Daily Archives: July 4, 2007

Be The Chicken

In an attempt to give players more to do in Middle-earth, Turbine is introducing something they call “Session Play” to Lord of the Rings Online.

“Session Play,” somewhat along the lines of “Monster Play,” will allow you to take control of another character in Middle-earth and play as them.  Unlike “Monster Play,” you do not keep the character.  On the other hand, you will apparently have a wide variety of characters to choose from, including a chicken.

A chicken?

Okay, plus a few dozen points for originality and enabling a never ending stream of bad puns and “chicken crossing” jokes, but is this what people want?  Will this keep those who raced to level 50 happy until the first expansion comes out?

For me, it misses the point of MMOs.  I find them compelling because I like to play my character and enjoy his growth and accomplishments.  I have enough trouble focusing on one character without having a chicken on my back as well.

Anyway, you can read about it here.

Auto Assault & The Land of Misfit MMOs

Auto Assault is one of those games that has been in my peripheral vision since launch, but which I never quite found the time to focus on.  I played “Car Wars” and the Apple II derivative game “Auto Duel” back in the day.  And it isn’t like I haven’t shot from a moving vehicle before. 

Brent at VirginWorlds devoted a whole podcast to a review of the game which was a runner-up in my “Five Podcasts to Listen To Again” post of a while back.

More recently, the ever insightful Van Hemlock spent some time playing the demo and wrote up a favorable review of his experiences.

And, as if to rain on his parade, the very same day that review was posted, NCSoft announced that Auto Assault would be closing down at Midnight on August 31st, 2007.

Thus endeth Auto Assault.

Not that is was a huge surprise.  NetDevil, the studio that created Auto Assault, has been public about the mistakes they feel were made with the game and what they would have done differently in hindsight.

So what happens now?  MMOs shutting down, MMOs from mainstream publishers, are not yet a common events.

Is it time for Auto Assault to join The Matix Online and Vanguard in the Land of Misfit MMOs that is Sony Online Entertainment?

I have no idea if it is possible or even practical.  I have no idea what rights NCSoft retains over the product nor how much freedom NetDevil has now that the game will be shutting down. 

But if there is a company out there that knows how to make some money from a low population MMO, it is SOE.  Auto Assault is unlike any of the other games in the SOE stable and would make an interesting addition to the Station Access package.

NetDevil is, of course, in a different situation that the other two studios.  They are not in any danger of going out of business, so a full SOE buyout wouldn’t be in the cards.  But if they have all the work invested in the game, even a small revenue stream from a new deal would be better than none at all.

Not to mention the inevitable Auto Assault Collectible Card game that would ensue.

Maybe even a PlayStation 3 version?

Do you think we have seen the last of Auto Assault?

[Addendum: NCSoft owns everything including the very idea of Auto Assault, so it is all up to them.  A few details here.]