Anonymous writes: "Here is my personal report:
I’m an old time gamer and a long time member of The Syndicate
. Naturally I was very excited when the Guild Master of The Syndicate
asked me if I would like to take Westwood Studios
up on an offer to come to see Earth & Beyond
, an upcoming MMO. Westwood
is close to releasing their new game (Earth and Beyond) and they are inviting
various existing guilds to come to their headquarters in Las Vegas to see
it, and give feedback. FROM AE
: I'm not sure who
actually submitted this, since they weren't logged in. If they'd like to
resubmit it whilst logged in, I'll change it :)
is a very old guild by standards of online gaming. Founded in 1996, during
the pre-Alpha days for Ultima Online, the guild now thrives in EverQuest
and Ultima Online with over 500 members. 500 members is a lot of people,
so The Syndicate has a very wide variety of players. We’re very diverse when
it comes to play preferences. I try to help the Guild Master (named Dragons)
by looking at games of the future and trying to figure out if they would
be good candidates for the guilds future. As you can expect, we look forward
to a bright future in the growing dearth of upcoming games.
in the Syndicate, for the past many years, is Game Migrations. I evaluate
new games and help determine if they are games our guild may want to expand
into. This is just something I like to do. I spend a lot of time looking
at games that are in Beta and/or being discussed as up and coming with other
gamers. Given that, and given that our Guild Master couldn’t make the trip,
I was happy to come to Westwood and see their game. Heck, who would turn
down an all expense paid trip to talk with a game design company about your
favorite subject? And heck, a chance to pretend I’m some fancy-pants game
consultant can’t hurt, too! J
I’ve been to Las Vegas on many occasions
for business (COMDEX and the Consumer Electronics Show stuff) but I’ve never
been put up in a sweet suit in the Luxor or been picked up by a Limo Driver
holding my name on a card. I walked down to Game Works where a small reception
was planned for me and the other Guild Geeks. Game Works is an arcade on
I chatted with the Community Managers and other gamer
geeks for a little while. As we discussed DaoC experiences, we figured out
that Craig Elliott, Online Community Coordinator for E&B and I had a
close personal friend in common and we’d kinda known each other from the
Old Neverwinter days. If this wasn’t weird enough, the head of online community
stuff (Maria) later told me that the first person who ever beat her in PvP
(nearly a decade ago) was a guy named ITB Faust (aka ME!). Hehe… I felt so
special ::grin:: In fact, she and I had been officers in the same guild all
those many years ago. Weird.
Four other geeks joined us for a beer
and a hot dog. One of which was “Shadowsight” a member and former GM of Bane
Sidhe (http://www.shadowsight.com/banesidhe), a guild most notable for its
efforts on Fenin Ro of EQ. His perspective as a member of a four- guild alliance
in EQ would certainly be useful. My guild is huge and integrated with existing
chat zones, message boards, member created XML tools, and lots of in-house
organization. His group spans 4 guilds that are in an alliance. Surely his
communication issues are more complex and his organizational tactics are
surely different than ours. He and I talked about this late into the evening
The next day the four of us were carted out to Westwood
Studios where we were treated to breakfast and a tour. We spent a lot of
time mid-tour talking about Orc Strategies within War Craft. Westwood is
housed in an old Space Systems Loral building and its industrial strength
concrete has been lovingly decorated and loaded full of creative types with
lots of computer junk and a pretty cool motion capture studio. The walls
are covered with posters and game memorabilia. One poster by the door was
a large tear-off sheet, which said “54 Days to Ship Earth and Beyond”… I’m
assuming the poster below it said 53 days.
(Wolfpack jab deleted )
eventually found our way to a room full of computers, including a Big Screen
monitor. We were shown a demo of the game, signed up for beta accounts, and
given a couple hours to dink around in the game. The whole time discussions
were ongoing about what we liked, didn’t like, or found interesting. It was
very cool that the developers hung around and actually CARED what we had
Why ask guilds to check it out? E&B will soon add Guilds.
As each members gains experience the guild will get some too. This can be
applied to special features which membership in that particular guild will
allow. Guild Decals on the side of ships, even hull upgrades or rocket boosters
for membership. We were asked what other things would be nice. My hand constantly
shot up with regard to collection and distribution of stuff between guildmates.
My wife spends an hour or two each night organizing, collecting, and distributing
spells/gems in EQ… she doesn’t complain (much) but that kinda stuff can’t
be fun. Westwood also showed us their In-Game browsers, which will show guild
rosters and tradesmen abilities and all kinds of neat stuff.
of other discussion and ideas went on for hours and hours until, at last,
we pooped out. Soon I was back on a plane with a short stack of Beta Accounts,
a bunch of swag, and hopes to provide ample feedback to cover Westwood’s
How about I STFU and get to the game:
(link to Part2)
game is set in space some time in the distant future. Starting the game requires
selecting between 3 races which each have two professions each (more to be
added later, I’m told). Your avatar (humanoid) gets lots of customization,
which is kinda cool. You then select your ship. Each profession has a basic
“look” about it and you can pick wing styles, colors, and a decal, which
goes on the side. You then launch into the game.
Should you select
it, the first couple HOURS of the game is a tutorial, or you can leap into
the game itself which, additionally, will provide lots of pop-up “Hi, it’s
me again… let me tell you how to Warp” stuff from the NPC Trainer-Chickie.
I found this quite an improvement over games that seem to throw you into
the world alone with a rusty dagger.
The game has three types of
experience: Exploration, Combat, and Trade. You can get up to level 50 in
each (total 150) depending on what you do. I selected Exploration as my characters
major thrust. In a system map each item within the game (usually beacons)
are represented by a question mark. As you warp to these, more question marks
become blips. You can then warp to the next question mark. Each time you
get to a new place you get Exploration Experience. Thus, while we chatted
about the game I played Connect the Dots and ended up at level 16 doing very
little work. When you get a level you get Skill Points. These can be spent
on profession inherent abilities or on the ability to use better equipment
such as better engines or reactors, or whatever. As you add this stuff you
get stronger and your space ship adds more junk hanging off it. Changing
question marks into blips doesn’t pay much so I never upgraded.
showed us a level 150 super-uber ship and it was loaded with cannons and
big cargo bays and all kinds of neato looking space junk. This, I imagine,
must be pretty impressive to the average newbie… although you generally only
see other players as zipping vapor trails in space… as far as I could tell.
You can “land” on planets and cruise around in their atmosphere in your ship.
Perhaps this will be where you show off all your gear to newbies. You can
dock into a starbase and walk around to interact with other players and vendors
For the combat there are various critters and bad-guys floating
around in areas. We saw a couple “Epic Battles” in progress: Higher level
characters were defending an NPC Star Base from a bunch of NPC Pirates who
were trying to spring an NPC Pirate Leader guy. We also saw a Westwood crewmember
spawn a heap of pirates on the heads of several high level characters (aka
a Verant style “Dynamic Quest”) Monsters are clearly described by level and
agro variety. They kinda hover in space and you blow them up.
will be rather cool. You can build things and transport things from one starbase
to another for profit. Also, from time to time, a super rare item might drop.
You have a choice of analyzing it (which destroys the item) and, if you are
skilled enough, learn how to make it. Thus you could be the ONLY guy on your
server who can make the Super Duper Mega-Cannon.
PvP does not exist. It goes on the list of “like to have” which, as every gamer knows, means “don’t get your hopes up”.
overall story line is that rips in space are occurring out there and nobody
knows why. Over time this will become a Meta-Plot and NPC’s will react to
and direct Characters to this. This is, essentially, the ongoing Lore, which
combines with all the historic and race stuff. The overall story line will
not be effected by players. Local stuff will (maybe) be part of GM events