Introducing 0x10c, A New MMO Being Developed By Minecraft Creator Notch

Minecraft creator Notch’s new space faring Massively Multiplayer Online game called 0x10c has an ominous backstory of a doomed people waking up after billions of years of cryogenic sleep in a universe that is slowly dimming:-

In a parallel universe where the space race never ended, space travel was gaining popularity amongst corporations and rich individuals.

In 1988, a brand new deep sleep cell was released, compatible with all popular 16 bit computers. Unfortunately, it used big endian, whereas the DCPU-16 specifications called for little endian. This led to a severe bug in the included drivers, causing a requested sleep of 0x0000 0000 0000 0001 years to last for 0x0001 0000 0000 0000 years.

It’s now the year 281 474 976 712 644 AD, and the first lost people are starting to wake up to a universe on the brink of extinction, with all remote galaxies forever lost to red shift, star formation long since ended, and massive black holes dominating the galaxy.

That is definitely a lot of information to digest, but I am guessing Markus Persson (Notch) wanted it that way, since it is a hard science fiction (read: as grounded in plausible engineering and science as it is possible) video game with a player controlled ship that is guided by a player controlled and software emulated 16-bit CPU. That is correct, you are a space farer on a ship that is controller by a computer from the ‘80s, that you have to program on the fly to work in deep space. Sounds like fun? We bet!

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The website for 0x10c mentions a lot features such as a fully working computer system, lots of engineering and knowledge-based game play and, of course, lots of space loot! The documentation for the working computer system has been released. There is also an unofficial FAQs available that answers a ton of questions!

Notch also mentions that this will be a game that features a monthly fee; probably not as much as the mainstream MMOs like EVE: Online or World of Warcraft, but is a sufficiently significant step in the annals of indie gaming history.

Couple in China Sell Their Kids to Pay for Online Gaming

Right after justifying my playing of video games to a bunch of folks today, I return to find this horrible piece of news on the Internet. Granted, it is not a general classifier for the normal online video gamer, however it is still disgusting and might elicit responses such as where has humanity fallen?!from you, my dear reader.

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According to Sanxiang City News the couple (who are both under 21 years of age) had sold off their three children to fund their video game obsession. The young couple bonded over their love of internet games in 2007. They had their first child, a son, in 2008 and then their next in 2009 who was a daughter. They apparently came up with an ideato sell their daughter for an equivalent of   less than US$500. Li Lin and Li Juan then sold their first child for about US$4,600.

To further fill up their coffers to pay for their obsession, they conceived another child and sold him off for the same US$4,600.

They were finally turned over to the authorities when Li Lin’s mother found out what her son and his wife were up to. It’s admittedly quite tragic and thoroughly disgraceful. The young parents should have been taught about parenting responsibilities instead of responsibilities to an online guild.

Another Man Dies Due to Addictive Internet Gaming

The people of China need to stand up and pay attention not only to the censorship that is rampant in the country, but also to the danger of addiction (to the point of not eating or drinking) to video games. It is not safe to test your limits while maximizing your character in an online universe. One must remember that the real game is real life, and video games are just an escape (albeit short and fun-filled) from the reality.

Internet Bar by Fang Guo

An unidentified 30 year old Chinese man slipped into a coma, and died in a clinic later, after playing a video game in an internet café non-stop for three days. The man had not slept for the three days, and had consumed very little sustenance. The café, in the capital city of Beijing, also said that in his last month, the man had spent more than 10,000 yuan ($1,500) on massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs).

While this kind of behavior can be attributed to players who are completely at the mercy of the virtual world, it seems that this man had some unresolved issues with his life due to which he turned to video gaming. The indifference to life in general and a sudden, unhealthy addiction to something points to depression or other psychological problems.

Nevertheless, internet café providers need to meter the usage of patrons. The casual ignorance of the managers of the parlor is partly to blame; just because the man had the money does not mean the providers ignore his health.

APB: Reloaded Receives a Hundred Thousand Registrations for the Open Beta

Remember All Points Bulletin? At the same time, remember Realtime Worlds? Yes, the same Realtime Worlds (RTW) that made the ill-fated massively multiplayer 3rd person shooter game All Points Bulletin (APB). Their huge initial investment on the Unreal Engine powered game that was released as a buggy, laggy contraption and their subsequent demise as a company served as a reminder for the rest of the gaming world that big investments and pseudo-novel gameplay mechanics do not necessarily always equate to great success.

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However, after Realtime Worlds shut shop, California based GamersFirst bought the game’s rights and started their work on publishing the game under the free-to-play model re-titled APB: Reloaded. We have seen that there is a genial amount of interest in this MMO model, and it seems that there is quite a bit of interest for this game. About 100,000 participants have registered for the open beta event of APB: Reloaded. Considering that at its peak the game had 130,000 users, it is fair to say that a good chunk of the previous players have come back for their fix of the crime-shooter. Also, the fact that GamersFirst does some good work with free-to-play games such as War Rock and Knight Online has probably helped in roping in the users.

However, these numbers indicate only the registrants for the beta event. When the game opens up for beta on the 28th of February, there will be a sizeable chunk of registrants who would not download and install the beta client. Only time will tell whether APB actually deserved this second life.

Battlestar Galactica Online to have an Open Beta Event in February

Oh yes, yet another epic is going to have its own Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). After the Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), The Old Republic (Star Wars MMO), Star Trek Online, DC Online (this list gets longer and longer) and Dungeons and Dragons Online (Need I say anything here?) it is time for the long running TV series Battlestar Galactica’s turn. Bigpoint’s big MMO will go into open beta this February 8th. Which really translates into you rushing to play as either human or Cylon and blasting someone else into smithereens in space!

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Does that sound familiar?

To be fair, the space MMO scene has generally been completely and utterly taken over by EVE Online. So, while this is not aimed at the generic space fiction enthusiasts, fans of the brilliant SF TV series will be the main (or probably only) players of this game.

Massively’s Beau Hindman comments on the scale of the game:-

The variety of ships is nice, allowing players to pilot anything from a basic craft to a massive CM monster. Battles felt very balanced despite the fact that some players were in larger craft. Bigpoint seems to have taken a page from EVE Online’s book by making larger craft slower and easier to hit but chock-full of deadly weapons and other electronic goodies. Missiles can literally be shot out of the sky, so even their existence added some element to gameplay.

Fun? Probably yes. Not for me? Most definitely.

LOTRO Joining the Free-to-Play Horde

The moment there is a Lord of the Rings in the title, you know that the word hordehas to be around here somewhere, don’t you? Joining its predecessor MMO’s footsteps, Turbine Entertainment’s The Lord of the Rings Online has decided to go the free to play way.

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This means, like Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, you can play the Tolkien-based online game for free. All you need is a free account at official site then you can download the official client and start questing around and about Middle Earth!

Featuring an epic storyline and gorgeous landscapes that any self-respecting Tolkien fan would keenly compare with the original map of Middle Earth, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) also features a unique PvP (Player vs. Player) design called Player vs. Monster Player in which players control Orcs and Uruk Hai from the world of Tolkien’s imagination.

Although the main game is free to play, several quest packs and other premium content can be purchased for a fee. Players also have the option to opt-in for a paid VIP membership that unlocks all the paid content for the duration of the membership.

So, gamers, do you think this is a successful business model?

Company of Heroes Open Beta is Online!

Any fan of World War II based games will definitely know Company of Heroes (CoH). Relic Entertainment’s real time strategy (RTS) opus featured magnificent tactical controls laced with a terrific storyline and gameplay experience. Leading either the Able Company or the Fox Company of the US Army, players were promoted to the rank of field commander to lead their men to victory. The standalone expansion packs Tales of Valor and Opposing Fronts also added tremendous replay value in terms of new armies as well as new multiplayer modes.

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Now, Relic has opened its door to beta participants for Company of Heroes: Online. This free-to-play take on the brilliant RTS series apparently allows you the same amount of action and strategic control along with a touch of personalization that is common among online games:-

Choose from six different combat doctrines, each with its own strengths and combat styles. Customize your army and enter each conflict with your own unique set of battle-tested Heroes, unit upgrades, and devastating Commander Abilities.

Since this game will be free-to-play, the beta is also free-to-play. Which means you can dive into the game right this instant!

Quite coincidentally (not), Steam has put up a sale of all the CoH titles for $12.49. That’s 75% off, number-crunchers! So, which one will it be today for you?

Clone Wars Adventures in Open Beta

Yes, we have all heard about how George Lucas ruined Star Wars because he was obsessed with the toy industry’s revenue. But the cutesy TV series that renewed interest in the franchise (for audiovisual consumers) after a magnanimous ending with the Revenge of the Sith is turning out to be Lucas’ cash cow. Star Wars: The Clone Wars has a very well done TV show supplemented with some not-so-well-done video games to pull Younglings into the path of the Force and its mysteries.

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It seems that after quite a terrible video game release with lackluster controls and wonky plotlines, LucasArts is aiming big with a kid-safe MMO. Clone Wars Adventures is a free-to-play web-based MMO based on the microtransaction business model. Players can play as a Jedi, Clone Trooper or a Padawan (?!) and battle it out with the heroes of the Clone Wars such as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda.

Apparently, you can [S]peed through space in Star Fighter, take out waves of Battle Droids in Tower Defense or test your brain with Droid Programming puzzlesin this game. If you wish to test this out you can sign up for beta and give it a go.

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As for me, though, I cannot stand an epic movie franchise being diluted down for kids. Sure, it’s family entertainment but long time fans need the depth and emotionally charged content of the first two movies instead of Ewok celebrations and stupid lake monsters with horrible grammar.

Wow! WoW Will be Free?

The universe of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs) is slowly, but inevitably, moving towards the free-to-play with microtransactions paradigm. With big players such as Atari and Codemasters publishing Dungeon and Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online with the free-to-play model, Blizzard has soon realized that the next big installment to their World of Warcraft (WoW) universe has to be free-to-play. Or, their next big MMO game. (World of Starcraft perhaps?)

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WoW’s lead designer Tom Chilton commented on these newer models of MMOs suggesting that the monthly fee might deter newer players and might even cannibalize some of their subscribers:-

I feel like they’re doing that to compete with other games that are on a similar subscriber level to what they were at. I imagine that when one of them went free to play it cannibalized some of the other subscribers. I can definitely imagine that being the case with World of Warcraft. If another game comes along and blows us away it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee. Or even further down the line, when we have another MMO out.

As we can clearly make out, this is an idea that has been bouncing around their heads for sometime now, but they have yet to push it through. Hopefully, we might get to see a new MMO from Blizzivision (Blizzard + Activision) that does things right, is epic and is free to play!

Need For Speed: World Enters Beta, Here’s How To Apply For It

If you dig racing games, and are a fan of the Need For Speed series, then here’s some good news. EA has started the closed beta testing of their upcoming massively multiplayer Need For Speed game, Need For Speed: World.

EA mentions that there would be multiple closed beta sessions, with most sessions occuring every other week. To participate in the beta, just head over to this page and click on Apply for Beta.
Need For Speed will be oriented towards arcade gamers, and is said to incorporate best features from Need For Speed:   Most Wanted and Need For Speed: Carbon – including extensive tuning, customizing, cop chases (yay!), adds in some MMO features like a power up system,deep RPG style progressionand puts it in a persistent online world. Here’s hoping that I can get an invite soon!