Landmark and a Dire Vision of Things to Come… February 11, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next, Sony Online Entertainment.
Tags: Landmark, Second Life
Rowan Blaze over at I Have Touched the Sky has managed to sum up in one picture what I expect eventually to happen everywhere in SOE’s Landmark.
I cropped his screen shot down to the essential message. Free Donuts.
And therein lies the seeds of destruction.
Not that I object to the sign. It is just a cute example of what one can do in a sandbox like Landmark. Innocent fun. And I am sure if the person with the adjacent claim was trying to build something with a different theme that contrasted with the idea of free donuts… maybe a place where donuts were currency, or perhaps some fantasy setting where donuts aren’t really a thing… Rowan would take down his sign. Heck, his sign… and his claim… might disappear on their own at this point in development. But even if it remained, I am sure he wouldn’t prop it up next to his neighbors medieval castle or whatever.
Landmark is in alpha after all, and a pay-to-play alpha at that. Everybody who is playing in the alpha really wants to be there and, judging from what I have seen, are very quick to let you know you can get a full, no-questions-ask refund the moment you complain about anything in Landmark.
That is pretty common with pre-release communities. They tend to be the most invested in the game and are always the ones to moan about how the community for a given game went down hill after release. How often have we heard, “The game/The community/People were much better/nicer in beta?”
So Landmark is in that happy, like-minded, orthodoxy enforced, pre-release community state where everything is new and people seem to care more about the game and the idea of the game than the current state of the game. If you worry about the current state of the game… well… you can get a full, no-questions-ask refund. It is a happy time of newness and excitement.
But the game will not remain in alpha… or beta… or pre-release… forever. The happy pre-release community that cares about the game will, if things go to plan, eventually be dwarfed by the a larger community that will not, in general, hold exactly the same values when it comes to Landmark.
Landmark will be an amusement, a distraction, a toy, a way to pass the time, and a way to express themselves.
One way that people have shown they enjoy expressing themselves in the past is through griefing their fellow players. And the more freedom you give people the greater the of griefing that will occur and the hard it ends up being to stop it.
Basically, the proposition I am putting forward is that the more sandbox-like an online game is, the more there will be griefing. And, with that in mind, I made a little chart.
That is my “pulled straight from my posterior end” assessment of the sandbox nature of some online games that came to mind given a few minutes thought. Feel free to object or suggest a re-ordering or inject where other games may sit on the continuum of sandboxiness. I am already reconsidering my placements, but I am too lazy to edit the picture.
At one end is Webkinz, in which your ability to do anything is pretty well constrained and interactions with other players is severely limited. This is a game for small children and their mothers. Your ability to touch the game is limited to decorating your own house, which only a select few individuals… if anybody at all… will ever see. Arrange your furniture in a swastika or penis shape and nobody will likely know or care.
I put League of Legends down the line towards Club Penguin because, despite its reputation, it seems to me that your freedom of action is pretty limited, and saying bad words in either game will get you banned eventually.
I put EVE Online in the middle, trending a bit towards the pure sandbox end of things. The thing is, for all of its sandbox reputation, it really isn’t all as much of a sandbox as you might think. The game is quite constrained by its mechanics. What gives it the air of sandbox is more about the lack of central narrative… there is so little “game” in the game… the range of potential career paths, and the tolerance by CCP for what one might consider griefing in another game. A sandbox attitude in a universe constrained by some occasionally strange mechanics.
I compare this to Wurm Online, about which I only know by what Stargrace has written. She had a number of tales of people clear cutting her trees or stealing her livestock, or making pests of themselves, or just general drama. That all sounded much more sandbox-like and much more grief prone… at least relative to the rules of the respective games… than EVE.
At the sandbox end of my little list I put Second Life. This is the bugbear, the thing that should scare you about sandbox freedom, as things sometimes end up looking like this.
I actually find that picture amusing. But then, I don’t have to look at it every day.
That picture is from a tale of an ongoing attempt to grief a player in Second Life, which including buying up adjacent properties and filling them with things meant to annoy the player. The tale of that is over at Broken Toys, from where I swiped the screen shot. So there is that, flying penises, and… well… you have to visit the place to see the range of things. Griefing… like porn… isn’t everywhere in Second Life, but it can be brought to a level of art that would surprise you.
Just down the line from Second Life I put Landmark. Again, my own gut call, and you can argue where it really belongs on the line. But given the sandbox claims and Rowan’s sign, I have to think that it is far closer Second Life than any traditional MMO.
And while I do not think SOE is going to allow anywhere close to the amount of freedom to do… whatever… that Second Life has allowed, there is going to be a line somewhere. The sign that says “Free Donuts” might be okay, but what if it gets changed to “Free Penises?” What if Rowan builds a tower that happens to look like a penis? What if he reconstructs St. Basil’s Cathedral, only with the onion-shaped domes looking suspiciously penis-like? What is with Rowan and his obsession with phallic imagery? (Do I need to say “just kidding” here? I will, just in case.)
What happens when we get this?
At some point SOE is going to draw a line, and then there will be a group of people who will push right up to that line and dare SOE to do something about it. And people will complain about those within the letter but perhaps not the spirit of the rules and there will be arguments and rage and rule lawyering and all the fun stuff we expect from online games, only magnified by the freedom allowed by Landmark. Is it any wonder that SOE canned that other sandbox title before launch? They were not ready for it then and I am not sure they are ready for it now.
Sure, SOE might believe they can police the internet. But will they be able to handle the conflicting visions and personalities that will eventually flock to Landmark? Has SOE articulated a plan for this? Is my vision too dire, or not dire enough? And how much enforcement can they impose and still keep things happy and sandboxy?
Quote of the Day – For Specific Definitions of “Next” January 22, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next, Sony Online Entertainment.
Tags: Because SOE, Landmark, Quote of the Day
EverQuest Next — which is a totally different beast — has no current timetable. It could release in 2015 or 2025 for all we know right now.
Massively, Leaderboard: EQN vs. EQN Landmark
Therein lies the rub.
Last August, when SOE Live was done, I was quite excited about EverQuest Next. It was the big announcement out of the event. I wrote ~2,500 words about EQN, less than 100 of which were about Landmark, which was a Minecraft-esque tool set pseudo-game that I did not quite understand.
I did not really care about Landmark. I wanted the core game that was described at SOE Live. The one that was… well… a freakin’ EverQuest MMORPG, with emergent AI and a new class system and all the things they presented.
I worried that, after the huge splash the EQN announcement made at SOE Live, that SOE would follow past patterns and let the excitement die off through neglect.
And, I guess if I am speaking strictly of of EQN, my worries were well founded. EQN has been relegated to a series of banal survey questions that the same few people debate on their forums. Such is the Round Table. It apparently only seats about a dozen.
However, if we just follow from SOE Live, then excitement has been maintained to a certain extent… only occasionally interrupted by the usual SOE foibles… if we include Landmark in the picture. Since SOE Live, Landmark has grown to take up almost the whole of the SOE marketing and community interaction effort. At this point somebody stumbling onto the scene might justifiably conclude that EQN is just shorthand for EverQuest Next Landmark.
So I am… well… “frustrated” or “annoyed” are too strong… bemused, I guess, that SOE led with EQN at SOE Live, talking that up a great deal, only to let it fall by the wayside while all focus was devoted to Landmark, which looked like an adjunct product at the time of the announcement.
Yes, I understand that SOE ought to focus their marketing on the project shipping soonest… these days we ship at alpha and charge people for the privileged… and that there is an audience for Landmark… but dammit, they talked about this other thing I wanted and now barely acknowledge its existence. Validate my selfish needs, damn you!
I guess I just fear another outcome like The Agency.
My MMO Outlook for 2014 January 3, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next, polls, The Edler Scrolls Online, WildStar, World of Warcraft.
There are three posts I have done around this time of year for most of the last few years. There is the looking back post, which I did for 2013 a ways back. There is the predictions/questions/whatever sort of bigger picture post which I posted on the first of the year.
And then there is a look at what might launch in the coming year that could be of interest to me. I usually do that one first because it is usually the easiest. The other two, theoretically, take some thought, while that post is mostly about emotion. What upcoming game speaks to me? What will I have to buy on day one just to play it?
This year though, I am just not feeling much of that emotional tingle, the burning desire to stomp around on some new world. The list of potential contenders did not spring immediately to mind. Still, I march forward out of habit if nothing else. Here is what I have.
5 – EverQuest Next Landmark
On the list because… I felt I needed five titles… sort of.
I am mostly uninterested in Landmark because it is billed as a tool not a game. Not that tools can’t be fun. I’ve spent the last 15 years working on development environments of one sort or another… tools, in essence… and have had more than my share of fun in doing so. But for gaming time, I am not sure I am in the tool zone any more. Somewhere between Pinball Construction Set (or Adventure Construction Set) and the level editor in StarCraft, I fell out of the desire to build levels and such. I am pretty much just a consumer of content now, at least when it comes to me leisure time.
That said, SOE seems to be on something of an “It’s a dessert topping! No, it’s a floor wax!” riff when it comes to Landmark, so my lack of interest could change when the people who paid to get into the early user guinea pig test cycles start reporting back on what it really is. Until then though, it is a very unlikely candidate for me in 2014.
4 – WildStar
A step ahead of Landmark by virtue of it being solidly in the “it’s a game!” category.
WildStar is also the latest attempt to break out of the stock MMORPG template with some change-ups to combat and movement and special development paths that you can select for your character. The latter are supposed to represent the different Bartle types, though I recall Bartle himself writing a bit about such an implementation representing a misunderstanding of what he meant with his types. Explorer types will want to try all options, as an example, not just the explorer path. It’s what makes them explorers. Or something.
Otherwise, it looks to be very much a product of the last decade of MMO development. Will its “different” bits be different enough to make it stand out while its “same” bits remain familiar enough to not scare people off? And can it struggle out from the massive shadow cast by World of Warcraft? And will NCSOFT race to put a bullet in its head if it turns out to be a “3 monther?”
WildStar is a title where I have no real desire yet to be in-game on day one, but I wouldn’t discount it as a title I try eventually.
3 – The Elder Scrolls Online
Now we’re getting into more likely territory.
Despite the reports of boring sameness, seeming to be another MMO in the post-WoW mold, and the annoying official acronym change from TESO to ESO, I actually feel like I might want to play this one. Maybe even on day one despite… or maybe because of… my prediction about it. I am guessing it will be a disaster on launch day… well, more so than your typical MMO launch. But sometimes being part of the disaster can endear a game to you.
Anyway, why am I even looking at this, give the combo of alleged sameness and the potential for day one catastrophe?
I guess that the key here is that I cannot imagine that the developers of this MMO could be so daft as to create a game based on the Elder Scrolls franchise without looking deep within themselves to ask the most important question: Does it capture even a bit of the essence of the series? Because that is the vital ingredient here, the winning proposition, the thing that would make people knock over their grandmother to grab a copy of the game. If they can come up with something that feels just enough like Skyrim, but lets me play with my friends, then they will prevail . The only issue I have with Skyrim is that I cannot play with my friends. Solve that, profit.
Of course, if they fail to do that, they are toast.
2 – EverQuest Next
On the list because, as of a date in early August of last year, this has been the official “next game” for me.
Even after several months of SOE trying to beat any enthusiasm out of me by almost exclusively talking up Landmark while relegating the actual freaking game to inane roundtable discussions on topics like whether or not female dwarves should have beards and what color barbarian toe jam should be rendered in, this is still the only upcoming MMO I am actually really looking forward to at this time.
Of course, part of that is no doubt the stunning lack of tangible information available about the game. Between the inane, like the beards, and the broad stroke terms, like “sandbox,” and the promise of Storybricks technology and voxels and what not, there are huge gaps in which one can build castles in the sky founded on hopes, dreams, and aspirations that might not enter into the reality of the game when it ships.
But, even now, knowing all the gaps, it is still the game I lust for.
Which is a pity, because I cannot imagine it being in any sort of playable state in 2014. Still, if it shows up, I am there.
1 – Warlords of Draenor
This one, this is the gimme. The default choice. The Meryl Streep nomination.
Unless something radical happens, this is the one game… well, expansion to a game, because frankly I couldn’t even come up with five NEW MMOs I would consider… that I know I will be picking up this year. Maybe even the collector’s edition this time around.
Yes, I know, for every new feature in Warlords of Draenor there is going to be a dozen re-skinned or re-used items and that they are pulling out the time travel gimmick yet again and that we’ll be fighting a bunch of orcs… the same thing we do every night, Pinky. I’m not even bursting at the seams, “gotta have it now!” excited about this expansion. I’m content to let show up in good time.
But I didn’t end up back playing the 9 year old fantasy MMORPG (along side the 10 year old internet spaceships game) because they don’t know how to make a smooth, comfortable, playable game with plenty of attractive rides/treadmills for me to while away the hours on with my friends. Yes, it isn’t the early days any more, or even the 2006 heyday of classic WoW, but I am back and have found I like it. And I expect that I will like Warlords of Draenor as much if not more. Go boring old me.
And Into 2014…
The new year is upon us, and what I say at the start of a year doesn’t always come to pass by the end. At the beginning of 2013, where I lumped my predictions and outlook into a single post… hey I was in Hawaii at the time… I said I would “finish” Rift and and make it to tier 8 in World of Tanks. Didn’t happen. In past years I have also declared myself for such titles as Star Wars: The Old Republic and Neverwinter, neither of which ever gained a lot of traction with me. So this is just the usual stake in the ground, declaring the lay of the land as I see it today, not knowing what tomorrow might bring.
And since, in looking back on these sorts of posts, I always seem to end them with a poll, I will keep with tradition, adding in a couple more titles that did not make my list. Which of these will you likely play in 2014?
The 2014 List – Back to Predictions January 1, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Next, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft.
Welcome to 2014. At the beginning of every year I have a habit of hanging my monumental ignorance out for public display by trying to write something about the upcoming twelve months in the MMO world. I have done a few variations on this. The story so far on that front:
- 2008 – Predictions (silly, mostly wrong)
- 2009 – Predictions (mostly silly, mostly wrong)
- 2010 – Predictions (lots of bullet points, mostly wrong)
- 2011 – Demands (mostly unmet)
- 2012 – Questions (mostly unanswered)
- 2013 – Goals (mostly unfulfilled)
Now here we are, its a brand new day in a brand new year, and it is time to take another stab at it.
(Original 2014 graphic provided by my daughter)
I think I will go back to the predictions routine, complete with point assignments so I can score myself when December rolls around.
I will follow the usual protocol and link to other people’s predictions here, just to share the love.
Reminder: Predictions are different than wishes. Just because I think something might happen doesn’t mean I want it to happen. Plus look at my track record. If you are bad at causation, you might safely assume that my predicting something makes it unlikely to happen.
1 – Ship Dates
My predicted US ship dates for some key launches in and around the MMO genre.
Scoring: 10 points each, with 2 points deducted for each week off my prediction. That gives me some room for partial credit while not leaving the window too wide. (I made the EVE Online expansions one entry, so both dates count, because everything is more difficult in New Eden.) In cases where the company has announced a date and I have something later… such as TESO… color me the skeptic I guess.
- Hearthstone – April 1
- The Elder Scrolls Online – April 22
- EVE Online 2014 expansions – (working names Excursions and Magellan) May 13 & November 18
- WildStar – June 10
- Warlords of Draenor – September 9
- EverQuest Landmark – October 15
- StarCraft: Legacy of the Void – October 15
- EverQuest II expansion #10 (working name Cheese of the Ratonga) – November 4
- LEGO Minifigures Online – November 4
- EverQuest expansion #21 (working name Return of Lady Vox) – November 25
I also get 10 points of extra credit if any of my working names turn out to be true.
2 – Missed Dates
This is a list of launches that we might expect in 2014, but which I think won’t make it. Open beta doesn’t count, the games have to be out of beta, live, and going concerns.
Scoring: 10 points each and pretty much a pass/fail exercise.
- EverQuest Next
- Heroes of the Storm
- Line of Defense
- Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtue
- World of Warships
3 – Changes, Offers, and Upsets
Predictions as to what we will hear from the industry in 2014.
Scoring: 10 points for each correct prediction. I am going to declare for partial credit on these if warranted.
- World of Warcraft will report a small boost in subscriptions for Q4 2013 based on BlizzCon and Warlords of Draenor. Subs will then resume a slow down trend until the expansion ships.
- Blizzard will announce that WoW subscribers will get special benefits in Hearthstone.
- Blizzard’s World of Warcraft 10 year anniversary gift will be a mount for those subscribers who log in during the right time frame.
- Blizzard’s insta-90 option will be available as a service for $35 by December of 2014.
- SOE’s naming decision with EverQuest Next and EverQuest Next Landmark will come back to haunt them with some headline grabbing rage as people outside of the hardcore fan circles download Landmark and discover that this was not the game they were expecting. One (or both) of the products will end up with a new name.
- ArenaNet will slow down their continuous content update plan and announce they are working on an expansion for GuildWars 2. Off the record, Anet will report that their master’s in Seoul demanded this.
- WildStar will be off to the races with a smooth launch and a huge initial spike, but it will fall into the dread “three monther” category as subscriptions will trail off dramatically.
- The Elder Scrolls Online will have a rocky launch, starting with a delay for the PC side of the house. But the game will manage to capture enough of the Elder Scrolls franchise to sustain the game, making it one of the rare recent MMORPGs, one that doesn’t peak in the first month and go downhill from there.
- WildStar will announce plans to move to a free to play model before the end of the year.
- The Elder Scrolls Online will not budge on to the monthly subscription model in 2013.
- Turbine will remove the 500 Turbine Points per month stipend from Lifetime subscriber accounts in Lord of the Rings Online.
- Turbine’s Gift of the Valar insta-level option will be revised after the trial run. The new version, with a new name, will boost players at least 10 additional levels and include all of the pre-Helm’s Deep expansions.
- With no support/budget for any raise in the level cap featuring fully voiced content, Star Wars: The Old Republic will follow on the Galactic Starfighter mini-game with more of the same. First up will be Droid Battles. Somewhat akin to Pokemon and WoW Pet Battles, to which it will be immediately compared, it will be far more focused on upgrading parts and abilities on a small set of droid models. Cosmetic options for droids, as well as special models, will be the cash shop aspect of this feature.
- CCP will announce new areas of space to explore, as they have hinted at since Rubicon. The new areas will be a cross between null sec and wormhole space. Local chat will work like W-space and there won’t be any sovereignty. You get to keep the space you can hold. But there will be none of the mucking about with wormhole stability. Jump gates will be the mode of travel. And this new area of space will be just our of capital ship jump range.
- CCP will severely restrict drone assist in 2014. However, it will be done in typical CCP fashion and will pretty much break drones for all purposes until they do a big drone revamp as part of the second 2014 expansion.
- Funcom will finally have an unequivocal success with the launch of LEGO Minifigures Online.
- The inevitable rough ride for Chris Roberts will come when Star Citizen needs to start generating revenue beyond the donations of the faithful and features begin to get trimmed down to a more realistic target. It doesn’t mean that the game(s) won’t be good, but they won’t be everything ever promised by Chris Roberts. That will make a few big spenders rage.
- The Brad McQuaid “challenging epic planar high fantasy” Kickstarter won’t fund if he asks for more than $500,000. I just don’t think he has the reputation/following of Mark Jacobs or Lord British.
- 2014 will be the year of the “insta-level” option for “levels” focused MMOs successful enough to ship an expansion that boosted the level cap… which, honestly, isn’t that many games when I think about it. I will count this as fulfilled if I get EverQuest and Rift and one other game.
- The near-ubiquity of free to play as an option for MMORPGs will start to take its toll on those games for which “it’s crap, but it’s free!” was the prime competitive advantage. Expect to see more than half a dozen Asian imports fold up shop in North America in 2014. First on the list appears to be, Lunia. The second Legends of Edda. The third ArchLord. The fourth Wizardry Online.
4 – Scoring?
Well, that tallies up to 350 possible points, to be scored on or after December 15, 2014. If I end up getting half that total right, I will be amazed.
5 – Predictions of Others
I put most of this together in the middle of December, altering it from time to time based on news. I figure any input from game companies is valid input right up until 23:59:59 on December 31st. On the other hand, I avoided the prediction posts of my fellow bloggers up until now. I did not want those to color my own view of the world until I had finished this post. But now that that my list is live, I am adding those in so you can see what others are predicting for 2014.
- Hardcore Casual
- Healing the Masses
- Leo’s Life
- Murf Versus Internet
- Player Versus Developer
- The Nosy Gamer
I will add more to the list as I spot them.
But if you want a really good list of predictions for 2014, go read what Isaac Asimov predicted for 2014 back in 1964. He was close on some population numbers at least.
And so here we are, at the dawn of yet another calendar year. What else is bound to happen in 2014?
Looking Back at 2013 – Highs and Lows December 20, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Next, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, Sony Online Entertainment, War Thunder, World of Warcraft.
Tags: EA, Rambling Friday, Turbine
This has become a regular end of the year feature here I guess, now that it is in its fourth year. Past entries, should you be bored and looking for something else to read, are here:
This list isn’t meant to be definitive in any way. Highs and lows are relative. My lows are certainly highs to somebody, and vise versa . This is more of a wash of impressions that I find myself left with at the end of the year. I am sure I will miss something important, even for more own narrow definition. Feel free to add or question in the comments or use what I say as fodder for your own blog posts.
The wall of bullet points beings.
Payment Model Wars
- F2P vs. Subscription gave us plenty of things to post and/or argue about.
- We are starting to get Western MMORPGs that were designed from the start to be F2P, which ought to give a better experience than conversions.
- The “free” part of F2P MMORPGs seem, in general, to be edging further into the “substantially free” zone.
- World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and… the one people seem to forget… Final Fantasy XIV still holding the fort for the subscription model. Not dead yet.
- WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online are determined to test if the subscription model is still valid for new games in this day and age.
- A lot of people think WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online are headed for a trouble by going the subscription route. F2P by fall.
- SWTOR failing at the subscription model still casts a long shadow, which plays into the line above.
- When somebody says an MMO is “free to play” that doesn’t tell me anything yet, beyond the idea that it probably doesn’t require a monthly subscription.
- The dichotomy of the two models still exists for me. I hate when a game brings up money almost constantly… nothing brings me “out” of the game like a financial calculation… but I won’t stay subscribed to a game for a day longer than I have to if I am not playing it. Or, to flip it the other way, I like not having a subscription, but I hate that the hand is always out for money even when I do opt for the “yes there is still a subscription” option in a F2P title. Or something.
- Subscription to F2P conversions still dominate the Western MMO F2P landscape. Even if you don’t think they carry the stink of failure, it is still tough to escape the before/after comparison, especially if the F2P model looks like a thinly veiled attempt to make you subscribe.
- Final Fantasy XIV a Realm Reborn is probably the most interesting sounding MMO I am never going to play. Not buying a box and paying another monthly subscription.
- Asian MMOs no longer have an automatic “in” to the market by virtue of being free to play. Remember when Runes of Magic was a big deal? Remember when a $10 horse caused outrage? Dime a dozen complaint these days. The market is crowded enough that even their tiny cost structures cannot be sustained. Early entrants are still around… how Silk Road Online survives is one of the mysteries of the universe… but new titles seem to come and go quickly. I am not sure that is good for the industry overall. Or maybe it is.
- Every conversion from subscription to F2P includes an immediate press release about huge success… and then we never hear another word on the subject. I don’t expect weekly updates, but when you never mention something ever again, it sure seems like the peak came early on.
- The F2P store balance seems to be a tightrope walk… and some companies are working without a net.
- Woo hoo, Lord of the Rings Online moves a step closer to Mordor with the Helm’s Deep expansion!
- Middle-earth still has that Middle-earth charm.
- I made it THROUGH Moria during my latest vacation in Middle-earth. Now just two more expansions to get through and I will be caught up with all I have paid for.
- The change up of classes into a more role specific model seems to be a good thing.
- No repeat of the hobby horse idea.
- Yay… other Turbine games. Dungeons & Dragons Online and all calls routed through to Asheron’s number.
- Oh, hey, they have Macintosh versions of DDO and LOTRO. My daughter even tried DDO.
- As much as I love Middle-earth, LOTRO is starting to show its age. Moving to WoW after a summer of LOTRO was like realizing you’ve been driving with your parking brake on.
- Being just out of Moria, it doesn’t matter how nice the next LOTRO expansion is, I don’t need to buy it.
- Turbine seems to be rethinking the whole big expansion thing, with no such beast expected for 2014. How we get to Mordor… or even Gondor at this point… is unclear.
- Every time I come back to LOTRO, it feels like they have installed another “insert coin here” adjunct to the UI.
- Insta-level to the mid-game seems like a half baked idea, unless you think Moria is the best content in the game… and you already own Moria.
- Just waiting for Turbine to give in to the “lifetime subscribers are the problem” mob.
- DDO reminds you that it pre-dates LOTRO in look and feel. My daughter said it was confusing and ugly and went back to Minecraft.
- The return of Asheron’s Call 2 was the big Turbine announcement last year at this time… and not much else has been mentioned since.
- Infinite Crisis, Turbine’s run at the MOBA genre, sounds more like their financial situation pre-Warner. And it looks like a no show for 2013 at this point. Plus, really? Another MOBA? I am not sure what Turbine brings to the table on this.
Sony Online Entertainment
- Finally announced EverQuest Next as an MMO that might bring something new to the genre. The word “sandbox” has been thrown about liberally. There has been much excitement. This is perhaps the only new MMO I am looking forward to at this point.
- EverQuest Next Landmark, a subset of the tools being used to create EverQuest Next, will be available to players as a F2P title.
- SOE eased up on the restrictions on free players in EQII. One notch back on the “really, you should just subscribe to play” focus.
- EverQuest is still a live an going concern. It even got an expansion.
- SOE has actually made some progress getting themselves out of the discount Station Cash hole they dug for themselves with huge discounts up through last year.
- EverQuest Mac gets powered down. Its days were numbered, but it is still sad to see it go.
- EverQuest Next is way out in the future, and I am not convinced the “design by committee” thing that SOE is doing via the round table… even if is is all illusory… is the best of all possible options. Still, it beats their past practice of announcing something then going silent for a year.
- EverQuest Next… how is a F2P sandbox going to work? SOE has a horrible track record at pricing things in a way that puts the “micro” in “microtransaction.” If your minimum price is going to be $5.00, you might as well just take VISA up front.
- EverQuest Next Landmark is closer, but I have no desire to try it for free at this point, much less pay $100 to do so.
- PlanetSide 2 had so many problems this year. Aimbots, stability, performance… I stopped playing pretty quickly, but people I follow seem to be bemused about SOE’s progress with the game.
- I have grown so apart from EverQuest II that all I do when I log in is pay the rent on my house.
- EverQuest abides in its own form, but SOE seems to be really pushing it to the back burner, and you wouldn’t know there was a Progression Server thing still going the way it has been handled. I doubt we will see another such special server.
- Just waiting for SOE to “expire” Station Cash on unused accounts.
- EVE Online, still hanging in there on the subscription model, growing ever so slightly, and unique in so many ways. Ten years old and as strong as it has ever been.
- Two decent expansions this year, Odyssey and Rubicon, with some solid features and improvements in each.
- Giant space battles deciding the colors on the map!
- Does any gaming company running a live game do Dev blogs that approach what CCP produces?
- Hints at plans for brand new space frontiers in New Eden.
- Managed to stay away from controversy when it came to the direction the game is going. No more “greed is good” talk or other things that caused the Incarna revolt.
- Gave me a free copy of the collector’s edition.
- EVE Valkyrie for Occulus Rift sounds very exciting.
- Growth is oh so slow, and the question always arises about how many new accounts are just alts?
- It wouldn’t be CCP without some scandals! So we had SOMERBlink and Ishokune Scorpions, SOMERBlink at EVE Vegas, SOMERBlink and RMT loopholes, preferential treatment by CCP in general (which included SOMERBlink) and who gets what for free (which included some real crybaby attitudes at various points), Terms of Services hair splitting by CCP (which did NOT involve SOMERBlink!), and the usual CCP summer season of foot shooting. Really, the only thing we were missing was Mintchip accepting an Ishukone Scorpion from SOMERBlink, selling it for a PLEX in EVE, and then using that PLEX to pay some capsuleer to mow her parent’s lawn… while topless, wearing a monocle, and speaking entirely in quotes from Atlas Shrugged.
- PLEX continues to amaze and horrify people by turns. It remains a comically divisive aspect of the game.
- The defining issue for CSM8 seems to be the CSM minutes at this point. Those minutes had better be worth it. Still better than CSM7 though.
- Epic space battles have turned into epic node crashes lately. Does anybody think the drone assignment feature is a good thing at this point?
- A good portion of the interesting things that happen in EVE… and 100% of the CCP run events… happen while I am at work. I read about them online just like anybody not playing the game.
- After the war in Fountain, the deployment(s) to Curse have felt a little dry. I have spent more time moving to and fro than in actual fleets.
- I am still trying to click on the lower left corner of the screen to undock six months later. Old habits.
- The future “huge effort to build a jump gate” in order to open up new areas of space idea sounds vaguely like “huge effort to build a titan” from times gone by. Efforts will thus be limited to large entities and the huge effort will become manageable for those entities over time. Expect jump gate proliferation.
- DUST 514? Hello, is anybody there? *distant occasional gunshot*
- World of Dakrness? Lay offs at CCP Atlanta make that an even more distant possibility.
- WoW revenues: still laughing all the way to the bank.
- Returning to WoW this fall was like getting into my own bed made up with flannel sheets fresh out of the dryer on a cold winter’s night.
- The instance group returning to Azeroth has also revived our spirits and our time spent playing together.
- Blizz’s work on softening the walls between servers has actually done some good. The game feels alive still and I have been able to group cross realms with people I haven’t been able to play with since server splits ages ago.
- I am reasonably sure there are no NSA/CIA/FBI infiltrators in our guild.
- Warlods of Draenor and the return to the 10 level expansion. Sounds good to me so far.
- Mists of Pandaria, meanwhile, is pretty good. I find it fulfilling in a way that Cataclysm was not.
- Blizz actually seems primed for a very strong 2014. The money machine will continue to print.
- Hearthstone looks good enough to even interest me slightly, and the only card game I ever play is Gin Rummy.
- Diablo III Reaper of Souls expansion looks promising.
- The death of the Diablo III auction house is a winner in my book.
- StarCraft II has Legacy of the Void lined up as the third expansion.
- Heroes of the Storm sounds like it might be a viable thing. It is Blizzard’s chance to apply their refinement magic to the MOBA genre. If only they can find a name and stick with it.
- WoW Subscribers down from the peak of “over 12 million” in the quarter after Cataclysm shipped to 7.6 million at last report. Blizz can still say “more than you ever had” to most everybody, but that is a lot of subscribers gone. There are whole industries that would disappear if that many people walked away. And where is that subscriber number headed next?
- Long term profitability seems to have stifled innovation on the subscription model options front, even considering how slow Blizz is about change in general. Blizz just rolls along.
- Coming back to WoW reminds me that there still a number of things that Blizz hasn’t quite fixed over the years, stuff that almost every competitor has worked out by this point. Fodder for a blog post, coming soon-ish.
- All that cross-realm and combined server stuff isn’t going to stave off server merges forever unless they stem the subscriber bleed.
- A cash shop in-game? Here we go again. As a developer though, I think I am most offended by problems with the implementation.
- There isn’t a lot between now and Warlords of Draenor to keep long time WoW players going if they have finished up Mists of Pandaria. I am happy enough with WoD probably being 9 months out, but I am sure a lot of people are restless.
- Also on the “Blizzard remains slow front,” even removing a feature they freely admit was a mistake and ruined their game for a lot of people is taking a while to happen. The Diablo III auction house lives on into 2014.
- Is the Reaper of Souls expansion, reitemization, and removal of the auction house going to be enough to goose sales and play time for Diablo III? I cannot see myself going back to play, much less buying the expansion.
- I doubt we’ll see Heroes of the Storm go live next year, and I wouldn’t bet against at least one more revision of the name.
- Titan, the “next big thing” from Blizz post-WoW, remains a tiny dot on the horizon. Or is that just a mirage?
Other MMO Developers
- Arena Net has to have set some sort of record for content delivery in GuildWars 2, serving up some sort of new variation every two weeks for… how long now? Somebody tell the SWTOR team “that’s how it’s done.”
- Trion manages a pretty sharp F2P transition with Rift. They went all-in on it and their commitment to the model shows. The store is clean, bright, and filled to the brim with things to buy. Once the F2P launch settled down, Trion relauched Rift on Steam with new starter packs and such. The game remains the definitive alternate to WoW, polished and with plenty of content, even as F2P.
- Trion also pulled Trove out of nowhere.
- Cryptic and PWE entertainment seem pretty solid on F2P, delivering Neverwinter as a substantially free game that is both very well put together and provides a content generation system, the Foundry, that yields some excellent content. Easy to get into, low commitment, looks good, what is not to love?
- Path of Exile really scratched the Diablo II itch. Official heir to the Diablo II crown in my book.
- War Thunder, a title I set out to ignore, turns out to be decent and has low skill roles I can actually fulfill… and lots of cool planes to fly.
- Wargaming.net joined up accounts across their games, so your World of Tanks account is also your World of Warplanes account and shares currency and so on.
- SWTOR seems to have struck out on a new path with the Galactic Starfight update. But what does it portend?
- Shroud of the Avatar is a thing.
- There is a minor possibility that I might be interested in the idea of playing The Elder Scrolls Online.
- I am unable to understand how any but the most dedicated gamers can adequately handle and play through new content every two weeks in GuildWars 2. I get physically tired just reading about it. It feels like a lot of content just melting away, never to be seen again.
- Storm Legion remains uninspired for me. I want to like it a lot more than I actually do.
- The Rift F2P model feels too weak to me, like they gave away too much. I could see no reason to ever give them money again. I know, I complain when people ask for money, now I complain when people don’t ask for money. See my entry in the first section about a tight rope walk.
- Trove seems a little me-to at this stage of the game, with Minecraft already established and EverQuest Landmark showing up soon. Plus, if you don’t care about that kind of thing, another option isn’t really a big deal.
- Speaking of me-to, ArcheAge? Haven’t we seen the “Asian MMO comes West and flops” tale enough times already? Trion had better have some secret sauce for this one.
- Neverwinter never really clicked with me. There is lots of interesting stuff to see, but it never felt like I was in a world. It was more like an arcade where you lined up to run the Cloak Tower machine, then ran off to play the Dreadmines machine, and then maybe played orc hockey in the open area for a while.
- Path of Exile has “always online” problems similar to Diablo III. When you depend on the internet…
- War Thunder didn’t last all that long on my list. I managed to tourist up to level 5 for all nations, then wandered off.
- Wargaming.net still keeps regions separate, so I cannot play with my EVE corp mates without having another client/account just for Europe.
- World of Warplanes, a title I was determined to play… well… we shall speak no more of that one.
- Shroud of the Avatar is a thing in the sense that it ought to be worth looking at again in about a year.
- Seeing what is potentially on offer for 2014, as like as not I probably won’t play a new MMO next year. If it is just going to be the same game with different art, I might as well play the one I am most invested in.
- Pirates of the Burning Sea, cut loose from SOE, seems to be more adrift than ever.
- Warhammer Online goes to its inevitable fate.
Other Gaming and Vaguely Related Items
- Sony pledges a long life, new games, and ongoing support for those of us who own PS3s. And their track record with the PS2 seems to back up their statements.
- Pokemon X and Y actually looked interesting enough to get some interest in our household.
- I remain quite fond of my iPad.
- The used game scene remains, not that I participate. Good news for Game Stop, but also probably good news for the big publishers, since they have pretty much fessed up that the ability to trade in a game for store credit is probably boosting sales numbers beyond any perceived lost revenue from third party sales.
- Some interesting projects on Kickstarter in 2013.
- High speed internet is finally available in our home. Buying a game on Steam doesn’t mean waiting a day or two to play it.
- When 60 Minutes can run an NSA propaganda piece and call it news, it makes me think that game journalism isn’t all that bad. At least motivations are clear; everybody has to earn a living.
- Games? I only use the PS3 to watch Blu-Ray movies and stream Netflix at this point.
- Nintendo basically doesn’t support any of the platforms that I own any more. There will be nothing new under the sun for Wii or DS owners ever again, and I have no interest in buying a Wii U or a 3Ds. But I don’t plan to buy an Xbox One or a PS4 either. Good thing about the used market.
- The screens on my Nintendo DS Lite have gone all blurry, so I can’t even go back and finish up Pokemon Black. Oh, wait, let me put on my glasses. Damn tiny screens!
- I remain somewhat less enthusiastic about gaming on the iPad. Ticket to Ride remains my all time favorite, and board game translations seem like an excellent opportunity for the platform, yet I haven’t found many games I really like otherwise. And then there is pricing. EA has the most odious practice in that they will sell you a game and will then insist on running game interrupting ads when you try to play. Has made me swear to never give EA another nickel again ever. I find Candy Crush Saga to be a rare gem, a paragon of virtue and restraint compared to anything EA has to offer.
- I’ve been stuck on level 125 of Candy Crush Saga for like six weeks now. Still not giving them any money either, but for different reasons.
- Kickstarter remains a “pay and pray” option. You toss somebody some money and hope that it turns into something some day. I can see why some people shun the idea.
- Buy something on Steam? I have too many unplayed or underplayed titles already in my Steam library. Even Steam sales are a bit “meh” now.
- I still do not see the appeal of streaming. Except for a few rare cases where something special is happening, I’d rather play the game than watch somebody else play. And then I saw somebody live blogging somebody else live streaming and my head just about exploded. Stop the inanity.
- Runic Games appears to have burnt out creating Torchlight II and has punted on the Mac OS version, the MMORPG version, and hasn’t bothered to get dressed to leave the house for much of 2013 so far as I can tell.
- Microsoft, determined that there be a single version of Windows and that it run on all devices (q.v. Ballmer remains loyal to Mordor), gives people a tablet button interface for their desktop machines. When people won’t stop complaining about the missing “Start” menu, which MS trained people for years to depend on, they add it back in to Windows 8… only it just brings up the tablet button interface. Why Fucking Bother?
- Hey, I still post something nearly every damn day, don’t I?
- A lot more people visit the site, even after my purge from Google search returns, than I ever expected.
- I have a pretty decent account of my online gaming since 2006. I am particularly happy with the ongoing tales of the instance group.
- I have lots of pretty pictures on the site, which helps out when I lose stuff on my hard drive. I have no idea where all my Warhammer Online screen shots went.
- Quantity is not quality, and a lot of what I write is just for me. Plus, there are times when it is tough not to write “And we did another instance. Thousands of people have done it before. There were no surprises. Consider this milestone marked.” This has lead to what I might describe as an over-dependence on screen shots.
- The name of the blog becomes ever more accurate. I now write mostly about a 9 year old game and a 10 year old game, with an occasional look back at a 20 year old game.
- It is sometimes tough to find the old post I am looking for. The search option is primitive in the extreme.
- Really feel like the blog needs a new look after seven years, yet I am not fond of any of the WP.com options.
- WP.com has taken it upon themselves to break something about once a month by rolling new (and I would guess untested) code out to their customers without any announcement. Just this week the “more after the cut” option was broken for several hours.
- Self hosting seems slightly more attractive at this point, except for the hours of extra work, the need for a domain name, and the fear that I will find out just how many readers visit out of habit as they fall off the moment something changes.
And that is about all that oozed from my brain when pressed to come up with what happened in 2013. What else should be on the list?
Quote of the Day – Did SOE Solve the Latency Problem? November 14, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next, Sony Online Entertainment.
Tags: Landmark, Quote of the Day
In old MMOs, when monsters started to attack, dice rolls had already determined if they was going to hit you or not. We’re not doing that. We’re allowing you to move out of the way and do stuff that way. With positioning of your abilities versus what the monster is doing, it’s a very fluid situation. There’s no lather, rinse, repeat mechanic that works all the time.
Dave Georgeson, interview at Rock, Paper, Shotgun
The interview linked above is interesting if you want to learn more about the plans for EverQuest Next and Landmark. I recommend it.
There is a lot about the tools that will be available to end users and the scope of what players will be allowed to do. Heady stuff, with ideas like “build your own MMO” being bandied about and EverQuest Next being referred to as just “a professionally developed alternative” to what players will be able to create in Landmark. It all sounds like many steps beyond things like Wurm Online, right down to the griefing potential.
In the midst of all of that, there was some talk about players, classes, and combat, which included the quote at the top. Again, sounds nifty!
Only reading that triggered a memory. A few years back there was a new studio… and I have forgotten the name, date, and what not, so … and one of the developers was talking about them making a zombie MMO and generally criticizing combat in all MMOs up to that point. He didn’t want hot bars and dice rolls behind the scenes, he wanted to swing a bat and, if it intersected with a zombie’s head, to score a hit and do damage.
Somebody else must remember this, right? Help me out here.
[Addendum: Talyn found it! I am not crazy... in that regard at least.]
Anyway, that was doing things properly and he was quite dismissive of the MMO industry for not having done this already.
In due course a fair number of MMO devs sighed, shook their heads, and went on about how they would love to do that sort of thing, but the realities of network reliability and latency and client synchronization prevented it and that these loud mouthed upstarts would surely learn all of this in the fullness of time. (Or maybe it was just this post, which I was able to find once I had the date.)
If I recall right, they did, balance was restored to the force, and we all moved on.
At least until I read that quote up there at the top, which brought back those partial memories along with a few question… like, did Dave Georgeson really mean that? No dice, no probability, just a check on positions and the intersection of objects in motion? In real time? In an MMO? Over the internet?
Did SOE solve some critical network issue along the way here? Or am I reading this wrong?
My alternate quote from that article, which also hits on a side detail is this:
Sometimes we ask questions that we know can only go one way. But the players are constantly having debates over stuff, so then we can go in and explain why we’re doing things a certain way. Because the more we can work with our players so they can understand why games need to be built a certain way, the better the suggestions will be.
This actually makes me feel a little better, as a number of questions that have popped on the round table have seemed to have only one possible outcome, so I was wondering why they bothered asking. Now I know.
SOE Goes Into Real Estate Speculation November 12, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next.
Tags: Ars Technica, Landmark
It is one thing when Bhagpuss mentions that you are charging money for access to the alpha of your free to play game.
But when Ars Technica runs a headline about it, you have achieved a new level of notoriety.
SOE’s Landmark adjunct to EverQuest Next has a set of offers… Founder’s Packs… up now selling access to alpha and closed beta for the project.
Yes, there are other goodies included, some cosmetic gear and storage space (no doubt there is a clue in that as to what constraints they plan to use to drive people to the Station Store), but the key seems to be early access to a free to play tool in order to help create items for EverQuest Next, a free to play game.
And the most interesting item on the list is the head start bonus for those willing to part with $100.
I have not been paying attention to Landmark, but I seem to recall something about some plots being more valuable/useful/desirable than others. Maybe not “pay to win,” but it is certainly buying some sort of preferential treatment. But that’s the business model. You have to make your money where you can.
In real estate the mantra is “Location, location, location” while in free to play it is “Monetize, monetize, monetize.” It is just odd to see the two combined.
This isn’t quite what I had in mind when I was wondering if SOE could keep the level of excitement up for EverQuest Next. Anyway, I can wait for when this free to play tool is actually free. Others seem more excited about the offer.
(Bonus points for SOE if somehow ProSieben.Sat1 access is screwed up.)
Has the WildStar Team Looked Into How is Krono Working for SOE? August 20, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Next, WildStar.
Tags: CREDD, Krono, PLEX
The big news so far this week… at least at the point when I started writing this post… seems to be the announcement about WildStar’s business model.
WildStar is going for the classic monthly fee subscription model, which means they had better have something new and different to offer. Given what I have seen so far, I hope their secret weapon is still under wraps, because the MMO market is pretty harsh these days. The masses have spoken, and they do not like monthly subscriptions and won’t tolerate them without good reason.
And Carbine, WildStar’s developer, is working for NCSOFT (Didn’t they used to write it NCsoft?), which means the gun will be to their head from day one to make this work and work well. NCSOFT’s record of closing down games indicates that they either have no compunction about shutting them down or they have no clue about what works for MMOs and end up backing a lot of losers. Neither paints a happy picture.
So, yea, no pressure there Carbine. Hope you have your shit well and truly together.
The alleged mitigating factor in the WildStar plan appears to be a PLEX-like item which they are calling CREDD. As they put it on their site, after you buy the box and use up your “30 days with purchase” time, you have two options:
Option 1: Monthly subscription
Option 2: C.R.E.D.D.
So, the buzz after that has been people sorting themselves out into the love/hate sides of the subscription model, attempting to decipher exactly how this is “hybrid,” and generating inapt parallels to EVE Online and its PLEX scheme.
You all remember PLEX right?
PLEX has been around for about four years at this point. It has added to the usual EVE drama. You buy PLEX from CCP and get it as an item in-game, which you can then sell to other people for the in-game currency, ISK. You do this if you really need some ISK. If you buy PLEX, you can consume it for 30 days of game time or use it for various account services.
PLEX works in EVE.
It works for various reasons, the most important of which is that everybody who plays EVE with any level of seriousness has to be part of the in-game player economy. EVE is not World of Warcraft where you can say, “screw the auction house” and go run through the quest chains that lead you through the game and which keep your level of equipment… well… I hate to say “competitive” in a game like WoW… but you can get the basic job done, the bar being set low and the equipment being handed out readily making keeping you sufficiently over powered.
There is no escaping the economy in EVE. You need it for your ship, for your fittings, for your implants, for your skills. And the fact that ships and fittings and implants… and if you screw up, even skills… are constantly being lost to player action means that you keep going back. You keep a few ships fit and ready to go. You buy better fittings. You change up fits that just are not working. You spend a lot of ISK.
Or maybe not a lot. If you are new, losing a frigate seems expensive. Later on you’ll throw frigates away and laugh… if you last long enough in the game.
But another aspect of EVE that makes PLEX work is that the in-game currency isn’t an “I win” button. Sure, it helps. But if you can only afford to fly frigates, you can still find something to do. And if a battleship lumbers up to you, you can run away easily. Or, even better, you can tackle him, orbiting faster than his guns can track, and call in some friends to kill him. Or kill him yourself and laugh, if you are skilled enough.
Look at Gevlon. He has, through an admirable level of persistence, become quite wealthy in EVE Online. He has made billions of ISK. But has he “won” EVE? Was all that ISK able to save TEST? Is he powerful in-game in relation to his wealth?
I would say no.
Anyway, all of that is old news and has been discussed and argued over for ages at this point. The take away from that is that WildStar does not sound like EVE, so the success of PLEX is not, to my mind, a reliable predictor of success when it comes to CREDD. Feel free to correct me if you feel I am wrong. I am no expert on WildStar. But the two do not feel parallel.
No, WildStar’s CREDD seems like it might be closer to SOE’s Krono.
Krono has been out for almost a year now and it sounds a lot like PLEX and CREDD.
You buy it from SOE for real money and can turn around and sell it in-game to other players for in-game currency. The last I checked it was available in EverQuest and EverQuest II. While PLEX sounded like a viable plan in EVE from day one, I was a bit dubious about Krono. (I was dubious about WoW supporting such a thing in theory as well. Certainly the Kitten economy did not take the world by storm.) It seems like a decent idea. It ought to work. But it depends so much on the in-game economy, which can vary greatly from server to server, and which does not have anywhere near the buy-in you get in EVE Online.
I checked into the market price for Krono a few times early on, but haven’t heard much about it since. So it isn’t clear to me if Krono has been a big win, a modest success, or is another one for the list of SOE science experiments that will never be spoken of again. Did it get any mention at SOE Live?
The one ace in the whole that Krono had was the price.
A single Krono is $17.99, or two dollars cheaper than a month of SOE All Access, which starts at $19.99. I looked into this pricing scheme in a post a while back. It seemed like the one thing that might guarantee some Krono sales, since Krono can extended you SOE All Access plan by 30 days, just like it does a single game plan, and there are some price points where Krono wins for that.
Anyway, Krono seems like a much closer parallel to WildStar’s CREDD, so if I knew that Krono was a success, I think I would have more confidence in CREDD.
Of course, there isn’t a perfect parallel between any SOE game and WildStar.
Wildstar will be shiny and new, will be monthly subscription based, will have its own take on things, will presumably be different enough to stand out, and so on. Meanwhile, SOE games are all free to play at this point and the games closest to Wildstar in model are pretty old at this point, with EverQuest standing at 14 years of age and EverQuest II at nearly 9.
On the other hand, some of the differences work in Krono’s favor. The fact that some of the SOE games are older and have mature economies means that there are players out there with the cash in hand to buy Krono at a price that makes it worth acquiring Krono from SOE. That might be an early days weak spot for WildStar. Will its economy have evolved and produced enough wealth to make selling CREDD a viable option just 30 days after launch? And if it has, if there is enough money in the market so quickly, is that really a good thing, or a sign that inflation will grip the economy?
That is a whole pile of questions and speculation without much in the way of answers. Such is my usual method I suppose.
What do you think? Is it going to work?
And, in another parallel, I do wonder where Krono fits into the EverQuest Next scheme.
EverQuest Next News Timeline August 19, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II, EverQuest Next.
Cyanbane, one time helmsman for the EQ2-Daily podcast… at one time a pretty big deal in the EverQuest II fan base… has, like many of us, found his interest in Norrath rekindled by the revelations surrounding EverQuest Next.
Interesting times and all that.
The intent is to gather all of the EverQuest Next related news and opinion posts into a chronological framework, with the starting point, day zero as it were, being SOE Live and the big reveal.
Now, there are certainly other places to get your EverQuest Next news. All the big MMO sites are devoting time to the game, and some independent sites are springing up to focus on the game. Feldon, ever the master of all things EverQuest II over at The EQ2 Wire, has an EverQuest Next companion site up, The EQN Wire. There is also EQN Extra that is focusing on aggregating news an opinion.
But The Timeline has its own unique nature, in that it does stack things in a timeline, so you can get a look at who was talking about what and when. You can see bursts of activity when some new information shows up, and you can see things thinning out as news is discussed and digested. This will be a way to track something I brought up last week, which is how well SOE keeps the excitement for EverQuest Next going. Lots of white space on the timeline will mean “not so much.”
I could quibble about how effective space is being used in the timeline. The whole thing feels really constricted in the vertical plane. But it overall it is a new way to look at the EverQuest Next news. Cyanbane is working on similar timelines for other games of interest.
The Timeline was announced on the GuildM8s forum in a post that includes a history of the EQ2-Daily site and podcast. If you are like me, and appreciate such insights into the history of the net, that might be the more interesting piece to read.
At least until the next bit of EverQuest Next news shows up.
Can SOE Keep the EverQuest Next Excitement Going? August 14, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next, Sony Online Entertainment.
Tags: Because SOE, NGE, The Agency
For fate strums a mournful tune
For those those campaigns peak too soon
-Stomper (aka Arrowroot of Arrowshirt), Bored of the Rings
Companies get reputations for reasons. They aren’t always for good reasons, and sometimes those reputations are far more about perception than reality, but once you get a reputation, it tends to stick.
And Sony Online Entertainment has a… colorful reputation.
They have lots of fans, certainly. I count myself among them. And for many, the simple fact that they made EverQuest cuts them some slack on things. They also saved and fixed… such that they could… Vanguard, kept EverQuest Mac going for free, and anybody who starts talking about player housing in MMOs and doesn’t bring up SOE should… well… stop. They have also pretty good about trying new things. Has any other company tried as many subscription options or come up with anything as enticing as SOE All Access (formerly Station Access)? Who has anything like Player Studio? They have done many good things. But a lot of people only remember the bad.
SOE has done its share of that as well, enough so that it sometimes becomes difficult to expect anything beyond the worst.
And it isn’t just “they screwed up my favorite game,” though that is a big one. SOE owns the industry crown for single change alienation of a gaming population with the NGE in Star Wars Galaxies. That happened nearly eight years ago, but if you put John Smedley in a room with some gamers, somebody will bring up the NGE and still be angry about it. Smed did a Reddit AMA last year to talk about PlanetSide 2. The NGE came up, of course, and that question ended up being the one with the most up votes, because NGE hate is like a living, breathing being at this point. The NGE is a particularly ugly monkey on Smed’s back, to destroy a metaphor. I am pretty sure he could arrange world peace, limitless cheap power, and a decent nickel cigar and somebody would still be asking about the NGE.
SOE also has a reputation for acting first, then realizing the implications only after the story has fled from their grasp, leaving damage control as their only option. There is, as a minor example, the Station Cash for Subscriptions fiasco, that smacks of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is up to. And for letting the narrative escape, few stories can beat the ProSieben.Sat1 debacle, where the whole affair managed to get summed up pretty quickly by a cartoon showing SOE selling an 8 year old to a shady guy with a van. Once a child molester is a key metaphor for your plan, you are in trouble. That took a lot of back peddling and changes to bring the flames down to a merely manageable level. And this remains an extremely sore spot today with SOE’s European “customers,” coming up again immediately after the EverQuest Next keynote presentation, largely through a failure to convince those players that there is any benefit to them at all from the change.
And then, probably far down the list for most, maybe past “recent UI models all seem to be console oriented,” there is SOE’s hot and cold marketing messages. And the poster child for this has to be The Agency. Before it was killed in 2011, The Agency had been the on again, off again darling of SOE. In 2007, in SOE Podcast #19, Brenlo was talking about builds for the game and nearly slipped and said a ship date. At SOE Fan Faire, people who saw the game were excited and the vibe seemed to be that it would ship soon. Then it faded from view and nobody said a thing. And then it popped up again. And then it was gone. And then they made a Facebook game. And then they killed the Facebook game. And the web site got updated. We would hear a bit of news, then nothing. Finally the whole thing was cancelled and that was that.
An extreme example, sure. There were clearly problems with the project. But the external messaging was a mess, and not exactly uncharacteristic. There have been years where it wasn’t clear if EverQuest or EverQuest II we going to get an expansion until very late in the season. They announce new projects, like Station Launcher, then let them die on the vine, falling out of date while still up on the web site. The SOE web sites tend to have out of date items on them on fairly regularly. And SOE’s ad campaigns have had their questionable moments.
Even EverQuest Next has gone through an odd cycle. It was announced, we saw artists sketches, possible parameters were discussed, then we were told to forget all about that. And while that reflected the realities of the project… and was handled in a tolerable manner… there is still that history, that reputation.
So when I see EverQuest Next building up a huge amount of momentum, being talked about all over the place, and generally able to bask in the rapt attention of the MMO gaming community, I can only wonder to what extent they can keep that going.
While there was a lot to digest after SOE Live, everybody who wants to will be able to review all the panel videos, tease out all the facts, hopes, and dreams, read and/or write opinions about what they have seen, and generally come up to speed on what has been released to the public.
And then what?
Well, we have the so-called EverQuest Next Round Table over on the official site. So far that seems to be a series of polls where the answers are pretty much foregone conclusions and links to a special forum where people can argue about their choices. However, the forum dev tracker either isn’t working or the devs are busy elsewhere. So there are nearly 60 pages and more than four thousands forum posts around whether races should have class restrictions, all based on “I want” and assumptions with sand castle strength foundations, and featuring the same small cast of characters battling over the same ground endlessly. I think you have as much chance influencing the game by going to a bar near SOE headquarters after hours and expressing your opinions at anybody who looks like a programmer.
There is the EverQuest Worlds mobile app, which seems to be built around SOE’s slightly-behind-the-curve obsession with Facebook. The reviews are predictable.
And then there is some activity on Twitter. A few key people saying things now and again, while supporting player StoryBricks is out there driving a whole emergent AI discussion that carefully says it is not necessarily EverQuest Next focused, pointing people towards relevant threads on Reddit, and retweeting things on the topic.
But otherwise, things are starting to slow down. The initial buzz of excitement has faded a bit. A whole bunch of stuff is out there and those interested have run through it. Now we’re waiting for SOE to build on that foundation.
Which brings me back up to the title of this, can SOE keep the excitement around EverQuest Next going? What should they be doing?
And what shouldn’t they be doing?
And, finally, should they even worry about it?