Question of the Day – What Will Lord British’s Sith Name Be? September 28, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Humor, Quote of the Day.
Tags: Darth Pincus, It's Friday man, Lord British, Zynga
So here we are. As I posted yesterday, Lord British acknowledges that Zynga is evil, or at least really annoying. And since they are annoying not only purpose, but to their own material benefit, how does one distinguish that from evil? (See Tobold definition.) And what is the Lord British response?
Knowing the truth, and even acknowledging it publicly and repeatedly, Lord British has still partnered with, and has been accepted as the apprentice of, a card carrying Sith Lord, the man who has admitted in the past that the ends clearly justify the mediocre means (the ends being increasing his wealth and power, as opposed to, say, making good games), Darth Pincus.
(Not to be confused with Greg Pincus, though the methods may sound similar.)
In the words of Lord British, when reflecting on the evil of Zynga:
Yet, it’s still really important to learn those lessons, and there’s no better place to learn them then by having Zynga as a partner.
As a rabid consumer of crap science fiction and fantasy in my youth… and my relative youth… and, well, into middle age frankly… I know that this can only end one way.
So the immediate next question for me is, what name will Darth Pincus bestow upon his new apprentice?
And here is where things get a bit fuzzy, as the whole Sith naming structure is pretty opaque to me. Do they have some deeper meaning? Are they some sort of subtle mockery of their past, pre-Sith life? Are they just supposed to sound badass so as to strike fear into their enemies and make it easier for movie goers to figure out who the bad guy really is when they are off screen?
So I can only guess how Lord British will be restyled once his transformation has begun.
What do you think it will be. Who will rise up to cast down Darth Pincus and redeem our misguided hero? And will George Lucas get involved somehow and screw the whole thing up?
This whole thing needs a web comic or something. And a better version of Darth Vader’s head pasted on Lord British. I was short on time before work this morning.
Looking Back at 2011 – Highs and Lows December 30, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Casual Games, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Need for Speed World, Rift, Sony Online Entertainment, Vanguard SOH, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
Tags: 2011, Steam
Last week I looked forward to figure out where I might be headed online game-wise in the new year. That list was filled with a lot of not-quite-MMOs.
Now it is time to look back at what came to pass in 2011, or at least what came to pass from my vantage point in this little corner of the gaming world. So, as I did last year, I present you with a lot of bullet points in no particular order.
- LOTRO is still there, still has wonderful Middle-earth charm, still has some of the best role-play tools available in any MMORPG.
- Their games survived and thrived post free-to-play.
- They got a nice new chunk of Middle-earth on the map with Rise of Isengard.
- I made it to freakin’ Moria at last!!11 one one one
- Their stuff still doesn’t feel as polished as WoW or Rift, which is bad in a still-growing field of competitors.
- Their character models, awkward at launch, are not aging well at all.
- I am still in Moria and have no plan to buckle down and get to Mirkwood, much less Isengard.
- They shipped their last new game when?
Sony Online Entertainment
- I say this every year, but EQ still lives! 12 years in and still going!
- Time locked progression servers brought back a healthy slice of that MMO nostalgia goodness!
- I got to partake in that goodness with Potshot for a while… and it was damn good!
- EQ got a new expansion with things like parcel delivery through the mail, more zones, five new levels, and hotbars that look like they are now from this century.
- EQII still does a ton of things better than other games, like housing interiors.
- SOE reconciled the Live/Extended split so there is, again, but one
- EQII got a new expansion and actually added a new class, beastlords, to the game after seven years.
- Star Wars Galaxies goes out with dignity and some fond memories.
- Planetside 2 announced!
- Vanguard is actually getting some attention!
- That whole PSN/SOE hacking thing. It killed our momentum on Fippy Darkpaw and made SOE look bad in general.
- The nostalgia marketing effort around the EQ progression servers started weak and then totally disappeared once they went live. A 12 year old game has a big nostalgia card to play, but SOE chose to pretty much ignore it the day after the Time Locked Progression servers were launched.
- The behavior of some players on the TLP servers reminded us all why we went to instanced dungeons in the first place, plus a lot of other old arguments sprang up anew on the forums. Too much nostalgia.
- Hey EQ team, haven’t items through the mail been on every MMO since 2004? What took you so long?
- EQII still pisses me off with a myriad of stupid little things, like why is “auto loot” when solo and “auto greed” when in a group the same setting. I want to do one but not another. The game has more settings than any MMO I have ever played, yet felt the need to combine these two?
- EQII pissed off members of the instance group and pretty much closed the door on us ever going back there again.
- SOE remains amazingly unprepared to announce things. The whole merger of EQII Live and Extended brought up a couple dozen questions, the immediate answers to which were, “Uh… we need to think about that.”
- I still cannot get past level 60 or so in EQII before becoming bored.
- There were layoffs and the death of The Agency.
- Who decided that a double station cash event was a great idea three days after a triple station cash event?
- Planetside 2? Was the original popular enough to spawn a sequel?
- Star Wars Galaxies… Lucas pulls the plug, leaves SOE to clean up the mess.
- The EVE Online CSM actually does some good, gets management to focus on EVE fundamentals.
- CCP management actually turns things around for the next EVE expansion.
- Crucible moves the game forward by fixing what we already had.
- Oh, hey, I am in null sec! Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
- Dust 514 looks like it might become real giving CCP… two games.
- Arrogance, blindness, and Incarna nearly lead the company off a cliff.
- Over-extension of resources meant layoffs and the long-term postponement of a World of Darkness based MMO.
- EVE is back on the right course… but there are still times when the game is dull. I had to buy Peggle to play while sitting and watching local.
- Dust 514 makes sense I guess… CCP clearly has to focus… but with their customer base all on the PC, was going to a console game really the right move?
- WoW still has more players than any other subscription MMO you play… not that there are many of those left.
- Still immensely profitable.
- Has plans for pandas. My daughter is all over that.
- Oh, and they shipped Star Craft II in the last decade… and are talking about Diablo III and some new game.
- WoW is down 2 million players since this time last year.
- Cataclysm malaise and the killing of game nostalgia by redoing the world we started with. Can they ever do a WoW progression server now?
- The slow response time of Blizzard, which worked out fine when things were going good, is starting to work against them.
- Pandas? That was the big news in 2011 from Blizzard?
- Did they ship a freakin’ thing in 2011? Does Blizzard and its huge profit margin exist simply to keep Activision from losing money every quarter where they do NOT ship a version of Call of Duty?
- Rift actually turned out to be well executed. It is like somebody learned from the last dozen years of MMO foibles.
- Comfortable and polished enough to pick up and hold on to some defectors from WoW.
- Public quests… rifts and invasions… done in the way that Warhammer Online should have.
- Turned out to be a good place for the instance group to call home for now.
- It is, really, just another fantasy MMORPG in the WoW model. If it had shipped against Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King I am not sure it would have been as successful.
- Nothing in Trion’s next acts has me interested.
- I am beginning to reconcile myself with Steam. I am still not fully on board, but I see the utility of the system as a platform to distribute games.
- Wow, they put a lot of games on sale for real cheap over the summer and this winter.
- Steam achievements are… something I guess.
- The internet went down for a couple hours last week and guess what I couldn’t do? Play any of my games on Steam! And, of course, Steam is where most of the single player games I would want to play when the internet goes down are. This is the part I cannot reconcile.
- Just because a game is marked down from $29.99 to $3.74 does not mean I will like it. I have a lot of very inexpensive games that I do not like now that I simply wouldn’t have purchased at all were it not for a Steam sale. Victory for the developer and Steam there, not for me. Steam now represents the greatest collection of games I do not play on my current PC.
- Why in the hell did I buy the entire Pop-Cap catalog? I know it was marked down 84%, but I really only wanted Peggle. Damn you Steam! And damn me for violating the “never buy anything online after dark” rule.
- How often does Team Fortress 2 get updates? Steam was updating it so frequently I had to uninstall it.
Free to Play Movement
- Lots of free to play games out there to sample, like World of Tanks, League of Legends, and Need for Speed World, and a lot more are promised.
- Older games are getting a new breath of life via an influx of new players via this model. It seemed to do wonders for EverQuest II.
- Facebook… there were sure a lot of new games there.
- Lord British is now the self-designated champion of light platforms and free to play.
- To one degree or another, the current consensus on the business model seems to be that a company must bestow some sort of advantage on or remove some annoyance from players who pay. It is accelerated experience and golden bullets that support most of the games I see, with the selling of actual content far behind in the pack. And the idea of supporting a game entirely based on cosmetic items sales appears to be a myth on par with Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster.
- The games that I play that converted to free to play were the ones I played when they were subscription based. Time is still the biggest tax on my ability to play games.
- That a game is free to play does not make it fun to play. A business model can ruin fun, but it can rarely create fun.
- Is there any game idea that has not yet been screwed up in attempting to bring it to Facebook?
- Lord British is now the self-designated champion of light platforms and free to play
Players, Blogs, and Community
- Players, like those in EVE Online, show that a group with limited, rational objectives can make their voices heard and see their demands met. #Occupy protestors take note.
- Community and playing together is not dead. Thrown into the EverQuest progression servers, people got together, formed groups, and played nicely… for a while.
- Hey, we all like to comment on each others blogs! Thanks for taking the time to leave comments on mine.
- Every time I go into a game’s official forums, I am saddened. This is surely a symptom of the human condition.
- EverQuest progression servers were a self-selected population of those who wanted most to group up and play nicely… and that has devolved into all the problems that made the WoW model of solo content and instances so popular. Remember that when you have your rose colored glasses out.
- For every rational discussion where consensus is reached I see in a blog comment thread, there has to be a dozen cases of the complete inability to see the other person’s perspective or even admit that it exists. Can we get over that please?
- I am still not sure which is worse, people complaining bitterly about a game they do not play and do not understand, or people complaining bitterly about people who do not like their game de jour. Of course, they are often the same people on both counts, so at least they are easy to spot and ignore.
- Most of the problems in-game… in any game… such as hacking, cheating, bad behavior, poor community, illicit RMT, and the state of official game forums are all pretty much our own damn fault. Can we promise to try to behave better next year?
So that was 2011, at least from where I sit. Yes, I failed to mention SWTOR, but I think that is really part of 2012. There is still too much new game euphoria for me to get any feel for how things are going, especially since I am not playing.
Still, trying to recall a whole year, even with the blog open in front of my for reference, is doomed to failure. What did I miss? What came to pass in 2011 that I should have remembered?
Tags: Games I Forgot About, Playboy Manager, Playboy Party, Poisonville
1 comment so far
Back in May of 2009 I posted about a press release for Playboy Manager, Playboy’s attempt at an MMO, which they christened a “Massively Casual Online Game.”
They might have actually been a bit ahead of their time on that one.
And, after that, despite my signing up for the mailing list, I never heard a single thing about the game.
I mentioned it a year later in my month in review post (so I guess I mentioned it twice) where I said:
And a year ago Playboy’s “Massively Casual Online Game” Playboy Manager was announced. The game was supposed to launch in the summer of 2009 according to the press release. The site for the game is still there (go Google it) but it still mentions signing up for beta invites. Casual might refer to the development plan I guess.
The game looked to be on the same trajectory that Planet Michael is now; all talk, no rock.
However, the game did eventually launch. Or so I hear.
In an astonishingly bad use of captured email addresses, Jolt Online Gaming and/or Playboy apparently failed to alert those who expressed an interest in the game that it had actually gone live. You would think after all that work, they might have put some effort into publicizing it.
Seriously, I would have logged in just to experience it, had I but known.
Their effort went live as a Facebook game, under the name Playboy Party, back in November 2010. Of course, since it went to Facebook, it was probably flagged as Beta like every other Facebook game, so maybe they felt it wasn’t time yet to go to the public.
However, time was of the essence, as the game closed on September 12th of this year.
In the middle of that, in March 2011, things go so messed up that the game had to be reset and everybody had to start again from scratch.
And so the game has come and gone, having garnered all of 400 actual players during its short life span. It may now aspire to be a footnote in the appendix of an unpublished volume of esoteric video game history.
Thanks to UnSubject over at Vicarious Existence whose post on the subject, which has more detail and actual screen shots from the game, reminded me again that the Playboy Manager/Playboy Party even existed. Plus there is a bonus mention of another failed Playboy online game project, Poisonville!
Raptr: MMOs? None Were Released in 2011 December 8, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Gaming Industry Trends, Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Tags: Free-To-Play, Raptr
Raptr announced their Most Played Games for 2011, restricted to games launched in 2011, despite the fact that we still have 23 days to go here. Maybe nothing else important is launching this year.
What? Star Wars: The Old Republic is launching this year?
Well, too late and too bad!
In fact, of the categories Raptr chose to acknowledge, MMOs barely make the cut.
The categories are:
- The Most Played Shooter of 2011
- The Most Played RPG of 2011
- The Most Played Open-World Game of 2011
- The Most Played Sports Game of 2011
- The Most Played Social Game of 2011
- The Most Played New IP of 2011
- The Most Played Game of 2011
- The Most Successful Paid-to-F2P Game of 2011
No, the only mention of MMOs is in the final category, the one about Paid-to-F2P conversions. That covers MMOs, because it seems if you ran some sort of crime or crime fighting MMO… Champions Online, DC Universe Online, City of Heroes, All Points Bulletin, or… well, it doesn’t quite fit but I’ll make it fit… Global Agenda… then apparently 2011 was your year to go Free to Play.
So, from one angle I suppose congratulations are in order. Raptr managed to do a “Most Played” list that squeezed in MMOs from such an angle that they avoided mentioning any fantasy MMOs… like Rift maybe… along with Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Was it really that bad of a year for MMOs? I know my 2011 MMO Outlook ended up on the sad end of things, but were there really so few launches?
Was the slide to F2P really the big event for 2011?
They’re Dogs… And They’re Playing at Being Cultured… July 7, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: Civilization Series, Civilization World, CivWorld, Crap, Firaxis, overusing the word crap, Sid Meier
Erm, Civilization World.
But it says “CivWorld” on the splash screen.
The Civilization series re-envisioned as a Facebook game.
It is enough to make you think that… just maybe… Facebook isn’t going to be a “serious” game platform ever.
Whatever that means.
Okay, fine. I knew I was going to have to build houses for my population. And of course, farms had to go along with it. Sound familiar so far?
I suppose that I should be thankful that I did not have to click on farms to harvest. There is a button in the corner that takes care of that for you.
But when I found that advancing my scientific knowledge involved solving a maze that wouldn’t stump a 3 year old, I was bemused.
And when increasing the culture of my society required me to re-arrange tiles to make the painting of dogs playing poker, I was annoyed.
And when establishing trade involved yet another little puzzle, I was about done.
What an awful game.
It has all the drudgery of FarmVille with some mini-games thrown in. But unlike The Agency: Covert Ops, which had a couple of fun mini-game, these are crap.
I hate to think that somewhere, someone who was involved in creating any of the Civilization games thought this game was a good idea. Because if feels like somebody just said, “What is the shortest route we can take to crap out some Facebook game with ‘Civilization’ in the title?”
I heard a wise game dev once say that the first two hours of a game of Civilization can be the best gaming experience you are likely to have.
With CivWorld, the first 10 minutes were the most uninspiring gaming experience I have had in a long time.
It is crap.
And it makes me wonder if it the medium and not the artist that is causing it.
Does Zynga make crap games because they are Zynga, or do they make crap games because they insist on running them on Facebook?
How Like Unto a Pokemon April 16, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Humor, Pokemon.
1 comment so far
The ongoing wonders of Facebook ads.
Because, of course, when I think of Pokemon, I think of leading an army of humans, “elfs,” orcs, demons, and undead.
Very Pokemon like indeed.
And, well, for the first game with real action (not clicks) and spectacular effects I am sure the sky is the limit.
A Facebook Ad Combo Attack November 2, 2010Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: Facebook Ads
Ads for browser games on Facebook tend to follow a couple of common threads. You have to grab people’s attention and tell them something compelling about your game in a Twitter-like word restricted format.
Lying is a popular formula. We saw that with Dungeons & Dragons Online and their “No Download Needed” ad.
When I saw this gem this morning, I knew I had to post it.
First, the title, “Banned on Myspace.”
Being banned somewhere seems to have some allure to the advertiser end of the equation, though I am not sure why. I’ve seen ads for games that have been banned, banned in Utah, banned for kids (as Facebook ought to be), or nearly banned. Nearly banned?
But “Banned on Myspace” is a new one. I didn’t think people got banned from Myspace as a punishment, I thought they were sent there as a punishment.
Does Myspace even have games? How exactly was this game banned?
And then there is the “Most Addictive” whatever, another popular unsubstantiated claim for Facebook game ads.
Then we add in “No download needed,” which we’ve seen for games that did need a download, as I pointed out above.
Finally, there is the picture. What is going on in that picture? Is that a Kerra with a Santa hat squaring off against a red turtle with a club? Or is it some sort of little red Power Ranger? Is this picture even from the game in question.
Another classic Facebook ad.