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Why Can’t I Just Turn Off Achievements? November 7, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Design, World of Warcraft.
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21 comments

Over in a corner of the blogesphere this week achievements have been the discussion point.

Syl at MMO Gypsy started venting on Twitter about achievements and went on the write about about her hate of them and other like things at her blog.

In the way of the world, that lead to Liore at Herding Cats to express her love of achievements.  Cuppy joined in on that front as well, while Klepsacovic just wonders if they are the right tool for the job.

The lines were drawn, let the battle commence!

Both sides make impassioned, emotional pleas for their point of view.  The ill-defined concept of “immersion,” which I think means something different to everybody, has been flung about.  Comments have popped up trying to explain one point of view to those whole held the other, myself included.  All just the blogesphere functioning as designed.

I fall on the achievement lovers side of the argument.  They went into World of Warcraft five years ago and I have enjoyed Blizzard’s implementation ever since.

Vikund's Achievements

Vikund’s Achievements – Oct. 15, 2008

I don’t think they necessarily belong in every MMO… and some retro-fits, like the EverQuest implementation, make me groan… but for WoW, already a bright and shiny game with a cultural reference around every corner, it seems like a good match.  I especially like the statistics tab which tracks all sorts of little details, but I am that sort of person.

That isn’t to say that I don’t “get” the dislike of achievements.  And while I think trying to describe what immersion is to each other is like trying to describe what blue is to each other, I can understand how some might find that a shiny pop-up in the middle of their experience might break that for them.

And while I was absorbing all of this, a thought popped into my head.

What if you could just turn them off?

I am not even suggesting that they be expunged from the game, but that the game have a check box somewhere in the settings to not pop up achievements, yours mine or ours.  They would still accrue somewhere in the background in case the person in question changed their mind, but while the correct box was checked somewhere in the settings, they just wouldn’t be a thing on that particular game client.  No pop-ups allowed.

And in imagining that, it sounded so simple that I had to believe that such a setting was already there.  I mean, you can turn off all sorts of things in the UI in most games.  How could that not already be a thing?

So I launched World of Warcraft and went to the setting to check.

You can turn on and off lots of UI elements in WoW.  You can toggle the on screen quest list, quest tracking, floating names over players and NPCs, quests markers on the map and so on and so forth.  There are even conditional settings, so you can have NPC names hidden unless they are part of a quest you are on.

But as far as I can tell, there is no setting to turn off achievement pops.

Well, WoW is a big game, with 7.6 million subscribers at last count.  Maybe somebody has filled this niche with an addon!  So I went to Curse to look at achievement related addons.  There are dozens of addons devoted to helping you find, track, and achieve your achievements, but not one to suppress them.  There may be one out there (let me know if there is) but I couldn’t find it in my admittedly limited search.

I decided to check other games.  The next up was Rift.  I downloaded the latest update, which was sizable, and got into the game.  Ignoring the fact that somebody clearly left the realm administration console unlocked during a bathroom break (Or was that server-wide broadcast about Ceiling Cat watching you part of the current event?) and the blinky telling me I earned a reward just for logging in (that I could do without) I started leafing through the settings.

DSEplopachi

Like WoW, Rift has a pretty comprehensive set of things you can turn on and off.  There is even a social media tab where you can annoy your soon-to-be-ex-friends by spamming Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr with all of your achievements.  But I could not find a way to keep achievements from popping on your screen.

I can automatically decline marriage proposals (which I have set) but achievements are sacred.  I even tried editing the UI to see if I could move achievements off screen, but that particular UI element isn’t part of the editor.

No luck on that front.  So I moved on to Middle-earth.

Lord of the Rings Online doesn’t have achievements… at least not in the WoW sense of them.  But there are traits and pop ups and all sorts of little nags that do get on my nerves.  And they also have a pretty comprehensive list of things in the settings.  But on the achievement-like traits front there was no joy there.  Like other games, there are plenty of potentially immersion breaking things you can turn off, but trait notifications… and the accompanying “Visit the LOTRO Store!” message… are stuck on.  So I moved on.

Next I patched up and tried EverQuest II.  EQII has such a half-hearted “I’m just like WoW! Love me too please!” attempt at achievements that even I am not really interested in them.

Which is odd when I think about it, because EverQuest II had a sort of proto-achievements implementation back at launch in 2004.  In addition to server first and world first discoveries, which were kind of neat until they inevitable ran out, there were the slaughter titles you got for killing so many undead or gnolls or what not.  But they felt they needed to tack on the WoW model as well, making EQII even more of a mish-mash of conflicting visions.

SBHHistoryBuff

Anyway, in digging through the “monumentally huge since day one” options window of the game, I figured out that achievements are part of the updates and notifications in the game.  You can set how quickly they are displayed and where the UI element shows up, but it doesn’t appear that you can actually turn them off.  I suppose you could move that off-screen, but since it shows information for things besides just achievements, I am not sure if that is a viable solution.  Call that a “maybe” at best.

I thought about checking Guild Wars 2, but was brought up short by two things.  First, their super duper, point of interest, laundry list, be the completionist mechanism seemed so much a part of the game when I tried it that I seriously doubted you could turn it off.  And it seems to have progressed since then.

Hah, finished!

Hah, finished!

And, second, I’ve forgotten my password and I cannot get Anet to cough it back up again because I’ve changed internet services since I last logged in so they think I am trying to hack the account.  Saved me from patching in any case.

I also considered checking EverQuest, which has had achievements grafted onto it as well, but I was starting to get bored with the whole idea.  Plus the pattern seemed to be pretty clear and I hated to ruin it by finding a contrary example.  Once you have two points, draw the line, calculate the slope, and move on I say!

But this does leave me with a few questions.

First, does any MMORPG with achievements let you turn off the pop ups?  Did I miss an example or a setting or an addon that would do that for any of the above or some other example?  And why isn’t the option to turn off achievement pop ups available?  Do companies believe them to be so important that the game cannot be separated from the achievements?

Then, would turning off the achievements as I have describe be enough for you explorers and those of you who just do not like achievements in general?  Or does the fact that achievements simply exist bother you?

Expansion Watch – A General Lack of Excitement September 11, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Gaming Industry Trends, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Neverwinter, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft.
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21 comments

Normally I would say it was just me, content in my little gaming routine, that was feeling a lack of excitement about MMO expansions right now.

But after working for a good minute or two on the subject, I began to see some signs, and get a general sense, that I might not be alone on that front.  Certainly the game companies haven’t been doing much to light a fire.  And I say that while noting we are headed straight into the last quarter of the year when some companies traditionally ship, or at least announce, expansions.

This is what I have noted down so far.

EVE Online

CCP has been on the “about two a year” track for ages now.  Just look at the list up to June of this year.  Sometimes they slip one way or another, with their expansions running early or late.  And I am not sure if Revelations II should be counted as its own expansion or not.  But for the most part CCP has a system and it has worked.

Yet here we are into September and we just got Odyssey 1.1 with a whole pile of changes.  That seems awfully close to the margin when you want to start off rolling new features into the main code branch for integration and sanity checking reasons.  There is a hazard in changing things up too frequently.

On the flip side, CCP has not been very successful with the long wind-up for things.  See DUST 514.  And EVE expansions tend to have a pretty short cycle between announcement and go live.  So they may still be operating as normal.

EverQuest

The big news maker at SOE Live was EverQuest Next.  That was what everybody was talking/writing about.  But, somewhere amongst the sand art the talk of voxels was an announcement about the next EverQuest expansion.  The 20th expansion.  A big, fat hairy deal, making it to 20 expansions one would think.  And so this important milestone was named…

um…  where did I put those notes…

It was named Call of the Forsaken!  There is even an official title/logo/graphic thing, which puts it well ahead of the game compared to most other expansions at this point.

EQCotF

Given how much press it has been getting, that name might give the Chains of Eternity expansion a run for its money in the unintended irony department.

SOE has announced beta and pre-orders for the expansion, but as far as I can tell has not bothered to post a feature set or other details on the main EverQuest site.  I suspect that this is in part because the name of the expansion does not follow the standard naming format of “Something of Something,” which has lead to some internal rebellion by the web team.  Or they were part of the layoffs.

EverQuest II

Like its older brother, EverQuest II had an expansion announcement at SOE Live which was likewise completely overshadowed by EverQuest Next.  The new expansion, Tears of Veeshan, was announced in a hallway somewhere and hasn’t been heard from since as far as I can tell.  Unlike the EverQuest site, the EverQuest II web pages appear to have no mention of the expansion whatsoever.  Remember what I said about SOE and keeping excitement going?

The expansion is planned for November, so SOE has some time.  But it is starting to feel like past versions of Norrath are on the back burner while EverQuest Next hogs all the excitement by… uh… talking about whether female dwarves should have beards or not.  Jesus wept.

Guild Wars 2

No expansion for Guild Wars 2 has been announced or even discussed to my knowledge.  But when you are clearly making most of your revenue from selling boxes, and you have a history of selling boxes, it seems like you might want to get another box on the shelves at some point.

Lord of the Rings Online

At last, somebody who has an expansion in the works, who has announced it, and has followed up with… something.  They have a press release posted on their site at least.   And a logo.

LOTROHelmsDeep

And I guess they showed some stuff at PAX.  But if you were just me poking around on the web trying to find information about it, you might wonder if they were really serious.  Usually Turbine is out with the per-order incentives and such about now.  So far it seems pretty quiet for the Helm’s Deep expansion.

[Addendum - There is now an announcement for the expansion release date.]

Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR already had an expansion this year, Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  That came out six months back.  But now, if you are a subscriber, you get it for free.  I am not sure what that says about how well it was doing.  And I have to guess that, if you’re a subscriber, it means you really like the game, so you probably bought it already.  Well, They have a little something for your trouble at least.

World of Warcraft

Ha ha ha, I know.  They just released Mists of Pandaria like a year ago.  That is practically yesterday in World of Warcraft terms.  And they just gave us the Siege of Orgrimmar update with all sorts of new features.  Even Kihei was on her level 90 reaping the rain of loot that is the Timeless Isle at the moment.  I am sure that will be nerfed significantly before I get there, while all the best noodle cart locations will be taken.  Yes, we got noodle carts with the patch as well.  I am not making that up.  Go read the patch notes I linked there, you’ll see.

Anyway, will the new stuff in patch 5.4 be enough?  Can a patch, no matter how feature rich, have the same draw or get the same attention as a full blown expansion.  As much as expansions expose the ludicrous nature of the level based system, often stacking the shiniest new content as far out of reach of new players as possible, it is the sort of thing that will get people to buy boxes and resubscribe.  So I will be surprised/dismayed/annoyed if Blizzard does not announce something like a WoW expansion at BlizzCon this November.  Hints about character remodels are not enough.

As slow as they are, Blizzard did get a Diablo III expansion into the queue for next year, so there should be something.

Others

That is just the stuff that springs to mind.  Are there any other expansions that ought to be noted?

I figure that Final Fantasy XIV and Neverwinter are too new.  Trion is probably too busy with the free to play conversion and their own internal turmoil to have anything set for Rift. And who else is there that might ship an expansion?

I am not sure how well selling expansions mixes with free to play in any case.  LOTRO has kept it up, and SOE is trying.  But other players in the space seem to be just dropping semi-regular content updates in the hopes that they can tempt you into spending at the cash shop, or at least annoy you into returning to the subscription model that I suspect some free to play developers still secretly love.  Why else would you sell hot bars at your cash shop?

But expansions have been, in the past, a community focal point, a way to get both your current and former customers excited about your game again.  Only I am just not feeling it this season.

Am I alone in this?  Are things different this year?  Or is it just too early in the season?

Charting the Relative Natures of MMO Economies May 28, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
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12 comments

I think that by this point in time, some fifteen years down the road from the launch of Ultima Online, having a player economy is one of the hallmarks of games I consider to be MMOs, at least when I use the term.

If there is no player to player economy, then the game is something else to my mind.  World of Tanks, not an MMO in my book.  EverQuest certainly is.

And desire for a player driven economy stems from the deep in the roots of the genre.

In 1993 I was playing TorilMUD, arguably the precursor of EverQuest, which was very much a gear driven game.  Despite there being no mechanism at all to handle or encourage a player economy, one spontaneously appeared.  The desire to exchange gear for trade or coin, the need to create an economy, was so strong that an unofficial one was started and developed its own rules and customs.  And it became popular enough that there were standard prices for certain items.  We would sit around in Waterdeep and people would do shout auctions for items, which you would bid on with a direct tell to the seller.  And it you were looking for something, you would shout out a “want to buy” or WTB.

The economy become very popular very quickly, to the point that the people running TorilMUD were not quite sure what to do with it.  First they tried to contain the amount of spam it caused in town, putting a limit on the number of yells you could do over a given period of time and then by trying to get us to do this in a single room rather than shouting across a whole zone.  Eventually, an auction house was implemented, though the devs put the auctioneer in out of the way places, as I think they were still suspicious of the player driven economy.

This suspicion came, in part, from the fact that the player driven economy pointed out flaws in the game.  With little to spend the in-game currency on besides items from other players, some people began to amass huge quantities of cash.  This, of course, drove up the price of everything in the player economy because the long term players could afford to drop a lot of coins on things they wanted for themselves or alts.

But the whole sinks and faucets and inflation aspect of the currency is another discussion.

Likewise, when EverQuest launched, there were no tools to drive a player economy.  It formed around the Commonlands tunnel where people would go to buy and sell, very much in the model of TorilMUD.  This popped up again for a bit on the progression servers, at least until the bazaar showed up.

The Plane of Knowledge kills all this...

Nostalgia at the tunnel

I was thinking about all of this and trying to fit MMO player economies into a two dimensional system for comparison.

What I came up with was how much of a requirement the player economy was to play the game and how much friction there was to engaging in the player economy.

The first seems pretty reasonable to gauge.  Can you play the game, or can you get very far in the game, without engaging in the player economy.  For example, in EVE Online, you have to use the player economy to play the game.  You could, I suppose, try to avoid it.  In fact, it might be an interesting experiment to see what you could do without it.  But I imagine that it would be a long, slow grind to completely avoid the market and it would limit what you could accomplish.

Most other MMOs make the player economy somewhat optional, and have moved more in that direction over time.  The combination of quest rewards and game difficulty have moved in the direction of keeping players independent of the player economy.

Friction, on the other hand, encompasses a whole range of things, such as:

  • How easy is it to access the market?
  • How easy is it to buy and take delivery?
  • How good is the UI?
  • How high are the fees/taxes on transactions?
  • How stable is pricing?
  • Do enough people use the economy to make it viable?

And it is with this that you start to get all over the map.  For example, Guild Wars 2 and EVE Online are oddly similar in how easy it is to view the market.  You can bring it up in the UI wherever you are.  On the other hand, while GW2 shows you everything on the market in the game, EVE limits you to your current region.

Anyway, in order to compare these, I made a little graph and put down where I thought certain games might sit on those two continuum.  This is what I ended up with.

Click to make readable

Click to make readable

The X axis is friction, and the mixed bag of items that represents.  The Y axis is how much of a requirement it is to engage in the player driven economy.  For a few games I made entries for past states of the game and how they seem currently.

EVE Online is, of course, the game furthest down the required end of the spectrum.  I also put it midway along the high end of the friction scale.  On the one hand the market is chopped up by regions, there is no delivery so you have to go get the item from the station in which it was listed, this leads to interesting price differentials based on convenience, there is a double tax/fee system, and then there is the whole contracts economy to confuse the issue.  And pity the poor capsuleer in the middle of nowhere in need of something.

Mitigating that friction is that if you go to the right system, usually Jita, you can find what you want to buy, and there are so many buyers and sellers competing that there is price stability.

At the other end of things is Guild Wars 2, where you can list to sell anywhere and just have to find the right NPC to pick up items you have purchased and proceeds from sales.  The friction is so low that low that lots of people engage in the economy, so commodities for crafting and the like are readily available at reasonable prices.  How much a player is really required to participate is a wild guess on my part.  Gear provided by your personal quest line seemed good if you kept up, but I have no idea if that carries on through the game.

In the middle, well, a few other games.  I ranked LOTRO‘s friction higher than most because of the low participation and the annoying locations and mediocre UI of the auctioneers.  On the other hand, you don’t really need it, and doubly so since Turbine started selling very good armor in the cash shop.

EverQuest II was high friction at launch in some ways… you had to be online to sell, sales were restricted to the storage space of your home (which you had to have to sell), and fees pushed players to go visit players directly in their homes.  And, if you were crafting at the time, there was the interdependence of the crafting skills that required you to use the market or use up your four character slots to make crafting alts.  On the other hand, when you buy something on the broker in EQII, it appears right in your inventory.  A lot of that got smoothed out over time, but dependence on the broker went with a lot of that.

EverQuest started at high friction, you had to be online and see the right person on the auction channel selling something you wanted.  Later the Bazaar came and you could get a listing, but sellers had to be online, in the Bazaar, and you had to go find them.  Finally, things got to offline selling in the more recent expansions, though I think you still have to show up at the Bazaar.

I ranked TorilMUD even higher on friction, if only because the player base was so much smaller.  When your player population is a few hundred, and only 256 can be on at a time, your buying and selling options are pretty limited.

And in the middle there is World of Warcraft, which used to have a segmented market, but which has since been unified.  The UI for it has gotten better over time, and the addons for playing the auction house have grown more sophisticated, but the need for the auction house has diminished over time as quest rewards in the form of gear have become more regular and standardized through the leveling process.

So there is my chart.  It is pretty much a gut-level, unsubstantiated work at this point.  Where do you think I am right and where am I clearly wrong?  And where would other games fit on the chart?

And, of course, where do you think MMOs should sit on that chart?  What would be ideal, if anything?

March in Review March 31, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Guild Wars 2, Month in Review, Neverwinter Nights 2, Rift, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
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The Site

WordPress.com decided to give us some color in their “visits by country map.”

Actually, we had color, but the choices were limited.  Basically, it was red-orange, orange, or beige.

Visitors from around the world

Visitors from around the world

The map has changed a bit and we have a bit broader spectrum of colors.

A more colorful world

A more colorful world

But Greenland is still appears larger than South America or Africa.  Damn Mercator projection!  What does that say about WordPress.com?

It has also been a little over a year since WordPress.com started tracking this sort of thing, so I thought I would compare the top 10 countries they list with what my Flag Counter side-bar widget shows.

WordPress / Flag Counter

  1. United States / United States
  2. United Kingdom / United Kingdom
  3. Canada / Canada
  4. Germany / Australia
  5. Australia / Germany
  6. Sweden / Netherlands
  7. Netherlands / Sweden
  8. France / France
  9. Brazil / Poland
  10. Poland / Brazil

It is the same ten countries with some difference in the ranking after the third position.  So I guess that means that one is about as accurate as the other.  Or something.

One Year Ago

The family and I went and visited the USS Iowa while it was docked up in Richmond.

April Fools spirit hit Wargaming.net a little early.

It only seemed like Zynga was desperate a year back.

I took a quick peek back into Need for Speed: World.

Raptr said I could be the top WoW player they tracked… if I just played another 18,999 hours.

I also rolled a new character on a new server in LOTRO because… why not?

In EVE voting commenced and The Mittani won the chairmanship of the CSM 7 by a large margin.  And then he named names during his alliance talk and was removed from CSM 7 and banned from EVE for 30 days.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, we were being taunted by a LEGO Rifter that we were doomed never to see and Derek Smart was telling everybody DUST 514 was doomed to fail.

Meanwhile, the war in the north was heating up again even without The Mittani.  The CFC was picking up systems in Tenal as bases of operation for the upcoming offensive.  Then there was the bloodbath at C-J6MT.

In Rift, we had a couple of runs at the Foul Cascade.

EverQuest turned 13 and went free to play.  That saw more than a few of us run in to give it a try.  Fall nostalgia in the Spring.  We ran the tutorial, tried out mercenaries, and created a guild.  I am not sure what became of our little group.  Nostalgia is like that.

It was also announced that Vanguard would be going free to play as well.  While on the Fippy Darkpaw server, LDON and LoY went live… I think.

Then I was trying to find another blog name that used the TAGN acronym as a setup for an April Fools joke.  That totally fell flat.

And, finally, I attempted to bring together as many memories from the early days of Air Warrior as I could.

Five Years Ago

I was again ruminating about the whole “Why So Much Fantasy in MMORPGs?” thing, this time on the shores of chaos.

We started to see the end of the “Brent hand picks the news” era over at VirginWorlds.  The reign of myself and CrazyKinux was near to an end.

I got a Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond for my birthday!

EverQuest celebrated its 9th anniversary.  A very nice time line print of the game was posted over at the EQ Dev blog to celebrate, along with a video.

In Lord of the Rings Online some sites were speculating about future expansions.  And then Turbine announced The Mines of Moria!  Meanwhile, I was trying to give out some founder’s referrals.  I think I still have one or two of those left.

In World of Warcraft, patch 2.4 was the latest end-of-the-world panic.  I was trying out Alterac Valley trying to get a mount, not reading that I needed to get exalted reputation to buy it.  Meanwhile the instance group made it to Shattrath and then hit the Blood Furnace while my wife and her friends were drinking apple-tinis.

Official forums were the talk again for a bit, as Marc Jacobs said he wasn’t going to have them for Warhammer Online.  No, the Warhammer Herald (to be created in the image of the Camelot Herald) was going to be enough.  Well, we know how that worked out.

And, finally, five years ago Gary Gygax left us.  We still miss him because we still feel his influence every day.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  2. The Seductive Comfort of Azeroth
  3. Google Reader Alternatives? Again?
  4. Age of Kings Gets an Unofficial Expansion
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  6. Five Games I Want to See Revamped
  7. Completionism in the Wayfarer Foothills
  8. Wrapping Up My Seven Days of Azeroth
  9. Backwards in Time to Forgotten Realms
  10. Shroud of the Avatar – Lord British Discovers Kickstarter
  11. Jagdpanther
  12. First Time Out with Tech Fleet

Search Terms of the Month

heir to the empire audiobook
[I have that!]

bond almost dies
[Every Bond movie ever]

spaceship blows up
[Every EVE Online day ever}

churchill i with 100% crue
[Motley]

whats a goon in ancient rome
[Mittanicus Maximus?]

how mcuh isk poer hour can a hulk make?
[How is Veldsparr formed?]

EVE Online

I got in on an op early on in the month, when I was able to use my freshly finished logistic skills to fly my Oneiros at last.  And then there were the homeland defense fleets at the end of March.  However, the rest of the month was mostly passing on fleets where I did not have an appropriate ship handy, skill training, and figuring out what I want do to next in EVE.

Guild Wars 2

Well, that lasted a couple of weeks.  Didn’t hate it, just stopped feeling the need to play it once I hit the next set of zones.  Pretty much the same response I had with the original.  There is probably a lesson in that.  Anyway, I should probably explore the why of that at some point.

Neverwinter Nights 2

We played a bit of this in the Saturday night group.  It went from awkward to fun, and then we stopped playing.  We now have this odd fragmentation on Saturday night where what we play depends on who shows up.  I should make a Venn diagram.

Rift

Hey, we actually played some Rift.  Maybe we will carry on here and actually start in on the Storm Legion instances.  And speaking of Storm Legion, I am trying to figure out why I have no real enthusiasm for the expansion.  It was supposed to be bigger, better, and bolder or some such, right?

World of Tanks

Tanks keep rolling.  This is one of the subset of the instance group games.  I am chugging along towards my tier IX goal.  Russian heavies and German tank destroyers are the thing.

World of Warcraft

I played it for seven days and had about six and a half days of fun.  The last half day was less fun, and managed to convince me that I really did not have to subscribe to the game again.

Coming Up

Well, it is April Fools tomorrow, so tradition dictates that I post something about Blizzard’s jokes.  I have nothing planned for the site.  No, really.  The best I could come up with was to change the theme to something silly, and I think I’ve already done that, or change the site name to “Triaminoguanidine Nitrate” or some such.

I expect there will be a couple of posts about games I am not playing.  And the whole Kickstarter thing going on now with Shroud of the Avatar and Camelot Unchained.  I hope Mark Jacobs holds off until April 2 to launch his.  Too much risk of confusion on April 1.

And we are coming up to the 1 year anniversary of the Burn Jita event last year in EVE Online.  I wonder if there will be any follow up on that?

Completionism in the Wayfarer Foothills March 5, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2.
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14 comments

Guild Wars 2 passed the first major hurdle; I actually kept logging in after the first couple of days, something that I could not have guaranteed in advance.  There is plenty of precedent for buying a game and then playing it briefly before giving up.  I am for example, pretty sure at this point I have played as much, if not more, GW2 than I did the original Guild Wars.

I continued along with my previously indicated plan to basically hit all the designated points in the starter zone and managed to wrap that up.

WayFootTotal

I nearly did not get the last two skill challenge thingies… the blue up arrow points… as I ended up with adds that, along with the challenges themselves, brought me down before I completed them.

However, I guess skill challenges are like recreation league soccer, you get a trophy for just being there, as at some point later on I was awarded both of those challenges.

Actually, my guess is that somebody else went up to do them and that my contribution counted or some such.  Either way, I am glad I got them as there was a reward for completing all of the events in the zone.

Wayfarer Foothills Complete

Wayfarer Foothills Complete

For me, that was actually some serious coin and experience.  I am not sure what to do with the items, but the reward was enough that I went to Hoelbrak and finished up that annoying, Super Mario-esque jumping routine in order to get the last vista point on the map there.

HolbrakComplete

All of which left me at level 16 and “done” with the first zone.  My personal story is already pointing into the next zone, so I am ready to go there.

This meanders a bit, so more after the cut.

(more…)

February in Review February 28, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Guild Wars 2, Month in Review, Need for Speed World, Rift, World of Tanks.
Tags:
12 comments

The Site

The site is dying!

Look at these monthly traffic numbers.  That last bar is February 2013.

Feb2013Decline2

I have lost a greater percentage of my readership than WoW has lost subscribers, and if WoW is dying, then I must be dying even more so!

This month saw the lowest number of page views since late 2009.  There has also been a corresponding drop in uniques, those are the dark blue bars, though WordPress.com hasn’t been measuring that for very long.

As for the cause, my theory is that it is related to Google.

A few weeks ago there was a change in how Google image search works.

2013WeeklyBars

Previously it was like any other search, where clicking on the item returned would send you to the page on the site hosting it.  Now though, Google will grab the image directly for you, allowing you to search, view full size, and copy/download without ever having to visit the site from which the image originated.  Nice if you want to avoid malware on those sites I KNOW you surf late at night.  Not such a good idea if you run the site and are counting page views.

This actually had a much more dramatic impact on page views at my other blog, EVE Online Pictures.  Since it depends on Google image search for vast majority of its traffic, the change caused page views to plummet.

EPFeb2013

All of which would be meaningful if I actually derived any income from page views from the site.

Since I don’t, the site isn’t really dying.  Certainly other metrics… number of posts, number of comments, the actual page views for the post of the day… are all steady.  WordPress.com just doesn’t put up a handy bar graph of things like that, so it doesn’t have the dramatic impact that page views do when I go to the stats page.  Things will continue on here as they have for the last 6+ years.

But I suspect that there are sites out there which are hurting now due to the change at Google, if my theory is correct.  Ad revenues are already dropping on the web, now Google is killing off some page views.  That has to be making somebody mad.

Of course, this is just my theory based on page view counts and the fact that Google image search changed.  It could just be WordPress.com screwing around with how it counts page views again (or how it doesn’t count views directly to images on your site).  Or it could be that I just wrote nothing interesting this month.  Certainly the weekly adventure tale of the instance group has gone missing, as have most references to my actually playing a fantasy based MMORPG.  So who knows.

Oh, and as I threatened, here are the results from last month’s poll, where I asked what section of the month in review posts people liked the best.

Poll Results - Click for Full Size

Poll Results – Click for Full Size

The top result was the One Year/Five Years Ago section, which is my favorite as well.  Game summaries came in second.  I like those too, as they let me cover bits I never got around to making a post out of.

The “Other” results were:

  • All of the above – Thanks mom!
  • the end – Which I am going to guess is like saying the best part of school is when I get to go home.
  • Avatars that I jerk off to – I am not even sure what to do with this, besides wash my hands again.

Nobody voted for most viewed post… which was a bit of a surprise.  I guess that section is just for me.  New linking sites garnered no votes either.  I guess that once I have linked to you, you’re done with that section.  And, finally, no votes for the “Coming Up” section, for which I can hardly blame people.  It tends to me a quick, last minute “more of the same” entry, plus it is at the end of the post by which point I am sure most people have moved on.

One Year Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common roles.  Rift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  I am beginning to feel less certain on that assessment, especially with the departure of Scott Hartsman from Trion.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Five Years Ago

The month started out with our Pirates of the Burning Sea enthusiasm waning.

The instance group was kicking off its Outlands efforts, after running the required equipment upgrade quests, with Hellfire Ramparts, though first we ran through lower Blackrock Spire and got access to Upper Blackrock Spire.

Turbine announced that Lord of the Rings Online had extended its agreement with Tolkien Enterprises out until 2014, with an option to go to 2017.  As a lifetime member I applauded this extension.

I went to GDC up in San Francisco and had dinner some members of the VirginWorlds Podcast Collective plus Alan “Brenlo” Crosby, and got pictures to prove it. (I had a beard then… and I have a beard now… this is becoming a winter routine for me.)

My daughter got a Nintendo DS for Valentine’s Day.

We played a little KartRider, which is still MIA here in North America.

I defended myself against some slander about me being a dwarf.

I summed up the annual EverQuest Nostalgia Tour.

And I found out my blog was worth $61,534.86,though I couldn’t figure out how to cash in.  Since then, the value of the site has gone down.  I blame the economy.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs… er blog… has linked this site in its blogroll, for which I offer my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit this site in return.

Most Viewed Posts in February

Kind of an odd mix of old and new posts on the list this month.  Nostalgia seems to be high on the list.  It is more powerful than some people can bring themselves to admit.

  1. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  2. An Unfiltered (and Unfair) Impression of Wizardry Online
  3. Notes from the War in Delve
  4. The Real Problem with Levels…
  5. The Nostalgic Call of the Emerald Dream
  6. More Than 2,500 Ships Clash in Asakai
  7. Missing MMO Music Features – LOTRO Leads, Nobody Follows
  8. Side Notes About Used Games
  9. Not Your Father’s House of Cards
  10. More Unspent Virtual Currency
  11. Thrilling Internet Spaceship Stories!
  12. Air Warrior – Vague Memories from the Early Days of Virtual Flight

Search Terms of the Month

daenerys pov boring
[Ain't that the truth!]

lego minifigures tarot cards
[I'd buy that! But only if there was a Knave of Bricks or some such.]

what cool things you can buy for station cash for everquest
[Define "cool"]

anderson cooper look like elf
[Yeah, I will grant you that]

wizardly online is a joke
[Is this a wry comment on the game's Asian origin?]

is it normal to get scammed by the mittani, chairman of csm ???
[It's not unusual.]

Spam Comment of the Month

Check out [redacted] site if you want to see some funny second life blog videos
[There are no funny Second Life videos. Go to YouTube and search on 'Second Life Funny' and see.]

Oddest Spam Source

I got a few spam messages that linked to Ron & Barb McHugh’s Miniature Horse Ranch.

Has it come to this?  Spam comments to drive traffic to a miniature horse web site?

EVE Online

I managed to get into one fight over the course of the month.  Otherwise, things were mostly quiet.  Training continues as always.  I am set to get my 6+ million skill point boost when they break out the destroyer and battlecruiser skills, though in reality, that will just push me towards an even more expensive clone.  Grade Tau clones, at 30 million ISK a pop already inhibit me from small ship actions.  Losing a cheap frigate is all fine and good until your clone gets popped.

Guild Wars 2

So, I own it.  We shall see if it sticks.

Need for Speed: World

Stubbornness keeps me going here I think.  I have been doing the daily gem hunt… well… daily.  It takes 10 minutes or less and promises to reward players with better items with ever more consecutive daily runs.  At some point I will decide if this is really true or not and give up.  I am already past the 60 day mark.

Rift

The instance group successfully avoided Rift for another month.  Mrs. Potshot has actually been working on an alt, and I have logged in to collect my Rift Mobile app prizes now and again… I am almost capped out on planarite… but other than that, not much fantasy gaming going on of late.  Still, the Carnival of the Ass End of Telara is coming up.  At least that means a new scratcher game in the Rift Mobile app.  Go glass beads!

World of Tanks

All the boys in the Saturday night instance group are off playing tanks now… which brings up the “four of us, but only three can be in a platoon” issue… but we’re still having fun.

Coming Up

More tanks seems likely.  I am still a long way from my tier IX goal.  And probably a few more little tank videos.  I kind of like the under two minutes,”silly thing happened” video format.

More Rift… or Guild Wars 2… well… we shall see.

Potshot, who represents the pen and paper oriented wing of the Saturday night group has been looking for something closer to actual rolling of dice.  After being somewhat ignored during his online remote D&D campaign aspirations (sorry man), he has picked up Neverwinter Nights 2, which is at least more self contained.  I have that installed as well now, so something may come to pass in that department, if we can figure out how to get multiplayer working over the internet.

And GDC is coming back to San Francisco again late next month, but at $250 just for an expo pass, I am not likely to be attending.

An Inauspicious Return to Tyria February 26, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2.
26 comments

Please don’t throw me in the briar patch!

-Br’er Rabbit, applying the teachings of Sun Tzu

I guess at this point we should all take it as read that when I put up a post that says I am not going to buy something that is on sale, said sale has a high likelihood of winning out in the end.

Remember when Steam put Rift on sale?  Yeah, that.

So I broke down and purchased Guild Wars 2 Sunday morning.

For those who want a time stamp to see if their comments had any influence, I put in a comment of my own at about the time I was making that decision.

Getting in and buying the game was a snap.  Aside from the odd fact that the 30% discount didn’t seem to apply to PayPal purchases, there was no problem and I had a code for the game in mail email within minutes.

ArenaNet and I are both pretty security conscious, which lead to problems.

I forgot the password for my Guild Wars 2 account, something I figured out only when I got to the screen to register my code.  The problem with juggling so many passwords is that if I don’t use one for a while, I forget it.  And just to tease me, Firefox remembered the password, so I could log into my account on the web, I just couldn’t enter the password myself.  That actually surprised me, because I thought I had that remember password feature turned off.  Ah well.

So I went to recover my password.  Unfortunately, recovering your password requires entering your product registration code, and I had just acquired the code, so it wasn’t associated with my account.  So that failed and directed me to contact customer support.

The customer support site requires its own account, which makes sense but I really don’t need another account/password to remember, and, in the end, had answers to issues unrelated to my own.  The most interesting tidbit there was a notice that people who had not changed their passwords recently were being forced to reset them.  So I was going to need a password reset no matter what it seemed.

Eventually I decided that there must have been a code for the free weekend back in November.  Tracking that down meant filtering through chat and email across a number of accounts for the week preceding the event, because while I knew who sent me the code, I couldn’t recall on which channel it had been sent.

That tracked down, I was able to get a link for a password reset, which then took me a number of tries because it rejected the first few new passwords that I gave it as they had been previously used.  And they had been.  I had just typed them in attempting to access my account, which apparently puts them on a “used” list.

That was annoying, as was their suggestion that this XKCD cartoon was the answer to all password problems.

I love XKCD, but I hate that cartoon.  To me, it feels very much like saying all your computer virus and trojan problems will be gone if you use Mac OS.  Yes, if few people use that method, then it is brilliant.  But if everybody’s password is four dictionary words, 3-8 characters in length, then the security gained by that many more bits is removed by it being four freaking dictionary words.  And we’re all going to pick easy ones.  We’re just like that.

My question is always, “Why does your system let somebody enter 1,000 passwords a second?”

That tends to earn me dismissive looks and statements about how I don’t understand security at all.  Fine, not my area of expertise.  But still, why?

Anyway, once I picked a clean password I was cleared to move on to the code registration, which followed form and failed for me with a “session expired” error.  Eventually I figured out that my clicking on the link to allow my IP address access to my account was what had expired, as ArenaNet was sending me a new link every time I tried to register the code.  How about an error message that says, “Go click on the damn link we just sent you, you great pillock!”  I guess that entering user name and password triggers a new session, which you have to do as part of the registration.  I was already logged in when I started, so I thought I was covered.

Anyway, after about two hours, the registration of my code was complete.  At least I did not have to deal with customer service, as I expect it would have reflected the rest of the process.  They had my money, so without a subscription, my general usefulness as a customer was over and my new role as a burden on their resources was just beginning.

Fortunately, in a nod to the fact that something in the subconscious  me actually knows me very well, I had decided to patch GW2 the night before after we wrapped up instance group play time.  I had no conscious desire to buy the game at that point.  In fact, I try to follow the rule online purchases made after dark are almost always a mistake.  Something said, “Just in case….”

Of course, I also patched up Diablo III and Star Trek Online in the last week as well, so even my subconscious seems a bit random in its choices.

Anyway, at about lunch time I was able to actually get in and play the game, which was the point of the whole exercise.

I had a couple of characters on the server Henge of Denravi, which I picked back during the November free trial because I had some friends playing there.  I promptly deleted them.  The characters, that is, not the friends.  The friends I didn’t have to delete, as they all stopped playing GW2 months ago.  Hrmm, maybe I should have recalled that fact a bit earlier?

As for my characters, they were only a few levels into the game and I figured I was better off starting from scratch again than trying to figure out where I had left off.

I created a Norn warrior in what was going to be something of my own likeness, but which ended up looking more like friend and occasional commenter here on the blog, Blueline Basher.

Big bearded Viking guy

Big bearded Viking guy

I went through the Norn start and ended up in Wayfarer Foothills with a decision about how I was going to proceed.  There are no quests in the WoW style to guide you through the game.  There is your personal story, a long series of quests that your character is offered and which does appear to send you to new places.  But you cannot make that your only focus, as each stage requires you to pick up a level or two, so the chain quickly out runs your capabilities.

You have to get out in the world and do other stuff.

I decided I was going to take the OCD route and find/do everything in each zone once.  The GW2 designers clearly had that in mind, putting up a little counter for you on the map to make sure you know where you stand.

WayFootSoFar

That also seemed to be the most viable route, as experience given for finding/accomplishing these things seemed quite generous, at least relative to grinding the local fauna.  Experience for killing stuff is pretty stingy in comparison.

With that as my goal, I set out into the sparsely populated Wayfarer Foothills zone.  We are certainly past the big rush of character creation.  I do not know if Henge of Denravi is a low population server, if the Norn are just not a popular race, or if Sunday is, contrary to Raptr’s opinion, is just not a busy day, but it was very quiet when I was out and about.  (Nosy Gamer’s weekly Xfire stats show GW2 down again last week, though still more popular than any MMO besides WoW.)

I did see other players now and again, but almost nobody who was a new.  They all showed to be down leveled (little down arrow next to their displayed level) and judging by how quickly they were tearing through things relative to me and how quickly they showed up and moved on, they were people at or around level cap filling out some daily quota or picking up locations that they hadn’t hit before.

My experience back in November indicated that nobody talks when filling up their little hearts, so fewer people not talking isn’t really a big change.  I did get one high level person who grabbed mobs and trained them on to me while I was fighting.  My main attack seems to be AOE, which is very handy, except when somebody drags a bunch of mobs over you and you tag them and they stomp you into a pulp.  I have no idea why that happened.  The person in question didn’t answer me, except to drag more stuff over me once I returned from the waypoint.  I went elsewhere until they were gone.

I ran around doing events, visiting points of interest, admiring vistas, picking up waypoints, talking to scouts, and the various other things in zone to level myself up so I could continue on with my personal story which, among other things, seemed to be the only source of equipment upgrades.

Experience for just looking around!

Experience for just looking around!

A few of the special events I couldn’t do, as they clearly required multiple players.  That hoard of whatever they were in the cave over by the place across the river by the bears… yeah, them… they were going to stomp me into so much Norn jelly no matter how hard I tried.

I also started to wonder if my plan to do everything just once was going to hold out.  That didn’t seem to be keeping up with the level I needed to be and I ended up wandering into areas in search of the next thing, only to find that the next things was a few levels above me and likely to return me to my Norn jelly state again.  I may have to go back and repeat things to keep up at the level I need.

Of course, I might have just run off in the wrong direction.  And even when in over my head and likely to die, the system is very forgiving.  I went after one guy in my personal story about two levels too soon.

Smacking Elder Thruin

Smacking Elder Thruin

I made some headway, but wasn’t able to pull it off, dying short of my goal.

Dead Again

Dead Again

But I was able to revive at the waypoint for the encounter, which basically put me right back in the fight again fresh, while the bad guy was still down health.

Didn't expect a full recovery, did you?

Didn’t expect a full recovery, did you?

That got me through the event, which I really wanted because it rewarded me with an upgraded weapon.

I last ended up a couple levels down on my story and looking around for something to do that didn’t involve kids and snowballs or obnoxious Norn-tipping rabbits.  I swear, I was ready to call on Bhagpuss the bunny slayer.

Still, being lost in the world for the first couple of days is about par for the course.  And there is much to recommend the game.  As I have said previously, a limited set of skills is something of a relief after the “skills? the more the merrier!” approach of games like Rift and EverQuest II.  I swapped between my sword and shield set of skills and my duel wielding sword set of skills to unlock what I could there.

And I have to admit a fondness for the F key being the “do the thing” key, like it is in EverQuest II.  Though in GW2, if also covers looting as well, though I am going to have to find the check box that lets me just loot the stuff I find in a corpse without having to go for another key press.

The most unlikely synergy so far was between GW2 and World of Tanks, as the default GW2 key set binds the auto run key to both the traditional Num Lock key and the R key.  In WoT, the R key is also the auto run… or auto drive… key, and since I have been playing a lot of WoT lately, my finger instinctively goes there to start moving.

Granted, I tend to do R-R-R, because in WoT there are three forward speeds, so my Norn tends to start his run with a stutter step or run, stop, run.  Still, it works.

And so begins my journey into Tyria, as I pit GW2 in the fight between my long time love of fantasy MMORPGS and my current malaise with the genre.  Which will win out?

A Testament to my Malaise February 23, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft.
28 comments

My excitement for fantasy based MMORPGs is clearly at low ebb.

I have two offers in my email.  The first is for Mists of Pandaria for half off, or $20.

WoW Weekend Sale

WoW Weekend Sale

And the second is for Guild Wars 2 for over 30% off, which works out to $39.99 for the standard edition or $54.99 for the deluxe edition.

Guild Wars 2 Offer

Guild Wars 2 Offer

And I cannot bring myself to pull the trigger on either deal.

I said I would buy Guild Wars 2 once it dropped below $40.  But there is sales tax, so it isn’t quite there yet I suppose.

I am interested to know if any of the digital deluxe goodies ended up being meaningful, useful, or otherwise worth the extra $15 toll that they represent in this offer.

Back to tanks I suppose.

Reviewing My Questions for 2012 December 18, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, Diablo II, Diablo III, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, PlanetSide 2, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Torchlight II.
Tags:
14 comments

At the beginning of each new year I have a special post.  Sometimes if it predictions.  Some times it is demands.  Last year I decided it should be questions.

2012pic

I asked 12 questions of the new year.  12 questions for the year 2012.

I think it is time to see if I received any clear answers.

1. What fate awaits the Old Republic?

Love it, hate it, see it as a revolution in MMOs or as a symbol of that all is wrong, Star Wars the Old Republic is now a force to be reckoned with on the MMO landscape.  It has everybody’s attention for good or ill.  Where will it lead us?

That was the position at the beginning of the year.

Unfortunately, the answer since then seems to be “Over a cliff.”  That cliff was described by the chart showing ongoing drops in total subscribers every quarter after launch.

Apparently story and voice acting will only keep people interested for so long.  That works for a single player game.  For a subscription game, not so much.  And so the Tortanic began to sink, and it was heralded as the death of the subscription model for MMOs.  They did announce an expansion, so they will have some content to sell along side action bars and raid access.  But there do not seem to be clear blue skies on the horizon for SWTOR yet.

2. Can Blizzard stem the World of Warcraft subscription trend?

Sort of.  The annual pass option, which got you a shiny mount and a free copy of Diablo III, kept at least a million people locked into their subscriptions.  And while numbers still fell, they rebounded some with the release of the Mists of Pandaria expansion.  The peak of “over 12 million” appears to be in the past, but 10 million isn’t so bad.

And, of course, WoW still rakes in cash like no other MMO out there.  Reports of the death of the subscription model may be a bit premature.

3. Will Free to Play continue to be the gold mine/panacea for subscription games?

Panacea?  It certainly seems so.  SOE has thrown in fully for the free model, bringing all their titles save the original PlanetSide into the fold.  And certainly SWTOR is looking to that model to rescue it and revive their fortunes.

Is it a gold mine though?  Early reports from the LOTRO transition to F2P seemed to indicate that there was indeed gold to be had.  However, since then, there appears to have been some iron pyrite mixed in with the real thing, leading companies to try and cast an ever wider net to get players to buy their RMT currency and then turn around and spend it in their cash shop.

LOTRO, which at least lets you earn their RMT cash in-game, went towards the odious prize boxes and started suggesting things like the hobby horse mount.

SOE screwed up their RMT currency so badly with heavy discounts that they had to stop selling premium memberships and expansions in Station Cash.

And reports I have read indicate that SWTOR might not have figured out the magic formula for F2P success quite yet either.

So there appears to be a lot more work to be done on the F2P front.  Merely being F2P is no longer enough, as there are a lot of choices out there.

Companies keep bringing their games to the F2P altar, but that alone is no longer enough.

4. Who will really win the “Just Like Diablo” battle of 2012?

It depends on what you value.

I started to write a full post about it with the objective of declaring Diablo III the winner, but only on technicalities.  Basically, it does more to capture the atmosphere of Diablo II, while at the same time doing the most to destroy the game.  It just feels more like Diablo II, if you ignore the auction house, the always online aspect, the need to play through the game repeatedly in order to get to the most challenging game play, and a few other things.

That said, I think Torchlight II is, overall, a better game if you take the “heir to Diablo II” aspect out of the picture.  It doesn’t get anywhere close on story or atmosphere compared to Diablo II, but it managed to avoid the manifold mistakes of Diablo III while being light, fun, and full of options denied the players of Diablo III.

Basically, the answer for me is that neither game really wins the “Just Like Diablo” crown, mostly because it just isn’t the year 2000 any more, so neither game could really have the same impact.

5. When will we lose a game to hacking?

We seem to be safe from this still, at least on the MMO front.  Lots of security breaches, but  I haven’t read about a game completely brought down and destroyed, never to run again because of hacking.

So the only answer here I suppose was, “Not yet.”

6. Will SOE remain the only player in the MMO nostalgia game?

This stems from the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, about which I have posted often.

And my answer up until last week would have been “Yes.”  SOE is the only purveyor of MMO nostalgia.  I even got impatient by mid-year and went after the issue in a blog post.

After all, it seems like WoW could make a bundle with a similar scheme.  There are literally dozens of private WoW servers out there trying to recreate the “old” WoW, that being anywhere from day one to before Cataclysm.  I spent a bit of time on the Emerald Dream server and can vouch for the cathartic effect of playing an old-school version of the game.

But no such official venture looks to be forthcoming.

And then Turbine showed up with Asheron’s Call 2, fresh from the crypt, electrodes bolted on firmly in an attempt to create life where there was none.

I am not sure if it is quite the same thing, but it is something.  And it is nostalgic.

So SOE does not own the MMO nostalgia market completely.

7. Will Guild Wars 2 be the game changer in the MMO market in 2012?

Well, a lot was promised for Guild Wars 2.  But did it really change anything?

I have seen a number of GW2 fans lauding The Secret World for adopting the GW2 revenue plan, conveniently ignoring all the details that prove that they did no such thing.  Yes, there is the “buy the box” aspect for a free to play game that sure sounds a lot like GW2.  But what about the continuing monthly subscription model that unlocks things and hands out RMT currency as a reward?  That sounds a lot like an SOE game, doesn’t it?

I suspect that the “buy the box” aspect was a requirement only because they admitted they did not make their sales numbers, so it is either throw away all those boxes or find a way to keep selling them.

And, if we’re honest with ourselves, the “buy the box” plan was from Guild Wars, not GW2, so rationalize harder please.

Anyway, I think it is too early to tell.  GW2 only launched at the end of August, which didn’t leave a lot of time for anybody to react to anything they did in 2012, conspiracy theories not withstanding.

Maybe next year?

8. Will CCP ever be anything but the company that makes EVE Online?

Of course, they also helped make Lazy Town, right?  Next question.

Okay, yes, DUST 514.  It looms.  It seems like it could be something some day.  But that day was not this year.  So I can only say, “We shall see.”

Call me when DUST 514 is a thing and maybe I will be able to build enough enthusiasm to download it.

9. What will the earth shattering MMO announcements be in 2012?

I have to go with NCsoft shutting down City of Heroes, SWTOR going free to play, and Turbine reviving Asheron’s Call 2.

Oh, and that 38 Studios fiasco.  An MMO that never was will never be.

Anything else?

10. Will MMOs get redefined in new and interesting (or bad and annoying) ways?

No, nothing new here, move along.

Okay, maybe PlanetSide 2 moved the ball a few inches down field with a really massive online shooter.  But what else was there really?

11. Are we every going to get another decent MMO news podcast?

No.

12. What will Lord British do next?

Apparently jump on board the Zynga train just as it drives over a cliff.   Timing is everything in comedy!

So those are my questions and the answers as I see them.  I am sure somebody will remind me of a few items I missed… or will want to argue about Diablo III vs. Torchlight II.  But that is about it for me.

Now to consider next year’s post.

Amazon.com Proves I Do Not Play Video Games November 22, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment, Guild Wars 2.
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8 comments

Or that I don’t play new games.  Or good games.

Or at least that I do not buy any new games.

Another list.  Still not done with that theme, not by a long shot.

This time around, The Amazon Games team at Amazon.com has created their Best of 2012 Video Games list.

I am going to copy it here, with the platforms they indicate, just because.

  1. Journey (PS3)
  2. Borderlands 2 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  4. Dishonored (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  5. Mass Effect 3 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  6. The Walking Dead (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  7. Halo 4 (Xbox)
  8. Darksiders II (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  9. Hotline Miami (PC)
  10. The Last Story (Wii)
  11. Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox, PS3, PS Vita, PC)
  12. Gravity Rush (PS Vita)
  13. Diablo III (PC)
  14. GuildWars 2 (PC)
  15. Sleeping Dogs (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  16. Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward (PS Vita, 3DS)
  17. Assassin’s Creed III (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  18. Max Payne 3 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  19. Lumines: Electronic Symphony (PS Vita)
  20. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Xbox, PS3, PC)

So, looking up at that list, my first thought is that there are a pile of sequels and remakes up there.

Of course, remakes, reboots, and sequels are the staple of most entertainment industries.  We moan about video games slipping into that mode these days, and movies having been there for a while, but frankly it is the way of things.  Go look up how many movie adaptations there have been of The Wizard of Oz.  Video games just haven’t been around long enough for us to get used to remakes, but even Shakespeare was ripping off plots and retelling old stories 400 some odd years ago, so we had all better get used to it I suppose.  Your grand kids will be playing Wasteland 8 or some such I bet.

After that, I have to admit that I have only played two of the games on the list (Guild Wars 2 and Diablo III), and I only bought one of them (Diablo III), and since I got that one through subscribing to World of Warcraft for a year (annoying pain point unnecessarily referenced just because I hold a grudge), you could make the case that I did not even buy that.

And then, finally, I start to wonder if these are really the best games of 2012.  I probably watch too much Zero Punctuation (for example, Halo 4 review) and play too few such games to be able to make my own determination.

Oh, and it sucks to be the Wii about now, with one game on the list.  But even Nintendo says they have moved on from the Wii, having no more titles in the queue for it.  Screw you, little white box of joy, we’re on to bigger and better things!

So, the usual wrap up.  The list, legitimate ranking or crass attempt to get sales out of the titles with the highest margins?