5:25pm Saturday, January 2nd

Taking a short break from the game to toss in some random observations. Part of this experience includes a large coop via Twitter. Interestingly enough, the sort of helpful advice and friendly conversation we usually see in MMOs is present through this avenue of communication. It almost feels like a guild relationship, in a way. Does this hint at something poignant about the way we like to play games cooperatively? I think so, but it's really hard to say from just this small experience. I do know that the game has become much more enjoyable because of this shared gaming, even on the second time through.

However, let's not discount the fact that 12 is largely a singleplayer venture that's been designed to tug at your RPG needs with fancy License Boards, storylines, voice acting and quasi-real time battles. I'll get more into the meaty mechanic thoughts tomorrow, but for now let's just say there have been a few slightly eureka moments while playing this game with 14, online play and MMOs in mind.

10:00pm Sunday, January 3rd

My lengthy time with 12 these past two days has reminded me just how much the game really is basically an offline MMO. In many ways, I have to wonder if the breadth of story elements seen here are what BioWare is shooting for in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Lately, I've become a proponent of smart game design iteration. It just makes sense, because doing it right will result in a system that already works well and becomes even more fun for the players. In fact, a lot of what I've been seeing these last two days has felt like similar -- yet cleverly different -- design concepts from 11.

Also, the Hunts -- sidequests you find in taverns that ask you to kill roaming monsters -- are a pretty fun way to add more heft to 14 or any game really. One thing I noticed people doing a lot (through Twitter, of course) was bee lining for hunts. And why not? You get to battle all kinds of interesting beasties and the rewards are pretty great, too. Now, add in a crafting component to these and they'd be a pretty amazing addition to any MMO.

Likewise, I noticed several concepts from 11 that were present in 12. The chaining system in 11 is different than the one in 12, but the basic idea remains the same: it's worthwhile to get a good stream of mobs going if you're looking to level efficiently. In 12, you actually get more of a bonus for doing this and I hope that we get to see something similar in 14 as well. It adds a little spice to lengthy grinding, which is almost never a bad thing.

It really is a testament to how fun 11 was, that 12 is so very similar. I'm fairly certain the basic character models are shared between the two games, even. Once we know more about 14, I may have to take a look back at 12 and 11 once more to see what similarities exist. Will the "level-less" system in 14 take inspiration from the License Board system in 12? That seems like a possibility and I wouldn't mind it in the slightest.

My general feeling is that this venture was a success. This game feels like it almost had an online component, if it weren't on the PS2, of course. I wonder if the team behind White Knight Chronicles got their idea from 12, or if at the very least there was some kind of gossamer thread connecting the two. Regardless, I'm glad I did this, otherwise I may have never noticed how very much MMOs have influenced this game. I can only hope this is a two way street, but we'll just have to wait and see.

CCP Asia discusses China operations, DUST 514