Not much to talk about this month. Tabula Rasa launches, prematurely, on the 16th Nov 2nd. It can make for an amusing diversion but as far as I can tell this game has no legs. No end game, shallow (but fun) repetitive play and content that can be exhausted in a month or so. It has, or had, a lot more potential than this but Destination Games didn't see it through.
Nothing new for the watchlist. The only change to release dates was for Gods and Heroes which has been pushed back to February. There has been some troubled news about the game. The developer keeps laying off more and more people. Now it could be that the game is nearly done and just requires a little fine tuning so they don't need a full staff anymore but it could also be that the game isn't measuring up to what it should be and the studio is starting to cut its losses early. If this were going to be a major MMO I would expect them to keep most of their employees around to continue to work on the game and its expansions after the launch.
I put two new articles up on the website this month. The first was a bit about how software has been written that can create fiction. These programs can construct (very) short stories that are indistinguishable from what might be written by your average human author. Another program, called Facade, goes a step further and stages the story in a single scene with two characters and you. The player talks with the NPC's in a perfectly natural way and they are able to respond with surprising subtlety within the confines of the plot. It will be a very long time before anything like that finds its way into mainstream games or MMO's but the implications are staggering. At some point in the future it may be possible for each player of a game to have their own personal story custom created for them on the fly creating a truly unique experience for every person every time they play.
The second article I posted discusses the beta community. The interest for me there is identifying the different groups of players who have the most influence on how a game turns out. If you can gain some understanding of these factions you can see which direction a game is likely to go and what sort of games will be popular in the future. Right now it should come as no surprise that people are still looking for games that can be played quickly ad easily ala World of Warcraft. I also think some of the audience may be outgrowing WoW and looking for something more. The same old quests don't seem to be entertaining anyone anymore and people often complain about being sent on pointless errands or tasked with generic jobs such as kill x mobs or collect x items.
I didn't play any new games last month and it doesn't look like I'll play anything new this one either so I don't have any reviews for you. Nothing new has popped up on the horizon either so there aren't any previews or additions to the watchlist. I wish I could tell you more about Warhammer Online but for now I'm sticking to the NDA. I'm hoping that Age of Conan turns out really well. The next MMO's that might be good are The Chronicles of Spellborn and Aion. I'll see if I can't get some decent write ups of those games posted on the website.
That's all for this month. Have fun.