jump to navigation

Extra Credits – Free to Play Is Currently Broken September 14, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Gaming Industry Trends, MMO Design.
Tags: , ,
7 comments

Not really about MMOs, but certainly could be applicable in some cases, as it takes on the whole “whales” concept in free to play.

(Direct Link)

This goes well with their episode Doing Free to Play Wrong.

Eight Years of Link Rot September 12, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
Tags: , , , ,
19 comments

Years ago, back when we thought the World Wide Web was new and cool and we actually called it the World Wide Web and you had to have “www” in front of a web address because otherwise somebody might think you wanted Gopher access to their site for Christ’s sake, back then I read an interview with Douglas Engelbart.  Or maybe it was somebody else.  It could have been Ted Nelson.  Or maybe it was a dream.  I have learned that memory is unreliable which is why, in part, I write this blog.  Anyway, Douglas Engelbart is the guy who invented or bundled together the idea of just about everything you take for granted in computing today, only those ideas never quite came across as envisioned.  Basically, we messed it all up along the way.  It is what we do best.

And in this interview, some young reporter, gushing to be interviewing the person who came up with the very idea of Hypertext, asked him if this whole shiny new World Wide Web thing was the wonderful rainbow-streaked living embodiment of all he had foreseen.  Wasn’t this just what he beheld all those years back when he was given a nearly divine vision of the future?

And the response, from whoever it was… and I am paraphrasing here, because I cannot remember his actual withering retort… was approximately “Jesus Fuck No!”

And his objection didn’t even reference GeoCities.

No, he was pissed off that he had envisioned a vast interlinking of information systems that would allow the user to find all he needed smoothly and seamlessly, and what we had created was a mess of hand typed static URIs that would fail to connect the moment something in the path moved or changed.  We had taken his vision of Hypertext and created from it a living hell of link rot.  I don’t think he used the actual term “link rot,” though he might have.

And this was, as I said, during an earlier era of the web, before link rot was a really big deal.  Visionary that he was, he foresaw this as he foresaw so much else.  He could see the linkpocalypse coming.  Actually, it probably was Ted Nelson.  He literally hates HTML.  But it doesn’t matter, we’re still screwed, having been left with this sort of thing now.

The World Wide Web, as it turns out, is a place where we mostly used to be able to find stuff, but it keeps disappearing.  Often, the happiest result is getting the dread 404 errors, which have become common enough that we have taken to making them cute or pretty or different, so as to make the failure of one link or another more pleasant.

The EVE Online 404 error page

The EVE Online 404 error page

And 404 is good compared to the alternatives.  You are just as likely to get somebody cybersquatting on a URL with ads and malware.  This seems to be the common end for self-hosted blogs.  People stop updating, then stop paying the bill, and then the domain expires and the next day there is a spam page sitting there dispensing shit where once there was something of value.

Some days I hate the internet.

If it were not for the Internet Archive I am sure I would think myself crazy, remembering so many virtual things that have, for one reason or another, shed even their virtual existence and disappeared.

Basically, I am eight years down the road on the whole blogging thing today, and I can really see how annoying the whole link rot thing can be.  I can channel Engelbart’s rage… or whoever that was in the interview I cannot find… because internet.

I go back and look at old posts at least once a month, thanks to my month in review posts, and I end up running into more and more old posts with dead links.  I have always frowned upon posts with supporting arguments available only as links (the awful “go read this and come back” posts), but I am becoming more convinced that I need to quote as much as possible in blog posts, so as to make each post as self-contained as possible, that it might make sense five years down the road when the link to the source material has gone bad.  But I cannot copy things wholesale, as I do not want to steal the works of others.  So there is this middle ground of trying to include enough to support what I am saying, knowing whatever links I include may go away (as an example, SOE has a habit of just changing their web site hierarchy every two years because “fuck the web” I guess, so the data is generally still there, it just has a different URI), without actually stealing the works of other and actually encouraging people to visit other sites.  Community, yo.

All of which is something of an odd intro into my 8 year anniversary post (trivia: Blog created at 17:04 UTC on September 12, 2006), but here we are, eight years in and I am feeling the pain of being on the internet.  For those with more free time than sense, you can go back and look at past anniversary blog posts to see how I have held up over the years.

I had originally thought of going with Self-Portrait at Eight Years Old Wearing a Helm with Giant Horns as a post title, but I thought maybe I might be getting into references too obscure for mere mortals.  Plus I couldn’t come up with an decent image to go with that title, while images of 404 messages are legion.

Anyway, it is at this point I start trotting out various and sundry statistics and other bits of trivia, with some sort of forward looking message at the end.  If you are interested in that sort of thing, you will find it after the cut.  If not, well… there are plenty of happy destinations in the side bar.  And most of those links are still good!

(more…)

The Pokemon Binge Continues in Unova September 11, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
Tags: , ,
6 comments

Avoidance is a wonderful thing.  You can accomplish so much when you are trying to avoid doing what you are actually supposed to be doing.

I am not ready to admit defeat on my run for the Loremaster achievement, but I must admit that my current focus on the little Nintendo 3DS XL screen is related to my reluctance to face another round of questing in The Blade’s Edge Mountains.  Outland has worn me down some.  So, while I did log in to run through Darkmoon Faire, most of my gaming time lately has been spent in New Eden or the Unova region.

The Unova region is the setting for both Pokemon Black and White as well as Pokemon Black and White Version 2…. the latter I maintain are, if not the least creative game names ever in the Pokemon series, at least the most awkward.

I followed up on last week’s Pokemon post and used an Amazon gift card I had sitting around to pick up Pokemon White Version 2 which, as I mentioned, was much more reasonably priced than Pokemon Black Version 2.

Amazon Pricing Differential

Amazon Pricing Differential

In fact, looking quickly online, it seems like all of the DS series Pokemon games… except Pokemon White Version 2, are selling for well over original list price.  That seems odd.  Back when the Nintendo DS Lite was king, and had that Game Boy Advance cartridge slot in the front, all of the GBA versions of Pokemon games remained available in health supply at pretty much suggested retail price.  It actually sort of irked me that they weren’t marked down a bit back then.  That was last generation stuff!  But at least nobody was suggesting I pay a premium for them.

Now, however, the last generation stuff… which, as before, still works in the current 3DS hardware just fine… seems to be in short supply.  I am not sure what this means.  I haven’t walked by a GameStop to see what is on the shelves, but when everybody online is selling well over list price, it raises questions. Is Nintendo converting them all to sell directly in the Nintendo Store?  Is something else afoot?

Anyway, that is an investigation for another time (though if you know the answer, clue me in via the comments please!), I am here to talk about actually playing Pokemon.  Joy!

I got the game and started off.  As with its predecessor, it starts off with a rather direct and somewhat abbreviated introduction to the game.  That isn’t bad, but clearly somebody missed the slower unfolding of your own story, as they went back to that for Pokemon X & Y.   You start with your own name.  For me that is always Wilhelm.  And then you are asked to name the person who essentially becomes your rival in the game.  The default name is Hugh, but I always give it a more interesting name.

This time, because I happened to have just gotten done with a fleet op, I went with an EVE Online theme.  Actually, more of a CFC theme.

I named my rival Mittani.

More after the cut because of excess verbiage.

(more…)

The Notch Timeline September 10, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: , ,
7 comments

Remember when Facebook announced they were buying Occulus Rift back in March?

Well, the outrage or discomfort or whatever passed with time it seems.

I am sure getting over that event had nothing to do with the current rumor that Notch is selling out to Microsoft for something like two billion dollars, something that surely must have been in play for at least a month now.  Mojang may soon be taking orders from Redmond.

Powered by Microsoft

Powered by Microsoft

This is why I mark these sorts of moment in time.  It is interesting to see how things change.  I am going to bet he is over his problems with Windows 8 as well.

I am not particularly concerned one way or another about Notch cashing out.  Big companies tend to destroy the little companies they buy more often than not, and that fate for Mojang wouldn’t make me happy.  And I am sure a legion of his fans are pissed, but they were pissed about his EULA already, calling him literally worse than EA at one point.  But it is his company, if he wants to cash out, he should go for it.  He can buy himself a whole bunch of new socks with that pile of dough.

I am mostly interested to see that his attitude seemed to soften a bit as a dump truck of money loomed in his direction.

Addendum: And Notch sells it all for 2.5 Billion.  Here is his statement, where he says it is not about the money but about his sanity… though I am betting the money helped a lot.

Quote of the Day – In Which 25 Million Equals Nothing September 9, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Nintendo.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

25 million people play Call of Duty monthly, but that pales in comparison to 2.5 billion people on the Internet. That’s 1 percent of the Internet, that’s nothing.

Michael Pachter, at Cloud Gaming USA

That is one of those quotes that boggles the mind as it lets so much slip by, to the point of being meaningless.  What percentage of that 2.5 billion plays video games, has hardware capable of playing something like Call of Duty, has an internet connection capable of playing the game, can afford the game, and can actually buy the game in their local market?  What should Activision have done differently?  What should their target audience have been?

And the irony here is that just a few paragraphs down the line he takes gaming companies to task for embracing the free to play model, which is all about increasing market penetration. Free-to-play should go away he says (and I have some bad news for him about his ad revenue idea) and the game companies are stupid for taking less than they should get.  And then further along he projecting 4 billion people playing games in the very near future.  Will they be on the internet?  How does it relate to that 2.5 billion number?  It is a mishmash, though that could be as much the reporting as the presentation itself.

Of course, Michael Pachter is an analyst, and the analyst’s bread and butter is in making outlandish, unsupported, attention getting statements like that.  All the better to get you to pay them for their deep insight.  You don’t get speaking gigs by being dull.  As Apple’s iPhone announcement today was nothing but an ad for Apple, this presentation was mostly an ad for Michael Pachter, and nobody should have expected otherwise.

Not that he is completely off base on things.  He frets about the future of consoles in the face of dropping physical game sales and the expanding smart phone market as well as where Nintendo will end up.

He really focuses on Nintendo.

But even I can see that Nintendo is especially vulnerable as its corporate culture is still tied up with the idea of them being a hardware company, while their real assets are in their software.  I like my Nintendo 3DS XL very much.  It is a fine piece of hardware.  But I bought it solely to play Pokemon.

Without Pokemon the 3DS XL is just like the Wii U, an interesting piece of hardware I don’t really need in a world where the iPhone and other such devices loom.  Nintendo’s goals may be in line with Corless, the Team Plasma Boss from Pokemon Black 2 & White 2.

Can't stay proprietary with that goal...

Can’t stay proprietary with that goal…

But they are not going to get there with the mindset of the 90s, where the software was there to sell hardware.

Anyway, the article that the quote came from at the top of the post has enough fodder for a dozen blog posts.  I can’t even get started on how much it irks when somebody stands up and speaks of “the cloud” that will solve all problems.  Put something in the mythical “cloud” and be prepared to do without it unless you control it.  Or, put another way:

But like Oscar the Grouch, I am often happiest railing against something like this.  Pachter is many things, but he isn’t boring.  I look forward to many more pronouncements.

Cleaning Up the Neighborhood Back in Deklein September 9, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

The return to Deklein seems to have been accomplished for most people over the weekend.  Somewhere I missed the broadcast about there being a channel set up for people looking to get ships brought north via excess hangar space in carriers.  By last night the channel was deserted, leading me to the conclusion that most people were done with their move.

I got on last night and clone jumped back up to Deklein to examine my own carrier, and Archon that has sat docked up for nearly two years since I bought it and made the one jump from where I purchased it to the system I generally think of as home in null sec.

Archon in 0P-F3K

Hangar Queen

As it turns out, I hadn’t even finished fitting it.  Of course, I managed to slap on the rigs, so I can’t just repackage it and bring it back to the store with a gift receipt… or just sell the hull on the market.  So the choices are to finish fitting it and sell it, finish fitting it and actually put some effort into using it, or let things roll as they are.  I don’t actually need the ISK invested in the hull for now, so there is no sense of urgency.  It is just something else gathering dust in a hangar, like those Drakes I have, waiting for a trigger event to get them into action.

Get thee behind me, Satan!

Anyway, the “let it roll” option was chosen because as I was staring at the half fit Archon, a fleet op came up over Jabber.  I was already online, I had the time, and I was avoiding making a decision, so it seemed like the optimum time to roll out.

The call was for a Baltec Fleet, with Lyris Nairn in the FC position.  The good news was that I had already gotten my Apocalypse up north over the weekend in the one convoy I managed to find.  The bad news was that I was in the wrong clone and I had just clone jumped.

First world space problems.

Jump clones are nifty and let you pre-position yourself around space so you can appear in a specific region without all that mucking about in space.  You have to have a ship waiting for you at the far end of your jump, otherwise it is just you and your pod, and there is a 24 hour cool down on jumps, which can be reduced to 19 hours by training one of those new skills… Xenomorph Info Compulsive Behavior of some such… up to level 5.  I went for level 4, which gives me a 20 hour cool down.

The thing is, ships are not the only thing that are independent of your clone jump.  Implants are also independent of your clone.  Implants are the skill and attribute enhancements that you can plug into your brain.  They stick with the clone you plugged them into, which up until now, hasn’t been an issue.  I have a clone in high sec with +5 attribute implants, so when I am going to be offline for a few days, I jump back there to speed up any training in progress.  Otherwise I have just been a line member sub cap pilot with no need for implants.  I have a set of cheap +3 implants in a clone I sometimes use when I am ratting, just to keep skills sped up a bit, but most of my clones are implant free.

Or they were.

When they introduced the Apocalypse to Baltec fleet, I was keen to fly it because… well… I wanted to play with pretty lasers.  I am always the guy at structure shoots now with multiple colors shooting forth.  I am easily amused.

However the fit for the Baltec Apoc was very tight, such that you need the EG-603 implant, which boosts your power grid 3%, in order to fly it and shoot all eight lasers.  And the implant itself runs 20 million ISK.  While I’m not poor, I intend to stay that way in part by not buying things I don’t need.  So I have an Apoc clone parked at our new staging system in Deklein.  I was not in that clone and I had a good 19 hours left until I could jump to it.

Instead I was sitting in my ratting clone.

Well, not a huge hairy deal.  I could fly logistics.  As it happened I even had an Oneiros sitting in the station with me ready to go.  But it did make me thing about this whole fleet booster training plan I have been working on.  That too depends on implants and having the right set for the right booster role for the right fleet.  I suspect that unless I go “all boosting all the time” I am going to end up in the wrong clone often enough to be annoying.

Problems for another day.

So I strapped on the Oneiros and flew on out to the staging station while listening to voice coms.  Somebody there was asking about convoys and getting their ships back up from Delve, which is where I first heard about the channel dedicated to finding space on carriers moving north.  At least I wasn’t alone in that.  I don’t mind being lost, unless I am the only one who is lost.  Misery loves company or some such.

Our mission for the night was to go reinforce a couple of towers in 5ZXX-K in Pure Blind, which is literally one titan bridge away from the staging system.  5ZXX-K is an NPC null sec system held by Mordu’s Legion (which has a nifty looking station) which is also home to the role-playing Mordus Angels.  They are also bitter foes of the CFC, having been a part of the coalition and then purged at some point before my time.  They are also pretty much in the middle of the southern flank of CFC space in the north.

Surrounded by CFC systems

Surrounded by CFC systems

While we were down in Delve they had something of a breather to put up towers and otherwise run around and make trouble.  They are the current favorites of Gevlon, who is soliciting donations to support their war against the CFC.  So our content for the night was sponsored by Gevlon.

We were headed down to 5ZXX-K in order to put a couple of towers into reinforce.  Since this would likely be a no kill mail tower shoot, logistics would be an easy enough role for the evening.  I would just have to orbit the logistics anchor, put reps on anybody who happened to get targeted by the POS guns, and take screen shots.  It seemed unlikely that Mordus Angels would come out to play.  We had over a hundred ships in Baltec fleet to cover the dreadnoughts jumping in to do the heavy lifting.  So we scooted around as the dreads showed up and quickly reinforced the tower.

First tower timer set...

First tower timer set…

Now we get into tower timers.  The actual tower kill comes when the timer runs down.  But being 1 day and 17 hours in the future, it will likely happen while I am still at the office, so it will fall to our Euro time zone brethren to blow it up and get the kill mail.

After that the dreads headed home while we sat covering them.  Then we were off to our next task, which was another tower in the same system.  However, it was a small tower and was thus deemed not worth dragging dreads out to put it in reinforce, so that was left to us.

The guns at the small tower were a bit more active.  For some reason they all decided to concentrate on a single Celestis cruiser in our fleet.  It flew too close to the shields or some such, but it was the most active moment of the evening as we actually had to be on the ball with reps to keep that poor ship alive.

Celestis taking fire and reps

Celestis taking fire and reps

The guns later switched to focus on various ships, so we kept moving our reps around to keep everybody safe.  I don’t know why the guns were more effective here.  A pilot with the right skills (I have them trained, but have never used them) can take over the POS guns and target them, which makes them much more effective, but there did not seem to be anybody in the POS doing so.  The AI was just having a good night.  So we had to keep the reps going.

The Logistics Ballet

The Logistics Ballet

We put the tower into reinforce… another one for the Euro TZ… as well as the warp disruption batteries to keep anybody scouting out the status safe.  Then it was time to go.  Lyris had even arranged a ride home for us just a couple systems over, so there was no need to take gates back to the jump bridge network.  We met up with our titan and got everybody collected as this was going to be one of those “make the first bridge or walk” events.  We had one straggler, a lone Apoc that somehow got hung up on something back in 5ZXX-K.  We waited for him then bridged home.  Mission accomplished.

We never did run into Mordus Angels, or their partners in the war on Goons, Triumvirate.  The report was that they couldn’t muster enough to take us on, so they went out to hunt ratters and ended up getting suckers by a bait carrier laid out for them.  Back in April, when Black Legion was working with them, we would get a fight now and again.  But with tower bashing fleets roaming the region and the US TZ based Freedom Squad group from the CFC camping them in their station to keep them from being able to go after ratters at will, it is looking like quiet structure shoots might be on the agenda for a while.

And since I had lots of free time spinning around the anchor, I have the usual allotment of screen shots after the cut.

(more…)

Leaving a Pile of Stuff Behind in Delve… September 8, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: ,
4 comments

Another Summer in Delves comes to an end.  The word came down on Friday that our deployment to Delve would be closing down and that there would be many… that was the term used… convoys heading back to Deklein so we could get various ships safely home to our new staging system.

Having piled up a number of ships, as I tend to on these deployments, I was looking to get a few of the more expensive ones home.  So I was keen to into one of these “many” convoys.  I made sure I had installed a jump clone down in F2OY-X so I could hop back and be ready to bring up the next ship after the first convoy.  I had a couple ships picked out to drive back up to Deklein.  All I needed was convoys to commence.

The first one came up Friday evening.  It was specifically called to get Tengu fleet ships back up north due to an op set to roll about an hour later.  However, we could only get about 20 ships in the fleet.  That turned out to be insufficient mass to gets us cleared to move out, so we stood down.  Due to other operations going on, no further convoys were called that night.

Saturday morning I managed to catch another call for a convoy op headed north.  I jumped into my Apocalypse this time, it being the most annoying of my vessels to get back to Deklein, shoveled any excess items from my hanger into the cargo hold, and joined the fleet.  This was about at the time when TNT was losing its match in the Alliance Tournament.  We managed to get about 35 people in the fleet, which was just enough to be cleared to head out.  And so a pack of battleships set off.

Getting aligned northward...

Getting aligned northward…

This ran like most convoys… actually, with so few people, it ran better than most… and we slowly moved from jump bridge to jump bridge through null sec, from about 7 to approximately 1 o’clock on the dial.  There was a point in Fountain where our scout spotted a 40+ fleet from the Battlement Coalition in our path.  That was enough to be a concern, as a convoy fleet is generally not fit to fight on equal terms, being a pretty random selection of ships, and depends on numbers to keep hostiles away.   An outnumbered convoy needs to be wary.

The hostiles were in a system where one of our jump bridges is anchored, so going around meant a long diversion off of our way.  But as we waited to see what they were up to, they left, missing out on a juicy target and never to be heard from again during the op.  We moved onward through Fountain, Cloud Ring, Pure Blind, and into Deklein.

The distinctive colors of the northwest

The distinctive colors of the northwest

A couple of jumps from our destination we were cleared to free burn to the staging systems.  A participation link was provided and the op was over.  I docked up, left my ship, a clone jumped right back down to F2OY-X in hopes of catching another convoy north.

However, no further convoys were announced while I was online on Saturday… or on Sunday.  And since I was logged into Jabber for most waking hours over the weekend, I am going to guess that it wasn’t just bad timing on my part.

The FC on the first convoy op, which stood down, speculated that with the push to get people into capital ships in the CFC, carriers were becoming pretty common.  And if you have a carrier deployed… and we had quite a pile… it is pretty easy just to shove a few sub caps into the hanger bay… yours or your friends… and hop home with the rest of the capital fleet.

Not being part of the capital fleet, and with most of the people I consider close enough friends that I would start asking for favors not playing EVE Online right now, I am somewhat dependent on the whole convoy thing to get bigger ships home safely.

I do own a carrier.  I bought it nearly two years back and then never really used it.  I am stuck in a chicken and egg thing on that front.  I am not confident enough in my ability to use it to sign up for capital fleets.  I literally have no clue as what to do, and while everybody is happy enough to answer questions in a frigate fleet, the more expensive the ships get the less tolerant of questions people get, or such is my observation.  And while I don’t mind being the idiot in fleet once in a while, when it starts putting people’s expensive toys at risk, I get really nervous.   But I cannot get any experience without joining up.

So, while theoretically I could fly my carrier down to Delve, pick up some ships and fly in back, the reality is that I lack the confidence to put my Archon at risk for a set of ships that cost significantly less than the carrier itself.  Meanwhile, over at DOTLAN, the route down and back they suggest is five jumps either way.

There and back...

Potentially there and back…

That means getting somebody in each of those systems with a cyno as a jump target for the Archon and being at risk for at least four of the five jumps.  Add in the fact that our alliance leader hates when people lose carriers in anything but strat ops, so a round of public humiliation and a quarter billion ISK fine are part of the bargain if I screw up, and I am seriously considering just selling the Archon.  I am just not invested enough in the game right now to want the complications it brings.

Meanwhile, I’ll just leave a jump clone and a collection of ships down in Delve.  It’s not like we won’t be back.

 

Rift Joins the Insta-Level Club with Nighmare Tide Expansion September 5, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: ,
11 comments

While I haven’t been in Rift for ages, that doesn’t mean Trion Worlds isn’t still out there plugging away.  During that very busy stretch in August… I though people went on vacation in August… they announced a new expansion, the Nightmare Tide.

RiftNighmareTide

This will bring the level cap up to 65, adds new content in the Plane of Water, gives you a new bag slot (woot!), and a host of new and improved features you can read about over on their site.  I just hope it isn’t an all under water expansion.  Too much disorientation for me.

The expansion, set to come out on October 8th of this year, is available for pre-order in three flavors.

Nighmare Tide Editions

Nightmare Tide Editions

Selling new content, expansions, is one of the business models I can really get behind. But, as always, we get into the discussion about what is worth the money.  You can go compare the three editions on their site to see if you would drop an additional $100 to get the Ultimate Nightmare Edition.  I am not sure it would be for me, but I am also not playing Rift currently, so the $25 option isn’t for me either.

The interesting thing for me in all of this is the item available only with the $50 and $150 editions which will boost a character to level 60, currently the level cap in the game.  From the site:

Boost one character to Level 60 with a swig of this powerful draught! It comes complete with gear to begin your quests in the Plane of Water and is even tradable to other characters – but be careful, it only works once!

Where have I heard about something like that before?  Oh yeah, back at BlizzCon last November, when Blizzard announced the Warlords of Draenor expansion, which included a boost to level 90 for a single character.

Not that I am trying to scold them for copying an idea that is starting to spread.  Rift has made its mark by working hard to be a better WoW than WoW,  putting themselves directly up against the big gorilla in the room… or something.

No, not Azeroth!

Remember this?

So if Trion is copying a feature from elsewhere for Rift, it generally means it is a feature worth having.  But I wonder how much of the Blizzard playbook they are going to copy?

As of right now, the insta-60 option… which would let me skip past the Storm Legion content I got mired in, and eventually gave up on… is only available by purchasing the top two versions of the expansion package.  It is not available as its own item in the in-game store.

But will it stay that way?

As Silverangel notes in her look at the whole thing, that the idea of insta-levels staying locked to an expansion purchase seems naive.  And Blizzard itself started with insta-90s being tied to the Warlords of Draenor expansion, but eventually moved to make them a cash shop item.  An expensive cash shop item, for sure, ringing in at $60 a pop.  But if you want more than the one you got with the expansion and three double sawbucks burning a hole in your pocket, Blizzard has the deal for you.

The alleged price of level 90

Yours, if the price is right…

So I suppose that just leaves us with two questions.

The first is, “When Trion will offer insta-levels as a cash shop item?”

My gut says that they will be available after the expansion goes live, but before the end of the year, so you’ll be able to buy yourself or a friend a character boost for the holidays.

And the second is, “How much will a Rift insta-60 cost?”

Blizzard wants $60, but even down to almost half of their peak user base, they are still sitting on such a huge revenue stream that they can afford to stick to their notions of the world, like the idea that people should be encouraged to play through the content.  I think insta-levels are more a utility than revenue stream for them.

Back in the real world, where it isn’t raining cash, SOE priced their level 85 boosts in EverQuest and EverQuest II at about $35.  However, that is taking the strict, default valuation of Station Cash and translating it to coin of the realm.  Theoretically it could be much cheaper if you bought your Station Cash during a sale, got one of those Walmart bonus Station Cash cards, or found some other loophole in the SOE accounting system.

And then there is Lord of the Rings Online and their goofy option, which only boosts you to level 50… 45 levels shy of Helm’s Deep content… and which they are trying to promote through scarcity by only offering it on special occasions.  That has run for 5,000 Turbine points which, due to how Turbine’s valuation of their in-game currency vary depending on how and when you purchase it, could put the real world price somewhere between $38 and $70.  Or less, since you can earn Turbine points in the game, one of the outstanding features of LOTRO, so you could subsidize your purchase with that.

Given all of that, I would guess that Trion would price insta-levels in Rift closer to the SOE price range than the Blizzard.

Then again, Trion isn’t shy about asking for money.  They have a $150 option for their expansion and they were looking for $100 if you wanted to be in the ArcheAge beta.

What do you think?

Sliding Down the Blade’s Edge September 4, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

Last time around I found my progress towards the Loremaster achievement in World of Warcraft… well… if not thwarted, at least delayed.  While I did a lot of quests in Nagrand, I found myself 12 quests shy of the achievement, and for 11 of those 12 quests I need a group or to be level 70.

Not the end of the world.  It isn’t like I will lose that progress if I run off and do something else.  But I had hit a stride of having racked up at least one more achievement each week as I pressed forward towards my goal, only to have my streak broken.  It was a minor hit to my morale.

But what are you going to do?

I wasn’t going to give up, so the only thing to do was to press on to the next zone.  For Outland, that would be the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

Blade's Edge Mountains Map

Blade’s Edge Mountains Map

I did not have an intro quest for the zone, and I do not think I had actually run a quest in the zone since maybe 2008.  So the first thing I did was head off to Stormwind to turn my experience bar back on.

I had turned the bar off at Nagrand so as to not out-level all of the content into complete triviality.  Now, with Nagrand behind me and the zones ahead pretty much okay for up to level 70, it was time to resume leveling.

Then it was back through the Dark Portal to Outland.

Coming soon: A DARKER Portal

Coming soon: A DARKER Portal to a new Outland!

It was time to find my way to the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

More after the cut.

(more…)

Free Realms Inspired Family MMO Raises Seven Dollars on First Day September 3, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Mail Bag.
Tags: , , ,
8 comments

The upside for Wonky Seasons, should they be able to carry this first day momentum, is that is that their Kickstarter campaign is trending to raise a grand total of $109.

WonkyTwoDaytotal

The bad news is that if this trend continues, it will only get them to 0.13% of their $85,000 goal.

Looking pretty happy considering...

Looking pretty happy considering…

Okay, I am being snarky or sarcastic… or maybe both.  Heck, I couldn’t tell you for sure if Free Realms was their inspiration.  This is all they really say on the subject:

Wonky Seasons started because it’s creators saw how the closure of a popular family MMO game affected it’s players. We followed many stories of kids that were heartbroken and the big void the closure of this game created.

While the characters in the logo made me think of the now shut down Free Realms, they could as easily be referring to the dearly departed Toontown Online.  Or it could be some other game.  So take your pick.

I am not bringing this up to be hurtful or to have a joke purely at their expense… though that will probably get them some attention, which they desperately need… but because this sort of thing almost makes me weep for the almost boundless sense of optimism that this sort of project requires and how it is going to get smacked down by the harsh reality of the world of game development in general, and MMO development in particular.

Just last Friday I was bemoaning the fact that the Project: Gorgon Kickstarter campaign seemed unlikely to succeed largely, I felt, because it had little name recognition.  No major media outlet is clamoring for an interview with Eric Heimburg just so he can promote his new Kickstarter.  But Eric Heimburg at least has standing in the MMO game developer community and has worked on actual MMOs that have shipped, are still running, and could be considered successful… not to mention actually having a working alpha version of his game that you can download and try before you decided whether or not to kick in any money.

And with all of that, he only rolled out of the gates on the first day with $4,500 of the $100,000 he is looking to raise to hurry up the production of his game… a game that is already a tangible thing you can play.

In that context, what chance does a team with no standing and no game development experience listed have showing up with no fanfare and looking to build momentum and get the ball rolling after they have already started the clock on their campaign?  It isn’t like they are making something that will capture media attention or is likely to go viral.  Another MMO?  Who needs that?  We’re looking for the next potato salad campaign. (Which, depressingly, brought in more than Eric Heimburg’s first Kickstarter.)

So what do you tell somebody who sends you a note asking you to please do a post about their Kickstarter campaign?  Being one of a dozen or so messages in the blog inbox, I nearly passed over it.  I only looked at it because it was flagged to indicate it was sent from the feedback form on the About page here at TAGN, which meant somebody came here and pasted it in themselves rather than just using an email spam service.  And I only decided to do a post because… seven dollars?

Do you tell them to give up, go home, get a real job?

I don’t know.  I don’t know what they really have.  I don’t know where it may end up.

All I could recommend is that they get themselves a copy of It’s a Long Way to the Top by AC/DC… I am partial to the Jack Black version at the end of School of Rock… and to play that loudly every time life comes around to kick them in the teeth as they try to move this project forward.  If they want to get this done, they’ll be listening to that song a lot.

You can find their Kickstarter page here to read all about the project.