March in Review March 31, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Guild Wars 2, Month in Review, Neverwinter Nights 2, Rift, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
1 comment so far
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.
The map has changed a bit and we have a bit broader spectrum of colors.
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
- United States / United States
- United Kingdom / United Kingdom
- Canada / Canada
- Germany / Australia
- Australia / Germany
- Sweden / Netherlands
- Netherlands / Sweden
- France / France
- Brazil / Poland
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- The Seductive Comfort of Azeroth
- Google Reader Alternatives? Again?
- Age of Kings Gets an Unofficial Expansion
- Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
- Five Games I Want to See Revamped
- Completionism in the Wayfarer Foothills
- Wrapping Up My Seven Days of Azeroth
- Backwards in Time to Forgotten Realms
- Shroud of the Avatar – Lord British Discovers Kickstarter
- 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
whats a goon in ancient rome
how mcuh isk poer hour can a hulk make?
[How is Veldsparr formed?]
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.
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.
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, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2.
Tags: Wayfarer Foothills
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.
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.
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.
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.
February in Review February 28, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in EVE Online, entertainment, Rift, World of Tanks, Need for Speed World, Month in Review, Guild Wars 2.
The site is dying!
Look at these monthly traffic numbers. That last bar is February 2013.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- An Unfiltered (and Unfair) Impression of Wizardry Online
- Notes from the War in Delve
- The Real Problem with Levels…
- The Nostalgic Call of the Emerald Dream
- More Than 2,500 Ships Clash in Asakai
- Missing MMO Music Features – LOTRO Leads, Nobody Follows
- Side Notes About Used Games
- Not Your Father’s House of Cards
- More Unspent Virtual Currency
- Thrilling Internet Spaceship Stories!
- 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
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?
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.
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.
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, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I made some headway, but wasn’t able to pull it off, dying short of my goal.
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.
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, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft.
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.
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.
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, 2012Posted 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: Lord British
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.
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?
Oh, and that 38 Studios fiasco. An MMO that never was will never be.
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?
12. What will Lord British do next?
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, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment, Guild Wars 2.
Tags: amazon.com, Lists
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.
- Journey (PS3)
- Borderlands 2 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- Dishonored (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- Mass Effect 3 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- The Walking Dead (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- Halo 4 (Xbox)
- Darksiders II (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- Hotline Miami (PC)
- The Last Story (Wii)
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox, PS3, PS Vita, PC)
- Gravity Rush (PS Vita)
- Diablo III (PC)
- GuildWars 2 (PC)
- Sleeping Dogs (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward (PS Vita, 3DS)
- Assassin’s Creed III (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- Max Payne 3 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
- Lumines: Electronic Symphony (PS Vita)
- 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?
A Guild Wars 2 First Impression November 19, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2.
Guild Wars 2 had a free trial this past weekend. My friend Gaff, who has been playing it, sent me a code for the trial. Apparently you had to get a code from a current player to be a worthwhile prospect, which isn’t a bad theory. If you know somebody who is already playing, you are probably more likely to want to keep playing after the trial is up.
So I spent Wednesday night patching while I slept and then patched some more after that because ANet had an event planned and since I was being handed a full version of the game for the weekend, it was theoretically possible I might get to it.
I did not.
I will point out that if you look at my Raptr profile, it will tell you I have spent 15 hours playing Guild Wars 2.
I did not spend 15 hours playing Guild Wars 2.
More about that after the cut, as this gets long and has pictures and the usual.
Rambling About Motivation and What Makes a Good Story November 2, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Guild Wars 2, MUDs, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: No Real Point, Rambling Friday
Anybody can use public transport, darling!
-Edina Monsoon, Absolutely Fabulous
Warning: this post does not actually lead anywhere and may not actually make sense.
Freedom seems to be a theme since the launch of Guild Wars 2.
Freedom from ever having to find a group.
Freedom from ever having to find a mailbox.
Freedom from ever having to stand still while casting a spell.
Freedom from much of the baggage of past MMOs, like subscriptions and the holy trinity and levels that get more difficult as you progress.
Not that this freedom drive is anything new.
At one point World of Warcraft, which now represents the status quo from which we are being freed, was once the harbinger of freedom.
It offered freedom from corpse runs and experience loss, freedom from having to find a group to advance your character at all past level 10 or so, freedom from fighting over who gets to run dungeon or raid content on a busy Saturday night, and freedom from simply grinding mobs for most of your leveling experience.
Not to mention freedom from relatively onerous system requirements.
Cutting this wall of text. You’ll see it all in RSS anyway.
Tell Me Again About the Impact of WoW Patch 5.0.4 September 4, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Bogus Statistics, Xfire
I recently contended that those who felt that WoW Patch 5.0.4′s drop date was some sort of scheme by Blizzard to undermine the Guild Wars 2 launch were… not aligned with reality.
My main point was that there was nothing in the patch, and I went through the release notes section by section to be sure, that would get people to resubscribe to WoW. If it was a deliberate plan, it was a bad one and hardly worth Blizzard bothering, in my opinion.
Most people reading my post seemed to agree, if the poll I included is to be believed, though some people had anecdotal evidence and/or a firm belief in the evil of Blizzard that allowed them to continue to cling to the patch 5.0.4 conspiracy. And I couldn’t really gainsay them, not being a Blizzard insider and having nothing but tortured logic and anecdotal evidence of my own.
But now there is a bit more evidence.
The Nosy Gamer does a weekly round up of MMO stats from Xfire. Specifically, he takes the number or hours Xfire measured every Sunday and pulls out the top 12 MMOs.
And while as an absolute measure of MMO populations Xfire is complete crap, it can serve as an indicator of population swings over time. You are measuring the same pool of people week after week and what they are playing.
And when it came to MMOs, Sunday, August 26th, which included the GW 2 head start but preceded the GW 2 launch and the Patch 5.0.4 drop, the top two MMOs measured in Xfire hours recorded were:
- Guild Wars 2 -79,622 hours
- World of Warcraft – 48,913 hours
That is a lot of Guild Wars 2 hours. The full top 12 list for that day is here.
The following week, this past Sunday, September 2nd, Xfire recorded the following:
- Guild Wars 2 – 92,946 hours (up 16.7%)
- World of Warcraft – 25,033 hours (down 48.8%)
Guild Wars 2 was up some more, which is to be expected, but WoW looks to have taken a dump. The full list is here.
That is an epic drop in hours for WoW. To give perspective, looking at the data Nosy Gamer makes available, 92K hours is a “Sunday when Cataclysm was fresh” level of WoW number, while 25K is in the “SWTOR hits the 30 day mark and the exodus begins” sort of number.
Now, you can argue about the accuracy of Xfire… that is such a drop that I wonder if there was an Xfire problem or if the servers were down… or that it was a holiday weekend (except GW2 went up, so no holidays in Tyria), but it looks to me like the first bit of hard data that Patch 5.0.4 wasn’t a big draw for people who were not subscribed to WoW. Or even people who were.
And if this was a Blizzard initiative to mess with GW2, it does not look like it went as planned to me.
What do you think?