Report from New Tristram March 5, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment, Path of Exile, Torchlight II.
Tags: Reaper of Souls
Wasn’t 2012 going to be the year of the heir to Diablo II?
We had multiple contenders. There was the designated heir, Diablo III and all the weight Blizzard could bring to bear. There was Torchlight II, from a team that included many of the people who actually made Diablo II back in the day. And then there was the dark horse candidate, Path of Exile, planning on a free to play experience and the grandest skill tree ever seen.
Each of them managed to hit a few marks. Diablo III carried on the Diablo story line and was polished in that Blizzard way. Torchlight II clearly had the upper hand on price and play options. And only Path of Exile managed to replicate the dark atmosphere of the past Diablo games.
However, in my opinion, each of them failed in some fundamental way.
Diablo III had always online problems at launch, but the real issue became itemization. Gear drops, ever the life’s blood of a Diablo game, were huge in quantity and very bad in quality. The only way to reliably find some gear close to your level was either via a higher level alt or through the auction house. I didn’t really want to play via the auction house, but felt I pretty much had to when it came to end of act bosses. Tired of being pulled out of the actual game to upgrade gear, I stopped playing.
Torchlight II was better on itemization. It still had huge quantities, but quality wasn’t as universally awful, though without the auction house to fall back on, comparison of at-level gear wasn’t as obvious either. However, colorful and well lit graphics hampered any feeling of atmosphere and the story line felt very weak to me. I can give you a synopsis of the story line in all three Diablo games, but couldn’t begin to tell you what Torchligh II… or Torchlight… was really about. That and the dev team punting on the Mac version of the game… and just about anything else it seems… thus killing off any chance of playing with my daughter, put the game pretty low on my play list and I haven’t been back to it in probably a year.
And then there was Path of Exile, which certainly won on price. It is about a free as free to play can be I suppose, though a friend of mine who played a lot of the game says that there is a point after which
you pretty much have to pay to progress the grind of leveling becomes unbearable. That point is just much farther into the game than I managed to get. While winning on atmosphere, it also had “always online” problems. Basically, melee classes became pretty much unplayable at peak times, and I always play the melee classes and I apparently play at peak hours. That ended that.
So three contenders, all of which I felt I was pretty much done with by the end of last year and none of which I could whole heartedly recommend for one reason or another.
But the dev teams were still working on at least two of the three games. The Blizzard team, while slow to acknowledge that they had a problem, eventually owned up on the itemization front and last week those of us on the PC got Diablo III version 2.0.
It was time for a return to Diablo III. I rolled up a new barbarian and played through act one.
The first thing I was looking at was gear drops. And, hey presto, they did in fact seem to be better in quality and more likely to be relevant to my character. Quest rewards for various stages of the story seemed to be better tuned, mini-bosses along the way seemed much more likely to drop something useful, and even the vendor in town seemed to be stocking a higher quality selection of goods.
In fact, that was going so well that the game started to seem a bit easy. I was blowing through masses of undead or goatmen or whatever without much effort at all. That looked to be the downside of the boost to itemization quality.
But I had another 2.0 feature available to me. I was able to jump directly from Normal to Hard with my character.
This was actually a big win. One of the 2.0 changes was to remove what was effectively level ranges for various areas of the game and, instead, make all of the content scale to your current level. No more out running content and hitting a wall that could only be cured with a serious injection of new gear. (Itemization problem strikes again.) And no more playing through the whole story in normal mode just to get to a higher level of challenge.
While loot quality, experience gained, and gold dropped all went up with this change, difficulty went up enough to more than offset those and made the game much more of a challenge. Rather than cutting through mobs like butter, I actually had to start working for a living. I couldn’t just rush into a room and collect everybody the way you can in a 1-60 dungeon finder group in WoW. I found myself in trouble and in any number of close-run fights if I didn’t take care.
Still, I am not sure that “hard” is really the right term. It is closer to “not easy” in feel. While I got down to the red screen of limited health now and again, I never once died. It is just the right level of resistance to keep the game interesting.
It was also fun rediscovering some of the cool bits of the game after a long absence. While the atmosphere isn’t close to the play of light and shadows that was such a deep part of Diablo II at times… and honestly, none of the three games got all the way there… it isn’t the bright and colorful beast that some people were afraid it would be way back when. The atmosphere is pretty good.
Then there was the dynamics of the game while playing the barbarian. For a full on visceral experience, this is the class. I love how elements of the world react when he is pounding out a big attack. Furniture disintegrates, shelves tumble, tapestries whip and swirl, and corpses fly. Oh, and how corpses fly. Ending on a big pound can send multiple foes dead and sailing through the air, sometimes headed completely off screen. (Note the flying goatmen in the screen shot above.) It never gets old.
And the game itself is as well put together as one would expect from a Blizzard product. And the game is divided up into nice, bite size chunks via the waypoints, so you can get in and play for a bit while making it to the next stage of the story. Of course, this can still lead to the “one more waypoint” urge. Not nearly as strong as “just one more turn” is in a Civilization game, but it is there.
There were a few other small features added. We now have a map for the various waypoints as opposed to the old listing that the game and its predecessor used. I guess this adds a bit of immersion, or a sense of place, though it does also point out that I was traveling in a big circle as well.
I made it through to the final boss and remembered enough of it to get through the fight on the first try.
I had rather optimized myself, my skills, and my companion (the Templar this time) for healing, so it was more a matter of building up fury for big hits and staying out of the fire. I did not end up using either of the health shrines in The Butcher’s room. And then it was through to Tyreal and the wrap up of Act I.
So far, so good. Now it is on to Act II. We shall see how well the game sticks this time around.
I also managed to get quite a few levels in, as there was a pre-expansion experience boost in effect while I was playing.
That wasn’t a big deal to me. I guess it will get me closer to the level cap sooner. Is that a good thing?
And the question remain whether or not I will pick up the Reaper of Souls expansion given what it offers.
I like the idea of Act V, and the Crusader class feels much more like my favorite Diablo II class, the paladin. But is that enough to justify the cost? Has Diablo III version 2.0 changed things up enough that I will make it through Act IV? I have time left to decide. And to play. We shall see.
Diablo III Version 2.0 February 26, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment.
Tags: Reaper of Souls
Blizzard dropped… after a fashion… the 2.0 patch for Diablo III yesterday.
That was the first of the three events planned for the next month or so for Diablo III. There is the patch, the removal of the Auction House on March 18th, and the release of the (first?) expansion for the game, Reaper of Souls, on March 25th.
I am completely in favor of the removal of the auction house which, even by Blizzard’s own admission, hasn’t worked as planned. I feel I know why they put the auction house in, but the way they coded loot drops for the game seemed designed specifically to drive people to it, so I remain a bit skeptical at their protestations that they were surprised by its popularity.
But it is going away, so water under the bridge. It won’t be a problem soon.
And then there is the expansion. More content and a new class, the crusader, that sounds interesting. I am not willing to buy it quite yet, but I wouldn’t rule it out eventually. It depends on the 2.0 patch.
Because the patch, the 2.0 version of Diablo III, is where the meat of the changes are coming. This was the reason I wanted to patch Diablo III last night. And once I was able to log in, Blizzard was keen to let me know what was new. (Patch notes here.)
Of all of that, I think Loot 2.0 is the most important. If they are going to dump the Auction House, they need to make the loot you do get much more viable. Some of it sounds like it came from the loot lessons they implemented in Mists of Pandaria and what they have planned for Warlords of Draenor. “Smart Loot” includes more drops appropriate to your class and no class items with stats that are not important for that class any more.
Of course, they have also made higher quality items bound to your account. No trading, because Blizzard still wants to keep the real money market down. The whole point of the Auction House, to my view, was to eliminate that market by controlling it. With the Auction House gone, other methods were required.
There are a host of other changes. There were changes to classes, to monsters, to difficulty scaling, to bosses, to the paragon system, along with the addition of community items like guilds. I am actually quite happy about that last bit. While I am kind of past having to be in a guild in every game, we had to create our own ad hoc guilds back in Diablo and Diablo II. Nice to see that Blizzard has finally acknowledged that this is a thing.
And, of course, Blizzard also had a splash screen in the game about the wonders of the new expansion as well. Always be closing.
With all of this, I thought it might be time to return to the game and see how these changes feel. I rolled up a new character… best to start from scratch I think, with all the changes… to try it out. I did not actually get very far, but I want to try to find some time this weekend to at least get through the first act to see how it goes.
How about you? Does the 2.0 version of the game have any appeal?
Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Reaper of Souls January 8, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment.
We have a new Blizzard release coming up. In this case it is the Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls, which is due out on March 25 of this year.
And, as seems to happen with all such Blizzard releases, email scams are beginning to show up. I have seen one in particular show up a couple times now, so I thought I would pass it along as both warning and humor.
I think the first hint that this was a scam was the message title.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls now Invite you to join!
Say what you will about Blizzard, broken English just isn’t one of their faults.
Then there was the come-on part of the pitch, the bait to get you to fall for it. In this case, I must admit they might be on to something, as they gave you a big string of characters and claimed that this code would enable Reaper of Souls on your account.
Usually they just tell you to click the link to get the game. Here they have a code for you that they say you have to redeem on your account. And, of course, a handy bogus link to a Battle.net look-alike site where they will steal your account information and use it to strip your account bare.
As is often the case, all of the other help and support links point to legitimate Blizzard sites, but the key one is a trap.
So be wary.
Blizzard Killing The Diablo III Auction House September 17, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment.
Tags: auction house, RMT
Reality has finally sunk in down in Anaheim I guess. The in-game auction house, both gold and real money sides, will be shut down on March 18, 2014.
When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades. But as we’ve mentioned on different occasions, it became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it, it ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot. With that in mind, we want to let everyone know that we’ve decided to remove the gold and real-money auction house system from Diablo III.
We feel that this move along with the Loot 2.0 system being developed concurrently with Reaper of Souls™ will result in a much more rewarding game experience for our players.
We’re working out the details of how the auction house system will be shut down, but we wanted to share the news as soon as we made the decision in order to give everyone as much advance notice as possible. Please note that the shutdown will occur on March 18, 2014. We will keep everyone informed as we work through this process.
Josh Mosqueira and I wanted to provide everyone with a little more information behind this decision, so please have a look at the video, and stay tuned to this site for further updates in the months ahead.
I was a bit surprised at how long it took them to realize (or at least admit) that the auction house was taking over the game, something that some suggested might happen before the game even launched.
As it turns out, it is better to put up with a bit of this…
…than to kill off the key game play component of your game.
At least Blizzard has recognized the issue and is acting on it. It is painful to come out and admit you have made a mistake. While there is no release date for the Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls, I doubt they pulled that March 18, 2014 date out of thin air. At a minimum I suspect that the change will be part of the ramp up to the expansion.
Hopefully with a re-tune of the loot drops and an expansion on the way, Diablo III will be a better game and one more worthy of its lineage.
Now, is doing this almost two years after launch going to be enough?
Diablo III – Now Featuring Hyperinflation May 22, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment.
Tags: RMAH, RMT
At launch the problem was Error 37 and other related “always online” issues.
Then it was how the gold auction house was killing the game, something I first brought up in May of last year but which Blizzard, in the form of Jay Wilson, was still professing amazement about 10 months later. And then there was the recent auction house burp, which shut it down for several days.
Now, even as Blizzard is patting itself on the back on the one year anniversary of the game, there is an article out there with the title, A Virtual Weimar: Hyperinflation in a Video Game World, which discusses the impact of the the Diablo III real money auction house on the game over the last year.
Being compared as a parallel to Weimar German and the great inflation… that is never a good thing. I think even Greece has only been held up against the Weimar Republic to show that the situation in Greece isn’t as bad as it could be.
And it all seems to fall back to something Edward Castronova said, a while back:
Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.
And when real money is part of the mix…
So what else can go wrong, aside from Blizzard having no backup plan and no content expansion ready in the foreseeable future?
Hat tip to Edward Catronova for spotting the story.
So far this week has not bee full of good news for Blizzard.
There was the 1.08 patch for Diablo III, rolled out on US servers the day before yesterday, which was touted as bringing serious improvements to the game, including changes to the surprisingly popular auction house.
Unfortunately, one side effect was the introduction of a bug that allowed players to basically create gold out of thin air… or virtual thin air… thus putting the whole in-game economy in peril. I don’t think that was the auction house fix they were looking for, and continues along with Diablo III’s somewhat hard luck tale.
Blizzard jumped right on this, once they noticed it, shutting down the auction house. They have since reported that the bug has been fixed. However, there remained the question of what to do. There was talk of a complete roll-back to a pre-patch save. However, they chose to do it the hard way, opting to manually fix each account that used the bug. I have not seen any word about people being banned for using what was obviously an exploit, but I suspect there will be some sanctions.
As of this time, the auction house on US servers remains closed, and will stay so until all current auctions expire.
The updated has been fixed and should roll out without the exploit on EU and Asian servers.
Then there was the Activision Blizzard quarterly report where, after a rise in subscribers with the release of Pandaria and then holding steady the next quarter, a drop of 1.3 million subscribers was announced for the past quarter, the subscriber base moving from 9.6 million to 8.3 million players.
As has become a standard part of these sorts of announcements, it was stated that most of the losses were in China, which have a much smaller impact on revenue, it was allowed that there were subscription losses in the west and that the company expected the subscriber base at the end of the year to be smaller than it is now.
Expect nothing new for WoW this year I guess.
Bobby Kotick was quick to point out that WoW remains one of the most successful video game franchises and, no doubt, continues to be insanely profitable.
The quarterly report is available here.
April Fools at Blizzard – 2013 April 1, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: April Fools
April Fools at Blizzard this year is either less ambitious or more subtle than before.
Or I am missing something.
He has some new and amusing dialog and I guess is part of the tradition now. And if you go down the right conversational path, the one where you talk about sports, you can watch him try on various hats.
But I have to wonder, how many people even remember Clippy, of which Crabby is a parody.
But other than that, all I could spot was some disagreement as to when the Noblegarden event was taking place, with it either being March 31 through April 6 or April 24 through May 1. That must be funny in some way I am not getting.
The Diablo III site seems to be completely free of April Foolery, unless that thread asking Is This Game Good Yet? is some sort wry commentary. But if it wry commentary you want, there is better to be had, pointed at juicier targets. And then there is the great Diablo III non-joke from GDC.
And over at the StarCraft II site there is a somewhat predictable April Fools joke.
The Warhound was a unit slated to be part of the Terran forces in the Heart of the Swarm expansion for StarCraft II. However, it was found to be too powerful and was removed during beta.
But today’s announcement says it is back, but they have a plan to cure the balance issue.
- The Warhound has been added for Terran because robots are cool and the art is amazing
- The Warhound has been added for Zerg to remain competitive with Terran.
- The Warhound has been added for Protoss to keep Protoss players from whining about them on the forums.
There is also a Dev Q&A page about the Warhound that answers questions like why their isn’t a female Warhound as well as linking to its background story page. But at least they did something. Almost as much fun as a space cockroach.
A check of the European versions of the sites showed similar entries all around.
So did I miss something? Are they holding out for a mid-day US/evening EU reveal? Is this a year of subtle humor? Or did a busy 2012, in which they did not even have time for BlizzCon, keep Blizzard from going as far with April Fools as they have in the past?
The following links will bring you to past coverage of Blizzard April Foolery as a comparison:
Addendum – April Fools in some other online games:
Blizzard Blindsided by Diablo III Auction House Popularity March 29, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment.
Tags: auction house
While the auction houses reduced the fraud and effectively killed grey-market transactions between players and item- and gold-farming companies that hurt the online Diablo II community, Blizzard did not expect players to use them on the scale that they started to as soon as the game launched. Almost every player uses one or the other, according to Wilson, and nearly half use them regularly.
GameInformer article on Jay Wilson’s GDC 2013 Presentation
Two comments on this.
The second is, what do you mean you did not expect it? Have you guys actually played the game?
The itemization that I experienced was such that nearly every single equipment drop I got was not only many levels below being useful for my character, but also many levels below the monsters dropping it. Unlike Diablo and Diablo II, where gear you had to grow into was relatively common, I never got a drop like that in Diablo III.
So I went right to the auction house to sell the useless lower level gear in order to buy gear closer to my level. And I assumed that this was all part of the master plan to make people use the auction house. I got that sense almost right away that low level drops were all part of the scheme to prime the AH pump. He says right there that nearly every player uses the auction house at some point. The strategy totally worked!
Now they are saying that it wasn’t intentional?
I cannot tell if I should be skeptical or flabbergasted.
In the article, he said they are working on a plan to fix the auction house problem.
This I gotta see.
[Related: Green Armadillo and Player Motivation]
Path of Exile Opens Up January 22, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment, Other PC Games, Path of Exile, Torchlight II.
It looked, for a while, to be the third horse in the “Heir to Diablo II” race last year, but then never quite got there, leaving the field to Diablo III and Torchlight II.
Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It might have gotten a little more attention going up against one of those at launch, but it likely would have suffered for it as well. So the other two have had their launches and… have gone somewhat quiet since. Diablo III shipped without any post-launch follow up plan it seems, while the team at Runic that did both Torchlight and Torchlight II is reportedly tired of working on that franchise and want to do something different. (Where is my Mac OS version of the game?)
So it is a quiet time in the click-click-click RPG niche, which might be just the right time for Path of Exile to go… well… a little more public with their game. And so open beta has been announced.
According to their latest press release, open beta starts… tomorrow. Not that the previous year of closed beta was tough to get into. You just had to sign up and wait for a few days or a week and eventually you got an invite.
Now though… or tomorrow… you should be able to go to their site, sign up, and get access to the game right away.
This will also be the last wipe of the player base. Or so say the developers. This effectively means that the game launches tomorrow, as any progress you make with your character after that point is yours to keep.
And since this is a free to play, cash shop supported game, the transition from “open beta” to “live” seems to me to be more philosophical than anything; very much in line with every Facebook game being flagged as “beta” for most of their success.
And a year later, after playing Diablo III and Torchlight II, that clip still “feels” a lot more like Diablo II than either of those other games. It might be time to patch up and give Path of Exile another look and see what has changed in the last year.
Looking Back at 2012 – Highs and Lows December 26, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Tags: 2012, EverQuest Online Adventures, Steam
Every year I try to come up with a list of highs and lows for the year. You can go back and read my 2010 and 2011 editions if you so desire. I often complain about the same things year after year. As for 2012, this is what I recall.
Free to Play
- Another pile of games went from subscription to free to play as a default business model. If you are a fan, you have lots of options now.
- Free to play continues to offer the best “free trial” option for games.
- Clearly the dominant business model to the extent that being free to play no long bestows any sort of competitive advantage as it did back when DDO and LOTRO made the transition. Merely going free to play will not save your game.
- Being a primary source of income, with revenue targets to achieve, the in-game cash shop becomes a major focus of free to play games. Increasingly, it is players who buy from the cash shop who matter most, even in games like EQII that push you to become a subscriber. Subscribing removes some annoyances and restrictions, but you are still pushed to buy from the cash shop. They even hand you a bit of their RMT currency every month in order to prime the pump.
- An early justification for cash shops and RMT currency was the idea of selling thing to players that could not be paid for via credit card due to transaction fees. The idea was that players would be offered many inexpensive items that they would buy en masse. Instead, items that cost less than $5.00, or one third of a months subscription, seem to be the tiny minority of items available… at least at the generally understood value of the RMT currency.
- The vicious circle of discounting the RMT currency to drive people to purchase it, followed by cash shop discounts to soak up the ensuing currency glut may be emerging.
- Some players seem to think they can get something for nothing. They cheer when a game goes free to play, but then get upset when the inevitable reality emerges. There is no such thing as free.
- The pleasant Middle-earth charm of LOTRO can still be found.
- The Riders of Rohan expansion has received much praise.
- Still one of the few F2P MMOs that lets you earn their cash shop currency in-game.
- Have I mentioned their music system lately? Why hasn’t anybody shamelessly ripped this off?
- Not actually playing LOTRO, there is little chance I will see any of that cool new Rohan content… well, ever.
- The heady days of F2P success have clearly worn off, and Turbine’s WB overlords have been cracking the revenue whip. So we have the despoilment of Middle-earth moving forward in the cash shop.
- Really one of the great passive-aggressive community relations fiascos occurred when Turbine asked for comments on their awful hobby-horse idea with the caveat that they didn’t want to hear anything negative. That sort of thing never turns out badly.
- And the F2P divide continues. You can be a fan of the game, but unless you are buying stuff from the cash shop, you don’t mean anything. And so some long time fans of the game seem to be moving on. Eru wept!
Sony Online Entertainment
- EverQuest still going 13 years in and now has parcel delivery through the mail, more zones, five new levels, and hotbars that look like they are now from this century.
- EverQuest Mac got a call from the governor while on death row, so lives for a while longer.
- Planetside 2 launched! That is a massive shooter!
- Vanguard is alive and free to play and getting content updates! And Brad McQuaid is back working on it.
- The Krono experiment will make for an interesting change to watch.
- Vague promises of a more sandbox-like EverQuest game in EverQuest Next in hopes of breaking the “me too” MMO mold where everything is basically based on EverQuest. Sounds interesting, but we’re a long way from reality.
- They screwed up Station Cash valuation through heavy discounting and cash shop blanket discounts to the point of requiring SOE to stop selling expansions and gold subscriptions for Station Cash. This in turn puts more pressure on the cash shop people to sell a couple of useful items and piles of cosmetic crap. Meanwhile, the triple Station Cash sales continue because, of course, they have trained us to hold out for that.
- SOEmote. Science experiments are cool and all, but SOE is starting to accumulate a few too many such things in its basement. Voice control, Station Launcher, will SOEmote join these on the scrap heap eventually?
- EverQuest Online Adventures fell by the wayside.
- Didn’t SOE already have a sandbox-like game in SWG? The word is that Lucas was behind NGE and the closure, but SOE still has blood on its hands.
- The EverQuest time locked progression servers seem to be dying from neglect, which is ironic because every player on those servers is a subscriber. That is a requirement. So I guess we see where a server full of subscribers ranks in the free to play world?
- No major player revolt provoking crises. There is always some drama and things to piss off players, like the inventory changes. But there was nothing that came anywhere close to the uproar when flying in space was set aside in favor of space Barbies with the Incarna expansion.
- Really some cool new features in this year’s EVE expansions.
- A year in null sec was a whole new experience for me.
- With no crisis to rise to, the EVE Online CSM went back to being just a marketing tool. I can see no tangible benefit to players from CSM7. Roll on galactic student council.
- DUST 514? Have you heard of it? Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you while you were playing PlanetSide 2.
- So, yeah, null sec. The wars are over. What now?
- WoW still has more players than any other subscription MMO you play… not that there are many of those left.
- WoW remains immensely profitable.
- Mists of Pandaria shipped, putting WoW back over the 10 million players mark.
- Diablo III shipped at last, and sold a lot of boxes, both real and virtual.
- Pretty much done with WoW for now.
- No StarCraft II expansion yet.
- Diablo III shipped about five years too late.
- Customer support dickishness around the ability to shut off future payments when you signed up for the Annual Pass. You can be a dick about many things, but when you start refusing to stop billing credit cards, you have crossed a line.
- The Blizz obsession with hacks and cheating turned Diablo III into an “always online” experience that lead to the Error 37 fiasco and much complaining about things like server downtime and patch days.
- The Diablo III auction house, a clear reaction to the illicit RMT that happened in Diablo II and WoW, managed to kill off the “item hunt” part of the game for some.
- The level based difficulty of Diablo III meant having to play through the whole game in normal mode just to ramp up some challenge. Some people will be happy to play through the game four times with each character. I am not one of those people.
- Stark failure to plan for more content once Diablo III was played out.
- Titan? Hello?
- Rift continued to evolve and add features to keep players active.
- Rift launched an expansion, the classic “next move” for a successful MMORPG, that added more content, new styles of quests, and player housing.
- Trion managed to keep to the subscription model for Rift, thus avoiding the ruination of immersion that cash shops inevitably bring.
- The instance group made it through all the pre-expansion instances in Rift.
- I managed to get a level 50 character of each of the four classes before the Storm Legion expansion launched.
- Declining subscriptions, soft server merges, lots of “WoW did it first” additions. They have spun the server merges as a “good” thing and have gotten all of the servers into clusters for warfronts and the like. But less people means less subscription money.
- Layoffs. Not sure yet what this impacts, but it clearly isn’t a sign of sunshine and lollipops.
RiseEnd of Nations seems doomed. But I couldn’t play it in any case as it refused to run because I have my default text scaled to 120% in Windows, or so said the error message, and I am not going to reset that every time I want to play a game.
- Cash shop interface is already in Rift, foretelling a transition to eyesore mounts and ugly cosmetic gear… though, honestly, I am not sure I could tell the difference in Rift.
World of Tanks
- The physics revamp was a huge improvement for the game in my opinion. Power slide that TD down a hill!
- Free to play that can actually be free without being oppressive.
- Made gold ammo available for standard credits.
- Got bit by that NA/EU divide.
- In the end, it is just a shooter dressed up in vehicles. I will get bored of the same maps and the same tactics in every game sooner or later.
- Lots of big sales.
- Still a reasonable way to buy games and keep them updated.
- Has basically trained me never to buy a game until it is at least 50% off of list price.
- Even with heavy discounts, I have pretty much stopped buying because I don’t really need any more games.
- I need to delete some of the games I have on my system because there are too many updates downloading.
- Came home to find the internet down, which meant I could not play any of my games on Steam once I booted up my computer.
- I still don’t see why anybody would buy or download an MMO from Steam. I don’t want to log in and start Steam just to turn around and log in and start the MMO, which will then patch itself.
- GuildWars 2 shipped at last.
- Torchlight II shipped at last! And it is pretty good.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic actually has an expansion planned.
- Kickstarter seems to be getting people excited about games.
- As is typical, the Guild Wars 2 fanboys remain pretty much blind to any faults.
- Torchlight II still isn’t Diablo II. But expecting that it would be was probably too much.
- SWTOR basically slammed the door on the subscription model’s dick, while introducing some new noxious ways to implement free to play.
- City of Heroes gets the axe based on opportunity cost. It was making money, just not enough money.
- Glitch fails to get the quirky/greedy balance right, has to close. I never played it, but I hope something was learned.
- Most Kickstarter projects don’t make their funding goal, and apparently most that do make it find that they have underestimated the money they really needed or the time it was going to take to get the project done. Sometimes things are delayed because the funding went way past the goal and the developer decided to add in all sorts of new things, as with Steve Jackson Games and their Ultimate Edition of O.G.R.E., but that seems to be the exception. Of the six projects I have backed, two failed to meet goal while three of the other four are way behind schedule. (Go Defense Grid team!) I am not saying that Kickstarter is a bad thing, but you have to go in with your eyes open. It is less Wall Street and more “The Producers” than you might expect.
- Streaming. I completely fail to get that whole fad. Why would I want to sit in front of my computer just to watch somebody else play a game? And really, most of us aren’t as witty and amusing as we think we are. I’ll just actually PLAY a game, thank you.
Well, that was all I could come up with. But sitting at the end of the year looking back, I am sure I missed or forgot some key items.
What else should be on the list of highs and lows for 2012?