organisation called The Trinity finds it first. By the looks of things, Rise of the Tomb Raider will have a bit more of the actual tomb raiding aspect than the initial 2013 Tomb Raider ‘reboot.’
Here’s one of the more recent Rise of the Tomb Raider videos, from Microsoft’s press event at E3 2015.
Reto-Moto has patched its Heroes & Generals World War II shooter with the “Walker” update. It features new weapons, scopes, ribbons, tweaks and balancing, and more. Weapon adds include the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle for German players and an M1/M2 carbine that switches between semi- and full-auto fire for US players.
The devs have also overhauled the game’s Factory map with an eye toward providing better cover, improved flow, and “more fun gameplay,” according to a Reto-Moto press release. As per usual with H&G updates, there’s an accompanying video featuring all the details. We’ve embedded it after the break.
Kingdom of Drakkar, also known as Drakkar or even Kingdom of Drakkar II, is a really odd duck among the annals of MMO history. While being very small potatoes for the industry as a whole throughout its entire lifespan, it is notable for an extraordinary long run (it began in the 1980s, people!) that’s traversed through several format changes and handlers.
I’ve seen Drakkar described, somewhat unkindly, as a “shoddier Ultima Online,” but I think that is a surface judgment that doesn’t take the effort to get to know the game or its legacy. There must be something to this game if it’s been around for three decades, yes? Let’s find out!
From the realm of ASCII
Drakkar had its roots in a 1984 MUD called Realm, which was created by computer programmer Brad Lineberger. This lesser-known relic from that era was written in fortran, used a whopping 16KB of memory, and connected around 40 players at a time.
Lineberger and a new company called Tantalus decided to upgrade Realm by making a graphical front end (FE) that was retitled Kingdom of Drakkar. The project took Lineberger three years to make, after which he debuted the online RPG in 1989.
The inspiration for Drakkar came from several contemporaries. “The storyline is from a seven-year D&D campaign that I ran,” Lineberger said in an interview. “It was also heavily influenced by Moria, Hack, Empire, and Islands of Kesmai.” The story of Drakkar involved an Earth that was ruined by floods and beset upon by an unspeakable evil.
Drakkar was a visual step up from the text-based MUDs, offering crude (yet colorful!) 8-bit graphics and a mouse-driven interface through which players could explore this fantasy land. Even better, the improved code and hardware allowed up to 200 people to connect at a time over Compuserve, making this the first graphical small-scale MMO offered over the internet.
“We had over 200 simultaneous on a decsystem ULTRIX box,” Lineberger told me over email. “It was an incredible sight, and it blew the dial-up connections away. You had to have an Amiga to be around all the people due to performance reasons.”
As a game, however, Drakkar was fairly simple. Players created a character from one of six races and seven classes, and sallied forth from there to kill, loot, crawl through dungeons, and train up skills. Its top-down isometric viewpoint is probably what leads to its inevitable comparison with Ultima Online, although Drakkar was much more of a traditional RPG than a sandbox. One neat little touch that it had was a generous loot table, as any mob had a chance of doling out a high-quality piece of gear (versus needing to camp certain mobs for the best loot).
Drakkar did have one important rule that separated itself from many of its brethren, which was a strict rule against player killing (which apparently could be done, just wasn’t allowed). Players who accidentally attacked another could — and I am dead serious here — hug their accidental victim to avoid any further retribution by the game.
“Massively multiplayer” is born
Lineberger, Tantalus, and Kingdom of Drakkar was soon folded into a new online game platform called MPG-Net in 1991. MPG-Net was a competitor of the several online services of the time, including AOL and CompuServe, but if you’ve never heard of this particular platform, you’re not alone. MPG-Net struggled to gain an audience the size of the other companies, seeing just 3,000 subscribers in 1992 and only climbing to 25,000 by its peak later in the decade. Initially, players had to cough up between $3 to $5 an hour to connect over dial-up, although that cost dropped to $9.95 a month later on.
Kingdom of Drakkar became the flagship RPG of MPG-Net and was positioned against other online RPG rivals. It was about this time that the language that people used to describe these games evolved.
“A little-known (and little-believed) fact is that the term ‘massively multiplayer’ was termed at the MPG-Net office in Key West, Florida, during a meeting of our people and and the Legends of Kesmai people,” Lineberger told me. “We were trying to differentiate between what Drakkar and Kesmai were capable of doing from these eight-player games that called themselves ‘multiplayer.’”
Lineberger initially licensed Drakkar to MPG-Net before selling the rights to the game entirely. Taking Drakkar to the next level was something that he worked on during the ’90s, creating a new version called Kingdom of Drakkar II (which later was merged back into the original game) and making two aborted attempts at a 3-D adaptation. He also worked on a couple of other MMOs that never made it to the market: Judgment Phoenix (an MMOFPS) and DragonGard (a fantasy MMO).
MPG-Net was eventually merged with iMagic in 1998, which spelled the end of that era. Drakkar lived on, although by then Lineberger had left the company.
In the zone, the Drakkarzone
As we’ve seen in several other columns here on The Game Archaeologist, MMOs didn’t thrive on digital game platforms once the 2000s hit. Drakkar languished until Lineberger repurchased the rights to the title in 2001 and decided to give it a new home.
In 2002, Lineberger formed a new company called Drakkarzone to handle the game and relaunched Drakkar with new 24-bit graphics and a free-to-play hybrid model. Players were later given the option in 2006 to toggle back to the old “legacy” graphics if desired.
However, working on Drakkar had to take a backseat due to Lineberger’s position as CTO of Icarus Studios (you might remember that as the studio originally responsible for Fallen Earth). The conflict of interest from working at an MMO studio and running another one on the side kept him from actively developing for Drakkar, although this has since been resolved as Lineberger left Icarus in 2012.
When asked what he enjoyed seeing among players in Drakkar, Lineberger commented, “I like watching people think of creative ways to get through creatures and puzzles I create. People think that I hate solved puzzles, but the truth is that I hate unsolved puzzles.”
The game grew over the years, with new content being added by Lineberger when time allowed. Drakkar’s scope expanded to over 250,000 “tiles.” Unlike most MMOs, Drakkar uses a set board game-like structure for its maps, placing objects on tiles and moving characters from one to the next. This mimicked the original MUD structure, and while things “moved,” there was never any animation added to the game to show, say, walking between tiles. Mounts are another common MMO feature that Drakkar lacks.
I asked Lineberger why he thought Drakkar had lasted so long and what it has contributed to the industry. “I think the magic of Drakkar is the community,” he wrote back, “and the fast hack/slash/quit model of the game (kill a few critters, then exit and do something else). We also were one of the first true graphical MMO games to have resource competitions. This creates a community of people wanting to help each other.”
Staking out claims for prized possessions wasn’t the only thing that brought players together, he told me. “Death in Drakkar often means you get ‘stripped’ with items dropping to the ground needing recovery, and this is another community builder. Also, the chat room as always been closely tied to the game. You can exit, ask for help, and head back in. We also have ‘open party’ systems, where the party has a name, and you simply join the party by name to share experience, which allowed for ENORMOUS parties sharing experience.”
Drakkar’s influence even left a profound impact on one up-and-coming developer. Villagers & Heroes’ Damon Slye wrote in to say how much Drakkar meant to him: “I played this game back in 1993 with a bunch of my colleagues at Dynamix. It was an excellent game. It was well balanced and a lot of fun. I spent thousands of hours playing it.”
So there you have it: a very old-school MMO that’s a living timeline of the industry, from MUDs to free-to-play and beyond. And the best part is? You can still play it today. I want to thank Brad Lineberger for his assistance in fleshing out this retrospective, as Drakkar is obviously a labor of love to him.
Believe it or not, MMOs did exist prior to World of Warcraft! Every two weeks, The Game Archaeologist looks back at classic online games and their history to learn a thing or two about where the industry came from… and where it might be heading.
Here’s my take for 2 excellent games I played over the past year: World of Tanks (WoT) and Guild Wars 2 (GW2).
What I’d change in World of Tanks
I’d remove “premium ammo” from the game.
WoT has game mechanics which collectively create a high skill cap – player skill truly matters. One of the most important game mechanics is penetration, i.e. piercing the armor of a target to deal HP damage. Unfortunately, the use of premium ammo trivializes penetration.
Take for example an IS-4 firing at another IS-4, with the target tank properly angled to minimize the probability of penetration. Here are the heatmaps, one with premium ammo and the other with normal ammo:
As you can see, with premium ammo makes penetration easy-mode (the target’s armor is green), because the penetration value is 82 points higher (340 vs 258).
Let’s consider another example: a T-62A firing at an IS-4. The penetration differential between premium and normal ammo for a T-62A is 66 (330 vs 264).
Even with a lower penetration differential of 66 instead of 82, it’s still clear that firing premium ammo trivializes penetration.
I’ve been able to tell the difference in penetration even with differentials around 20, and premium ammo tends to provide an increase of 60+. One category of premium ammo (ACPR) is supposed to have more penetration decay over distance than AP ammo, but net-net is that premium ammo is still win. StranaMechty provided a detailed analysis on decay based on the game’s configuration data.
Some veteran players try to justify the presence of premium ammo by pointing out that it’s purchaseable with in-game currency, whereas it used to be purchaseable only with gold, i.e. real money. While that is true, for the following situations, a player may not be able to afford much or any premium ammo
The player is not paying for a premium subscription, which costs real money
The player has not purchased a premium tank, which costs real money
The player is newer to the game (< 5000 battles) and is saving money to buy new tanks and new equipment
Simply put, the presence of premium ammo favors paying customers and veteran players. Veterans already have the benefit of experience, and that’s enough of an advantage in a high skill cap game.
What I’d change in Guild Wars 2
I’d scrap the endgame gear system and acquisition.
The process of acquiring one full set of Ascended gear for one character is grindy as heck. The irony is that GW2 was positioned as having no gear treadmill pre-launch in the memorable ArenaNet blog article Is It Fun (bold emphasis mine):
When your game systems are designed to achieve the prime motivation of a subscription-based MMO…the best stat gear requiring crazy amounts of time to earn, etc.
Fun impacts loot collection. The rarest items in the game are not more powerful than other items, so you don’t need them to be the best. The rarest items have unique looks to help your character feel that sense of accomplishment, but it’s not required to play the game. We don’t need to make mandatory gear treadmills, we make all of it optional, so those who find it fun to chase this prestigious gear can do so, but those who don’t are just as powerful and get to have fun too.
There is no simple fix unfortunately. Ascended gear is deeply embedded in the game’s crafting, rewards for daily/weekly/monthly quests, and Fractals.
In my opinion, AN has been trying to solve for keeping players actively engaged and playing on a consistent basis. When player activity began to drop in the months after launch, my guess is that AN had a kneejerk reaction and Ascended gear was introduced into the game.
The underlying problem is that GW2 launched without meaningful horizontal progression at endgame, the kinds of things I’ve been talking about on this blog (Why Games Should Scale Horizontally Instead of Vertically and Why PVE Content Shouldn’t Be a Coral Reef), and as a result players complained about the lack of progression. And so we now have Ascended gear.
Players debate the value of Ascended gear over Exotic gear, but the general consensus is that Ascended gear provides a 5% increase in stats, with the weapons providing a larger benefit due to the increased weapon damage. Skilled players I’ve talked to in [oPP] (OverPowered People, a WvW guild on Blackgate) have told me that they believe it makes a noticeable difference, and that makes intuitive sense to me.