Walking in at the stroke of 10 with 10,000 other folks is an experience not to be missed. It’s easy to see how lemmings go careening off cliffs once they’re “in the flow” of the rush. But once through the doors, the assault on senses begins with flashing lights, bings, beeps, voices and more.

Day 2 of my GDC visit was a back-to-back rollercoaster ride of interviews with some of the more interesting developers on hand. Today’s report is just a thumbnail sketch of the information I received from these interviews with more comprehensive write ups coming once I recover from GDC.

Aerrevan:

Strolling through the booths, I ran into this gem of a game in development by Canadian house, CubeForce Media. The game engine is a new ground-up engine specifically for this game. Developers touted the fact that the game is a dynamically changing one where players can totally determine what will happen in future updates. For

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instance, depending on the outcome of a particular battle between player city-states, the next update will reflect the political climate change in favor of the winner. Aerrevan is a classless game where player choices truly do make a difference to your character’s development. The NPC conversations are keyword-based so that players actually type responses and the answer is determined by the keywords inserted. Developers stressed, “We’ve written the beginning. Players will write the end. We want to bring RPG back to MMORPG.” Stay tuned for more from the Aerrevan team.

Frogster International/Runes of Magic

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My next stop was a visit to Frogster America’s Runes of Magic team. I got a good look at Chapter 3 and the Demon Lord’s lair. It’s a good thing that I was shown this as I seriously doubt I’ll ever see it with my weenie RoM character. 🙂 Chapter 3 brings on board some seriously cool changes: GvG and Siege Wars with guilds collecting resources to create buildings, siege weapons, buffs and more. The created items are not persistent so each GvG battle will require a recollection and rebuilding of fortress defenses. The Demon Lord lair is an hive of ultra bad critters leading up to the big…er…man himself. The 12-player dungeon will -require- players to work together to defeat key bosses leading up to DL himself. The cool thing is that defeating the Demon Lord gives a random chance that a player will score his sword or various armor pieces. Now how cool is that!

I also had the chance to take a look at Frogster’s just-announced Facebook game. The game is in its early stages of development and is designed to bring “casual” social game players into the full RoM experience by awarding special item keys that can only be used in the full game. The interface is instantly familiar to anyone who’s played a FB game. There are quests to complete, PvP and guild activities, a marketplace, an inventory system and a custom avatar profile that can be created. The FB game is set to launch in quarter 2 of 2010.

Read on to find out about Gamers First stable of games, Black Prophecy/Gamigo and Aika/Allods!

Gamers First

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I have to admit to a bit of embarrassment when it comes to Gamers First: I actually wasn’t familiar with any of their titles. But with the increasing number of free to play games, the outreach from Gamers First was very attractive so I signed on and am really glad I did. Gamers First currently has over 28 million worldwide registered users and has been working the market for over 7 years. Gamers First has three titles online with more coming down the pike as 2010 rolls around. I’ll get more specific with each game in a future article but will give thumbnail sketches here:

  • Knight Online has been around since 2004 and is a traditional medieval MMO. Developers have been working on graphical upgrades to the older sections of the game to complement new content additions. The game is very PvP centric with battles of 250-300 per side happening regularly.
  • Sword of the New World is a game where players take on an explorer sent to the New World to set up colonies. The game is a political strategy MMO and was recently updated with a major content addition. Gamers First indicated that a major announcement is due in a short while.
  • War Rock is an MMOFPS and looks really nice. The game sports over a hundred weapons, three game modes, fifty maps. Clan warfare is the goal and updates will be coming along with a new gear system.
  • Upcoming games include “a post-apocalyptic grand prix racing MMO” (I LOVE that description!). Player vehicles are dynamically impacted by every decision made. Cars “level up” and tons of customization is available. There are various zones, maps and environments in which to race.
  • Taikodon is a space action MMO, a so-called twitch-based action shooter. This is not an instance-based game and player groups called corporations can control space zones. The game is, again, very PvP centric and any other player is a potential victim. It may very well fall to corporations to offer protection…for a price.

Black Prophecy/Gamigo

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Gamigo recently signed Black Prophecy up for publication. Black Prophecy is a space-based MMO that’s been in development for over four years. Gamigo is expecting a quarter 4 release, possibly as early as October. On entering the game, players can create a character though, at this point, that character is rarely seen. But it was pointed out that future updates will feature on-planet or on-space station fights where the character will be seen. Right now, combat is in player space craft. The goal is to upgrade one’s ship with the right equipment purchased from vendors in the main docking hub. In the hub, players can team up for an instance-based quest. The quests are somewhat random with map settings changing every time the instance is entered. Difficulty scales as well. Black Prophecy is expected to be a ‘free to play’ title from Gamigo that is also publishing King of Kings 3 (hardcore MMO PvP), Cultures Online (browser game) and War of Angels.

Aika Online/Allods Online/gPotato

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My last visit of the day was to the most accessible marketing/community team ever: gPotato. 🙂 I got a great tour of Allods with a look at some of the more interesting mechanics in the game. For instance, a lot of players complain about the lack of auto attack. This is a purposeful design since the basic attack mode is rendered irrelevant very quickly in the game. There are simply too many other ways (and better ways) to attack a monster. Additionally, players have noted a lack of a mini-map. Again, this forces players to interact with their world and to work for what they want in the game. There’s a lot more to say about Allods but that will come in my more comprehensive report so stay tuned!

Aika Online is set to go into open beta on Tuesday. Aika is a nation vs. nation game that specializes in large scale battles between guilds and nations but also skirmishes and 1-on-1 battles too. Developers call the three primary PvP opportunities Battle for Pride (nations versus nation and relic capture), Battle for Power (castle siege, guild versus guild) and Battle for Glory (battlegrounds for individual power). Players can become Lord Marshalls of nations, setting taxes and more. Weekly castle sieges are scheduled across all realms to allow guilds to fight for political power and to become the ruling regime. Again, we will have lots more to say about Aika in the coming days as we dive into the Open Beta!

That’s it for the Day 2 GDC wrap up. Come around tomorrow for a peek at Nexon, Outspark, TERA and Perfect World!

Question of the Day, March 12, 2010

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