Jeff Strain (ex Blizzard/ArenaNet/NCSoft) made some waves last night, with the announcement of his new MMO studio 'Undead Labs'. As the name implies, Undead Labs will be focusing on a zombie apocalypse survival MMO for consoles.
"The Seattle, Washington-based studio is “on a mission to take online gaming in bold new directions”, beginning with it's in development zombie MMO for consoles." - Source: EDGE Online
They have even gone so far as to reveal some interesting gameplay info:
""One of the things that is key in [the zombie] genre is really giving players a sense of purpose that is not just kill monsters and level up," he tells us. "MMO players like to have a home, and that is one of the reasons I'm not going to throw them out into a post apocalyptic world. The goal here is to make them feel like there is a purpose. You're trying to restart society. You're trying to reclaim the world. One of the very first goals is going to be to get together with other players and establish a place that you can call your own that you must actively maintain and defend, and that over time will allow you to have a home base that will allow you to restart the economy, start trading with other 'blue zones' and feel like you have a home again." - Source: Destructoid
It's a cool idea for a game, certainly, but as an MMO? With a subscription? On a console? That just seems crazy.
I could be wrong. Perhaps by the time it releases the gaming landscape will have evolved enough to be more accepting of an idea like this. I hope so, even though I would be forced to sell my soul and buy one of those pathetic little boxes with their silly, awkward controllers.
I still remember my first moderator gig with some clarity, and how much I enjoyed taking on the responsibility. That was about 7 years ago, on an Unreal Tournament mod forum with about 200 active members.
These days I'm part of a team that runs a network of fansites. The two that I am directly involved in have about 500 people browsing at any one time. The older of the two records that the highest concurrent user count was 6,830, which seems impressive, though it's a relatively small percentage of the total membership: 202,375.
Things have changed a lot over those 7 years. People began to realize that there are two attractive reasons to run a gaming website: It's a lot easier to make a profit using adverts than it used to be, and it's a great addition to your resume if you have aspirations to end up working in the games industry.
There's no other way to put this: The AI of your companions is absolutely abysmal. I can't count the number of times I've been trying to wing it through an easy fight, only to flip through my team-mates and see none of their skills are recharging. A game of this caliber having AI so poor can only be intentional; they are forcing you to micromanage or use their 'combat tactics' system.
Time to report in after a weekend spent hacking and slashing my way through the kingdom of Ferelden.
A couple of weeks ago I picked up a copy of the Guild Wars 2 Art Book...
... and for the hell of it threw one of the better looking Guild Wars t-shirts in with my order. Hell, why not? There's some odd pleasure to be found in being such a devoted fan. I imagine people with an interest in professional sports have the same feeling when they buy this years jersey or a signed ball.
Then I went home and threw them on the shelf, next to my Guild Wars Nightfall baseball cap, under my Guild Wars Factions poster, just next to my Guild Wars EotN map... and it struck me that perhaps there is some money to be made here.