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Items from the Mail Bag – Barrel Scrapings and the Like January 29, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook, Mail Bag, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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10 comments

Mail bag was going to be a regular monthly feature, but frankly the mail I have been getting on the blog account really hasn’t been living up to the role.  Still, I do get something amusing now and again.  A pity none of it showed up recently, so this is all you get.

Three Kias, One Cup

The Kia Motors Overseas Communications Team ( 해외커뮤니케이션팀) wants me to go connect with their Facebook page so I can play a flash based tennis game featuring players that are, if I understand this correctly, anthropomorphized versions of their cars.  The SoulSorento, and Cerato to be specific.  Except I think that last one is sold as the Forte here in the US.

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

All because Kia sponsors some aspect of the Australian Open… which is a tennis tournament.

I had to look that up.

I almost want to go play this, just to see how they get that lumpy Sorento to move its ass around the court.  But a surge of apathy has stayed my hand so far.

Still, don’t let me stop you!  You can find the page on Facebook here.  Just be quick, as the game only runs from January 16th through the 31st.  Of course, they only sent me this note on the 29th, so clearly my participation was not all the important.

Aventurine Fails Again

Aventurine sent me a “Media Alert” to invite me to come and explore the world of Agon, which I am afraid always brings up images of Larry Storch.

A little whackier than this though

A little whackier than this though

Unfortunately for Aventurine, all they actually had for me was a link to a dev diary video about their upcoming (some day) Darkfall: Unholy Wars reboot.

Then they listed out the price of the game ($14.95 if you are a Darkfall Online returning player or $29.95 (25% off) if you are new to this game) like they expected me, a member of the media (who else gets “media alerts” right?), to actually pay for it myself.  This is how you get 2/10 reviews.  (Though I still suspect there was a method to their madness.)

Haven’t we all learned by now that companies can get game journalists to degrade themselves and their profession with a few simple freebies?  Playing it straight is a mug’s game.

The Soda Sipping Inside Joke?

I keep getting press notices about a game called Soda Drinker Pro, but cannot tell if this is just the internet yanking my chain or not.  The quotes sound tongue in cheek.

Soda Drinker Pro is the most advanced soda drinking simulator ever created

While sites like Gamasutra have reprinted the press releases due to contractual obligations.

Mashable has a brief write up, but it still ends up sounding like an internet goof.

I have to think that the only reason I got this was that I have written about soda, and soda experiments, here in the past.

Somebody Sued Facebook

Which probably isn’t news, but the announcement showed up in my email.  It was something about sponsored stories.

Why did I get this notice? This Notice relates to a proposed settlement (“Settlement”) of a class action lawsuit (“Action”) filed against Facebook relating to a particular Facebook feature called “Sponsored Stories.” According to available records, you may be a “Class Member.”

What is the Action about? The Action claims that Facebook unlawfully used the names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users’ consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.

You can read more about it here.  If Facebook used your likeness without your consent, it could be worth a sawbuck to you.

Meanwhile if the suit succeeds the lawyers will all get paid for the hours they billed and Facebook will have to change their terms of service so that by accepting them you allow Mark Zuckerberg to do whatever he damn well pleases with your likeness.

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

So who is going to win here?

Raptr Has a List!

Raptr sent me a list of awards they made up and gave out for 2012 based on their game tracking stats.

  • Most Played New Game – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played Game (Released Anytime) – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Biggest Boost from User-Generated Content – Portal 2
  • Most Played Long-Awaited Sequel – Borderlands 2
  • No Bathroom Break – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played XBLA Game – Minecraft
  • Most Played New IP – Dragon’s Dogma
  • Most Successful Paid to Free-to-Play Game – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Some of those make sense, while others… I am not so sure.  The “Bathroom Break” bit probably relates to a measurement of play sessions, but how did they come up with “Long Awaited Sequel?”  Was Borderlands 2 really that long in showing up?  Relative to what?

Meanwhile, their last category almost always reflects a sentiment of “crap, we’d better mention MMOs!”  They used the same category as 2011, but this time they managed to combine it with an attempt to suck up to EA/BioWare.  Or does somebody think if you were going to mention MMOs that there weren’t other categories or titles you might choose?  “Most played MMO” or  GuildWars 2 certainly springs to my mind.

Anyway, you can read their full post here, which includes some additional details.

The Rest

Finally, I seem to be getting more and more messages asking me if I would like to come write for other sites.  These invites are rather transparent requests to please provide free content for such and such a site to exploit for ad revenue.

It is the sources of these requests that are getting more interesting.  I had one from a web media group from everybody’s favorite Germans, ProSiebenSat.1 and another from a group that purports to run the largest MMO gaming site in China.

All I can think is, “China?”  My Larry Storch jokes are probably too obscure for Cracked.com, how would they possibly play in China.

Anyway, send me something interesting that isn’t about your 99 cent iPhone app and maybe I’ll make fun of it.  As always, contact info is on the About page.

The Zynga Business Plan Moves Forward October 28, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
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6 comments

My daughter and I were watching Spongebob together when we saw a commercial for this:

Hungry Hungry Herd

Technically, it is not a simple rip-off of some other company’s idea, the classic Zynga approach, because Hasbro owns Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Zynga and Hasbro are in bed together on this one.  But it certainly feels like a poor recycling job to me, with 50 Farm Cash thrown in as a “Digital Value for Parents Inside!”  I suppose at least they are pretending to feed adult addiction to the game rather than overtly suggesting the kids go log on and play.

Of course, in looking this up, I found that Hasbro and Zynga have recycled a few other classic games with a FarmVille theme.

I would add that there is even a CityVille version of Monopoly… but what brand hasn’t gone for their own version of Monopoly at this point?

With the Empire Crumbling, What of Darth British? October 25, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
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3 comments

Zynga’s Emperor Palpapincus had only just recruited Lord British, turning him into Darth British (yeah, I decided to go with that just to keep things simple), with the promise of teaching him the dark arts of monetization and giving eternal life to half-baked cow-clicking games.

You’re right Mark, these helmets are great!

In the words of recently turned gaming jedi:

“Not just Zynga’s, but lots of social games use monetization strategies that, as a hardcore gamer, I find offensive, frankly,” Garriott admits. “I really don’t like games that constantly pester me to pay. I find it radically interferes with my suspension of disbelief. So, I’m devoted in the Ultimate RPG game to finding novel monetization strategies that don’t offend me like some of these do. Yet, it’s still really important to learn those lessons, and there’s no better place to learn them then by having Zynga as a partner.”

Richard Garriott de Cayeux (Darth British), on his partnership with Zynga

How often has a hero fallen in an attempt to learn the tricks of his foe by becoming what he opposes?  It certainly seems to come up a lot in juvenile pulp novels, so clearly it is a menace.

Failing to heed the warning of… well… many people… that once you start down the dark path with Zynga, forever shall it haunt your resume, the newly minted Darth British swore fealty to a new master.

And then, as the recruitment of this gaming luminary was nearly complete, Zynga totally took a dump on the living room floor.

There were $52 million in losses, layoffs, and the whole “EA is pissed and coming to sue you” dimension to what can only be seen as a setback for the Zynga empire.

Emporer Palpapincus issued a statement declaring, “While the last several months have been challenging for us, Zynga remains well positioned to capitalize on the growth of social gaming.”  He was then heard to mutter something about the second FarmVille being “fully operational” and there being “no civility in gaming, only ARPU” as he stalked off.

Which leads us to the next cliff hanger.

What course will Darth British choose?  Is he in too deep?  Has he signed in blood?  Has he committed his Ultimate Collector and Ultimate RPG to the fires of the Zynga sweatshop?

And is it ironic that EA, who he was totally trying woo… at least in the press… not only thwarted his Ultima aspirations, but has taken up arms against Zynga?

For whom will our hero(?) show a fondness next?

Lord British and Zynga – A Match Made In… September 7, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
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I am really having trouble completing that sentence… CrazyVille?

All systems go!

So, according to a very short piece at Gamasutra, Zynga, whose wave of mindless click games has crested and begun crashing to the point that it is bringing Facebook down with it, and Richard Garriott de Cayeux, the once mighty Lord British, who is getting pretty deep into the “what have you done lately?” column these days, are teaming up around the Portalarium game Ultimate Collector to bring it to Facebook, Zynga’s new self-run platform, and to a TV show hosted by Garriott de Cayeux himself?

My first thoughts were “April Fools,” followed quickly by “rebound affair after being jilted by EA and EA rubbing his face in it.”

But I think I have to go with this response:

In what “Ville” do you think this belongs?  And where does his Ultimate RPG end up living?

Games I Mentioned Once and then Totally Forgot About – Playboy Manager Edition December 9, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Facebook, Misc MMOs.
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1 comment so far

Back in May of 2009 I posted about a press release for Playboy Manager, Playboy’s attempt at an MMO, which they christened a  “Massively Casual Online Game.”

They might have actually been a bit ahead of their time on that one.

And, after that, despite my signing up for the mailing list, I never heard a single thing about the game.

I mentioned it a year later in my month in review post  (so I guess I mentioned it twice) where I said:

And a year ago Playboy’s “Massively Casual Online Game” Playboy Manager was announced.  The game was supposed to launch in the summer of 2009 according to the press release.  The site for the game is still there (go Google it) but it still mentions signing up for beta invites.  Casual might refer to the development plan I guess.

The game looked to be on the same trajectory that Planet Michael is now; all talk, no rock.

However, the game did eventually launch.  Or so I hear.

In an astonishingly bad use of captured email addresses, Jolt Online Gaming and/or Playboy apparently failed to alert those who expressed an interest in the game that it had actually gone live.  You would think after all that work, they might have put some effort into publicizing it.

Seriously, I would have logged in just to experience it, had I but known.

Their effort went live as a Facebook game, under the name Playboy Party, back in November 2010.  Of course, since it went to Facebook, it was probably flagged as Beta like every other Facebook game, so maybe they felt it wasn’t time yet to go to the public.

However, time was of the essence, as the game closed on September 12th of this year.

In the middle of that, in March 2011, things go so messed up that the game had to be reset and everybody had to start again from scratch.

Brilliant!

And so the game has come and gone, having garnered all of 400 actual players during its short life span.  It may now aspire to be a footnote in the appendix of an unpublished volume of esoteric video game history.

Thanks to UnSubject over at Vicarious Existence whose post on the subject, which has more detail and actual screen shots from the game,  reminded me again that the Playboy Manager/Playboy Party even existed.  Plus there is a bonus mention of another failed Playboy online game project, Poisonville!

Items from the Mail Bag – I’m Full and Feeling Generous Edition November 24, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo II, entertainment, Facebook, Mail Bag, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
3 comments

It is Thanksgiving Day here in the US, a favorite holiday of mine because I happen to like turkey… and most of the traditional staples of the day aside from yams… and because there is no giving of gifts or sending of cards involved.  That can wait until tomorrow.  Plus we always host, so there is no need to leave the house, though we are expecting a mere dozen around the table this year, down from double that number in some past years.

So in a fit of tryptophan fueled generosity, here is some of what has dropped into the blog mail bag.

  • BioWare let me know I am in again for the SWTOR beta. Maybe playing a jedi this coming weekend can redeem what failed to charm me with blaster combat.  A pre-order hangs in the balance.

Already installed... just need to patch

  • Mike sent me five (5) special keys for their Facebook game D&D Heroes of Neverwinter to hand out to readers.  The first five people who follow me on Twitter and tweet to me the phrase “Gimme gimme gimme I can’t help myself” in reply to the twee that links to this post will get those keys.  Figuring out my Twitter account is the only mild barrier to entry.  (It is in the side bar.  And you must follow me so I can reply directly to you with the key. You can unfollow me once I give out the codes.  I probably would.)
  • The above mentioned Mike is also trying to connect with me in Linked In.  While I have created a net persona for Wilhelm Arcturus, I haven’t really gone that far.  I did, however, continue to build such a back story for a persona I create in high school.  It is easy in Silicon Valley.  I just had him working for companies like Taligent, General Magic, and Silicon Graphics.  People from those places have actually connected with him too.
  • Violeta from Best Games Media Group Ltd. wanted me to mention a new site called Gamingator.com, which looks like it sells games.  It is probably some sort of scam.  Sure, fine, just pass me some more pumpkin pie.
  • I have a note from The Sims Social offering me 2000 simoleons (one of the in-game currencies… and not the good one) if I will come back and play, proving that no matter how many ways you tell Facebook to disconnect you from an external app, once that app has your data you can never be rid of them.
  • On the same thread of never being free from a game once you play it, Night Owl Games wants to let me know that Dungeon Overlord, their Facebook game, has left beta and launched a new world.  They even have a video on YouTube.  I tried this game back in June.  I could have sworn it was an SOE game.  Was SOE just publishing it, or was this related to the great big downsizing at SOE this summer?
  • Tracey, who might actually read the blog, wanted to know if I had seen anything about Continent of the Ninth Seal, a Korean MMO action MMO that might make it to the US next year.  Timing-wise, this might have be related to comments I made about blaster combat in SWTOR.  Amway, the answer is… well… I have now!
  • Christine Kane wanted to tell me about her article comparing Facebook to Tag.  However, the analogy breaks down really fast (when did the “cool kids” ever play tag?) and, frankly, aren’t we a little past something that says, essentially, “Hey, Facebook is popular!”  Sorry Christine.
  • And then a number of people… bots… mailing lists… whatever… somehow I got a bunch of press release about iOS or Android games which I am not going to bother to link because I do not own a device that runs either operating system… though if I had to pick one, it would be the Atari’s Greatest Hits because it works with the iCade.

That’s it.  Time for some more pumpkin pie.

October in Review October 31, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, EverQuest, Facebook, Month in Review, Need for Speed World, Rift, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
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4 comments

The Site

I think the biggest internal site news was when WordPress.com made some change and messed up my stats for a few days.

Well, I hear they messed up a lot of people’s stats.

For the last five years page views have been counted in pretty much the same way.  I’ve kept them all in a spread sheet, every single day, since I started the blog.  The consistency is verifiable via third party page view counters I have used off and on.

Then, on the 18th, something new crept into the mix.


Basically, page views have been counted and displayed on the stats panel in a way such that the total page views for a given day were displayed in two places.  One is the big chart at the top of the statistics page (a section of which is shown above) and the other is in a table that breaks out which posts were viewed how many times, including the main page.

These two charts always added up, until October 18, when suddenly people started asking why they were getting so many page referrals from WordPress.com and why those referrals seemed to be added into the total on the big chart, but were clearly absent from the Posts and Pages table. (The sum worked out to exactly WordPress.com referrals + Posts and Pages total = Big chart value.)

So the Posts and Pages table, for the three days indicated with arrows in the picture above, showed the same number of page views (well, not exactly, the tallest column is actually over 100 views less), while the main page views chart showed very different results.

This became a burning question on the help forums where the main volunteer who handles the forum, in a demonstration of getting exactly what you pay for, was less helpful and more clueless than usual.

Eventually one of the paid staff (Macmanx the Hapless Engineer) came along and said that they had started including pages viewed via email subscriptions RSS in the mix, and this was where the boost in page views came from.  Since RSS tops site visits by 4 or 5 to 1, that seemed possible.  He said that views not getting matched to actual posts would be fixed soon, and off he went.

Then, a couple of days later, the founder of WordPress.com showed up and said, no, this wasn’t just RSS views.

Hey guys — founder of WordPress.com here.

Good news: We’ve historically been vastly undercounting your stats, and we’re starting to fix this.

Bad news: There are some bugs with how things add up, meaning that they don’t. I apologize for undue excitement this may have caused.

More good news: Although support is closed, we’re working on this. We’ll fix it ASAP.

When asked why the sudden boost in views did not match what third party counters were reporting (like my flag viewer on the side bar, which lined up almost exactly with the Pages & Posts report of page views for the 21st), he blustered about such page view counters being inaccurate and eventually said that all page view counts were just approximations and no two would ever match.

Tell that to the people who get paid for page views and the like.  I am sure that would make them very happy to use WordPress.com stats.

And then the next day wordpress.com referrals in the stats started to fade away, so by the 26th things were pretty much back to normal and the great mid-October page view spike was over. (Other people posted pictures with similar spikes.)

In my WordPress.com stats, October 21, 2011 is now listed as my best day ever.  However, I am pretty sure that June 29, 2011 is still the actual champion, which happened at the peak of the great Incarna bitch-fest.

And life goes on.

One Year Ago

I had some hopes and expectations for BlizzCon.  There were pretty much unmet.  But Blizzard had already announced the Cataclysm ship date, so what else did I expect?

I asked if people ever look at the items in the blog side-bar.  People mostly do not.

I finished building my new computer.  It has been live a year and Windows 7 hasn’t completely degraded into a pile of blue-screening ooze the way XP used to when not constantly attended to.

The EVE Online screen shot contest wrapped up, winners were declared and prizes were sent out.

The instance group was playing in LOTRO, which had been live as a Free to Play game for one month. In-game, we were subjected to the disturbing habits of some of the residents of the Lone Lands, while I indulged in one of my own habits, the mid-game character swap.  And then I made one post completely unreadable by making anagrams out of all the proper nouns.  I had to repost a corrected version.

I bought Civilization V, which like every Civilization launch, had issues with my current computer.  The unwritten rule of Civilization is that you need to upgrade your machine in order to play.

And my daughter and I were drinking new and interesting sodas.

Five Years Ago

Five years ago our Saturday night WoW group completed our first full instance run, The Deadmines, on our third try at it, and got in a whack at The Wailing Caverns.

I decided in EVE Online that covert ops would be a good career choice.  It certainly sounds cool.  However, the effort was cut short when I got to some of the pricier skills.

I felt that fall urge to run around in EverQuest, plus I wanted to take some pictures of Faydwer in order to compare them to the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, Echoes of Faydwer.

I also jumped into EverQuest II and got all confused (nothing new there) about the trade skill changes that occurred during the 10 months I was away.

I was defending instancing and game company forums as well as moaning about the fact that I couldn’t find a decent video card for my AGP motherboard.

There was some talk about which pen and paper RPGs would make good MMOs.

And I spent some time carping about MMO pricing plans.  I still feel about the same on the subject five years later.

New Linking Sites

I would like to thank the following site for linking here.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Beastlord to be the New Class in the Next EQ2 Expansion
  2. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  3. Blizzard Endorses the Transfer of Capital to the Proletariat
  4. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  5. Tobold Prediction – CCP Bankrupt in 2012
  6. Panda Reactions at Our House…
  7. And Then I Told My Daughter About Pet Battles…
  8. Post BlizzCon Thoughts on Pandaria
  9. Despite Rampant Hacking and GM Shennanigans, Fippy Darkpaw Server is Still Stuck on Velious
  10. Azeroth Travel Poster Contest – Win a Sparkle Pony!
  11. Civ II – Found the Disc, Can’t Use the Disc
  12. The Most Wiley WoW Phishing Attempt Yet…

Spam Comments of the Month

I’m just done looking at your posting and I fairly enjoyed it….
[A long comment from somebody linking back to "Write Comments, Get Paid." I wonder if he got paid.]

i cant believe you are coming to Burlington, VT !!! andddd Albany, NY. im totally going to see you twice!
[Not if I see you first.]

Search Terms of the Month

3d gay porn
[Sorry, I don't cover Second Life here.]

lou attack report
[Who did Lou attack?]

EverQuest

I have written enough about EverQuest this month that you might think I am actually playing it.  But I am not.  I am, however, keeping as close an eye on the Progression Servers as I can manage and reporting on forum fun.  I hope, in the end, to have a decent sketch of what happened on the Progression Servers based on that.  You can keep an eye on the Fippy Darkpaw tag for the story as it unfolds.

Need for Speed World

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am starting to play this less and less.  Not a bad game, and it really can be free to play, but there just isn’t much to do once you’ve sort of hit the walls that surround the world.

Rift

The instance group is slowly coming online with Rift.  The general reaction from the group has been positive.  Primarily that has been about the look and feel, which stands up to WoW level of polish, unlike EverQuest II and Lord of the Rings Online which, for all their merits, are still rough around the action bar.

TorilMUD

There was some excitement generated by big changes at TorilMUD.  A bunch of people surged back on, dug out old characters or rolled up new ones, and then said, “I seem to remember this being a lot more fun.”

Well, that is what I said in any case.  There is still a lot to love about MUDs, but it was a time of very raw fun and few online multiplayer fantasy roleplaying options.

As a sign of how things have changed, TorilMUD had a double experience event this past weekend.

World of Warcraft

All this talk of pandas, pets, and BlizzCon got my daughter and I to resubscribe.  She really wanted to play, and when she plays I play.  We ended up doing a bit of the Hallow’s End stuff because she wanted the creepy crate pet.

Other Games

Facebook games in general, and Zynga games in particular, are really fading with me.  I used to try every Zynga game, then every other, then every third or so.

I end up playing them all about the same amount of time, but they seem to be cranking them out faster and faster.  I think this might be hurting them.

Two years, Zynga meant FarmVille and Mafia Wars.  They had a strong identity.  Today Zynga is a new game a month and I couldn’t tell you what the stand-out game for them really is.

I am sure there is a lesson in that.

Anyway, my Empires & Allies neighbors will have to understand.  I left everything harvestable, so they can reap (literally) the benefits of visiting, but I am done.

I have been playing some Civilization II, now that I have it working on Windows 7 64-bit.  I miss some of the enhancements that came with the later games… and unit pathing just sucks… I have to find the patch that fixed some of that… but it is light and clean and still a damn good game.

And, finally, I have been meaning to write about Defense Grid: The Awakening, a $10 tower defense game on Steam.  But every time I go to write about it, I launch it and just end up playing.  I have thought about picking up Dungeon Defenders, because I like the tower defense genre, but I doubt I would play it any time soon because I am not done with Defense Grid yet.

Coming Up

Well, the instance group will actually have to do something together in Rift.

There is a screen shot contest to judged!  You still have until November 6th to get your Azeroth travel poster submitted!

I am sure there will be something to note on Fippy Darkpaw.  Right now the forums are just boiling about the whole rotation thing, but there might even be a vote on the next expansion, the Shadows of Luclin.  If waking the sleeper was the gating item to trigger the vote.  If it was “finish all tasks listed on the chart,” then… well… all those tasks are not done yet, and we’re still stuck on Velious.

And we’re getting to the end of the year wrap-up season.  All those predictions… erm demands… will be coming home to roost.  For some of them, the companies were listening, while on others I apparently did not make myself clear.

Does Anybody Else See the Resembelance? October 9, 2011

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

Every time the little “recruit your friends” request comes up in Empires & Allies, the picture that comes with it…


… makes me think, “I really don’t know Gabe Newell.”

I mean, the resemblance isn’t exact or anything.


But I cannot help wonder if somebody at Zynga is having a little joke.

September in Review September 30, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, Casual Games, entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Facebook, Month in Review, Need for Speed World.
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1 comment so far

The Site

Welcome to my 61st month in review post.

Just to reiterate, the site made it to the five year mark and remains active.  Given the observed blog mortality rate, this seems like a reasonable achievement.  And it also means that now every month in review post will include not only a “One Year Ago” section, but now a “Five Years Ago” segment.  Suck it.

As often happens, spammers grab onto one of my older posts and that becomes the target of 90% of the spamming for a brief time.  I have yet to figure out a pattern.  This month, the year old post EverQuest Next and Lessons Learned seemed to be the target.  I actually kind of like that post, as I tried to put some thought into it… differentiating it from many of my other posts.   But in the last month, literally hundreds of obvious spam comments were caught in the spam filter trying to get to that post.  And since I see maybe 1 in 10 of what Akismet gets, that means a lot of spam pointed at one odd target.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it was the pretty pictures.

Home of future gold spammers?

And then, in watching traffic, I noticed I was getting a lot of referral traffic from the fine people over at Popehat.  And while that is partially explained by Patrick linking me in a post, the trend actually started more than a week before that post, and I have no idea why.

A Pope of a different hat…

They write snarky pieces about serious social issues  (go look through Ken’s Anatomy of a Scam posts, for example, a worthwhile read) and I write… well… this crap.  There must be some sort of Venn diagram overlap between “gamer” and “free speech issues” or something.

The internet remains a mystery.

(Pope-alope picture property of somebody, reprinted without permission, and stolen from here.)

One Year Ago

Well, there was that whole four year anniversary thing.

Planet Michael, the Michael Jackson virtual world, was announced.  How is that coming along?

The whole David Allen, Derek Smart, Quest Online public blame and shame fest ended when Quest Online gave David Allen some money and he went away.  Dr. Smart could not help but throw in a couple final comments.

CCP was talking about Public Fleets and such that were planned for their Incursions expansion.  That got delayed long enough for me to get tired of waiting.  Still, it was better than Incarna.

More interesting was a guide to suicide ganking in EVE Online put up by TooNuRacoon.

Meanwhile, I was kicking off my EVE Online screen shot contest.  All of the entries are now posted on my other site.

I tried turning an old joke into an MMO joke.  Some people got it.  Some did not.

I looked at cloaks in MMOs, and how little they resemble what we would call a cloak in the real world.

Lord of the Rings Online flipped the switch and went free to play.  We were truly among the free (to play) peoples Middle-earth then.  There were some issues with Turbine Points, though I did get my 5,000 point pay-off.

The instance group was still summering in Middle-earth.  The group was finally into the meat of the Lone Lands.  We also tried some skirmishes and talked about Anderson Cooper.

In LOTRO I also ran into somebody who was looking for a social environment similar to old EverQuest.  I wonder if he ended up on Fippy Darkpaw which, for a short time, had all the best aspects of early EQ.

And, after a year of waiting, I finally finished off that one last Brewfest achievement in World of Warcraft.  Go me.

Five Years Ago

The blog started.  As with all blogs, there was a first post.  I still haven’t covered all of the topics I laid out in that post.

Our WoW instance group started up, saving me from a solo life in Azeroth.

I made my first of many runs at EverQuest nostalgia.  It will never end, I assure you.

I  started up EVE Online for the first time, choked on the tutorial, and had some impressions to share.

I put up the first of my planned ancient gaming posts, with a look at Stellar Emperor circa 1986.

I was musing about games slated for the future, including Star Trek Online and Lord of the Rings Online.  I had reservations about both.

New Linking Sites

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Special Site Mention

Cosmetic LOTRO

The place to go when you are looking for your “look” in Middle-earth.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Zoroark Download Event Coming to Toys R Us!
  2. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  3. World of Warcraft Magazine – Dead After Five Issues
  4. In Which I Feel the Power of the Dark Side… of The Sims Social
  5. The Great Star Wars Saga Viewing Order Question
  6. Things I Hate About Twitter – The Babbling Company Feed
  7. The Sims Social Pegs My Dating Life…
  8. Vast Goon Conspiracy Ensnares Even Its Foes!
  9. SOE Finally Gets a REAL Server Status Page
  10. Star Wars Blu-Ray Viewing Order Poll Results and Impressions
  11. Heroic Results of the First Five Year Plan!
  12. Fippy Darkpaw GMs Starting Their Own Fight Club

Search Terms of the Month

fort necessity
[Wow, somebody's George Washington paper is off to a rocky start!]

did he drop any good loot
[If you have to ask, I am going to say "no."]

moparisthebest
[Now there is an obscure reference to an old post.]

We hope you are enjoying participating in the Game Testing Program and want to thank you for helping shape the most anticipated MMO to date.
[A sudden spike of this in the last 24 hours.]

Spam Comments of the Month

I consume around 4 liters a day, I will begin my day with close to one and then go to on to many other types. I think the more the better though.
[The guy is either a diabetic or drives a vintage Jaguar.]

EverQuest and EverQuest II

In a mental mis-calculation, it appears that my SOE All Access pass is still good.  I think.  The fact that the SOE account page that should tell me this information is broken on my account (again) means that I am not sure.  But I think I forgot to add in the extra 45 days I received as part of the SOE post-hack make good program.  So I am probably still live until November.

That and getting the SOE authenticator got me to at least log into their games, if only to see if they missed anything with their implementation.  Plus there was Karen’s new series on EQIIx at Massively, which got me to poke around EQIIx a bit myself.  I’ve done a bit of crafting, gotten my templar another level, and opened up the guild hall to send out the resource bots to gather so I can sell their plunder on the broker for the guild escrow account.  Maybe my account will stay active long enough for me to make a Beastlord.

I also wandered around old Norrath a bit on Fippy Darkpaw, just to see how things are going with the Velious expansion.  They seem to be stuck due to technical issues.  Go SOE.  It is like they never did a progression server before.  So the timer until the next expansion has yet to start.

Lord of the Rings Online

The rump instance group continued making slow progress in Evendim.  Real life has keep us from pressing on as quickly as we might have.  Basically, our usual three hours on Saturday night has fallen to two hours, and only every other Saturday.  Still, we persist.  Soon though the cold will come and we’ll be looking for a game for the whole team.

Need for Speed World

As I said before, I am surprised at the longevity I have had with this game.  I have even dropped some cash on it to buy a couple of cars and have pressed passed level 20.  I think at this point I have unlocked the whole map and am now just adding new race courses with each level.  I will have to look around for a level guide to see if there is anything really worth unlocking at this point.

Facebook

I will probably end up blocking The  Sims Social before the weekend is up.  It bores me, even when I am insulting people.  But I would have guess that I would find it a bore before I tried it, so that my not liking it isn’t exactly a startling revelation.

Zynga’s Empires & Allies has persisted for me for longer than I expected.  There is still too much “go beg your neighbors for these parts you need” to suit me and I am not enthralled enough to actually give them money. (Even more so now that they sell their premium currency via Facebook credits, which has made that currency even more outrageously expensive, in my opinion.  Furthermore, unlike previous games, you cannot earn the premium currency in game.)  But at least they have streamlined the begging a bit.

Other Games

I have been going through some of the games I purchased on Steam as part of their big summer sale, plus a game or two I have purchased since, including a couple of indie titles.  This should lead to a series of posts.  My general rule is to write only about games I generally like, even if I have specific issues with the game.  I try to avoid the “OMG this is Shite!” posts, although I have made exceptions in the past. (CivWorld)  With indie games I am a bit squeamish about coming out with any negatives.  I don’t mind kicking EA, Sid Meier, or Richard Garriott in the shins, but I feel guilty going after the lone developer or small team.  So I am on the fence about a couple of potential posts where I will likely be very critical of certain design elements or the value of the game versus the price being charged.

Coming Up

It is about time for a instance group summit.  I would be willing to go back to WoW, or maybe try Rift… something to fill the gap between now and whatever is next just to get back to playing together.   Oh, and there will be problems with some of the “whatever is next” items we are thinking about.  So we will have to hash that out.

My goal for next month is to go through my list of games I have purchased on Steam and assess their value to me based on how much time I have spent with them.  That should make for an amusing post.

And maybe BioWare will throw us something new about Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Something that isn’t, you know, a complete tease.

Maybe Mark Jacobs will give me something to write about… or Scott Jennings will trigger some new “I remember that” event.

And where is Torchlight II dammit?

All I know is that I will find something to complain about.

What are my cats up to?

In Which I Feel the Power of the Dark Side… of The Sims Social September 26, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: , ,
10 comments

Facebook games and I have a cycle.

There is a short initial cycle of interest, usually accompanied by a burst of activity, followed by a period of peak interaction with friends/neighbors, followed by a quick decline in interest leading to me telling Facebook to not allow a given game access to post any more messages or notifications.

The whole cycle can last anywhere from minutes (CivWorld) to months (The Agency: Covert Ops), and the list of games I have played is almost embarrassingly long.  But they all end up the same.  Or at least the ones that don’t fold up shop while I am still playing do at least.  I’ve had that happen to me a couple of times.

But usually it is interest, a quick peak, and then wishing the whole thing would shut up and go away.

And so, it was just a question of time before The Sims Social peaked and became a chore.

Frankly, I have never been very interested in The Sims in any case.  I was a big Sim City fan, back in the day, but down at the individual Sim level, I get bored.  I am not much on decorating and such.  And so, while I cleared most of my yard, my home remains pretty close to the starting point.

Watching the neighbors…

And as amusing as it is to imagine relationships as selecting from a menu of options like “Gossip” or “Express Appreciation,” the whole thing wore off pretty quickly.

Talk about writing with Tobold

Even my sim wasn’t feeling it.

Tell us how it is

Soon I was getting notifications on my wall about friendships in danger because I had not bothered to visit.  Needy bitches!

I decided if I was going to wrap this game up and block it off, I might as well explore all routes.  So I figured it was time to hit the insult button.

Tobold, as it turns out, is pretty thick skinned.  I guess our relationship was pretty solid, as even implying his mother was a llama did not seem to phase him.

And your father smelt of elderberries…

Of course, I have to imagine if there has been something about his bathroom decor choices, it might have moved him more.

Pink!

But no, I could sit there and insult him until I ran out of energy and there was no change.  There even appeared to be benefits from rudeness.

Clearly enjoying my work

I am not sure what a bad mood potion does… or why it requires, among other things, left overs… but now I have one.  And my guy is clearly enjoying himself as he checks off insults from his notepad.  Insults work for me.  It must be that Oscar the Grouch, happy when I’m angry, angry when I am happy thing.

How… uh… unlike me

I guess that it makes sense that apologize is on the list of options once you go the insult route, but flirt?  Is there some sort of “make up sex” dimension here?

Anyway, insulting Tobold was turning into work, so I went searching for other victims.  I quickly found a relationship that was almost on the rocks as it was.  One insult was all it took!

New Status! Ex-Friends!

As with everything else, there is an option to share the news of your new ex-friendship with the world!

Being an ex-friend doesn’t seem to change much.  Sure, there is that gray frowny face, and the insult options are up by default when you interact.

Revive Old Argument!

But the door is still open.  I can still walk around his house, use his shower, and so on.  I cannot sleep in his bed now, only take a nap.  Among the other options

  • Patronize
  • Cat fight
  • Remember the bad
  • Belittle
  • Mock
  • Sneer
  • Insult haircut
  • Mock their dancing

I am so going to scratch you!

You can also wander around their home and retune the TV channels, change the pre-sets on their stereo, re-arrange the keyboard on their computer (set to Dvorak I guess), steal their food, and place a fish in their bed.

I am not sure what this is all in furtherance of.  Is there some sort of negative relationship tree to climb here?  Can I become somebody’s arch enemy?  Will that unlock some evil decor options?

Anyway, that kept me playing The Sims Social for at least one more day.

Epilog: If you imply that Tobold’s mother is a llama, he will eventually unfriend you on Facebook.  He seemed thick skinned, but I guess that skin just holds in all his deep seated resentment.