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Anti-Aliased: Shut up woman, come buy my cat

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Anti-Aliased

Stupid sparkle cat.

I'm sitting here in EverQuest II right now, basically staring at the Station Marketplace. My character, Miss Seccia, has had 2,500 Station Cash in her pocket for a while now. It's been sitting there since I last bought it, begging to be used for something in the Marketplace.

There has been nothing that I wanted for two months now. No sets of armor, no potions, no character modifications. The cash has been sitting there unused, wasting away in my coin purse. And then, as if dropped down on a magical beam of light from the development team, EverQuest II introduced 25-dollar mounts into the game. A perfect 2,500 station cash for a mount that would be insanely useful to Seccia.

Yet, for as much as I stare, I know I can't buy this cat. That would make me a gigantic hypocrite.

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Anti-Aliased: Burnout, revenge

Culture, Opinion, Anti-Aliased

Oh those sparkle ponies. They were a fun diversion last week, and a pretty fun topic to write on. Kudos to Blizzard for making crazy amounts of cash last week -- you guys at the marketing department really knew your audience and how much they'd pay for a shiny mount. While I may disagree with the size of the price tag, I still admire how well that move worked out for them. I'm sure we'll be seeing more things like that for World of Warcraft in the future.

Anyway, let's move onwards to this week's topic: MMO burnout. Almost all of us experience it at least once with one of our favorite games, and some of us have experienced it more than once across a single game or many games. Right now, I'm really with you guys who are suffering from burnout. I've been looking for a good game to sink my teeth into, but I just can't seem to find "the one" right now.

So I'm off doing some other activities, trying to rekindle that spark of love for MMOs. This week I want to talk about some of the ways I've been combating burnout, much like Mr. Kyle Horner did before me, and hopefully you guys can chime in with some ways of your own!

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Anti-Aliased: Shut up people, come buy my horse

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Anti-Aliased

So last week's little diversion into Net Neutrality (and me apparently being a right wing liberal jackhole) was fun, but this week brings me back on track with things happening in the gaming world. And, lucky for me, there's been a spot of news yesterday that's just caught my attention -- World of Warcraft's new Celestial Steed.

Microtransaction discussions are nothing new in my column. From Cryptic to Free Realms, I've been all over the different payment structures that games implement. But, no matter the topic, one thing seems to stay the same: people really, really, really dislike microtransactions overall. The comments on these columns, and pretty much any other article we write on microtransactions, tend to end with angry commenters spewing their dissatisfaction.

And you know what? Good for them. If that's their opinion, then totally go for it! But, what I really hate more than anything else is when people have double standards. It seems that people really hate microtransactions, yet Blizzard's newest buyable mount doesn't have people quitting the game left and right. In fact, it seems everyone is cramming in to buy one!

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Anti-Aliased Special Edition: Net neutrality, the FCC, Comcast, and Glenn Beck

Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Opinion, Politics, Anti-Aliased

So today's Wednesday and yes, I know, my column usually doesn't run on Wednesday. However, thanks the recent ruling against the Federal Communications Commission in their net neutrality case, it seems that there's a very relevant topic to talk about as soon as possible.

Let me open by saying this -- net neutrality isn't another one of those overblown media stories, or something that we should put off on the backburner. Yet, while everyone's talking about net neutrality, few people are really talking about what it is, why you should care, and why you can't trust everything you're hearing about net neutrality. I've heard more than a few mistruths about the subject recently -- including a whole string of mistruths from everyone's favorite comedy network, Fox News.

So today, let's set some things straight and talk about net neutrality. This is very serious stuff for the avid MMO gamer, the casual online gamer, or, well, anyone who touches the Internet.

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Anti-Aliased: Even virtual relationships are hot button issues

Sci-Fi, Culture, Forums, Opinion, Anti-Aliased, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Before I even begin this column, I need to give a shout out to Interitus. This week's topic was inspired by an e-mail he recently sent me, regarding the ongoing debate on the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums with their "romance" story arcs. So, thanks Interitus for the idea!

So, to recap for everyone before we dive into the discussion for the week, here's the deal -- Star Wars: The Old Republic will let you romance your companion NPCs much like Mass Effect. Using dialogue options, you can form a romantic relationship with your chosen follower. However, BioWare has neglected to state how far this system will extend. All we know is that only you'll be able to see your romance storylines and there won't be any explicit sex. Star Wars is all about understated sexual tension, AKA Han Solo and Princess Leia.

So what about romances between two characters of the same-sex, like Mass Effect? Well, we're not too sure about that at the moment. BioWare has said nothing confirming or denying their existence. And, because gay romance is a huge hot button issue, the SWTOR forums are aflame regarding the addition of same-sex romances.

Should we include same-sex romances? Are they appropriate for the Star Wars universe? Are they appropriate for the target audience? Well come along everyone, and let's discuss.

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Anti-Aliased: Is SWTOR worth 2 million users

Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Anti-Aliased, Star Wars: The Old Republic

So, some big news out of the Electronic Arts/BioWare camp today -- it's going to take one million subscribers to break even on Star Wars: The Old Republic, and EA is shooting for two million subscribers on the game. Those are some pretty intense numbers for a game, but when you're sinking as much money into a project as they're sinking into SWTOR, those are the numbers you need.

But, are they realistic numbers? This isn't the first time EA poured their heart and soul into a MMO, only to find that the subscriptions weren't to their liking. Then again, when you're dealing with a well known IP and an already successful RPG developer who knows how to handle said IP, you might just have the recipe for a subscriber explosion.

So that's this week's question -- Is SWTOR worth two million users?

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Anti-Aliased: "Cash shop" shouldn't be a dirty phrase

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Anti-Aliased

A not so long time ago in an interview located not too far away, one of our intrepid readers asked Alganon's David Allen if they ever considered a free-to-play model for their game. His response was the following:

"Right now, the industry standard is to squeeze as much money as they can out of players by introducing cash shops, and forcing them to pay for things that ought to have been part of the game. We don't want to do that. We want Alganon to be a service. You pay us a subscription so we can continue to develop and run a game that you enjoy playing. It's not a product where you hand us money and we hand you a vanity pet, or mount, or epic sword and then walk away. "

So, David... not to be "that girl" but... um... how's that cash shop working out for ya?

So, now that I've said what pretty much everyone was thinking when they heard that announcement from Quest Online, let's talk about cash shops this week and how we seem to royally keep screwing them up in our culture. Because, as the title says, "cash shop" just shouldn't be a dirty phrase in our industry.

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Anti-Aliased: History of the world, part one

Culture, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Opinion, Anti-Aliased

So, besides the Mel Brooks reference in the title, what do I have in store for you this time? Well, in short, I have an idea. Nay, I have an inspiration. Plus, I have a story to boot, so it's really a two for one deal this week in my column. You better read fast, for this deal won't last long!

The one thing that many MMORPGs completely miss is making the player character feel triumphant and heroic. When making the conversion from roleplaying game to online roleplaying game, we frequently miss out on the one thing that makes pen and paper RPGs so unique: a history.

This week in Anti-Aliased, I really want to cover the concept of history as it pertains to MMORPGs, and make the appeal that more MMOs need to invest in a persistent storyline in addition to the standard canned quests that we already utilize in every game under the sun.

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Anti-Aliased: Eye candy leaves a bad taste in my mouth

Sci-Fi, Culture, Opinion, MMORTS, Global Agenda, Anti-Aliased

Global Agenda is one of those games that's really dividing people. Some people love the game for whatever reason, other people bash on the game for whatever reason, and that's fine by me. While I personally love the game and have been playing it a bunch as my permanent side game, I gave it a less than stellar review that I thought was fair of the game at the time I wrote the review. Of course, since then, many changes are coming (many of which I approve of) and I think Hi-Rez has a pretty good roadmap for their game in place.

However, one of my twitter followers recently pointed me to an editorial posted by Kyle Bennett, founder of HardOCP -- a website dedicated to hardcore gaming. Kyle's going for a full blown boycott against the indie company for one simple reason: they won't let him rock his multi-monitor setup because it could "give him an unfair advantage."

While Kyle's entitled to his opinion and dissatisfaction, I have two problems with his editorial. The first lies in a misconstruction of the facts and the second lies in the nature of his request.

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Anti-Aliased: Why play a game when I can pay someone to play it for me

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Anti-Aliased

Great news, everyone! I'm launching my own line of Sera (TM) Branded Merchandise! I was so happy about this new line that I just had to talk about it in Anti-Aliased this week. I'm sorry if you were expecting some hard hitting piece of satire that would flummox even the staunchest defender of gold buying -- we're gonna have to save that one for next week's piece.

Anyway, I'm sorry about getting off topic. Let's get back to the situation at hand -- the new merchandise. I'm proud to announce that in a short period of time, you too will be able to participate in a revolutionary new way to interact with entertainment media. My brand new Sera Shoppe (TM), a fine retail establishment that already sells the patented Sera Anti-Whine Earmuffs, will be selling you ways to save time while still enjoying your favorite media.

By purchasing pre-made packs of SeraPhoints (starting at the low price of 500 Phoints for 10 bucks) you too can get in on the ground floor of this brand new medium inspired by power leveling services and real money trade operations.

Interested? You should be! Follow me after the break and let me introduce you to my brand new services!

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Anti-Aliased: A Cryptic opinion

Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Champions Online, Anti-Aliased

So, wow, what a set the last week and a half has been. There seems to be a very strong theme going on in my inbox recently, and that's, without a doubt, Cryptic Studios. I've read unflattering comments about my integrity as a journalist, the usual statements of how this site is Cryptic's lapdog due to all of the Star Trek Online and Champions Online coverage, and, even more oddly, people want to know my opinion of Cryptic's recent actions -- specifically Star Trek Online and Vibora Bay.

Well, I was never one to shirk from the truth. I've been wanting to give my personal opinion on these events since Vibora Bay hit, so I might as well dedicate this column to my evaluation of Cryptic Studios. But, before we get to Cryptic, I have a few ground rules that I want to go over with you guys. Some facts that I'd like to set straight for, oh, I dunno, the fifth time.

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Anti-Aliased: Leadership tips from a former roleplaying raid officer

Culture, Tips and tricks, PvE, Opinion, Anti-Aliased

"Roleplaying" and "raid" both in the same sentence? Blasphemy! Yet, that was my position back in World of Warcraft, and I certainly roleplayed while participating in PvP and massive PvE (almost akin to raids) in The Matrix Online before its demise. Before all of that, I was a roleplaying guild leader in Final Fantasy XI and Phantasy Star Online, so I've been around guilds for a long, long time.

If there has been any constant throughout my long string of positions as guild leader, linkshell leader, faction leader, and raid officer it has been thus -- leadership is tough. Sure you can surround yourself with raid guides, memorize every battle perfectly, and be wearing the most epic of epic gear, but if you don't learn how to work with others then you're most likely doomed to fail.

Raiding and multi-man content means working as a team, and that means someone's got to step up to the plate to take the reins. Leading a group or raid isn't easy, but I can tell you that it's well, well worth it. To that end, if you're just starting out on the path of leadership or are looking for a few tips to help out your raiding group, I think I might have some advice for you guys.

(Editor's Note: Sorry about the glitch! Part 2 is now available!)

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Anti-Aliased: I've got nothing to hide

World of Warcraft, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Anti-Aliased

So, it's late night on Wednesday night, I just got done watching Top Gear, and I need something to write about. Lucky for me that Blizzard has given me the perfect topic -- MMO privacy. Thanks to a new development in their World of Warcraft Armory program, privacy advocates are up in arms and I've got a topic to discuss.

For all those of you who may be late to the game, Blizzard is adding RSS feeds to the Armory. Basically, the Armory will now report on the exact time you do an "Armory worthy" activity, such as boss kills, achievements, item pickups, and more. People can subscribe to your RSS feed, so then they know exactly when you do something in World of Warcraft.

This has, of course, sent privacy advocates into a tailspin of anger. There's no opt-out button for the Armory, so your playing style in World of Warcraft is going to be exposed whether you like it or not. The topic has even spawned a 59+ page thread on the European forums!

So what's my take on it? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here at Anti-Aliased, I've got nothing to hide.

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Anti-Aliased: One massive agenda

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Global Agenda, Anti-Aliased

So, I'll be honest, I had a completely different idea for a column this week. But reading over the comments on yesterday's launch trailer for Global Agenda got me thinking: Why is there so much ado about the nature of an MMO? Why are so many fixated on the 10 vs 10 nature of Global Agenda and not the bigger picture of what the game has to offer? Why do we scoff at the idea of 100 person instances when it was designed to give the player more flexibility?

Today, I want to play the devil's advocate, as I do in so many of my opinion columns. I want to take on the defense of Global Agenda as an MMO title, and I think I have enough evidence to prove that it's massive -- just not in the way you normally consider MMOs to be massive. And, personally, I think this is only good news for the industry at large.

If you guys wish to comment on this edition of Anti-Aliased, please comment of page 2 of the article, as always! Your comments are always well received!

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Anti-Aliased: What it's like to sit in the staff chair

Culture, Opinion, Massively Meta, Anti-Aliased

So I drove the Aion community up a wall again. I seem to do that a lot when I talk about the game. AionSource was a little miffed at the "disappointment" award the staff and readers gave them, and decided to rip into me. So, in an effort of good faith, I dropped by the flame thread and tried to lighten things up while explaining my position on the game and how it isn't all doom and gloom.

Well, after having 9 pages of people not reading what I was writing and electing to call me a nyerking nyerk, I bowed out with a new column topic on my mind: my job. If there was any common theme in all of the screaming, it was how I sucked at my job because I said Aion had a grind, I sucked at my job because I was only level 17 in Aion, everyone on that fansite could do a better job at my job than I could, and I was the reason mainstream reviews were going downhill. (Awesome.)

Amazingly enough, I too thought pretty much those exact same things before I got a job here. But writing here for two years has been one heck of an experience, and maybe today I can give you some insight to the things I see on the staff side of the fence.

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