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Comment Re:Asian MMOs (Score 1) 108

Oh and one final thing regarding the article generally (this is not directed specifically at the parent post) - the server mergers are basically necessary because, at launch, there were such serious server login queues that NCSoft rushed a couple of extra servers in to meet demand. So it's not like the game is dying. Even if they merge 4 or 5 or 6 servers, it will just be back to the number of servers they planned at launch anyway. A game does not have to be as popular as WoW with its hundreds of servers to be successful - it just has to turn a tidy profit. And Aion will continue to do so. It's not a game for everyone (due to the fact that, as mentioned, it IS a compromise between eastern and western elements). But I think it's the best new MMO out there right now, and it will tide me over until Diablo 3 comes out at least (yes, I know D3 isn't an MMO ... but it's the next major game I'm hanging for).

In my experience server merges are rarely a normalizing factor; instead they are symptomatic of the shrinking subscription pool of a dying game that cannot hold on to existing players and is unable through marketing or word of mouth to attract new replacements.

Aion's subscription base dropped significantly this past quarter and will likely continue to do so unless NCWest gets it's act together.

Comment Re:Asian MMOs (Score 3, Insightful) 108

Having played Aion for several months and recently quit I can say that on my side of the server (Asmodian, Israphel) the game has been steadily thinning out; my personal experience as well as what's reflected in legion and general chat (up until last week) speaks to this as many remaining players are receiving a steady stream of "inherited" loot bequeathed to them by friends exiting the game.

Aion has several major problems none of which have to do with the XP grind, in fact, most players I know personally who have quit did so after they hit the level cap. Ultimately the reason I exited the game (even with v1.9 and v2.0 updates on the horizon) is that, from the respective patch notes, it became evident to me that NCWest, lacking any sort of player level perspective of the game, decided that all problems could be solved by targeting the "grind" and trying to make the game an eastern pretty WoW (which will ultimately fail).

(Problem 1) Flight mechanic: Aion was heavily marketed on it's flight/battle mechanic however the reality of the actual implementation is a counter intuitive kludge/hack that pretty much every player I know abhors. Furthermore, the fact that flight itself is restricted to a few select zones (and is set on a painfully short timer) limits it's value even as a simple travel mechanic. It was my hope that the mechanic would be modified to better integrate ground & air battle tactics (and make to the flight transition more seamless) however instead NCWest chose to add "ground only" PvP content for their v2.0 patch; this to me is the equivalent of "yeah we know it's broke but we can't be bothered to fix it" and ultimately makes one of the games primary attributes feel like a last minute marketing gimmick.

(Problem 2) End game content: As I said before, the problem isn't the grind so much as the lack of any discernible end-game objective. Aion has only a handful of end game instances each of which must be run repeatedly ad nauseam as the drop rate for the end game loot is pitifully low and seems to be almost purposefully designed to frustrate the player; much of this gear is class specific (thus when it does drop you will often get useless or redundant gear). Some might argue that "well, Aion is a PvP game and this should viewed as it's end-game content" to which I would reply that, in a sense, this is the only facet of the game where the grind is detrimental as a casual player will never be able to compete with a player willing to invest 8+ hours a day. Furthermore, PvP advantage in Aion gives a faction control over many of the resources available in the PvP zones, effectively denying the opposing (casual gamer) side said resources exponentially increasing the duration and frustration of their grind. This wouldn't be an issue if there was open multi-faction PvP but, as Aion is structured with only two primary factions and given the limited expanse of the world itself (again reflecting a severe lack of end-game content), this is insufficient to prevent the almost total monopolization of necessary resources by a single side.

(Problem 3) Large Scale PvP: Yes the graphics in Aion are impressive relative to your typical MMO (but still far outmatched by the latest expansion of Eve Online) but due to the zerg nature of most of the fort based group PvP this actually becomes detrimental as the graphical lag experienced reduces large scale group combat to a mess of static unresponsive confusion. The notable exception to this is the PvPvE arena designed specifically for 6v6 combat which was easily the most enjoyable aspect of the game in my opinion.

Anyways, I thought I'd post as I was surprised to see Aion linked in slashdot. This may come off as a rant but I did enjoy the game however as the game prior to it's NA release had been out for more than a year in South Korea I am under-impressed with NCSoft's management and overall lack of vision for what might have been a powerful MMO.

3rd-Grader Busted For Jolly Rancher Possession 804

theodp writes "A third-grader in a small Texas school district received a week's detention for merely possessing a Jolly Rancher. Leighann Adair, 10, was eating lunch Monday when a teacher confiscated the candy. Her parents said she was in tears when she arrived home later that afternoon and handed them the detention notice. But school officials are defending the sentence, saying the school was abiding by a state guideline that banned 'minimal nutrition' foods. 'Whether or not I agree with the guidelines, we have to follow the rules,' said school superintendent Jack Ellis."

More Evidence For Steam Games On Linux 256

SheeEttin writes "Back in November 2008, Phoronix reported that Linux libraries appeared in the Left 4 Dead demo, and then in March, Valve announced that Steam and the Source engine were coming to Mac OS X. Now, Phoronix reports that launcher scripts included with the (closed beta) Mac version of Steam include explicit support for launching a Linux version."

Fine Print Says Game Store Owns Your Soul 262

mr_sifter writes "UK games retailer GameStation revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of customers, thanks to a clause it secretly added to the online terms and conditions for its website. The 'Immortal Soul Clause' was added as part of an attempt to highlight how few customers read the terms and conditions of an online sale. GameStation claims that 88 percent of customers did not read the clause, which gives legal ownership of the customer's soul over to the UK-based games retailer. The remaining 12 percent of customers however did notice the clause and clicked the relevant opt-out box, netting themselves a £5 GBP gift voucher in the process."
Classic Games (Games)

OpenTTD 1.0.0 Released 107

Gmer writes " reports that OpenTTD, the open source clone of the Microprose game Transport Tycoon Deluxe, has reached a milestone. OpenTTD 1.0.0 has been released 6 years after work started on the first version, with the help of hundreds of contributors and thousands of testers/players. Over 30 language translations are considered complete, and OpenTTD is available for *BSD, Linux, Solaris and Windows. OpenTTD is a business simulation game in which the player is in control of a transport company and can compete against rival companies to make as much profit as possible by transporting passengers and various goods by road, rail, sea or air."

Company Invents Electronic Underpants 110

theodp writes "SIMsystem have created the world's first electric underpants that let you know that you've got issues by texting. Incontinence issues, to be more precise. The new-and-improved skivvies come equipped with a sensor strip that alerts caregivers to wetness via text message. From the technology summary: 'The SIMbox, when fitted into the individual resident's stretchpants (SIMpants), transmits sensor readings from the SIMstrip in the SIMpad® over a wireless network to the SIMserver. The SIMsystemManager software running on the SIMserver then detects key information about continence events and determines when to alert care staff about an event requiring attention.' So, who's going to start an open source project?"

Raleigh Councilman Offers Child Naming Rights To Google 121

Anonymous Meoward writes "In what may be the weirdest perk proposed by a municipal authority to entice business, city councilman Bonner Gaylord has offered to name his unborn children Sergey and Larry, after the founders of Google. All he wants in return is the search giant to build its proposed high-speed fiber-optic network in Raleigh."

Disputed Island Disappears Into Sea 460

RawJoe writes "India and Bangladesh have argued for almost 30 years over control of a tiny island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have ended the argument for them: the island's gone. From the article: 'New Moore Island, in the Sunderbans, has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said. "What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Hazra.'"

Supersizing the "Last Supper" 98

gandhi_2 writes "A pair of sibling scholars compared 52 artists' renditions of 'The Last Supper', and found that the size of the meal painted had grown through the years. Over the last millennium they found that entrees had increased by 70%, bread by 23%, and plate size by 65.6%. Their findings were published in the International Journal of Obesity. From the article: 'The apostles depicted during the Middle Ages appear to be the ascetics they are said to have been. But by 1498, when Leonardo da Vinci completed his masterpiece, the party was more lavishly fed. Almost a century later, the Mannerist painter Jacobo Tintoretto piled the food on the apostles' plates still higher.'"

How the Internet Didn't Fail As Predicted 259

Lord Byron Eee PC writes "Newsweek is carrying a navel-gazing piece on how wrong they were when in 1995 they published a story about how the Internet would fail. The original article states, 'Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.' The article continues to say that online shopping will never happen, that airline tickets won't be purchased over the web, and that newspapers have nothing to fear. It's an interesting look back at a time when the Internet was still a novelty and not yet a necessity."

Funeral Being Held Today For IE6 194

An anonymous reader writes "More than 100 people, many of them dressed in black, are expected to gather around a coffin Thursday to say goodbye to an old friend. The deceased? Internet Explorer 6. The aging Web browser, survived by its descendants Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, is being eulogized at a tongue-in-cheek 'funeral' hosted by Aten Design Group, a design firm in Denver, Colorado."

Aussie Attorney General Says Gamers Are Scarier Than Biker Gangs 409

Sasayaki writes "South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson claims, in an interview with Good Game, that gamers were more of a threat to his family than biker gangs. This is the man who has been the biggest opponent to Australia receiving an R18+ rating for video games and who has the power to veto any such law introducing it."
The Internet

Blizzard Previews Revamped 188

Blizzard updated the official StarCraft II site today with a preview of how the revamped will function. They emphasize the social features, competitive matchmaking system, and the ease of sharing mods and maps. Quoting: "When the legacy service introduced support for user-created mods such as DotA, Tower Defense, and many others, these user-created game types became immensely popular. But while supported mods at a basic level, integration with tools and the mod community wasn't where it needed to be for a game releasing in 2010. The new service will see some major improvements in this area. StarCraft II will include a full-featured content-creation toolkit — the same tools used by the StarCraft II design team to create the single-player campaign. To fully harness the community's mapmaking prowess, will introduce a feature called Map Publishing. Map Publishing will let users upload their maps to the service and share them with the rest of the community immediately on the service. This also ties in with the goal of making an always-connected experience — you can publish, browse, and download maps directly via the client. Finding games based on specific mods will also be much easier with our all-new custom game system, placing the full breadth of the modding community's efforts at your fingertips."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Code Review of Doom For the iPhone 161

Developer Fabien Sanglard has written a code review for id Software's iPhone port of Doom. It's an interesting look into how the original 1993 game (which he also reviewed to understand its rendering process) was adapted to a modern platform. "Just like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom was rendering a screenframe pixel per pixel. The only way to do this on iPhone with an acceptable framerate would be to use CoreSurface/CoreSurface.h framework. But it is unfortunately restricted and using it would prevent distribution on the AppStore. The only solution is to use OpenGL, but this comes with a few challenges: Doom was faking 3D with a 2D map. OpenGL needs real 3D vertices. More than 3D vertices, OpenGL needs data to be sent as triangles (among other things because they are easy to rasterize). But Doom sectors were made of arbitrary forms. Doom 1993's perspective was also faked, it was actually closer to an orthogonal projection than a perspective projection. Doom was using VGA palette indexing to perform special effect (red for damage, silver for invulnerable...)."

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