Scott Jennings

Metaplace Unfortunately A Bit More Meta

Raph Koster’s virtual world startup announces its closure on 1/1.

This is a bittersweet moment for us. Metaplace Inc the company will be continuing on – in fact, we have big plans – but what you the users have known as Metaplace will be going away. We are also losing some friends and colleagues here as part of this strategic shift.

Raph has a few more thoughts on his blog.

The reason? Well, it just hasn’t gotten traction. I have many thoughts on why, but I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t go into all of them right now. It is a sad day for us here, and I know many users are going to be very disappointed by this turn of events.

Really a shame. Metaplace had a unique niche and was aggressive about pushing open standards for virtual worlds. Hopefully whatever they have in the pipe is as promising (and can keep everyone there afloat).

A Note To The Aion Botting Community (And The Aion Community In General)

Recently I’ve seen notes in a few places that referenced this post where I noted that I had been hired by NCsoft on a short-term contract to work with their Game Surveillance Unit, which has been doing a number on botters and RMTers and the like.

GSU is not on a “three month timer”. Even were I to leave GSU tomorrow, the team obviously is far more than I (and contrary to other postings, I’m not in charge of it – I program tools for them) and it is a longterm enterprise for NCsoft.

So, if you’re waiting to bot in Aion for three months until GSU goes away – um, you may have a longer wait. Sorry.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Patch

World of Warcraft continues to show everyone why they have eighty six million subscriptions and you don’t – by patching in one of the most hated features from Modern Warfare 2.

Want to go kill things in a dungeon? Sure you do. Just click the button.

nds3-thumb

BAM.  Go. Kill. Get loot. Get bonus loot. Get a DOG.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_mlqfODJKY

Come on. Look at that dog. Just LOOK AT IT. You just can’t let that dog down, can you? BAM! GO! KILL! LOOT! DOG!

See, most hardcore forum posters are going to be complaining about Icecrown lockouts and how out of whack itemization is and how arena teams are completely broken now and what the hell, I have to wait a month to 5-man Arthas, come on WTF GG BLIZZ.

Meanwhile, the great majority of players, who are at raiding level but not in a hardcore guild?

BAM! LOOT! DOG!

What really makes this feature special isn’t that it’s new – it’s not, particularly. Among other implementations, Final Fantasy XI has had random pickup groups since the game launched, and even World of Warcraft’s first iteration of meeting stones tried to do the pile-everyone-in-a-group thing. No – what makes this version of the matchmaker work is that World of Warcraft has such a critical mass of players that at any time, at almost every level (a level 65-ish alt I was levelling up got groups quickly for instances I had never seen the first time around), you can push a button and get instant – well, if not gratification, progress. Sure, pick-up groups can often be mindbogglingy hellishly wrong, because people are involved, and sometimes you get the people who just haven’t really figured out the whole process of hitting-buttons-making-things-fall-over ‘skill’ in this sort of game. But most of the time? It’s perfectly tuned to – dare I say it? The casual player. The guy who gets home from work and just wants to kill things in a dungeon. BAM! LOOT! BADGES! REP! STUFF! It’s a feedback cycle that is so quick and painless, it’s easily one of the best ways to get more people into the core gameplay of dungeon raiding.

(Also, the dog.)

And, the best part? Blizzard already had the code sitting there from Warcraft 3.

Updates You Pray I Never, Ever Post: #58 In A Series

Adrianne Curry, America’s Next Top Model winner: I’m going to spend my day ‘raiding commando’. Or, as she put it more eloquently, “playing World of Warcraft butt naked & stoned“.   No, really!

Welcome to the mainstream.

Welcome to the mainstream.

Edit: Adrianne is shocked and appalled that you are shocked and appalled (and surprised that a reality TV star does things for publicity).

I have done playboy twice.I have done terribly naughty bad things,but people made a big deal about my PG rated nekkid WoW pic? huh.

Oh, Hi, I Have A Blog

I’ve been kind of busy. There’s also the thumbsucking pieces I submit to MMORPG.com every Wednesday (last week’s, which I didn’t repost here, was on the “No Russian” level in Modern Warfare 2, this next week’s will be about expansion packs). Don’t know how long I’ll be able to make time to write them, given how garrulous I’ve been here and all. Maybe by the time I hang it up Sanya Weathers will be ready to step back in!

A lot of you seem to really like posting in the comments a LOT. Which is somewhat cool but after a certain point it really has all been said and around comment #50 most people tend to tune it out. I briefly considered putting up forums but then realized ARE YOU FRACKING INSANE????!!!????? and stopped considering it. So, um, use some self-control or something. Or just keep the web server humming while I go 2 weeks without posting anything!

Two Brief Programming Notes

My latest MMORPG.com column is up: this one is on RMT, which I’m sure a few have one or two opinions about. I tend to write these columns with an eye towards a reader that *doesn’t* obsessively read every MMO-focused blog and message board, as opposed to you, Dear Readers, who I assume know far more about MMO-related drama than I do.

Ironically, I've never actually watched any of the CSI shows.

Ironically, I've never actually watched any of the CSI shows.

Also, I’m employed! (At least for 3 months – after the end of which we’ll see if I move to full-time from contracting.) I’m a developer attached to NCsoft’s Customer Surveillance Unit (CSU) team, which is being put together to quash RMT, botting, and such in NCsoft’s titles. The irony of not having to ask where to go for the job interview did not escape me.

It’s not a design position – I’m still determining if I want to get back into design at some point in the future or just work on my own garage-band titles. Heading up the design for two large projects roughly one after the other which failed to make it out the door – well, I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been difficult for my ego. We’ll just have to see where things go – in the mean time this new position certainly has some interesting challenges of its own.

Yes, I Bought Modern Warfare 2 Because I Wanted It To Be Just Like A Michael Bay Movie

No, really, it says it's unique right there and everything.

No, really, it says it's unique right there and everything.

David Allen responds to criticism that his latest game, World of Alganon, may be just a wee bit derivative.

Players aren’t upset there’s a game that resembles WoW. They’re upset that for the past few years they’ve been bombarded and desensitized by a combination of “weak” games and advertising that sells them on the idea that “similar is bad.” When people say a movie that reminds them of their favorite film, but with a different plot, characters and setting, that means they enjoyed the movie. When you have a meal that reminds you of the home cooking you loved as a kid, that is a great thing. However, for the past few years, every MMOG released has spent millions of dollars trying to convince gamers that “fun doesn’t matter; different is what you want,” and for many gamers, this marketing worked.

Well, that’s certainly an interesting way to defend cloning. “No, really… we totally meant to do that.”