Apps, apps, apps. All we talk about is apps, it seems. Week and week out, I try to throw out a list of five different applications--usually themed around some particular scenario--that give you untold access to your system in new and exciting ways. Well, mostly exciting. Let's face it. Sometimes, an app is just an app. It's a useful, free utility, but nothing to throw a party or write home about.
So, that in mind, how about some games?
There's nothing more fun--and more detrimental to one's professional life--than sinking hours after countless hours of playtime into a persistent digital world. That's right, I'm talking about MMOs. The problem, however, is that there are simply too many free MMOs to choose from. If you're intending on spending a significant amount of your personal life in some digital dungeon or what-have-you, you don't want to do it for a crappy game that nobody is playing. You want an awesome game.
I have taken it upon myself to find five free MMOs with such a characteristic--awesome--and am happy to announce the results of my findings below. I wish you the best as you go forth in the grand tradition of surrendering your social life to slay digital... well, everything. Digital everythings. Right.
Mark your calendars, folks, because… wait, do they even make calendars for 2012 yet? Well, regardless, that’s how long you’ll be waiting to have a go at Interplay’s already long-in-development Fallout MMO, codenamed “Project: V13.”
"Masthead's technology is impressive and perfect for our Project: V13. Its team is passionate to bring our vision and game play to the market," said Interplay Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Herve Caen. "This MMOG will have many unique features that we will disclose before launch of the public Beta in 2012."
Well, you know, take your time with that. No rush or anything.
Set 30 years after Star Trek: Nemesis (the last film before the J.J. Abrams reboot), Star Trek Online puts you in the shoes of a captain in a newly sparked war between the goody-two-shoes Federation and savage Klingon empire. The promise of exploring the final frontier, massive space battles, and obscure Star Trek references fills us with geeky glee. We went down to Cryptic Studios’ offices to play the game and quiz Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich to ensure that fans of Star Trek and MMOs are getting the best of both worlds.
Craig had some interesting things to say about making a game for Star Trek fans and competing with World of Warcraft. Plus, we're giving away some invites to Star Trek Online's closed-beta!
There's one thing I think of when Daylight Savings Time hits: zombies. Seriously. All that extra time in the dark just fuels the undead flames for an eventual takeover by our semi-bulletproof, plant-hating masters. It only makes sense, then, that I use this weekly freeware roundup column to provide you with some kind of effective training for fending off the gruesome hordes. And beyond that, you'll also find a few more fun freeware games to busy yourself with as the angry, moaning masses slowly overwhelm your pitiful human defenses.
Now that we've established the plot, let's check out the titles. A hearty mix of retro throwbacks, MMOs, and crazy puzzle games await your attention after the jump!
If you're a male gamer who has been looking for love in all the wrong places, it might be because you're spending too much time playing MMOs. Or, depending on your fantasy woman, maybe that's exactly what you should be doing. You see, not only is nearly half of the Everquest II gaming population female, but they're apparently much more likely to be bisexual than non-EQ II players, online surveys suggest.
According to no less than 2,400 completed web-based surveys, females account for 40 percent of the EQ II gaming community. The surveys also found that female EQ II players display "an unusually high level of bisexuality," more than five times that of the "general population."
"These are not people who are following strict gender stereotypes," said lead researcher Scott Caplan. "I think what you would find in this population are going to be people who are in other ways less traditional than the majority population."
The respondents received an in-game item in exchange for completing a web-based questionnaire about their gaming habits and lifestyles, which has led some to question to the validy of the results.
Remember Myst Online? You shouldn't. GameTap shut the servers for the fumbling MMO in the beginning of this year, leaving plenty of fans of massively multiplayer online puzzle-solving out in the cold. Until the rights were returned to Cyan Worlds, which promptly promised to resurrect the MMO under the clever acronym of MORE -- the Myst Online Resurrection Experiment. Which was all fine, until funding difficulties killed the project once again. Which has since been resurrected again (surpassing Jean Gray's record), this time as a result of Cyan Worlds turning the entire Myst Online platform over to the open source community.
Strangely, this is the first big announcement from any of the "larger" MMOs that involves open source in any fashion. When an MMO dies, it usually dies for good, regardless of how persistent the fan base is toward resurrecting the fallen title into a working project.
Click the link and come into the strange, shifting world of open-source MMOs!
Are you smarter than a 5th grader? No, we're not talking about the TV game show, and instead we're referring to little Arjun Mehta, who while in 5th grade came up with the idea for PlaySpan and founded the in-game commerce network the next year. The service now serves as a micro-transaction payment system for virtual goods in over 200 different games.
Little Mehta and his father Karl Mehta, the company's CEO, received a big cash infusion for PlaySpan, announcing this week the company has raised $16.8 million in Series B funding from Easton Capital Group, Menlo Ventures, Novel TMT Ventures, and STIC Investments, in addition to other undisclosed investors. That brings PlaySpan's total funding up to $24 million, which the company says will used to expand into Europe and Asia, and grow its global publisher and userbase.
"Online games publishers and social media application developers are looking for new sources of revenue byond traditional advertising and subscriptions," said Karl Mehta (PDF). "We are enabling a new business model in the form of micro-transactions for users that prefer the pay-as-you-go model."
While the free-to-play genre has turned into a bit of a misnomer given the prevalence of cost-driven upgrades and character capabilities, PlaySpan represents an improved business model over earlier attempts that were often setup without the publisher's permission and plagued with fraud.
Quality may not always happily skip hand-in-hand with sales (See: Psychonauts, and then go buy it, please), but when it does, we wear unnaturally large smiles, ecstatic that there's justice in this cold, depressing world. You can imagine, then, that our pearly whites are on the verge of breaking free from our unhinged jaws thanks to Mythic's announcement that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has lured 750,000 players into its overtly war-packed world.
"Thanks to our players, the war between the Realms continues to escalate at an incredible pace," said Mythic co-founder and general manager Mark Jacobs.
And he's not just spouting nonsense from his PR-approved book of hyperbole either; Warhammer's 750k sprint has topped those of both World of Warcraft and Age of Conan, who reached similar numbers within three months and two months, respectively.
But don't start ordering Waaaagh Kool-Aid as a refreshment for WoW's funeral just yet. It should be noted that boxed copies of Warhammer Online came with a free one month voucher, cancelling out the game's subscription fee for a limited time. With the game's money vacuum soon to be fully operational, will players stick around for another month?
We sure hope so. Warhammer seems genuinely different from other MMOs, and it'd be a shame to see it sink. Also, gaming just wouldn't be fun anymore if we couldn't constantly tell our friends "It's 'hammer time," before darting off for a play session.
Our help was needed—again. Such is the fate of a hero. In the world of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures all manner of fishermen, pirates, merchants, guards, beer wenches, and assorted ne’er-do wells require assistance. This motley cast of characters imbues the game with a vibrant sense of life; we just wish that they showed even a bit of initiative and took care of some of their own problems. We were tasked with passing along loads of messages in order to drive the story forward, but in truth, we quickly lost interest in the game’s narrative, as it simply took away from the game’s finest achievement: its fighting system.