Gaming News: Bungie signs up with Activision, EQ2 removes starting zones, Fallen Earth Dev cuts staff, and Vote Norman!

It’s that time of the week again. I feel I should thank the entire gaming industry for coughing up interesting news regularly since I started this column! Especially since all news in the UK has been postponed until next Thursday because of the election.

Bungie signs soul away for 10 years to Activision

Activision will be have been pleased to distract investors from the continuing saga of Infinity Ward (can we start calling it Finite Ward yet?) by announcing that the highly respected studio – best known for the Halo franchise, as well as Myth and Marathon – has inked the deal on a 10 year exclusive worldwide partnership.

Bungie were however careful to retain ownership of their IP. And this is all good news for PS3 owners because future games are likely to be multi-platform.

But lest we forget about Infinity Ward, this week 38 members of the Modern Warfare 2 team launched a lawsuit against Activision in respect of unpaid bonuses.

More Obstacles for Starcraft 2

As if it wasn’t bad enough that SC2 was rated 18+ in Korea, Blizzard is now in dispute with KeSPA (the Korean e-Sports Players Association) about which organisation is in charge of managing the sport of SC2 in Korea.

I think this is likely a bigger story than it seems, and that we’ll hear more about this one. It also sheds some light on the tricky relationship between a developer and the third party organisation responsible for organised player events.

Blizzard sets up a Cataclysm in the WoW Raiding Scene

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Blizzard has also switched into full-on information mode about Cataclysm recently. As well as the well publicised announcement about raiding changes, they’ve also started to release screenshots such as the one above.

The substance of the planned raid changes is:

  • 10 and 25 man versions of all raid encounters. They will drop the same loot, and offer approximately the same difficulty.
  • 10 and 25 man locks will be exclusive, players will not be able to run both on the same character. Instead they will have to choose.
  • The aim is to make 10 man raiding seem like a stronger option rather than the lesser and easier way to go.
  • Class designers will also be tweaking classes to make 10 man groups easier to form (that means spreading out raid buffs and abilities even further). So if you are deciding what class to play in Cataclysm, at least wait a couple of months until they’ve announced all the details because they may yet surprise you.

A lot of bloggers came out either in favour or against the changes, and you can see from the comments on my post how strongly people feel about their raiding. I’ve been most surprised by the number of people who feel that they’re carrying half the members of their current 25 man raid and can’t wait to ditch them. Really? But if you feel like that, why don’t you just go apply to a more hardcore raid guild yourself that will do a better job at winnowing the chaff than your current leadership? I thought that was how it worked.

And also at the people who think that if people flock to 10 man raids it must mean that they hated the other ones. It might, but more likely it just means that players will always take the easiest available route to the rewards. If Blizzard decided to put the same loot on 5 man instances, they’d do that instead.

Still, the jury is still out about whether this change will actually make the raid game more accessible or not. Bearing in mind that any group of friends who just want to run 10 mans can do that right now. And that to my mind depends a lot on the accessibility of PUGs.

EQ2 cuts out a starting zone

The new EQ2 producer, Dave Georgeson, has already started to make his mark at SOE. A couple of recent changes in the latest test-patch have riled up the player base because they’re removing content rather than replacing or updating it.

If anyone tried the EQ2 trial, you might remember the Trial of the Isle. This starting zone involved players learning their trade on an island zone, before graduating and being transported to their respective capital city. Well, treasure those memories because that zone is due for a Catac^D^D^D^D^D to be removed.

As a former (albeit brief) player, my reaction is that they could have just nuked Qeynos from orbit and left the harmless newbie zone (which really wasn’t at all bad) to drift under its own steam towards happier waters. Ysharros claims that some players loved the saccharine Wood Elf village in Qeynos. I agree 100% with her view which is that the districts were poky little racial ghettoes and when I tried playing a (ugh, can’t remember the name of the race, slender bald magic using humanoids) I quit the character in disgust at how awful the city was. Say what you will about WoW, it has awesome racial starting zones.

And I think the EQ2 devs made the right call here, their newer starting areas are SO MUCH BETTER than those tedious old cities with the constant zoning. I still think an actual nuking would be the way to go.

Level up in your sleep in Age of Conan

Funcom announced a new feature this week for Age of Conan, which is a variant of rested xp.

With this new feature you will get additional levels gained over time that can be allocated to characters in the character selection screen if you wish. It is designed to earn and allocate additional levels to gain over time even while being offline and it’s only available to put on characters that are at least level 30.

Again, the blogosphere has exploded with collective outrage at the notion that you might be able to level up a character without playing it (*coff* WoW register-a-friend *coff*).

I actually think it’s a pretty good idea. Probably a super turbo charged rested xp bonus would have done the same job without ruffling as many feathers but if I’ve been playing a game for long enough to have accumulated lots of offline xp then I probably do want the option to skip any levels or zones I didn’t much like the first time.

Now if AoC wasn’t so boobs and blood oriented I’d be tempted to give it another look. I keep hearing good things about improvements that the team has made since last year, and they have an expansion due out on May 11th.

Fallen Earth Dev cuts staff

Icarus Studios announced a restructuring this week which involved laying off 75% of the original staff. That’s not good news whichever way you cut it.

And if you get bored of the real election, why not vote for William the Conqueror instead?

This is a great story. A teacher in Northamptonshire decided to use the election as part of a history lesson. He set up a 1066 election between Harold Godwinson, Harald of Norway and William of Normandy (guess they didn’t want to call him William the Bastard). Connoisseurs of English history will remember that what actually happened was that Harold beat Harald at Stamford Bridge before marching down to Hastings to take an arrow through the eye from one of William’s men.

Anyhow, he took the whole thing onto twitter and that’s where the rest of the universe got involved.

I think it’s adorable and p.s. vote Norman, for change you can believe in.

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2 thoughts on “Gaming News: Bungie signs up with Activision, EQ2 removes starting zones, Fallen Earth Dev cuts staff, and Vote Norman!

  1. My vote is for Harold, who I believe, had he won the Battle of Hastings, would have scrapped Trident, extricated us from Afghanistan and lowered Inheritance Tax.

  2. You can’t remember “Erudite” as your EQ2 race? I’ll admit it’s easier for me since I’ve played since launch and the latest expansion deals with the “pre-Shattering” Erudite city/area of Odus, but really now. . . . .

    I agree that the racial “suburbs/ghettos” in the 2 original cities aren’t all that great. OTOH, in Freeport, the Big Bend one (for ogres, trolls, and betrayers) is extremely well laid out. I’ve come to like Longshadow Alley also — laid out similarly to Big Bend and the dark elves there like to cheer at my (betrayed) high elves as they walk around.

    Still and all…. Kelethin, Gorowyn,and Neriak are all much better starting zones and are single-shard cities to boot with no racial ghettoes to worry about and as such are much nicer.

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