So this week, you get to choose the column you want to read. There are two spoiler warnings below: one covering my thoughts of playing the game from a strictly game-based perspective, the other one being my thoughts of playing the game from a comic book fan’s perspective. Read one! Read the other! Read both! Theoretically you could read neither, I suppose, but then you would have clocked out before you were done with this introduction.
And much like the first time when I played, I found myself hit with something right out of the gate: There should literally be no reason for me not to like this. I love superheroes. I like action combat. I enjoy colorful settings. I like the things that this game is doing which are distinctly different from other superhero games. I like the whole idea of movement modes and everything. There’s a lot of stuff in here that should be very distinctly delighting me.
But it’s not.
And then there’s DC Universe Online, which is a game I just don’t think about all that much. Which is odd, as it may very well be the most successful MMO Daybreak is managing at the moment.
Some of this, of course, is down to the fact that it’s a game that seemed to launch almost by accident, with little to no fanfare and remarkably little promotion. But it’s also a game very different from many of its predecessors; where many superhero MMOs seem to be derived, on some level, from the archetypes put forth by CoH, DCUO does its own thing. And that alone makes it worthy of a closer look.
Welp, here we are: Star Wars Galaxies would be turning 14 years old today, had it been allowed to live.
SWG is much beloved around here, among our staff and many of our commenters, and the good news is that the existing emulators for the game have seemed pretty safe from the wrath of the copyright gods, which means you can put your mouse where your heart is and still play. But do you? And if not, why not?
That’s what today’s Leaderboard poll is meant to find out. (You can choose multiple answers on this one.)
And some of that, I think, is that I’ve played it before.
I’m reluctant to say that every game Cryptic Studios makes is the same because every single one has very clear pieces that stand apart. Star Trek Online’s space combat, Neverwinter’s action combat, and Champions Online’s status as the last relic of a forgotten time. (Probably other things, too.) They’re not the same game. But they do all share the same gameplay loop, which is different… and despite my best efforts, there’s a certain point when all of that just winds up getting a wee bit tedious.
No, what I really pictured differently was the eponymous city of Neverwinter. I pictured, well, a city. What Neverwinter more closely resembles is a superheroic hometown after the most recent event storyline. There’s exactly one district that seems to actually be suitable for human habitation, and everything else is crawling with stuff that wants to kill you for various reasons. Also, every single part of the game is filled with people insisting that the city will soon belong to them.
In other words, it’s Paragon City without the superheroes.
Yeah, I could say “less good,” but I’m going to go with just plain “rage-inducing.”
Here’s the weird thing: At least one of the things which inspired a rage-spike from me was something I had been waiting for from the moment I started playing the game, and people who have read my work long enough probably know what that means. So join me as I find the item I dread more than any other in games by Cryptic, an item that appears in both of the other titles run by the studio that makes me start shuddering with rage every time I see it.
Back in February, Valve announced that it would be sunsetting Steam Greenlight and replacing it with a new platform called Steam Direct, which would require fees from developers in order to “decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.” At the time, fees from $100-$5000 were floated by the company, causing significant consternation among game developers concerned that indies, students, and developing countries would be shut out of the program.
Last week, Valve posted an update on the program, announcing that it will be sticking with the $100 fee and working on other ways to fix the submission process — namely, with an expanded curator system that continues to offload de facto vetting work onto volunteers.
You are no doubt staring at the title image above and thinking to yourself that it really does not look like a Neverwinter screenshot. And you would be right; it doesn’t look like a Neverwinter screenshot because it isn’t a Neverwinter screenshot. My schedule has been hectic enough that rather than trying to cram in a rushed play session without much meat in it, I elected to have a brief delay and push the next Neverwinter installment back a week. Not to worry, though; it’s an extension, not a cancellation, and Neverwinter still will get its full four weeks in the spotlight.
Instead, I wanted to be a bit more meta and discuss a few things I see coming up in the comments from time to time as well as covering some ideas for the series moving forward. And yes, it contains polls for the compulsive voters in the audience, you charming folks.
Valiance Online has a dev thread up this week asking backers and devs to propose hairstyles for the game’s characters, something that immediately yoinked my attention since I am notoriously picky about hair. As I’ve written before, I’m not against mohawks. Mohawks are cool. But when we open up a character creator and see 50 different types of mohawks and little else? Drives me bonkers. I’m exaggerating a little, but the variety in most MMOs isn’t so hot, and that’s partly down to clipping issues, I realize. Still, hair specifically is super important to me when I’m rolling a character. It’s definitely in my top three, probably right after gender.
How about you? What’s the most important part of MMORPG character customization to you? You can pick three!
Also, Ceilarene was hot on the trail of the thieves who stole the crown of Neverwinter. Or somewhat warm on the trail, at least. The crown in question isn’t a magical artifact, though, it’s just a crown. I think it’s just a mark of office, anyhow; it might be magical after all. Either way, it does confer a certain degree of status and it looks really neat, so presumably I should actually chase after the jerks who stole it. That means heading to another district of the city, the Blacklake District. If that sounds like a bad part of town… well, yes.
But it wasn’t. Made you look.
Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.
It may sound crazy, but a huge number of people who pour eyeball time and money into e-sports don’t even play the games they’re watching. That’s according to gaming analytics firm Newzoo, which last week broke down its stats on the major e-sports franchises and who exactly is watching them in the U.S., Canada, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. Key takeaways?
- 70% of viewers stick to one game.
- 69% of gamers play only League of Legends, CS:GO, or DOTA 2 (the overlap of all three is 8%).
- 42% of e-sports watchers of the big three games do not play any of them
- 191 million people will tune in to e-sports “frequently” this year; an additional 194 million will do so “occasionally.”
Howsabout you? Do you watch, play, both, or neither?