Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gaming News: WoW Tokens, Star Wars Galaxies Jedi Hunt Idea, and Antilia No Longer an MMO

By Bixyl Shuftan

While the Newser and Second Life blogs have covered lots of events in Second Life, there's been no shortage of things going on with some of the games we like.

"World of Warcraft" has continued to develop, with a new Blackrock Dungeon. But what's gotten more chatter is the release of something new: the WoW token. The tokens are intended as "an in-game item that allows players to simply and securely exchange gold and game time between each other." In other words, an alternative to buying WoW gold from third party services, which has always been against the rules and could get players suspended or banned.

WoW tokens are purchased from the ingame store for $20 US dollars ($25 Australian Dollars), up to a total of ten over a 30 day period. They can then be sold on the auction house for gold. Once bought from the auction house, they can be redeemed for 30 days of game time.

The tokens were first up for sale on April 6. They were initially valued at the Auction House for 30,000 gold. Demand caused the price to rise for the first few hours. Then the value plummeted to 22,405 gold, a drop of more then 25%. People wondered if it would continue, but the slide halted, going through smaller rises and declines. There was a limit to the number of tokens which could be purchased from the Auction House, but Blizzard soon raised it.

Sources: PC Gamer, Blizzard,

For fans of Star Wars, the MMO aimed at them is "The Old Republic." Before that, there was "Star Wars Galaxies," which was released in 2003 and continued to December 2011. Among those involved in the design was Ralph Koster. In his blog, he recently talked about one of the challenges in the game: jedi characters. Jedi have access to all kinds of powers, but the trouble is "by comparison, everyone else sucks." There was also another issue, in the time perios of the movies, the Empire was hunting down anyone with the potential to be one. So Ralph had a "crazy idea." If people wanted to have the potential to be a Jedi, let them, but there would be a catch. 

You see, the moment you used Force powers within view of anything or anyone Imperial, or indeed any player, they could report you to the Empire. To Darth Vader’s Death Squadron in fact. And that generated someone to come after you. After first, just lowly Stormtroopers. Eventually, cooler characters, such as some of the bounty hunters like IG-88. Eventually, really cool ones like Boba Fett or fan favorite Mara Jade.

These would be brutal fights. Odds are you’d just die. So hiding and training very carefully would be essential. But it wouldn’t matter, of course. As you advanced, your powers would get “noisier” and cooler. You wouldn’t be able to resist using Force Lightning in a crowd, or equipping your lightsaber in view of some Imperials. And eventually, after Boba Fett and Mara Jade and everyone else had failed, well, that would be when Darth Vader himself bestirred himself to take care of the little problem.

And you would die. It would be rigged.

And you didn't just die. You'd have to start over with a new Level 1 character, as the old was was permanently dead, aka "permadeath."

Another idea was how these players would develop their Jedi powers, what Koster called "security through obscurity." When created, a different set of actions was determined for what it would take for them to progress. Anyone could become a Jedi, but how to become one would be less than clear. The intention was to limit the number of players whom would actually finish these quests to become a Jedi, making them rare but powerful, like they were in the stories.

But as it turned out, neither plan left the drawing board. The idea of  "permadeath" made the designers nervous, and there just wasn't enough time. The game was to be released in June 2003, and so they just didn't have the time to develop this idea.

Hat Tip: Hamlet Au

A few readers have mentioned Antilia, a fantasy MMO in development with all furred races. Despite some Kickstarters, efforts to raise cash to help develop the game have been less than successful. So after some years of the game still in alpha, the team has decided to bite the bullet. It was announced that they will not be making the game an MORPG, at least for now.

"We've come to the conclusion that we really want to get something out there with Antillia. What we're going to have to do to make that happen is find a way to make the project simpler. ... The easiest way to do that is to cut out the massive multiplayer online portion." (video link)

The good news, there will still be a multiplayer option. And they haven't completely given up on the idea of an MMO. They'll just have to wait until they have the money, and resources, to develop Antilia to that.

Source: Antilia 

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Raglan Shire to Close InWorldz Location

By Bixyl Shuftan

Among the groups in Second Life that made a presence in the InWorldz grid was Raglan Shire, it's most noted community of fans of tiny avatars or "tinies." In June 2010, they got a sim in the virtual world and built what they called the Great Tree. For five years, the place stood, called an example of what could be done with InWorldz. Then on April 9 came some sad news from Zayn Till, the founder of Raglan.

This afternoon I logged in to Inworldz to make the announcement that Raglan Shire IW is going to be closed. The sim will remain on the grid for another 5 weeks & then be shut down (May 15th-ish). This will give everyone enough time to take up any no - copy items or builds (or anything really) if necessary.

While very sad, the sim really hasn't been utilized & I'd rather not continue to accept donations just to make tier if this is the case. I have nothing but respect for the Inworldz grid. The founders & ppl behind the scene make Inworldz fantastic. They deserve a big thank you for all the hard work they did for us. Especially in the beginning. They are the best.

Special thank-you's as well to Etheria, Oceanoz, Liandras, Teal, Caleb & all the folken who helped bring the tree to life as well as maintain it. You are all amazing. It was glorious.

On the InWorldz forum, he posted the following.

It is quite sad for me as well & I can appreciate the questions and everything regarding the closing of the Sim and the end of the Great Tree. In a nutshell, The sim really hasn't been used as I had hoped it would be. This has always been about growing and moving forward as a community. The last few years it has felt like a lonely museum with the occasional visitor or activity. This is probably my fault for not being involved the last few years. For those that did try to have interesting things to do on the sim you have my thanks.

I have always felt in any world, that if growth and moving forward ever came to a standstill that I would no longer be interested in carrying it forward.

I would like to be clear that the Tree was a collaborative work of incredibly talented people. The first 4 months was a flurry of activity as Etheria, Oceanoz, Dagmar, Teal and myself tirelessly worked to construct the tree with help from Inworldz residents and the founders. If you want to thank anyone for all the hard work, thank these people as they/you are the ones that deserve it.

I am glad folks appreciated the build and what we tried to accomplish and my best to the Founders of Inworldz who have always been nothing but kind and helpful.

In Second Life, I ran into Zayn, and he and I talked about the matter, "I just was talking to someone. This is pretty much what I wrote them: The sim was intended as a place of social gathering and activity but somewhere along the way became a lonely empty place with only the occasional visitor. It was never supposed to be a mall with only the odd activity/event every few months if that.

"In the nearly 5 years I kept this sim on the Inworldz grid, I watched as the initial concurrent log ins which started at around 125 when I purchased the sim in June of 2010 grow to about 275 log ins concurrently at the current date.

"That's just not growth.

"As reference, Second Life which has been dwindling, still has concurrent log ins between 35,000 & 60,000 at any given time although I am no fan of Linden Lab. For me it is about moving forward and growing as people and as a community. I have always said if I felt that it is no longer growing and is merely lingering, that I would no longer be interested in carrying it forward.

"This has  happened in InWorldz, and may be happening in SL Raglan Shire. Perhaps this will serve as a reminder that nothing should be taken for granted."

Going on, he added, "I'm pretty wordy, but yeah, been down, really loved that tree. ... actually hoping the closing of Raglan Shire in InWorldz may give folks an idea that things never should be taken for granted." I asked, "Were there any notable events that took place there?" He answered, "Some, but much too far and in between. IW is so small in comparison to SL. not a lot of folks. It generated a lot of interest the first few years. 2 years ago IW named it Sim of the year. But really, people & activities were to far and few in between. Plus a lot of folks that did kinda embrace what we do were doing it all off sim, so I  thought it was time."

I asked, "Has interest fallen off since the content creator controversy died down?" "In InWorldz?" Zayn answered, "There's just no real growth sadly. Five years ago, concurrent logins were around 125. It was not unusual for Raglan to have more then half the entire grid population on the sim the first year or two during concets and stuff. Five years later, concurrent logins are around 250ish."

And so, InWorldz will soon be losing one of it's favorite sims.

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(Click here if the video fails to play)

Bixyl Shuftan