Items from the Mail Bag – Barrel Scrapings and the Like January 29, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook, Mail Bag, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Tags: Australian Open, Aventurine, darkfall, 해외커뮤니케이션팀, Kia Motors, Raptr
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 Soul, Sorento, and Cerato to be specific. Except I think that last one is sold as the Forte here in the US.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: Farmville, Hungry Hungry Herd, Zynga
My daughter and I were watching Spongebob together when we saw a commercial for this:
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.
With the Empire Crumbling, What of Darth British? October 25, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: Lord British, Portalarium, Ultimate RPG, Zynga
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.
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.
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?
For whom will our hero(?) show a fondness next?
Lord British and Zynga – A Match Made In… September 7, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: Lord British, Richard Garriott de Cayeux, Zynga
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I am really having trouble completing that sentence… CrazyVille?
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?
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?
Tags: Games I Forgot About, Playboy Manager, Playboy Party, Poisonville
1 comment so far
Back in May of 2009 I posted about a press release for Playboy Manager, Playboy’s attempt at an MMO, which they christened a “Massively Casual Online Game.”
They might have actually been a bit ahead of their time on that one.
And, after that, despite my signing up for the mailing list, I never heard a single thing about the game.
I mentioned it a year later in my month in review post (so I guess I mentioned it twice) where I said:
And a year ago Playboy’s “Massively Casual Online Game” Playboy Manager was announced. The game was supposed to launch in the summer of 2009 according to the press release. The site for the game is still there (go Google it) but it still mentions signing up for beta invites. Casual might refer to the development plan I guess.
The game looked to be on the same trajectory that Planet Michael is now; all talk, no rock.
However, the game did eventually launch. Or so I hear.
In an astonishingly bad use of captured email addresses, Jolt Online Gaming and/or Playboy apparently failed to alert those who expressed an interest in the game that it had actually gone live. You would think after all that work, they might have put some effort into publicizing it.
Seriously, I would have logged in just to experience it, had I but known.
Their effort went live as a Facebook game, under the name Playboy Party, back in November 2010. Of course, since it went to Facebook, it was probably flagged as Beta like every other Facebook game, so maybe they felt it wasn’t time yet to go to the public.
However, time was of the essence, as the game closed on September 12th of this year.
In the middle of that, in March 2011, things go so messed up that the game had to be reset and everybody had to start again from scratch.
And so the game has come and gone, having garnered all of 400 actual players during its short life span. It may now aspire to be a footnote in the appendix of an unpublished volume of esoteric video game history.
Thanks to UnSubject over at Vicarious Existence whose post on the subject, which has more detail and actual screen shots from the game, reminded me again that the Playboy Manager/Playboy Party even existed. Plus there is a bonus mention of another failed Playboy online game project, Poisonville!
Items from the Mail Bag – I’m Full and Feeling Generous Edition November 24, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo II, entertainment, Facebook, Mail Bag, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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.
- 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.
- Danny wanted to tell me about a new “infographic” he made showing the relative difficulties of the Diablo and Diablo II bosses. Not sure what it really means, but I happened to install Diablo 2 again this past weekend, so you cannot fault him on timing.
- 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, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, EverQuest, Facebook, Month in Review, Need for Speed World, Rift, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Defense Grid: The Awakening, WordPress.com
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 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 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.
And my daughter and I were drinking new and interesting sodas.
Five Years Ago
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.
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
- Beastlord to be the New Class in the Next EQ2 Expansion
- How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
- Blizzard Endorses the Transfer of Capital to the Proletariat
- Play On: Guild Name Generator
- Tobold Prediction – CCP Bankrupt in 2012
- Panda Reactions at Our House…
- And Then I Told My Daughter About Pet Battles…
- Post BlizzCon Thoughts on Pandaria
- Despite Rampant Hacking and GM Shennanigans, Fippy Darkpaw Server is Still Stuck on Velious
- Azeroth Travel Poster Contest – Win a Sparkle Pony!
- Civ II – Found the Disc, Can’t Use the Disc
- 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?]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook.
Tags: Empires & Allies, Gabe Newell, Valve, Zynga
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.