Monthly Archives: November 2012

November in Review

The Site

Not much changed around here lately. Even the header image has been pretty static of late. I just haven’t come across an inspiring screen shot I guess.

I think my biggest site related activity has been updating tags and categories now and again. I often do that as I go back and look at older posts, in the never ending search for consistency.  But recently I have been updating some posts as part of a plan.

For example, about a year back, when I think I finally decided that the month in review post was going to be a regular thing… one must not be hasty… and created a category for it. However, that meant that the previous 50+ month in review posts were not properly categorized. So I have been going back and re-doing those slowly but surely. The main pain is that they, by design, link back all over the blog and so I end up with a bunch of ping-backs to myself that I then have to go back and delete. Blog world problems, I know.

I do not know if anybody ever uses tags or categories on the site, aside from me. But I use them quite a bit, so I will continue to try to maintain them. Anyway, I think I got them all, so now we can all bring up my month in review posts.  Go us.

Oh, and I hit the publish button rather than the save button two days early. I hate that.  You cannot undo that and it makes for a bit mess.  Ah well.  If you saw this early in RSS, lucky you.  Or unlucky you, depending on how you view these monthly posts.

One Year Ago

I looked back at the Star Wars Extended Universe novel Heir to Empire, which turned 20 years old. That might be my most coherent piece on the site.

In EVE Online, the upcoming Crucible expansion had a chance to remove the Incarna stink from the game. Oh, and ship trails were back. And Hulkageddon V was announced… about six months early it turns out.

I reviewed my 2011 MMO outlook. Rift appeared to be the unlikely winner, while DCUO had already gone F2P.

And, speaking of going F2P in under a year, I had my first peek at SWTOR in the beta. Pre-NDA drop, I used SWG to describe the game as nothing new. Then the NDA dropped and I bitched some more. I did not find the game fun, cancelled my pre-order, and went back to Rift.

And then there was EverQuest II going free to play on all servers, which made me wonder what else in the SOE line up might follow suit.

And then Vanguard started showing inexplicable signs of life.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Scars of Velious was complete and the Luclin expansion went live. Also, breaking the retro aspect, Fippy Darkpaw players got the same new hot bars that all EQ players got with the new expansion. They actually worked like hot bars in other games now.

In Rift, we made it to Meridian and then faced our first boss while learning the rules of their LFG tool. Oh, and the damn Yule rifts were up before Thanksgiving. I swear, it gets earlier every year.

We learned of the real money auction house in Diablo III. An auction house focus for the game? I’m sure that will work out great.

And also on the RMT front was the Guardian cub pet in WoW. I did a couple of price checks on those, but somebody should probably go back and see how prices look a year later.

Oh, and WoW had lost 2 million subscribers. But it was still insanely profitable.

Torchilght II was delayed because we had other things to play, right?

AOL shut down Wow.com. That doesn’t mean what you think.

I announced the winners of my Azeroth travel poster contest.

Google was pissing me off by changing up Google Reader. I am still annoyed by some of the features they axed, but at least they fixed the layout so you could reduce the huge amount of white (read: wasted) space in the new default layout.

And we said farewell to LEGO Universe.

Five Years Ago

I was going on about MMOs on a single server again, focusing on EVE Online and why its unique set of circumstances allows CCP to get away with everybody on one shard.

I was thinking about all that vendor trash that just disappears.

I was moaning about EverQuest and accessibility again. I need to get over that.

I hit level 60 for the first time in EverQuest II and was also claiming my four year veteran rewards.

I hit 10 million skill points in EVE and bought my first Drake. (I’m now past 27 million points and on my third Drake! [2008 comment, I now have nearly 90 million points and have owned many Drakes.])

My daughter and I were playing LEGO Star Wars: The Compelete Saga on the Wii.

And the instance group was finishing up Sunken Temple in a way that gave us a before and after snapshot of the WoW 2.3 patch.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  2. A SWTOR F2P First Impression
  3. The War Against Super Capitals at Q-VTWJ
  4. A Guild Wars 2 First Impression
  5. Complex Gaming Declares EVE Online Best PC Game of All Time
  6. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  7. Rambling About Motivation and What Makes a Good Story
  8. Punching Holes in British Tin
  9. SWTOR Update 1.5 – A New Hope
  10. Nineteen Years without Raising the Level Cap
  11. Woke Up this Morning, Got Yourself a Gun
  12. In the Hardware Doldrums

Search Terms of the Month

kobold candle meme
[I would dearly love it to be a meme]

wilhelm arcturus goons on a titan
[Hey, I have a screen shot of that!]

gambar macan putih animasi keren
[Indonesian… something about white tiger animations]

EVE Online

It has been a quiet month in EVE.  The war against Northern Coalition faded away.  I went on a few of the final ops, but nothing happened beyond Robin Williams going back to Neverland.  For the first time since I went to null sec, I have nothing on my kill board for the month, not even a structure.

NC fell back and now hold no null sec sovereignty.  The space in Tribute and The Vale of the Silent have been doled out to allies.  So it has been a month of training and deciding what to do next.  There may be a bright spot on the horizon though.  DBRB was tweeting about a new war, starting today!  We should know more about that soon.

EverQuest II

Autumnal nostalgia this year has come in the form of a desire to go back to EverQuest II.  And so I have been running through post-cataclysm having a good time.  But nostalgia runs are different from playing an MMO seriously, something I have a half-written post about.  Look for that next week I think.

Oh, and they launched an expansion or something, didn’t they?

Rift

I have been avoiding Rift a bit since the Storm Legion came out.  The instance group has been kind of spread out in levels between 42 and 50 for the last couple of weeks, so we have been working on that.  That explains the lack of posts on the subject, as one can only really say so much about instant adventures.

The other reason is that my other characters have been struggling to get their harvesting skills up to Storm Legion levels.  You need 290 to be able to harvest in the expansion, but in the old game harvesting tapers off dramatically around 260.  So I have spent an inordinate amount of time with just one character trying to get harvesting up.  And I have three more to go.  That has lead to avoidance and me running around in EQII instead of Rift.

World of Tanks

My flurry of activity here has tapered off a bit.  I still play a match or two a night.  I am happy in my StuG III.  I am working on training up its crew slowly but surely.  I accumulated enough experience to train for the JagPz IV, but then spent all my game cash on upgrades for my other German tank destroyers.  Binocular periscopes for all my commanders!  I have so far resisted the distraction of the British tank tree.  We shall see how long that last.

Coming Up

All sorts of “end of the year” crap, right? I will have to sum things up, review a couple of posts, make a list or two.  The usual stuff.

The instance group is all level 50 now, so we can start running instances together again.  Three more left in the old world, then there is Storm Legion.

I will probably have more to say about PlanetSide 2.  I meant to do a post already, but I really need screen shots, and screen shots do not seem to be working with my PlanetSide 2 install.  Screen shots seem to be a common issue out there, so I am in good company I guess.  In the mean time, I will just have to get out Fraps and get some pictures that way, because it is either get a picture that illustrates my point or spend six paragraphs describing what I mean in detail.  A picture may well be worth a thousands words, and with my writing, you might consider that a bargain.

Farewell to Paragon City

Tonight at midnight Pacific Standard Time, City of Heroes will be shut down.

Or sunsetted.

Or whatever it is they have chosen to call it.  But it will be gone all the same.  The heroes will be told to hang up their capes and move on with their lives.

CityofHeroes

CoH will join Tabula Rasa, Auto Assault, and Dungeon Runners, on the list of closed NCsoft MMORPGs.

The closure was announced back in August, which galvanized a chunk of the CoH player base.

SaveOurCity-450

Those players protested, created petitions, and questioned whether NCsoft was exploring any alternatives besides simply closing the game.  Even as time ran out there was hope of a Disney miracle.

But, at this point, it does not look like there will be any last minute reprieve.

The appointed hour approaches.

Among other things, CoH is another former subscription MMORPG that looked to boost its bottom line by going free to play.  However, we are now in an age where free to play is the norm.  Subscription only MMOs are now the rare breed. “Free” is no longer the inducement it once was.  And so, while reportedly still making money, CoH became a very small percentage of NCsoft sales, being folded into the “other” category for the last quarterly report.

I think if City of Heroes had been more core to the NCsoft corporate story, the way EverQuest is to SOE, we would have seen a lot more work on the part of the company to keep it around.  However, from NCsofts point of view, CoH might seem like Cryptic’s game.  A game that NCsoft published, then bought out, which was never a huge source of revenue for them, and was always something of an outsider.

Heroes are ever loners.

It is Lineage that is to NCsoft what EverQuest is to SOE.  It is core to their culture, popular in their home country, and still bringing in a lot of money after 14 years.  City of Heroes is just something in the “other” category, soon to be struck from the list altogether.

And so it goes.

How soon until there is a private server?  Somebody must be working on that.

Pong is 40 Today

What was probably the first successful arcade video game, Pong, turned 40 today, if Wikipedia is to be believed.

I am old enough to remember when this seemed incredibly new and different.  And fun.  This game was fun.  I remember begging for quarters to play it at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Jose when I was a kid. (I cannot believe that place is still there.)

Quarters to play this!

That is it…

This is the game that made Atari a household name.  There were numerous knock-offs, and every home video game console had to have a version of Pong for the next decade.  I think the NES might have been the first without a “two paddles and a ball” game by default.

The first video game console in our home was the Atari Super Pong version, which had FOUR… count them… FOUR variations on the game.

I cannot even remember what those four were.  One was a solo version that was essentially you versus a wall, though you could turn the other controller to make a gap in the wall.  Wozniak and Jobs would come along in a bit and turn that idea into Breakout, the prototypical “lone nerd in a losing battle” video game.

And the Atari 2600 came with paddle controllers primarily so you could play Pong, though I recall it being useful the Casino card games as well. (Which, if nothing else, taught me that in Blackjack, Vegas Rules suck.  Unless, of course, you are the house.)

So remember Pong today, for it is the mother of all “how the hell was this ever fun?” video games.

The Raptr Catalyst

Raptr, the gaming social network and tracking software thing, and competitor to Xfire, has been working on their Raptr rewards again.

Last time around I got some cosmetic goodies in Rift for the Storm Legion launch.

This time they have been working with CCP for the launch of the Retribution expansion.

So if you use Raptr, play EVE Online, and rank at least “experienced” in the number of hours tracked in EVE, you should check you Raptr Rewards, as you might have an Inner Zone Shipping Catalyst waiting for you.

(Click to make that bigger, like just about any picture on the blog.)

Raptr Reward for Retribution

You have to claim it, get a code, go enter a code, log into your account, and so on and so forth.  And it didn’t even work for me the first time I tried.  I suspect it failed because I used Raptr’s browser.  In a real browser it worked however, and after that you can claim it like you do any other gift item from CCP, via the little gift box icon on the character select screen.

So I claimed it, logged in, and assembled it right away, then took it for a quick spin.

Gift Catalyst in Flight

I named the ship “Killmail Bait” because I am sure somebody will want to shoot it just to have a new and different ship on their destroyed list.

I did stay close to the station

The ship itself isn’t really anything special.  It looks to be a re-skinned version of the all-too-famous suicide gank destroyer, the Gallente Catalyst.

Stock Catalyst Footage

Other than that, it appears to be the same.  Same number of slots at high, medium, and low.

Inner Zone Shipping Catalyst Fit Screen

It might actually have a bit more heft on the power grid and CPU fronts, if the Catalyst article on EVElopedia is up to date.  It also seems to be beefier on defense.

Ironically though, for a something called a “shipping Catalyst,” it does not hold any more cargo than the standard model, with the same 400 m3 of storage.  Maybe they meant “slightly more secure” shipping.

So I have a somewhat beefier Gallente destroyer in my ever growing fleet of ships.

I am not sure what I am going to do with it.  I could take it out to null sec and keep it around for comedy ops, or to just be the odd ball ship on kill mails.

I considered opting-in on the Goonswarm Secret Santa program so I could give it away, though in reading the “Dear Santa…” thread, I don’t see a lot of people asking for a slightly better Catalyst.

I could always have another screen shot contest with this ship as one of the prizes.

Or I could let it sit in my hanger like several other one-time ships I have gotten in the past.

What would you do with the Inner Zone Shipping Catalyst?

EverQuest Forecast – Today Rain of Fear, Tomorrow Cloudy?

Back in April of 2007, when the EverQuest team announced that they were going to stop doing two expansions a year in favor of doing a single, higher quality expansion annually, there was some discussion about how this came about and what it meant.

I wrote a post about that at the time, in which I asked the question:

How many more EverQuest expansions?

At the time… and this was six years ago… I gave what I thought was a high and a low estimate.

At the low end, I thought maybe the 10th year anniversary in 2009 would be a good time to hang things up.  Ten years was a good run.

At the high end I said that five more expansions would likely enough be it.  I mean, by November 2011, who would be left playing EverQuest?

So I get to officially declare I was wrong, as today sees a sixth expansion since I wrote that post, and the 19th EverQuest expansion overall.  Today is the launch day for the Rain of Fear expansion.

Fear! It Rains Down On Us!

I still don’t like the name.  It is a little too literal for me, with shards from the plane of fear raining down or some such.  I thought Reign of Fear might be better, but I didn’t get a vote.

Then again the EverQuest site seems to be a bit behind the curve still.  This is not an unheard of event there.

Last year’s expansion NOW LIVE!

Life in the web site update lane.  Things fall out of date so fast.

Anyway, today is supposed to be the launch day.  And on a Wednesday no less.  It is like Bizarro world.  The new expansion commeth.

Of course, since I wrote that post I referenced above, in addition to six more expansions, EverQuest has also gone free to play as well as launching another pair of nostalgia farming progression servers.  The game has been brought up to date (off-line broker, hotbars that work like we now expect hot bars to work, a camera that goes where you point it), some older zones have been revamped (which can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about nostalgia), and new features have been piled on (housing was a big one).

EverQuest has remained a going concern and looks like it will continue to do so for some time.

Still, nothing lasts forever.

So I will tempt the fates again and ask, how many more EverQuest expansions?

Two more gets us to the 15th anniversary, five more to 2017, and seven more to the 20th anniversary of the game.

I am tempted to say two more, because once you are free to play, I start to wonder if expansions really mean anything.  Should you be selling a box… even if it is only a virtual box at this point… every year, or should you be doling out content in smaller doses to be purchased ala carte by your users?  The Hero’s Forge thing comes to mind.

Hero’s Forge or Hero Forgery?

Of course, SOE has complicated this by screwing up their virtual currency with heavy discounts to the point that they felt they could no longer sell subscription time or expansions for Station Cash.  They want straight up money for that sort of thing.

At the other end, I am sure that EverQuest will still be around in 2019 for its 20th birthday in some form or another.  But will they still be selling expansions at that point?  What will have changed in seven years?  Will it be all nostalgia servers all the time by then?

So I am going to go with four more expansions.  Four more should overlap the last one with EverQuest Next, and once you have three EverQuest versions going, you have to stop and focus, don’t you?

Or maybe not.  We shall see.

How many more EverQuest expansions do you think we will see?

Additional ironic note: The links in my 2007 post are dead. Those sites are down, EQ lives on.

Addendum: There it is.

There is even a trailer.

Second Life Among Technology Fails?

Over at The Register, they have a post up about Ten Technology Fails.

Those sorts of articles are always good fun.  They get to poke at some obvious targets, like Microsoft BOB.

Forever a punchline…

Enough fun cannot be made of that.

There are some others I am very familiar with, such as push technologies like PointCast.  I had friends who went to work for them, and my own company worked on a hardware device that let you use push services via a pager service. (Remember getting headlines on your pager? Yeah, me neither.)

Named “News Catcher,” it was eventually dubbed “Dust Catcher” because 99% of the units produced ended up collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere.  They may very well still be there today.

News Catcher

That was just recent enough in internet years for Google to find a picture of it for me, though it is a .gif image.  Makes me want to write a post about Baudman next.

Anyway, good stuff that.

Then there are some entries that might be considered controversial.  Did PDAs, for example, fail to meet the vision set out for them, or has all of that just been slurped up into smart phones?

And then on page four of the article, Second Life makes a showing.

Certainly, Second Life has provided its fair share of… entertainment… to people outside of the game.  Scott Jennings has a deep set of posts on the subject, complete with lively comment threads, which attracted some attention.  They are worth reading if the subject interests you. (As are these, since why not have TWO categories for Second Life posts.)

Likewise, Second Life certainly never lived up to the Snow Crash-like metaverse vision of the future.  Companies like Reuters who bought virtual space and embedded offices in that world have mostly packed up and gone home by now.  The visions of a virtual future where people can meet, work, make a living, or even get rich have faded somewhat.

And there has certainly been no shortage of criticism of Second Life itself, spawning a page on Wikipedia devoted to just that.

But has it really been a failure?

The article itself says that items on the list  represent “Tech that might have revolutionised your life but you have now completely forgotten.”

I have spent very little time in Second Life.  It did not really interest me, being too much social sandbox to my view.  But I certainly remember it.

But did it fail?  Has it been effectively forgotten?

And did The MMO Report stop doing their “WTF!?! Second Life” segment before they faded as well?

Half Price Pandas

Now, you cannot take every sale, promotion, or other offer as a sign of something wrong.  Coke goes on sale at the supermarket practically every third week where I live, and I don’t start wondering if they, or the store, are in trouble because of it.

Still, when a WoW expansion goes half price just two months after launch, it is something that makes you go “hmmm…”

I recall, back in the day, Burning Crusade going for full price until just before Wrath of the Lich King.

Reduced in price, not in size…

Yes, it is the high holiday shopping season, a time for deals.  And this offer appears to be directed to former subscribers. (Offer ends November 29th)  And, of course, the market has changed since 2006 and Burning Crusade.

Then again, Amazon.com had the Pandaria Collector’s edition for half price as well, and that is generally a sign of excess stock.

I still have no burning desire to go back to Azeroth.  Well, post-Cataclysm Azeroth in any case.  But I am sure this will get a few more people back in the game.