Random thoughts on PvP, co-operative play, and fun

There is probably a word for the feeling you get on zoning into a battleground for the first time. Something that encompasses the existential angst of “Where am I?”, together with, “Where is everyone else?”, the panic of “What am I supposed to be doing?” and the frustration of “Argh, those bastards keep killing me! I’m really really bad at this.”

Amazingly, battleground-angst tends to clear up after you’ve run the battleground a few times. It’s amazing how learning your way around the zone and objectives will soon have you playing at a much higher level, even if you genuinely are rubbish at PvP/ duelling (which I am, incidentally). This is especially true in a well designed PvP zone where you’ll be able to use the terrain to your advantage.

Or in other words, the simple pleasure of being able to snipe at someone from cover.

I played a few rounds of PvP in Rift earlier this week with the delectable Hawley, and it was a very quick shift from, “Argh, I suck at this,” to “Let’s defend the flag. Hahaha, got them!” with achievements popping up all over the place. Part of this is due to being able to work together (everything is easier if you have a healer next to you in PvP) but mostly just getting more familiar with the goals and layout.

One of the reasons I like battlegrounds is that you can have fun and help your side win without ever actually having to be good at PvP. This works better if you are not playing against pre-made teams.

Portal 2 and Co-op

I was also able to play Portal 2 at a friend’s place the other week, and it looks great. Definitely on my list of games to buy when I have more time to play during the summer, along with LA Noir and (probably) Witcher 2.

One of the really fun things is that it works brilliantly as a console game. By that I mean when you have several people sitting on the sofa but only one person actually playing. It’s fun to watch people play Portal/2 and you can chime in with suggestions without ruining their fun.

The actual co-op mode involves two people with controllers, which we weren’t doing. But one of us with the controller and the other helping with ideas seemed to work really well as a fun social experience. I’m sure the co-op mode is good too, will look forwards to trying it sometime to see how that works as a social thing as well as a gameplay mechanic.

Valve does that gamification thing RIGHT

cube ardyn@flickr

Anyone out there looking forwards to playing Portal 2? Been following the Valve ARG/ countdown?

Then you’ll know that when the timer was up, a new timer started and players were encouraged to help GladOS boot up more quickly by .. playing games. Not any old game, but specific ones, from Steam.

Here is Kotaku’s take on the whole thing. Is it just a big marketing scam to encourage punters to buy the Potato Sack bundle of indie games? Well, yes and no. You see, if you already own any of those fine games on Steam and boot it up, you’ll see that you have been given a free extra Portal themed level.

I don’t even want to buy Portal 2 on release (as I said in the last post, I can wait a few months) but I have been happily trying out my free Portal levels in Audiosurf and Defense Grid Awakening, both of which I picked up ridiculously cheap in Steam sales of the past.

Haven’t earned any potatoes yet (I think) but it was fun, they’re both cool games that I hadn’t played in awhile, and I’m charmed at the free stuff, and I’m now following the release schedule for a game I have/ had no intention of buying. As far as gamification goes, you have to be impressed.

I think Valve have done a cracking job with this one, even though I can see how if you didn’t own any of the (awesome!) indie games in the pack, you might feel pressured. Plus it isn’t as if they weren’t going to release Portal 2 anyway – it really isn’t required for anyone to play these games unless they want to.

So many games, so little time

It’s that time of the year again – just as the weather is getting warmer and everyone is recovering from the inevitable colds, flu, and chest infections and wants to be outside (apologies to anyone in the southern hemisphere for the UK bias) – what happens? We get hit with a slew of AAA computer games. And offers on old ones.

Games I am playing at the moment:

Rift – I really do enjoy Rift, and I don’t think people are anywhere near appreciative enough of the PvE/ questing content. It’s not revolutionary but bug free and nicely executed. Technically it’s good too – there’s a nice variety of kill quests, collect quests, use the item quests, use something in the environment quests, etc etc. And if you actually read the storyline quests in each zone, they’re good fun.

It’s a very easy game to spend an hour or so in quietly, even if you don’t feel like running the Rifts, instances or warfronts. Of course my character is still only level 30 so I can’t speak for the endgame. I intend to write longer posts about Rift since I’m happy with my 6 month sub, love the warlock, and looking forwards to seeing how things go. It is noticeable that the population has dropped off after the first month, but maybe they’re just all busy with single player games. Tipa writes a more thoughtful review here.

Dragon Age 2 – I haven’t gotten very far with my second play through as a mage yet, but it’s on the back burner. The more I think about this game (and I have been thinking about it) the more I love what they were trying to do. I find that a) I’m quite forgiving of games that fail to meet their vision if I agree with the vision and b) my characters in Bioware games default to Captain Jack style bisexual (he’ll screw anything as long as it’s gorgeous).

Mass Effect 2:  Since Bioware have been giving this away free to DA2 purchasers, it would have been rude not to download it. I got as far as where Shepherd first meets the Illustrated Man but haven’t really felt the need to play it since. I want to, even though I think I have probably forgotten the various commands for switching guns and … whatever other shooter stuff it does. It’s strange that the Dragon Age games have been so compelling for me but I struggle to get very far with either of the ME ones. I don’t think ME3 is on my shopping list either, now that Bioware have been busy perfecting the shootery gameplay which I’m so bad at.

The Witcher: Another game that I really like but have not been driven to play for ages. Picked this up in the Steam Sale over Xmas and enjoyed the parts that I did play. Again, I wonder if I’ll be able to remember the controls or whether I should just restart from the beginning if I get the urge.

Dragon Quest IX: This is the game which for me defines why it doesn’t matter if you never finish a CRPG. I’m still barely half way through, I think, but wandering around and fighting animated cucumbers never gets old. It would be dull on a PC but on a handheld that you play for 30 mins at a time on train journeys, it’s great.

Sims Medieval: The issue I have with this game is that it’s not really the sort of thing you can just pick up for 30 mins: it needs time, preferably more time than you have. My evil Sim queen got pregnant and I got bored waiting for her to drop the sprog. I will go back to it, because I think they did a lot of things right with this game and I’ve barely scratched the surface. In particular the idea of a simulation game using genre simulation rules rather than real world to help with telling genre-appropriate stories has HUGE potential. Imagine if it has been Sims Fairy Tale instead of Sims Medieval — I think that’s where the franchise needs to go. An unholy mix of simulation and storytelling, and I’d be so there.

LOTRO: Finished the most recent epic book content and enjoyed it a lot. Very tempted to sign up for some casual raiding but I have one major issue. I don’t understand the new legendary item changes, so I have no idea how bad my gear is or how to improve it.

You’ll notice a running thread in my more peripatetic games which is that one of the barriers to me continuing with it is worrying about whether I will remember how to play. Remember this, because it’s just as valid with MMOs that you put down for a while and then pick up again.

On the queue or the wishlist:

Pirates of the Burning Sea: I still really want to find time for this because I loved it! But wow it’s been hard to find time.

Bioshock: I remembered being recommended this game so picked it up from the recent Steam sale for a pittance.

Portal 2: Out next week, in case you missed the hype. Tempted to wait a few months until it is cheaper.

Witcher 2: I think I should finish the first game really, and have some concerns about how well it might run on my system. But it sounds as though it will be awesome.

Steamlands: Some kind of bizarro steampunk tank building/tower defense game? I don’t know, I just know that I’m already sold on it.

Predictions for MMOs/ Gaming in 2011

It is that time when we look ahead and try to predict what the year ahead may bring. Arbitrary and I have put our heads together to see what we can come up with…

In general, it’s going to be another huge year for both social gaming and mobile gaming. There will be more massive hits along the lines of Angry Birds, and both iPhones and Android will continue to be strong platforms. We’ll see the trend for Android to increase in popularity continue as more and more models come onto the market.

The debate as to what does or doesn’t constitute an MMO will continue. Facebook will continue as the platform of choice for social games, particularly on handsets, since it actually is handset agnostic.

The iPad will not really live up to the potential that the industry had hoped. Already we’re seeing that magazine subscriptions on the iPad are below predictions. There will be popular games, yes, but they will never come close to the popularity of the phone-based versions. So iPad owners had best get used to continuing to receive iPhone conversions.

I predict something big with Zynga this year. They’re huge, but they’ve not had much success in breaking away from Facebook. The desire to do so is still there … maybe they’ll even try to take over FB or merge the companies in some way. Whatever it is, it’ll be crazy.

E-sports will be a big trend this year in some form or other, as publishers try to find more ways to draw in the ‘core audience’ into more social, F2P type games. Expect at least one hugely successful multiplayer game, possibly on a console or on Facebook, with this kind of worldwide e-sports competitive ethos at its core.

One of the other big trends this year was for breakout indie games. This is nothing new, but Minecraft in particular has been a stunning hit. In addition, the various Steam indie bundles, more attention from PC journalists and blogs, and ‘pay what you want’ weekend offers have gotten more people to try them out than ever before. This trend continues, and we’ll see at least one successful indie MMO launch this year.

Interactive/ internet TV is going to be another big trend this year. Look for gaming on Google TV in particular (one area where Zynga may have their eye). And this is a platform that favours simple social games.

This year also marks the release of the Nintendo 3DS, the 3D version of the DS. Whilst it will sell well enough to be marked as a success, they will signally fail to persuade most users to upgrade. However nice the graphics, there’s unlikely to be a killer game that really uses the 3D. (If it played films, however …) This won’t be a good year for handhelds, losing more ground to the ubiquitous smartphones.

WoW/ Blizzard

This year Blizzard plays it safe with WoW. There won’t be any big features analogous to the dungeon finder. Patches will be more of the raid instance, dailies, extra minigames type of content.

Whilst some players will get bored quickly of Cataclysm, the strategy to draw in more casual players will work, by and large.

The balance of ranged vs melee is going to continue to be a big feature of this expansion.

The leaked expansion plans date the next expansion for 2010. I predict this is correct and we’ll hear more about the next expansion and about Blizzard’s plans to offer more frequent, smaller expansions. Wrath will soon be perceived as the golden age of WoW in much the same way that TBC was by the old guard for most of Wrath.

The big change for the next expansion will be a crafting revamp.

Blizzcon will be held in Europe.

Blizzard will announce their next game, currently codenamed Titan. It will, as expected, be a different genre from WoW. (Please take a moment to imagine what the WoW community might be like if Blizzard’s next game is a FPS. Heck, imagine what the Blizzard community for a FPS MMO might be like? Scared yet? This is why they will come back with a more player friendly version of realID.)

Other games

Guild Wars 2 will not release in 2011.

Neither will World of Darkness (Vampire).

Neither will The Secret World

The walking in stations expansion for EVE will release and will generate a flurry of ‘look at this amazing character creator’ posts. It will not substantially expand the player base, though and will largely be seen by existing players as watering down the current game.

Star Wars: the Old Republic will release and will fail to either gain a million subscribers or to be a game people want to play for 10 years (both predictions made by EA). It may even fail completely within 6 months. (I will still play it.)

Mark Jacobs will announce a new project, DaoC 2.

There will be more discussion about the F2P model as it applies to MMOs, focussing more on practical details of ‘what works’. People will pick their games at least as much based on payment models as anything else, to the point of having preferences for very specific flavours of F2P.

There will also be extended discussions in the blogosphere about how trustworthy various publishers are viewed as being. This is partly connected with games that failed in 2010 (do you trust this game to still be going in 6 months before you invest too much time into it?) but also with the way the F2P model has been implemented by companies such as SOE.

LOTRO will release their Isengard expansion which will be comparable in size to Mirkwood. ie. a couple of levelling zones, new instances, and a raid. They will increasingly be spread thin trying to keep both the lifetime endgame player base happy and the new F2P players who are more interested in lower level revamps.

2011 is a big year for RPGs. In fact, it will probably also be the biggest year ever for computer games in general.

Diablo III will release, will be a massive success. It will contain various features borrowed from WoW, and so the cycle comes full circle.

Dragon Age II will release, will be a massive success.

Mass Effect III will release, will be a massive success.

The Witcher II will release, will be a massive success (but possibly not on the scale of the previous three games, which is a shame.)

And not a RPG, but yes, Portal II will release, will be a massive success.

Whatever Infinity Ward does for EA will release, will be a massive success.

There will be at least one film tie in game that is actually good, and will be a massive success.

Microsoft attempt to clean up the Xbox Live community in some way, possibly involving an element of realID.

Gaming News: What’s hot at E3, APB and the embargo of doom, WAR drops producer, Microsoft still has no sense of humour shock

Mourn with me now for the ongoing death-by-boredom of English football, coming to a TV near you on Wednesday night.

And in other news, another E3 industry convention has come and gone. So what did 2010 have to show? I’ve covered much of the MMO news here with a special SWTOR post here.

The two biggest stories of the convention, to my mind, are hardware related.

  • Sony and Nintendo are betting that we’d all like to see our gaming in 3D – the PS3 will get a compatibility patch for 3DTVs and Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld (no glasses required) will offer a 3D experience. In fact, if I had to pick one single news story from E3, it would be that everyone who tried the new 3DS said – in shock – it just works. And it will also apparently be able to show films in 3D.
  • Sony and Microsoft also showed off their respective motion controller technology. The Sony Move looks like a stick with a ball on the end, and Microsoft’s Kinect (the renamed Natal technology) doesn’t require the player to hold a physical controller at all, it picks up your actions as you move around. But somehow, despite giving a new XBOX to everyone at their presentation, Microsoft doesn’t seem to have captured the journalists’ attention.

Jon Shute blogs at VanHemlock about the various new hardware on offer, and concludes that neither of the two motion controllers seem to be aimed at the hardcore gamer.

The big three E3 presentations

Each of the big console manufacturers traditionally gives a big presentation at E3. The aim is to build up some excitement about their hardware, future plans, and what’s in store for their customers over the next year.

This year, I think Nintendo did the best job of capturing people’s imaginations. The 3DS wowed everyone who tried it. Their software lineup includes new outings for a lot of old favourite franchises (well, if you are a nintendo head anyway) including Zelda, Goldeneye, Kirby, Metroid, and Donkey Kong (yes really). There’s a strong lineup of software on offer for both of their consoles and as an avowed DS fan, I can’t wait to get my hand on a 3DS. I also look forwards to more DS RPGs and puzzlers. All very crowd pleasing stuff.

What Nintendo do extremely well is put the message across that their portfolio offers something for everyone. I’d be surprised if anyone saw that presentation and didn’t find at least one game or genre that caught their interest.

By comparison, Microsoft just can’t seem to get it right. Even when they have technology as potentially exciting as the Kinect, they somehow … miss the mark. Instead of a coherent ‘we offer something for everyone’ message, they just give the impression that they’re incoherent and confused. On the one hand, they’re chasing the 18-30 male gamer with a slew of shooters and a deal with ESPN to show premium sports on Xbox live. To hammer the point home, EA introduced a new Xbox loyalty program called ‘the Gun Club’ – I guess they won’t be including any family type games with that then.  … And then there’s Kinect with some dancing games which M/soft is trying to portray as the Xbox’s great white hope. It does not compute.

Then there’s Sony who are trying to sell people on the future of 3DTV – a rather expensive future given the current recession for sure. Their presentation leaned heavily on third party games, but what a great lineup. Sorcery – a magical combat game based on using the Move controller – sounds amazing, exactly what you’d want of a Harry Potter knockoff.

They also put one over on Microsoft by actually announcing prices for the Move. And also, whilst confirming that the PSN (online aspect of the PS3) will remain free, they plan to offer a premium service which will include extra downloadable content. I think we’ll need to see what’s on offer before people decide whether to go for this or not. The other big news from the Sony presentation is that Portal 2 will be available for the PS3, along with steamworks.

Some of the other games that caught my attention at E3 were Tron, Bulletstorm, Portal 2, the obligatory SWTOR and a whole slew of games for the DS.

No reviews for APB until a week after release?

All Points Bulletin, the GTA-alike PvP based MMO is rumbling towards release at the moment. And the developers decided that now would be a good time to demand that reviewers not release any reviews until a week after the release date. RPS state in this link that response to the beta has not been positive – I’m not so sure. Plenty of rpg.net players seemed to like it well enough.

In reponse to press complaints, Realtime Worlds produced another press release and moved the embargo forwards.

Whilst I understand that MMOs take time to review, the answer is glaringly obvious and is just to read impressions from several different sources – blogs, bboards, professional sites. A MASSIVE multiplayer game needs to be seen from a massive number of views, and most casual blogs also treat foolish press embargoes with the disdain that they deserve. Trying to get a blogger to not tell their mates what they think of their latest purchase is a fool’s game.

Drescher leaves WAR

I had hoped that WAR might be settling on an even keel but in news this week, Josh Drescher (the producer) got the boot. I wish him luck in future – I still do have a soft spot for that game, but it cannot be a good sign.

No more red ring of death

I cringe for Microsoft, I really do. There will not be a red ring of death (the nickname for the indication that hardware has failed) on future XBOXs because …. they’ve removed the red LED.

That’s a classic marketing solution to an engineering problem, by the way.

Gaming News: E3 Hype, Blizzard ditches Cataclysm features, Fallen Earth joins the cash shop crowd, Sony pimps 3D

I love the World Cup in the same way that I love Christmas. Neither of them is my religion, but I enjoy the general festivities. Given that the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, I’m mildly surprised that so few MMOs have come up with any football related features or trophies to celebrate. WoW had a special PvP pet for the Chinese Olympics, after all.

Only Free Realms chose to celebrate, with special team jerseys and banners. So well done them.

Lots of Gaming Companies announce what they plan to show at E3

E3 is next week. I’m trying to avoid the sort of news cycle where people announce what they’re going to say, then they say it, and then they announce what they just said. So there will be lots of entries in next week’s news about what actually did catch my eye at E3.

Kotaku lists out their picks for big RPGs of the show. It’s hard to really get worked up about a bunch of sequels, but MMOs also promise a strong showing with the likes of APB, Final Fantasy 14, and the ubiquitous SWTOR all exhibiting. Fable III promises to be Natal infused – people without a huge living room may see this as a disadvantage. Intriguingly, The Escapist had a line on some information that Pokemon Black/White may also feature some kind of massive multiplayer worldwide online play mode.

It is likely that the Playstation Move and XBOX Natal controllers will feature strongly in demos. Analyst Michael Pachter wrote a widely linked piece for Edge Online in which he compares the two technologies, and explains why neither will beat the Wii. In an interview with PS3center, he also explains why he thinks Natal will sell more than the Move. Soon, we’ll all be able to make up our own minds.

Valve admitted that Portal 2 will not in fact be out until 2011, and added (probably with a sigh) that next week’s surprise is actually Portal 2 related. Which I think I guessed last week because it was obvious! This did not stop loads of gaming blogs from wasting column inches on guesses about Halflife 3.

Cataclysm News

Blizzard will of course not be at E3 because they have Blizzcon instead later this year. But still, lots more news this week about Cataclysm. Blizzard revealed that the new expansion will bring region-wide battlegrounds. So instead of only ever matching up with servers in your battlegroup, you could end up in a match with anyone in your region. We don’t yet know whether Blizzard also plan to extend this to PvE/ LFD.

And they also held a press event, releasing the news that some of the previously discussed Cataclysm features will not make it into the live expansion. In particular, guild talents have hit the chopping block (and good riddance, that system would never have worked. No one wants to be arguing with the rest of their guild about which talents to take) and so has the path of the titans alternate advancement scheme (which is more of a shame because that sounded fun.)

Inscription also gets an overhaul so that players only need to buy glyphs once to learn them, after which they can switch glyphs without needing to buy more scrolls. Plus a new type of glyph for cosmetic changes.

I’ll discuss this more in a post next week but basically it’s all good news and means that the Blizzard behemoth is lumbering towards the release of the new WoW expansion at a decent pace. Apparently Cataclysm is also going to have three times as many new quests as Wrath – but this does also include the low level ones that will have been reworked.

Ghostcrawler also had an exclusive interview with wowhead this week and they talk about professions, balancing PvP with PvE, and so on. Definitely worth a read.

APB gets open beta, but not down under

All Points Bulletin, the action-y MMO is into open public beta (lots of keys being given away via RPS). But the game will not be released in Australia. Apparently this is because the developers has no plans to host any servers in Oz.

Fallen Earth sells pets for cash

This week yet another MMO which had been subscription only sells pets for cash. Dickie discusses the cash for pets dilemma – and again, as with EQ2, this pet does confer some game advantages for the buyer.

Given that Icarus Studios had to lay off staff earlier this year, Fallen Earth players may feel that this is a chance to actively support a studio with a product they like which has had a financial rough patch. I’m just not sure how I feel about cash shop purchases as charity.

Everything goes 3D

Sony held a big presentation this week to share their vision for 3D TV and gaming. As well as showing off some new 3D TVs, the PS3 is about to receive a firmware patch which will allow players to use them.

Anyone planning on shelling out for a 3D TV to try some of this out? If they can produce experiences that are as immersive as Avatar (for example) then maybe Sony are right about 3D being the future of gaming.

More MMO News

Also in the MMO news this week, Darren@Common  Sense Gamer finds out why the Jumpgate Evolution team have been so quiet lately. We should see more announcements and demos from them next week (this makes me happy.)

Mortal Online, a Darkfall type sandbox PvP game was released this week.

Final Fantasy 14 (now in alpha testing) shows off some character customisation, and we learn more about Guild Leves.

Guild Wars 2 releases information about the warrior class, with wallpapers, videos, and the works. And also about their trait system, which I totally fail to understand.

Gaming News: LOTRO goes F2P, Zynga buys Warstorm Dev, Sony announces Clone Wars Online, DC Online, Buzz about Halflife 3

Good news everyone, I didn’t have to make up any news this week!

LOTRO, Darkfall: Free as in Beer (the first round is on the house)

In case anyone had escaped the internet LOTRO blogging blitz, yes Turbine have announced that their  AAA Lord of the Rings MMO will be offering a wider variety of payment schemes from sometime this Autumn, so probably around November. Which does, yes, include some non-subscription cash shop options.

The big news from my point of view is that this is going to happen for the Euro servers as well as the US ones (unlike DDO). So we may actually retain some players. We still don’t know exactly how the changeover will affect existing players. So expect to hear more about that as the deadline approaches.

In other freemium news, Darkfall has announced a new 14 day free trial. So if you’re curious to test Aventurine’s claims that their MMO is not just a hardcore PvP gankfest with a confusing UI but actually does sport some challenging PvE also, this is your chance.

Zynga pays a high price for Challenge Games

Continuing to buy their way to dominance of Facebook games, Zynga announced a new acquisition this week. Challenge Games have made a name for themselves producing innovative social games like Warstorm (a collectible card type game) and Ponzi (a game that pokes fun at corporate life), with the obligatory cash shop purchases built in.

So it’s clear that Zynga recognise that they’ve been weak at innovation in this area – all of their more popular games right now were based on polishing other existing games. And this is how they plan to plug the gap. Challenge now becomes Zynga’s Austin office.

Sony announces two new MMOs, internet ignores one of them

Sony announced that they are releasing two new MMOs this year:

Care to guess which one got all the attention? Hint: It wasn’t DCU Online. This can’t bode well for the superhero MMO, maybe the popular interest in playing superheroes just isn’t there or is already well catered for with City of Heroes (due an expansion later this year too) and Champions Online. I was actually surprised by how few of the blogs and news outlets I read had much to say about it.

Everyone seems far more taken by the notion of Clone Wars Adventures, myself included. Maybe Sony have some agile PR campaign planned for DCUO later this year to stir up some excitement.

November is looking pretty busy this year for MMO releases, especially if Cataclysm ends up with a November release date too (which is likely). And we still don’t have dates for Final Fantasy 14, which also could potentially release this year, not to mention other smaller games (Jumpgate Evolution, Black Prophecy, TERA, etc.)

Valve cancels the Portal 2 demo at E3… what are they planning?

Lots of gaming journalists this week received a note from Aperture Science to announce the cancellation of the Portal 2 demo at E3. It will be replaced with A Surprise. RPS speculate whether the surprise might be related to a Half-Life 3 announcement.

From working my way through Portal (what a great game!!), I can only say that I regard announcements from Aperture Science with a degree of .. uh … cynicism. My 2c says that it is in fact going to be the Portal 2 demo, but maybe they’ll zap visiting hacks with cake guns or something similarly amusing to the public.

In any case, Valve could teach Sony a thing or three about PR campaigns. Maybe Portal 2 could include a Batman level to hype DCUO or something…

Puzzling PR #2, and a great article on casual/ hardcore gaming

Most puzzling comment made in an interview I saw this week was from Bioware, on the topic of Mass Effect 3. Apparently the third story is where they are going to bring some more fun and lightness into the trilogy, like the ewoks in Star Wars.

But I thought that everyone hated the ewoks and also, what if existing players love the games BECAUSE they aren’t fun and light hearted. Just a thought. Why are devs so scared of the grimdark, I wonder. It obviously does sell.

And because I forgot this from yesterday’s link post, everyone should go and read Greg Costyikan’s great article in The Escapist in which he ponders why publishers and retailers have been trying so hard to drive a wedge between casual and hardcore gamers. After all, don’t lots of people play both, and have been since the very dawn of gaming?