29 June 2004

Give players a dark environment with which to play in

And let them rape other players in an online "world".
Lord Foucault is an admitted rapist. He does it on impulse -- for the thrill of it and for the feeling of control he has over his female victims.

But he's not attacking women in real life. Instead, Lord Foucault is a character in Sociolotron, an online virtual world that gives players a platform where they can act out a wide range of fantasies.

Sociolotron, currently in beta, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The game offers fare such as battling monsters, questing and other fantasies familiar to players of games like EverQuest and Ultima Online. But Sociolotron differs by providing a way to indulge in sexual taboos like rape and bondage with consequences like sexually transmitted diseases and even pregnancy. And it is quite explicit in informing would-be players about what they may experience in-world.

Um, I think I'm getting too old for video games anymore…

27 June 2003

Star Wars Galaxies Release

Star Wars Galaxies, the first massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) based on the Star Wars universe went live yesterday, though there some registration problems. For a monthly subscription fee (~$15), SWG offers an immersive, 3D world set in the Star Wars universe to adventure along side with thousands of others.

No you can't be Luke or Han or Darth Vader, but you can be Lars Owen, bounty hunter #474, or Lyn Me the cantina entertainer. The graphics in the game are truly breathtaking - character customization is so refined that you can set how slim or fat your character is, adjust chin shape and size, eye color, hair style, etc. You can gaze at a sunset on Tatooine, harvest minerals, shoot your blaster at lizards, build droids, dance in a cantina or make food for other players in a persistent Star Wars world. Your character's skills increase when you cash in experience points for new skills or improved skills.

You can battle other players if you join the Rebel or Imperial factions, but the scheme of who can attack who is kind of complicated. At least it made my head hurt in trying to understand the difference between an "overt" and a "covert". You could choose to forego any player vs. player conflict and remain a "carebear" but I think there is some nice gear and other game bonuses for signing up for a faction.

Will I be playing? No, I just don't have the time right now. Plus, the game had many features chopped out so it could be released on time - space travel (now, you buy a ticket and instantaneously are ported to another planet) and vehicles are not in the game right now. Also, I expect, as is the case with games of this genre, many launch bugs and problems. Most of all, though, MMORPG require a huge investment of time, which I can't give right now.

17 June 2003

Shadowbane Subscription Cancelled

No mas. Enough. Battling with insufferable lag, login server unavailability, game crippling bugs, long existing exploits, and now duping has just drained me of any desire to play Shadowbane.

I haven't even mentioned the missing game experience at higher levels - the drab unimaginitive world terrain, absence of dungeons, limited spawns of higher level monsters, and foolhardy ease of which player built cities can be burninated.

I clicked the Cancel button. Unfortunately, I'm at the beginning of a new three month billing period, so technically my account will be active until August. Maybe by then, Wolfpack and Ubi will have implemented all of the required technical fixes, properly addressed the gameplay glitches, rid Aerynth of cheaters and exploiters, and patched some fun into the game. I think there's a better chance Ralph Nader can be elected president.

28 May 2002

Joining The Gathering At Magic Online

Always wanted to play Magic the Gathering, but didn't have anyone to play with? And then when you looked around online for a suitable net application to facilitate virtual play, all you found were home brewed programs that didn't enforce the byzantine, self-referential nature gameplay rules and assumed you had an extensive background with MtG already? Well, fret no more, as Wizards of the Coast (and Hasbro or whatever behemoth multi-conglomerate faceless corporation that keeps swallowing up companies in pac-man fashion ...) and Leaping Lizard unite forces to bring Magic the Gathering to the virtual masses.

Magic Online is in open beta still, with a "live" production release slated for sometime in June - right now, everything is free, but when R-day comes, all will have to pony up real coin. You'll have to purchase cards just like you do in real life, and it appears that the pricing won't be much different than at your local game shop. Whether or not the powerful, crack-like addiction that inflicts the rabid MtG afficionado will trump the overpriced gouging, I'll not speculate. But I will describe Magic Online from the newbie perspective. My experience with MtG is almost zero and though I've amassed quite a collection of Star Wars CCG cards (now defunct, since Wizards/Hasbro received the Lucas license for Star Wars TCG, thus curtailing any more Decipher releases), I've only played the game a few times. My only encounter with Magic was limited to purchasing a starter 7th edition set and briefly perusing the rules. To get started, it's painless - just download the client from the link above or from fileplanet ((http://www.fileplanet.com/index.asp?file=84649)). After installation is completed, simply start the client program and it will patch and auto-update. You can then join the gathering.

New players do seem to be a focus of Magic Online. There are basic and advanced tutorials available and they walk you through the fundamental aspects of gameplay. There are even some additional special topic tutorials dealing with split cards and how to understand X. Some more of these might be needed - or perhaps a hypertext glossary of all the common and arcane concepts (I'm still befuddled about regeneration). I did go through the tutorials twice, the second time after I got owned in my first few matches in the practice room. Actually, there are separate servers for registered accounts and guests. There is a **free trial** option that will allow you to play on a "guest" account where you can play with pre-constructed 7th edition decks. A little blurb says that you only get two hours on that account - so after 120 minutes, you can't be guest001283 anymore and when you relog, you can be guest001314.
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