Tag Archives: Perfect World Entertainment

Can We Trust a Torchlight MMO?

…because of WoW, and all the dumb money and all the publisher pressure, there’ll be lots of games that shouldn’t have been MMOs but would have been great boxed products. Lots of publishers are pushing for that subscription pie, but they’ll fail.

-Rob Pardo, MMOs Past, Present, and Future Panel at GDC 2007

We’ll get to that quote in a bit, but first we must go back to 2012, back to the war to see who would be crowned the REAL successor to that most beloved ARPG Diablo II.

The claimants were Diablo III, which had the name and Blizzard’s might behind it, Torchlight II, which had some of the original Diablo development team on board, and Path of Exile, which was the dark horse indie candidate in the race.

The competition was a big enough deal that I made categories on the blog for all three of them.

In the end I think Path of Exile felt the most like Diablo II when it came to style and atmosphere.

Diablo III, after a bad start, eventually got fixed when Blizz removed the auction house and got the itemization lined up  correctly and went on to be the big money maker of the three.  It sold more that 30 million copies, got an expansion, and continues to get attention and updates from the company that we could only dream of during the Diablo II era.  A version was just announced for the Nintendo Switch even.  Still going!

And then there was Torchlight II.  It was good.  Cute.  Colorful.

But where Diablo III had story and Path of Exile had atmosphere, I am not sure what Torchlight II really had.

Not that it did poorly or anything.  According to that Steam leak thing I wrote about a few weeks ago it was in 57th place on the list with close to five million copies in play on the platform.  The is an impressive haul, well ahead of Civilization VI.  Nobody can fault you if you beat Sid Meier.

Granted, it took them a few years to get the promised Mac OS version out the door and at that point it sounded like those working on the game were done with Torchlight.  That seemed to be the end of plans for a Torchlight MMO, something that had been talked about since the original Torchlight came out.  The original talk was of going from single player to multiplayer and then to an MMO.

And then there were some of the founders leaving the studio along with the fact that Perfect World Entertainment bought them out, and it seemed like the Torchlight saga was done.

Again, not that it had gone badly, but maybe Torchlight II was enough.  I mean they never did any addon expansions or DLC or any of the usual things you do to keep something you want to remain a franchise in the public eye.  Sometimes you just reach the natural end of things, which was what seemed to have happened here.

So I was a bit taken aback when a couple weeks back there was an announcement that Perfect World was planning a Torchlight MMO.  What is the vision for Torchlight Frontiers here?

Torchlight Frontiers

Not to rain on anybody’s parade, but I couldn’t see the real point, at least not in MMO form.

And no, I am not going the Gevlon route about “productive MMOs.”  That is nothing but the usual gamer hubris where we project our own likes on the world and pretend that everybody thinks the same way or that it has some actual logic to it.  Wrapping your personal bias in a tissue thin layer of faux objectivity doesn’t change what it really is in the slightest.

My objection tries to get closer to objective reality, or so I would hope.

MMOs are not easy to make and they certainly are not cheap to make.  Also, the market is already crowded with competitors.  Meanwhile Perfect World has traditionally been a purveyor of Asian style MMOs that don’t really do all that well in the West along with titles that couldn’t keep their original studios alive and were no doubt scooped up at bargain basement prices to be milked via cash shops and lockboxes for every last farthing they can provide.

In that scenario it is difficult for me to see much in the way of hope for anything worthwhile coming out of this idea.  Instead of an attempt to meet some real world demand or cater to a specific demographic, this all smacks of the quote at the top of the post, except in 2018 we have to substitute in “pushing for that cash shop pie” in place of “pushing for that subscription pie.”

Yes, there is talk of there being some Diablo and Torchlight devs involved, but when they say it won’t be a generic MMO but a Torchlight MMO through and through it sounds almost like a contradiction, because if I were to fault Torchlight II on anything, it would be on its mild blandness.  There was nothing wrong with it, but despite playing through the game I barely remember any of it.  I am sure there must have been a story to it, but I cannot remember any of it.

I actually reinstalled it via Steam last week just to revisit it for a while to see if my memories of the game had just faded over time.  After a couple of hours of play my hazy impressions were pretty much reaffirmed.  It is a decent game, if a bit bland, with a story that never really gets much traction in my brain.  It feels more incidental than anything.  There are just several other ARPGs that I find more engaging, such as Grim Dawn, Diablo III, Path of Exile, or even the remastered version of Titan Quest.  So I am not really seeing this as a property that screams to be made into an MMO.  Of course, I could say the same for the other four titles I listed out.

I know, I know, you can say you’re going to make any sort of MMO and you’ll always get some people excited about it.  In spite of our constant and repeated experiences over the last decade the acronym “MMO” still retains some magical properties.  People still long for a shared, persistent world to travel.  People will project their memories and ideas on it and get all excited about an imaginary game that as like as not will bear no resemblance to reality.  That path leads to inevitable disappointment.

So given all of that I cannot help but draw back from this and ask if it is really a good idea.  Given the state of the market, the limits of the franchise, and the reputation of the publisher is this something to get emotionally invested in yet?

And that leaves aside the basic game play questions.  For example, is playing Torchlight II with more than the full party you can play with now really a worthwhile goal?  Are dozens or even hundreds of other people around in this click-fest really a benefit?

I think that the best possible outcome might be a setup like the original Guild Wars, where there were certain shared areas like towns but that the actual content was limited to you and your party.  That sounds a bit like what they are aiming for, though I think having the overworld all shared and only dungeons instanced out for parties might be too much shared space unless they plan on a lot of dungeons.

As for the worst outcome… the mind boggles at the possibilities.  I would not bet against something like a revival of the failed Diablo III real money auction house for starters.  But we know from history that you don’t even need a cash shop to get RMT in motion in an MMO.

Diablo II RMT site ad from back in the day

I mean, Path of Exile is there as an example of how not to get mired in RMT, but I suspect that that Perfect World would see that as limiting their revenue potential.

Meanwhile, the fact that it is targeted for next year (developer optimism is evergreen) and is planned for Windows, PlayStation 4, and XBox One makes me wonder if Torchlight Frontiers will in anyway resemble what made Torchlight and Torchlight II as popular as they were.

That is the problem with experience; it inevitably makes a skeptic out of you.

Anyway, we’ll see what comes of this.  Maybe we’ll even see it next year.

Others who have chimed in on the topic:

Quote of the Day – Satire is Dead

Always predict the worst and you’ll be hailed as a prophet.

-Tom Lehrer, quoting a friend

I don’t have an agenda when it comes to Steam.  I tend to take it as it is in my own fatalistic way.  But sometimes this stuff writes itself.

The Timeline:

Thursday – Anything goes on Steam, even if we hate it.  The only exceptions are things that are illegal or straight up trolling.

Saturday – Well, yes, there may be some correlation between things we don’t like and what we’re going to call trolling.

Monday – Hey, we’re bringing Steam to the People’s Republic of China!

Yes, because of the laws there Valve won’t actually own Steam in China.  Their partner, Perfect World Entertainment will be the majority shareholder.

Still I just find it a strange and/or amusing bit of timing to have the company go from declaring openness one day to lending their name to a service in China, where the game lineup will be anything but open, just a few days later.

I’m hoping the next thing I write about Steam will be in regards to the summer sale.

The Drop in WoW Subscribers Means Changes All Over…

Rather than the usual round of WoW phishing attempts, I have seen a batch of these lately…

Greetings!

It has come to our attention that you are trying to sell your personal RuneScape account(s).
As you may not be aware of, this conflicts with the EULA and Terms of Agreement.
If this proves to be true, your account can and will be disabled…

All with the same message, the same badly disguised bogus URL, and all delivered to the same email address that gets all my WoW phishing attempts.  (Which, of course, is NOT the email address I use for WoW or Battle.net.)

No doubt handiwork of the same trolls.

Of course, I’ve never played RuneScape, so this is even less worrying that WoW phishing.  Oh no, an account I never had in the first place is in danger of being banned!

RuneQuest, Yes, RuneScape, No

Meanwhile, in the same batch of email, I received a note from Perfect World Entertainment, makers of… nothing I can recall ever playing.  I guess they are publishing Torchlight now, which I have played.  But I did not buy it from them.  Still, at some point I created an account there, I just cannot remember why.  It certainly wasn’t for Rusty Hearts and a discount gamepad.

That email said:

You are receiving this email because your account may have been accessed without your authorization. We have changed your account’s password and are requiring you to change your password before you can log back into our games. Please go here to reset your password:

And there was a URL below on which you were invited to click.  Only this one looked legitimate.  I still didn’t click on it, going rather directly to the Perfect World site and resetting my password via the interface they provide there.

I wonder if Perfect World has some sort of incident or if this was just another, slightly more clever phishing attempt.

How about for you?  Any rise in non-WoW related phishing attempts at your end?

Were you getting that many WoW related ones in the first place?  At one point I was getting one or two a day.

How Was Star Trek Online NOT Free to Play Already?

When I think of subscription games that have switch to the free to play model, Star Trek Online pops into my head, and has for some time.

And then I have had to remind myself that no, the game is not F2P, not yet.

Now though, that appears to have changed.

Perfect World Entertainment, which is apparently my company of the day, and which acquired Cryptic Studios back in May, has announced that Star Trek Online will be going F2P this year, or so reports Massively.

Only available in America?

F2P... it is a gold mine... like re-runs!

Now, as a lifetime subscriber facing yet another company changing business models, I do wonder how they will treat me.  Not that I have played the game in the last year.  My one year anniversary post for the game is still sitting as a draft.

Look, I logged on long enough to get a screen shot!

The Lord of the Rings Online transition from subscription to F2P treated lifetime subscribers very well I felt.  I was quite satisfied with how that turned out last summer.  I will be interested to see how this plays out with STO.

And you can just bet if they shaft the lifetime subscribers, I will complain about it despite having no real investment in the game.  It is just the way it has to be.

Rusty Hearts Wants Me to Buy a Gamepad

Another one from the mail bag I suppose.

Rusty Hearts, which I can’t recall having heard about before, a Perfect World Entertainment MMO currently in closed beta, sent me a note.  Or the people running it did.  And they want me to go buy a gamepad.

Rusty Hearts Offer

And to get me to do this, the have sent me a code that will let me buy a Logitech Dual Action Gamepad for just $4.99.

The Gamepad in Question

Granted, the gamepad is only $12.99 normally on the Logitech site (it is actually double that on Amazon), but when we’re talking five dollar game controllers, I start wondering if I ought to get one just to tinker around.

Not that Rusty Hearts seems to be my sort of game.  It is described as:

An anime-inspired, cell shaded, beat-em-up action MMORPG set in a stylized gothic world.

Sounds just like Darren‘s cup of tea… but for me… not so much.

And if I am not going to use it for Rusty Hearts, then I am not sure what use it would be.

It does seem to be one of the supported devices for Need for Speed World.  I’m not quite convinced that a gamepad is necessarily superior to the keyboard for steering control.

So what is a gamepad good for on a Windows 7 PC?  What would make it worth dropping the five dollars?

Is there a MAME front end or something that would support it?

Battle of the Immortals – Key Features

A random item from the world of press releases.

I received a note announcing that Battle of the Immortals will be going into closed beta come April 13th.  Not sure that is news worthy, but if you’re working on a “rolling thunder” style marketing campaign, you have to work with what is at hand.

While I am not particularly interested in the game (the press release was the first I had heard of it) and the closed beta has no traction with me, I did like that they pointed out the key features of the game.

So this is what they want you to know about Battle of the Immortals:

  • 5 Unique Classes – Each with their own distinct skill set and equipment
  • Zodiac System – Empower your character according to their Zodiac symbol
  • Auto-Navigation Quest System – Progress through quests easily with auto-navigation
  • Soul Gear System – Unique sets of armor and gear specifically tailored toward each class that grows and changes as players use them
  • Hardcore PvP – Battle other players to be the best within an in-depth ranking system
  • Hardcore PvE – Compete against other players for the right to take down epic bosses
  • PvE Time Trials – Race against other players to gain access to even greater challenges
  • Pet System – Collect a wide variety of pets ranging from cute to devastating monsters
  • Mount System – Ride upon giant beasts to shorten your travels and engage in combat
  • Territory War System – Battle other guilds for rare relics, resources and other treasures

I’m a little disappointed that neither the pet nor the mount system is hardcore, since they seemed to be on a hardcore riff there for a bit.

Is this mount not hardcore?

Still, you have to take your hat off to any game that is trying to turn, “What’s your sign?” into a question of import up there with gear score.