Is Bioware the next Blizzard?

A few weeks ago, Bioware and Lucasart “revealed” to the world their next big project: a Star Wars based MMO called Star Wars – The Old Republic. Or SWTOR, for short (good luck on pronouncing that one).

Many companies have claimed to be building Wow killers in the past four years. And most have failed, some miserably. Even if some of them seem to remain healthy, I never thought any of them would actually succeed in rivaling Warcraft. And here is the reason why : they came from companies that made MMOs.
People get into patterns, accept rules and thought processes. The problems that plagued MMOs before Wow came along were numerous: tedious gameplay, penalty for failure, limited solo experience, and of course lack of polish. All these have been well documented and mostly adressed in the games that came out after Wow did. But that’s not enough to change the way people actually do things. You can’t tack a solution  on an already plagued process. To really make something new, you have to start with a blank slate, and none of these company could really do that, no matter how much they claimed they would. They came with their own experience, which was ultimately detrimental to the product. Sure; there were a few good ideas along the way, and some great ones even. But none of them really broke away from the “MMO model” they had inherited.


November 27th, 2008 | 9 Comments

Definitive review: first 10 levels of WAR as a WOW fan

[Disclaimer] The title is clear: I only played through ten levels of the game, and I am a Wow fan. I also never played a Warhammer game before that. And I know that the game might also turn into a completely different experience later on, but this is a “first impressions” review.

So how should I approach such a loaded review?
I’m a World of Warcraft fan (not a fanboy, there’s a difference) and Warhammer Online is the first really credible threat to Blizzard’s hegemony in the MMO space in four years. I would like to give Wow players an idea of the experience of discovering the game the same way I did…
Got it! A “step by step” review with interweaving of good / bad points, with personal commentary. It will allow me to detail most of the game’s features in a way that will be relevant to the Wow crowd. This is the bestest idea ever, I can feel it! Let’s see if it works…


October 3rd, 2008 | 14 Comments

The Blizzcon Dairies (part 2)

This is Part 2 of The Blizzcon Dairies.
If don’t know what this is, find out here with part 1!

7 – The panels

The opening ceremony is about to start. I make my way to the front row… May I see your pass please? Well of course you may, good sir. I look for a good spot, thankfully there’s a lot more seats than there are journalists. Here’s Kathleen Sanders and the guys from the one up show “Hey, it’s Mini! Love the show!” “Thanks!” Mini’s owner smiles back. I sit down, the ceremony starts. Morhaime on stage, giving numbers. Then Starcraft 2 and Wrath of the Lich King, we already knew all of that… Still cool, but a little bit underwhelming. “Damn you, Interwebs!” I hear Chilton screaming inside his head.

The ceremony’s over, and… The horror. Regular people are ok, but “ze journalists” enter a stage of panic that I’m no stranger to. Quick, update our pages we must! Blog and post and announce we have to! Well, the cool ones are sitting and chatting, cause they already live updated everything from their palm-treo-PDA thingies. Curse you technology savvy professionals!
I run and plug in and start typing. Maybe some kind of PHP script would have been a good idea, instead of actually coding the page and formatting the pictures by hand… And maybe this could have occurred to me, oh I don’t know, TWO WEEKS AGO?!


September 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

The Blizzcon Dairies (part 1)

In august 2007 I was lucky enough to be at Blizzcon. Randy, from The Instance, asked me for a few words about the trip and the experience. Even though I didn’t intend to, I ended up writing a little essay which was never really published. I figured that with Blizzcon 2008 coming up, some people might enjoy reading this monster of an article.
So here it is: The Blizzcon Dairies.
Hope you enjoy it!

1 – The departure

Early morning, I get up in my usual haze and grab the clothes I carefully folded the day before. T-shirt, check. Pants, check. Socks, check. Sexy underwear, ch… Errr no wait, that’s from yesterday. Regular underwear, check. Ok, no need to waste time opening closets, having breakfast or taking showers, I’m going to Blizzcon, yay!

Bus ride to the airport. I’m on time, the stars must have aligned.
Let’s head to the check in counter. Not this one, not this one, not this one… Wait… I think… Yup, that’s it. Great, it’s the one with thirty seven thousand people in front of it. Typical. Ok, no worries, I’ll just wait in line. And take a couple of pictures so I can laugh about it later. Nothing can bring me down, I’m going to Blizzcon, Yay!

10 minutes.
I’m smiling. Everything’s nice. The girl next to me is smiling back and even laughing at my stupid joke about the on line check in thing, and it wasn’t even funny. It’s probably because going to Blizzcon is giving me a sexy glow.

20 minutes.
Still smiling, the airport security people are checking you’re in the right lane and looking at the passpo… OH MY GOD, MY PASSPORT! I DIDN’T CHECK FOR MY PASSPO oh here it is, here you go miss. “Everything is in order, go ahead”. Of course everything is in order, what did you think?! “Thanks, have a great day!”

30 minutes.
Ok, this is getting a bit long, and the kids next to me are beginning to get on my nerves. Control your damn spawns, agents of parenthood hell!

40 minutes.
Counter in sight! I have to go through one of those automated thingies… Nice girl is coming to help me, cause apparently 20 years of using computers isn’t enough to know how to operate these damn things. She’s smiling. I can go in straight cause I don’t have any luggage to check in, cool. Ok. She’s smiling. Err, let’s punch in that number again. Ok. Hmmm, wait.

– “Is there a problem?”
– “No no, it’s fine”. But she’s not smiling anymore.


September 15th, 2008 | 5 Comments

8 podcasts geek gamers shouldn't live without

For the past two years I’ve been watching and listening to a bunch of podcasts. But I only recently discovered one of the best tech shows out there, that pretty much everybody has known and loved forever. And I know you will all make fun of me for it, but still, it made me think that there are probably many of us who miss the big obvious ones because we aren’t reminded of them quite enough. So this is my attempt at bringing other idiots like me back into the fold by hammering it down one more time:

These are the podcasts you should absolutely be subscribed to: they are just that good!


September 5th, 2008 | 8 Comments