Tobold's Blog
Friday, August 20, 2010
 
Clone Wars Adventures

Like Tipa I have been trying out Clone Wars Adventures, SOE's latest game. In many ways CWA resembles Free Realms, being a game designed mostly for children, full of mini-games, and running from a browser. But somewhere between Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures lies a hard to define border of whether a game is still a MMORPG. In my opinion Clone Wars Adventures is not a MMORPG any more.

While Free Realms still has a persistent world, Clone Wars Adventures just has a lobby. You can walk around in that lobby, or in your house, but you can't even turn the camera. While you can dress your character up, there is no sense of character development. No world, no character development, that isn't a MMORPG for me.

I played a few mini-games of varying quality. The blaster training was incredibly boring. The starfighter mini-game made me smile insofar as it is exactly the same game that Bioware will use for space combat in Star Wars: The Old Republic. There was a "daily" wheel of fortune which consisted of spinning a wheel once and getting some virtual currency based on the result, which wasn't exciting at all. So I gave up for the evening and decided to try the other games another day.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with mini-game collections for children playable in a browser on a low-end PC. But I can't see myself spending any money on this. Parents might want to be aware that the SOE marketing people cleverly named the option to subscribe to Clone Wars Adventures "becoming a Jedi", in the obvious hope that children would want to "become a Jedi", even if the actual entertainment value in bang for bucks of such a subscription is doubtful. Too bad all the clever people at SOE work in marketing, and not in game design.
Comments:
I'm just having a hard time getting the game to work in any browser (chrome, explorer, firefox), so no testing on my part. Although it does not sound like im missing out on too much
 
Why do you even test 'games mostly for children'. Were it not for my curiosity I'd stop reading there :)

But I also don't read/watch Harry Potter, so maybe I am just unable to feel the same fascination for childish things like other people.
 
Nils,

Why do you believe that any game mostly for children must automatically be unplayable by adults? There are some excellent games out there, e.g. Wizard101, which are most definitely targeted towards children, but provide great entertainment for adults as well.

May I recommend reading this article from The Brainy Gamer in which he argues that children are the toughest possible audience, and if your game fails to interest children it probably isn't very good in the first place.
 
This is not a believe, Tobold.
It is a matter of style and preference.

Games for children usually focus on pink, cute, light, funny, inconsistent, illogical (, ...)things.

The psychological tricks applied are even less interesting than the ones that are supposed to make adults spend money.
Manager:
"Children like to collect ANY stuff. Let's add lots of stuff to collect."

Moreover heros in stories for children are always afraid, cannot think rationally, have stupid goals, make stupid mistakes. Their opponents are even more stupid and always fit a perfect steroetype.

I guess it is a matter of taste. But an immersive MMO with a deep, credible story that evolves in a logical, yet unpredictable way is just not something stories for children offer in my experience.

Finally: I don't want to play together with children. They are hard to play together with due to their often very limited IQ.
 
@Nils

Many people would say that all video games are for children.

"Games for children usually focus on pink, cute, light, funny, inconsistent, illogical"

Have you played WoW? ;)

But seriously, taken within the context of Tobold's search for the perfect MMO (see previous post), it makes sense that all avenues are explored.
 
Nils comments make me wonder if he ever was a child, let alone ever met one...

I could, off the top of my head, give you a list of 50 books marketed for children any one of which has more intellectual rigor, character development and philosophical range than any MMO I've played.

That said, Clone Wars doesn't look very good.
 
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I was a child once. I am pretty sure. :)

Please consider that everything I wrote in the last comment was directed at playing MMORPGs that were made for children and are played by children.

I agree, that WoW's story and character development are abysmal. Why do I play it? The very fundamental gameplay is fun and you can find challenging things to do if you want. It is a nice distraction, while I wait for an MMO.
I think it is an open secret that I very much hope for better future MMOs than WoW.


But seriously, taken within the context of Tobold's search for the perfect MMO (see previous post), it makes sense that all avenues are explored.


Agreed. Especially since most MMORPGs are made for children.


Many people would say that all video games are for children.

They are terribly wrong; I'd even call them stupid.


I could, off the top of my head, give you a list of 50 books marketed for children any one of which has more intellectual rigor, character development and philosophical range than any MMO I've played.

50? Not bad. I'm tempted to call you out on that one :)
But even if you could do that: These are books. We are talking about MMOs. Games that make money by getting children into pressing their parents to pay money.


Unfortunately even very easy methods work here, as you will find out if you pass the chocolate with your kid on the way out of the supermarket.

Books work differently: They try to appeal to the parents that then think that their kid is going to become really bright and successfull if he/she reads that book. They don't try to make the kid spend the parents money.
 
Moreover heros in stories for children are always afraid, cannot think rationally, have stupid goals, make stupid mistakes. Their opponents are even more stupid and always fit a perfect steroetype.

You just described the movie "Pulp Fiction", plus hundreds of other films which definitely haven't been made for children.

Actually a story about somebody totally sure of himself, completely rational, with perfect goals and making no mistake in pursuing those goals would make for a lousy story for any age category.
 
You just described the movie "Pulp Fiction", plus hundreds of other films which definitely haven't been made for children

I am wary to start a discussion in this threat. I'd still to say: Unfortunately you are very right here. I just don't think it is a valid point.


Actually a story about somebody totally sure of himself, completely rational, with perfect goals and making no mistake in pursuing those goals would make for a lousy story for any age category

I disagree, but I know that 99% of all movie makers, story writers and certainly game designers think that way.

But there are a few good examples. For example Michael Straczynski who created Babylon 5.

From Wikipedia:
Straczynski set five goals for Babylon 5. He said that the show "would have to be good science fiction" as well as good television ("rarely are [science fiction] shows both good [science fiction] and good TV; there're [sic] generally one or the other" [emphasis in original]); it would have to do for science fiction television what Hill Street Blues had done for police dramas, by taking an adult approach to the subject; it would have to be reasonably budgeted, and "it would have to look unlike anything ever seen before on TV, presenting individual stories against a much broader canvas." He further stressed that his approach was "to take [science fiction] seriously, to build characters for grown-ups, to incorporate real science but keep the characters at the center of the story."[5] Some of the staples of television science fiction were also out of the question (the show would have "no kids or cute robots"[6]). The idea was not to present a perfect utopian future, but one with greed and homelessness; one where characters grow, develop, live, and die; one where not everything was the same at the end of the day's events. Citing Mark Twain as an influence, Straczynski said he wanted the show to be a mirror to the real world and to covertly teach.[3]

And that series was even successful. Perhaps because Straczynski didn't include as many fist fights as the produces wanted.
 
I disagree, but I know that 99% of all movie makers, story writers and certainly game designers think that way.

If you are aware that you disagree with the opinion of 99% of people creating content, then why would you write a comment like "Why do you even test 'games mostly for children'. Were it not for my curiosity I'd stop reading there."

What you are effectively saying is: "Don't write about this, it only interests the other 99% of people out there, but not me." Why should I care what only a small minority thinks, why would I not try to write things on my blog that interests the 99% majority of people?

You have the right to be strange, but you don't have the right to change mainstream media into strange.
 

If you are aware that you disagree with the opinion of 99% of people creating content, then why would you write a comment like "Why do you even test 'games mostly for children'. Were it not for my curiosity I'd stop reading there."


99% of the creators of content. Not of the consumers of content! Most consumers enjoy a good story. They just have become used to the bad ones as well over the years.


What you are effectively saying is: "Don't write about this, it only interests the other 99% of people out there, but not me." Why should I care what only a small minority thinks, why would I not try to write things on my blog that interests the 99% majority of people?

I'd never tell you what to write about. I just commented on what you wrote and stated my personal opinion that childish stuff is for kids and not for me.
I even commented later that I agree that in opening your mid it is good to look into all kinds of MMOs.


You have the right to be strange, but you don't have the right to change mainstream media into strange.

Which is a real pity :)

Seriously:
I know that you agree with me that 80% of everything is crap. That also applies to TV shows etc. It's not like we disagreed at this point.

It is hard to make a good and engaging story.

It is easy to create tension by creating an overpowered opponent (e.g. Lich King) and then let him act so extremely stupidly that it is beyond words.

That is why I like sandbox worlds. In a sandbox everybody acts credible. By definition. Occasionally he may act against his own interests, but if he does, it wasn't obvious to him at this point. Something you cannot say about the Lich King (or most stories ever written).
 
"but if he does, it wasn't obvious to him at this point. Something you cannot say about the Lich King (or most stories ever written)."
So humans can make mistakes, but story characters never make mistakes, they are just badly written?
 
@Klepsacovic:

The difference is the magnitude of the stupidity. Some mistakes are credible others are not. Let's have a look at Mr. Lich King story.

Alliance and Horde suddenly send ships full of soldiers on your continent. You don't do anything.

Although you have basically unlimited numbers of creatures, you hold back and don't do anything exept for a few battles.

Alliance and Horde set up base camps all over the continent. But before they go out to kill you they first set up some colloseum right in front of your door to fight against each other. (!!?)

Instead of crushing them you teleport to the colloseum alone, tell them how stupid they are and teleport out again to let them fight against Anub'arak.
Anub'arak is slain .. what a setback!

100m in front of your ICCitadell they make camp and ride around on horses. You have no problem with that.

They teleport a city full of mages just east of your Citadell. You don't do anything against that city.

Eventually they walk through your front door. You let them kill several of your most powerful servants. One at a time.

Finally they appear in front of you. You tell them how stupid they are. You tell them that they did exactly as you wanted them to do and would now become your new servants. Yeah! Very credible. What a great masterplan you had!

Unfortunatel some paladin breaks free of your ice prison and destroys your all-powerful sword with the help of 'light'.

You are defeated.


This was so bad that even Blizzard thought that they need some explanation. So they decided that "There must always be a Lich King."

The Lich King is actually the good guy who holds the undead back!

Agreed. That explains everything. First you create an all-powerful being. Big tension. Just the second he is defeated you explain that that guy actually never wanted to win in the first place and now needs to be replaced.

After there is a new Lich King, Alliance and Horde just leave the continent. Everything is ok again .. except for the fact that there are still a hell of a lot of undead and some new Lich King that is at this point unpredictable.

Consider a human player had played the Lich King. Would he have acted the same way? Would he have been defeated the same way ?
 
In defense of The Lich King, he has successfully eliminated whole armies of heroes. Repeatedly. Some were AFK, others just forget to move out of the fire.

In fact, if you take the average party of heroes to be the "Azerothean reality", most heroes never defeated the Lich King at his most powerful (heroic).

Finally, you're disappointed that a posessed madman behaves irrationally?
 

Finally, you're disappointed that a posessed madman behaves irrationally?


Yes. I mean: That explanation can explain everything.

The Lich King visits Dalaran at night naked ? Sure - he's mad. Good story? No.

Credibility and consistency are necessary for a good story. But not every credible/consistent story is good (obviously).

Besides: Just started to play Starcraft 2. .. Nice gameplay. But the story up to the second mission .. .. *choking*.
 
Arthas/Lich King made the mistake he'd made when he took up Frostmourne: he underestimated the power of the Light. First he did not accept it as sufficient to beat the Scourge (hence taken up a cursed blade), then he underestimated the Light in Tirion.

Something I realized was that while the Crusade was building the Tournament to find champions for the Light, the Lich King essentially uses Icecrown for the same process in the other direction. He has enough undead nobodies; now he wants someone more powerful, and that means us heroes.

Blizzard wasn't implying that the Lich King is a good being, but instead that something was holding back Arthas, and therefore the Scourge, so there must be something to continue to do that. They aren't claiming that "he never wanted to win in the first place" either.
 
Arthas/Lich King made the mistake he'd made when he took up Frostmourne: he underestimated the power of the Light. First he did not accept it as sufficient to beat the Scourge (hence taken up a cursed blade), then he underestimated the Light in Tirion.

That could have been the central theme, yes.

Something I realized was that while the Crusade was building the Tournament to find champions for the Light, the Lich King essentially uses Icecrown for the same process in the other direction. He has enough undead nobodies; now he wants someone more powerful, and that means us heroes.

Even better. The Lich King has endless numbers of minions, but wants to sacrifice his most powerful ones to resurrect YOU and your allies!

Blizzard wasn't implying that the Lich King is a good being, but instead that something was holding back Arthas, and therefore the Scourge, so there must be something to continue to do that. They aren't claiming that "he never wanted to win in the first place" either.

They were not only implying, but saying that they need the Lich King to hold back the endless hordes of undead.

This is important, because without this bit of information you never understand, why the Lich King didn't just send his endless numbers of minions to attack Dalaran and the various camps.


Now. I agree that we could interpret the story in a way that would make it seem ok.

Here comes my biggest complain with Blizzard:
They are unable to tell a story; even if it is good at its core.

For example the entire Warcraft story is quite good. But it is told bad in-game, even for those who are interested.

The evil masterplan of the Lich King to gain access to the souls of the most powerful champions of light was a central point. It explained why he didn't have all his minions attack our camps!

It was a turning point of the story.

It has to be presented in such a way. Instead, the game wastes exactly on line of the Lich King on that turning point.

Also looking at Star Craft 2, I have to say: Blizzard might even be able to imagine good stories, but they are unable to tell them well.

Bioware, on the other hand, has really bad stories, not only uncredible, but also uncreative stories. But they present them in a way that I take a free day just to play Mass Effect 1/2 through.

Example:
When Tirion shatters his ice block it appears like a sudden idea, not like an epic (afraid to use this world in context of WoW) act.

If during the fight or the folloowing cut scenes we would have repeatedly seen Tirions face and eyes trying to break free, it could have been so(!) much better.

If you watched Babylon 5:
When the Narn breaks his chains in front of the Emperor, you feel a chill in the spine. It is orchestrated like the central turning point it is and until the moment it really happened you haven't been certain that he's gonna make it.

Tirion is joke compared to that. Sadly.
 
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Kind of irrelevant, but the reason Dalaran is in Crystalsong - is when the Lich King attempted to send an army through it, the Forest itself shattered (literally) the entire undead force within the region.

"When the Lich King arrived in Northrend, he immediately sensed the power of the forest. He dispatched several of his mightiest servants to secure the region for his use. The golems destroyed them, and the green dragons eliminated the servants who approached the Great Tree. The Lich King tried again, this time sending a small army into Crystalsong, and this time the forest itself took action. As the monstrosities approached, the forest's song grew louder, shaking every spire, and the creatures burst like shattered glass. The Lich King never made a third attempt"

But yeah, carry on.
 
Very interesting, Xay. But it doesn't really explain, why the Lich King doesn't attack Dalaran, does it? It is not like Dalaran were on the ground. He would need to use flying minions to get there.

Alternatively he could have used one of his own flying 'stations'. That might have been fun.
 
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I'm 29 and I have a daughter in the first grade who just started playing The Clone Wars. I wrote a long reply, but it turned into a blogish post.


http://spritesarefun.blogspot.com/2010/08/clone-wars-parent-perspective.html
 
I assume the Lich King probably sent Frost Wyrms before, the forest probably didnt like them either :P.
 
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