What You Get in the Absence of Actual Information… October 18, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: No Real Point, Rambling Friday
In which I chase my tail in ever smaller circles.
Over the last seven years of blogging I have evolved something of a regular style and structure to my online musings. There are a few standard posts I make, which I would sum up as:
- I did a thing! - The general log of what I have done lately. Generally things I want to remember;I moved a ship to Curse, I re-subscribed to WoW, I made it to the 21st hall in Moria. Simple telling of a tale. Probably the most common post on the blog.
- The Instance Group did a thing! - A sub-set of the above, the ongoing tales of our group adventure. Lately it has evolved into “The Instance Group did not do a thing.”
- Remember that thing? – I pull out memories of some old game… Air Warrior, Stellar Emperor, TorilMUD… and try to assemble them into a coherent post.
- A month passed with a lot of things – With 85 month in review posts already written, this is clearly part of the standard fare.
- Things from my email – As you might suspect, something for days when I have nothing else to write about.
- Quote of the Day – Somebody said something worth discussing.
- Marking an event – A game shut down, an anniversary or other milestone has come, someone notable has passed.
- I attempt something akin to a review – This never goes well.
- Announcement of a new thing! – A new game, patch, expansion, or feature is announced and I bring it up and try to figure out what it means to me.
- A thing was announced, what does it really mean? – Different from the above in the extent of information provided or how it links to the bigger picture are not stated outright, leading me in to speculation mode.
So that is ten standard-ish formats, with bit bucket, catch all, miscellaneous undeclared category to cover the remainders.
But it is that last one on the list that is often the most fun or interesting to write. You take an announcement and whatever actual information is floating around on the web and you try to come up with a big… or at least bigger… picture assessment of what is going on. It is a pretty standard format. You see it on a lot of blogs.
I find it fun because it is the sort of thing I like to talk about. But it is also pretty meaningless except as a discussion exercise because, as a complete outsider I (and most of my fellow bloggers) lack access to the whole story. Key facts are missing and we are left to fill in the blanks.
For example, on Wednesday, I put up a post about Rift and the announced server merges. It seemed to me that this was a sign that the post-F2P transition boom in popularity was over.
This was not unexpected. It seems to be a standard phenomena when an MMO goes from monthly subscriptions to a F2P business model. Once F2P hits there is a rush of new and returning players interested to see what is on offer, something I refer to as the “Happy Time.” There is often a public statement about a revenue increase, which given that the business model transition was done for that reason, seems like a gimme. Plus, the comparison often seems to be between low ebb of the previous model and the peak of the “Happy Time.” You had best be able to multiply your revenue in that environment.
Eventually that settles down. The company stops talking about revenue and players and such, unless they are a public company and it appears in the financial reports, and those of us outsiders are left to try to divine how things are going by inspecting goat entrails, reading tea leaves, and expressing disgust at the latest abomination being offered up in the cash shop.
I think the above scenario pretty much applies to Dungeons & Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and probably a few more; business model transition, immediate declaration of success with increases in revenue and players, and then not much more on the subject. No big deal. All those games are carrying on and I do not expect that any will fold up shop in the next year.
But with Rift there were other data points. The game had shut down in Korea and is headed the same way in China. The parent company, Trion, had been through layoffs and office closings. Outside of Rift, the company only has Defiance as a going concern, which has been awfully quiet while the companion TV series has been in re-runs. And on the horizon for Trion there is End of Nations, which seemed troubled in beta when I tried it, and ArcheAge, which looks to me, perhaps unfairly, like yet another attempt by an Asian MMO to conquer the West.
So my speculation was that Trion might not be around as an independent entity a year from now. Given the information available to me, that didn’t seem exactly like a shot out of left field. The key there is “the information available to me.”
Later, in a special guest star, walk-on appearance, Scott Hartsman, CEO of Trion, left a comment on the post correcting me on my server count and dropping a tasty morsel about Rift’s F2P performance, saying that Rift has had the most sustained success in a F2P transition “by the numbers.”
On one hand, this is a fresh new data point for me, and a fair comment from the person who must certainly know more than I on the subject. The “Happy Time” might be over, but it is far from gloom and gray skies for Rift. My relationship with the game is…complicated… but I don’t want the game to go away. Some day our regular group will return and finish its run through the five person instances.
On the other hand, that comment just opens up a new can of “what the hell does that mean?” What numbers? Representing what? Compared to whom?
Must have more information! Stop me before I speculate again! (And will Rift then make Raptr’s yearly list?)
Following this up was a comment from another reader who, among other things, expressed a desire to get away from the sharded existence (against which I have railed in the past) that seems to be the norm for MMORPGs and to move towards a single server concept, even if it meant going with instanced versions of zones as Neverwinter is doing.
I could hardly disagree with that idea.
The odd thing about the comment though was that he did not suggest moving away from shards for the good of the community or for letting friends play together rather than being stuck in different versions of the world. No, he seemed more interested in removing servers so that people like me wouldn’t report server merges as bad news.
With a single server, there are no merges! Nothing to see here, please move along!
That seemed to be going down the path towards gaming companies making even less information available, which actually seems to invite more speculation about the health and well being of such games, not less. After all, we will find a way. We will look at Raptr reports or weekly Xfire numbers or the number of instances of a given zone on a Saturday night (Only 2 instances of the Frostfang Sea? The game is clearly dying!), and build fresh sand castles in the face of the storm.
Which brings me to what I suppose is the question of the day.
Is it better for companies like Trion or Turbine to keep the health of their games under wraps, dribbling out a tidbit now and again but otherwise letting speculation run wild without a retaining wall of fact?
Or is it better to be in the boat with NCSOFT, Blizzard, and EA who must, as part of their financial reporting requirements, pony up an assessment backed up with financial data every quarter?
Which is better… or worse? Rift announcing the closure of 30% (22 to 15) of its servers in a single announcement or being able to track, quarter by quarter, WoW losing 36% of its subscribers (from “more than 12 million” to 7.7 million) since the Cataclysm peak?
Or should we… you know… just go play the damn games already?
Rift and the End of the Happy Time October 16, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Rift.
Tags: Free-To-Play, Trion Worlds
This was not a rage quit over the business model. While I have reservations about F2P because of where the quest for monetization seems to eventually lead, I also see, as a player, some upside to the model as well.
The upside for an MMO going free to play is… or generally has been… a surge in players. Servers, once desolate, are renewed with the very life’s blood of the game as new and returning players crowd into the game. The world seems alive again. You no longer have whole zones to yourself. Queues for battlegrounds and such become tolerable. Heck, if things are going really well, people might have to wait to log on.
I call this “The Happy Time.”
Every MMO that transitions from a monthly subscription model to a free to play model goes through it.
This is the time of the joyous press releases and the “everything is just grand” interviews. Player numbers are up, revenues are up, and everything is going so remarkably well.
And then the glow fades.
The people who showed up to kick the tires or see what had happened since they left the game begin to fade away. If the cash shop was stocked with one-shot purchases, like hot bars or bag slots, and vanity items, the ongoing grind to create and sell players on the next item begins in earnest. And things begin to settle into reality. The party is over and the need to make payroll and pay the the electric bill every month looms just a little larger in the gray morning.
The population isn’t likely to drop all the way back to the level it was just before the transition to free. But the percentage of your population giving you money every month is likely to sink. The point of free is to boost the population so that the economics of the cash shop work in the game’s favor. And if you cannot manage that… well… things do not look good for the long term.
The happy time is over for Rift. The warmth of summer has faded and a cold, dark winter looms. Server merges have been announced. The US server count will be dropping from 6 to 3 servers, while in the EU the number will drop from 8 to 4. And, if I read the press release right, the only reason the number is as high as 4 is because Trion cannot currently support multiple languages in the interface on a single server. But they are working on that, so you can expect the EU server count to drop further shortly after they get that working.
(Addendum: Per Scott Hartsman in the comments, and the shard status page, the total server count is actually more than that. The US count will go from 10 to 7 servers while the EU count will go from 12 to 8 servers with the planned consolidation.)
Game Director Bill “Professor Farnsworth” Fisher has presented this in a “Good news everyone!” style announcement under the banner “Shard Unification!”
But this is not good news at all for Rift. With the game already shut down in Korea and in the process of closing down in China, finding that the US/EU servers, which were running at capacity back in June, now need to be merged to sustain a viable population mix is a serious blow.
Of course, Trion Worlds is in the midst of other issues. Scott Hartsman, who left as Rift’s executive producer back in January returned as CEO in August and quickly had to make some hard choices. The Trion offices in San Diego and in the UK were shut down and the staff laid off. Their game Defiance, which is tied in with the TV show, seems to be on shaky ground, while their MOBA title, End of Nations, remains in development after issues of its own.
So where does Rift stand today? Once the plucky upstart that, under the “We’re not in Azeroth anymore” banner, was going to be all the things that World of Warcraft was and more while being more flexible and responsive and just better.
Rift seems to have lost its way. The ambitious Storm Legion expansion seemed to get a lackluster response. I know I had trouble getting into it. The big transition to the new business model meant the live game faced some neglect. And now that the big bet on free to play hasn’t paid off as handsomely as one might have hoped, we are left hanging, wondering what will happen next.
I wonder how Trion will move forward. Will there even be an independent company named Trion in a year? Or will investors sell the company to another publisher… EA is just up the road and not only has Trion done some work with SOE, but that is also Scott Hartsman’s old home… or merge the company in with some other investment. Time Warner is one of Trion’s investors, and they also own Turbine.
As for why I cancelled my Rift subscription… well… the free to play plan as presented offered me no real incentive to do otherwise. The was nothing that comes with being a “patron,” as subscribers are now called, that I felt I really needed. The deal was, quite possibly, too generous.
Meanwhile, the cash shop… which we discovered was linked in with all NPC vendors, so is completely unavoidable… has very little that interests me.
I haven’t spent many of the 20,027 units of Lucky Charms currency I was given as a veteran reward/pump priming exercise at the free to play transition.
I do not know where Rift will be in a year, but I have cannot imagine it will be sitting where it is today.
Where do you see Rift in a year?
Is Your Faction Getting the Short End of the Stick? August 16, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Red Shirt Guy… you remember the Red Shirt Guy from BlizzCon, right… he got his own NPC in game… has an editorial up about the perception in World of Warcraft that the Horde is the favored faction and the the dev team prefers to work on things for the Horde to the detriment of the Alliance side of the coin.
Since he is a well established lore hound in addition to being a dedicated player, it was interesting to see his take on what has been a controversial topic from time to time.
Of course, the bias hasn’t always been that perceived the same way. I recall a time when it was felt that the Horde was neglected because they did not have a “pretty” race. And so they got blood elves. And the Alliance got blue space goats. Making things right or evidence of bias?
Anyway, this got me thinking about other games, and there are certainly times when I felt a faction was being neglected.
For example, when I started off in EverQuest back in 1999, I chose Qeynos as my starting place. That was a mistake in some respects. The city was somewhat neglected, was not the place to be if you wanted to craft, and was on the opposite side of a hostile continent from most of the player base. They were all in Freeport where all the cool stuff happened. So while I loved the Karanas, I still had to travel to Freeport time and again to by things or meet up with friends.
On the flip side of all of that, when it comes to nostalgia, being from Qeynos is now superior. Freeport continued to be lavished with attention, getting a graphics revamp a while back. Meanwhile, Qeynos remains in pretty much its original state, which is fine with me.
And the Freeport bias continued in EverQuest II, where at launch Freeport was a giant, over-wrought city or intricate detail. And Qeynos was a nice place to live, but not very memorable.
In EVE Online there used to be some irregularities in the factions. And I am not talking about the ships, which seem to favor one faction or another with each revision. Long was the rule of the Drake and Hurricane battlecruisers before their nerfing. But back when I was starting, there was a clear advantage to picking the Caldari faction and specific bloodlines and background, as you ended up with more, and more useful, skill points to start with. That has since been fixed, but for quite a stretch there was a “right” choice when creating a new character.
And, to beat a nearly dead horse, there was Warhammer Online, where it sure felt like destruction had been given some better options when it came to character classes back when a lot of people actually played it.
You could go on. the Guardians in Rift clearly got the better character models. The dwarves and elves in Lord of the Rings Online get kind of crap starting zones in my opinion, while the hobbits just get a version of the human starter zone, then get jumped from Archet to the Shire, breaking the story line.
But you start to get to nit picking and things that are really opinion. Some people might like the Defiant character models in Rift.
The question comes down to whether or not it really matters. I think in a lot of cases, it really does not. I got over the character models, you don’t spend much time in the starter zone, I’ve moved on to flying other ships, and once in a while it works out, as in the case of Qeynos. Not that I let anybody forget the slight.
Of course, I am in favor of there being a more difficult faction available, something that makes the game more challenging for those willing to accept the assignment.
What about you? Is there a faction getting a raw deal in your game?
We Get Around to the Storm Queen at Last July 3, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Rift.
Tags: Exodus of the Storm Queen
For the first time in over six month, all five members of the Saturday night team were online last week. And we were not even sure we would have all five until the last minute. Earl was back from his travels and was on IM asking what he should patch up. There was talk of tanks or cars or maybe another shot at Neverwinter. But when it became clear that all of would be on, the choices dwindled down to one. The only game we all play at the moment is Rift.
So we patched up, got into the game, and grouped up to see who had. The line up was:
- Jollyreaper level 51 mage
- Zahihawass level 51 cleric
- Earlthecat level 52 warrior
- Hillmar level 53 cleric
- Gizalia level 53 mage
And the goal of the evening was obvious. We had to go finish off the first Storm Legion instance, The Exodus of the Storm Queen. The last time we took a run at that, we ended up dying a combined total of ~100 times.
But first we had to goggle at the new cash shop some more and explain to Earl and Jolly what we had discovered the week before. They were suitably impressed/confused by the complete buy-in Trion has committed to with their store interface, where anything you buy from vendor is there in the same interface with the RMT goodie. And often enough, there are two prices on items, the in-game currency or “iron price” and the RMT currency or “lucky charms” price.
We poked around. I considered buying the 7th and 8th bag slot options, though declined for now because my bags were not all that full. And we all claimed a few loyalty items, the derby being a popular choice.
After enough of that, it was time for business. I was still parked in front of the portal to the instance, so we could ignore the looking for group tool this time around. Once we were ready, I jumped through and dragged us all in.
June in Review June 30, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, Rift.
Tags: Google Reader
I was going to grouse about WordPress.com changing up the blog admin UI yet again, especially since it appeared to be change merely for the sake of change, but what is the point? Having pretty much perfected Word in version 5.1a hasn’t stopped Microsoft from revamping its UI over and over in the intervening 20 years.
I will just illustrate what a crank I can be.
Instead I am going to grouse about something that may actually impact the site, the demise of Google Reader. My secret hopes for a reprieve or an integration into Google + appear to have been folly.
And when iGoogle goes away in a couple of months, Google will just be a search engine again as far as I am concerned.
Google Reader has been, for years at this point, the most common RSS reader listed in my blog stats by a wide margin. It is simple, they have only pissed off people with UI changes on rare occasions, and most people likely to be reading blogs seriously probably already had a Google account, so there was little friction getting into it.
With its pending demise, there has been a lot of talk about what services to look into. But only six weeks ago half of the people who responded to my poll on the topic said they were still using Google Reader. Since then, NetVibes has started climbing in my stats, as has The Old Reader. But Google Reader still tops the chart.
After tomorrow though, Google Reader will be no more. And I wonder if the absence of an easy to access, basic RSS app like Google Reader will end blog reading for some portion of the community.
Expect yet another poll on the subject this week.
One Year Ago
I was asking people about voice software again. That poll is still open.
I went on about the ridiculous nature of material tiers for MMO crafting.
My daughter finally found a game she liked on the PS3.
Everything we knew about EverQuest Next was declared obsolete. It wasn’t all that much really.
Turbine announced the Riders of Rohan expansion, the first LOTRO expansion I declined to buy. For somebody still in Moria, it seemed to offer few benefits for its increased price relative to past expansions.
In Rift I hit level 50, which is a special thing in game, and started tinkering with the then new instant adventure option. Trion also announced the Storm Legion expansion, a sign of success for most subscription based MMOs.
And, finally there was Electronic Arts which, as part of its ongoing mission to be seen as the most arrogant company in gaming, tried to tell people that Origin was the Nordstrom to Steam’s Target level business model, unintentionally insulting Nordstrom, which actually cares about customer service before the fact, not just after it has screwed the pooch yet again. EA says they “get it” but I have my doubts.
Five Years Ago
The big news was Blizzard announcing Diablo III. Of course, they didn’t announce a ship date. Still, we were all primed for the announcement, there having been a surge in Diablo II nostalgia at the time.
The Empyrean Age was upon us in EVE Online, if you could stay logged in. CCP went looking for a fix and found one eventually. When I could get a break on connectivity I went out to try a factional warfare mission. It did not go well. After that I moved back to Amarr space again and started in on level 4 missions. And while that was going on, the skill point meter rolled over to 20 million.
Norrath was calling as SOE launched their huge Living Legacy marketing campaign. I picked up some nifty stuff in EverQuest, but never really got rolling with EverQuest II during the promotion. Of course, not everybody was happy about the campaign. The phrase “a slap in the face” was used by some. I never got around to a post about that involving the prodigal son (I still have the notes) though I did wonder what sparked this campaign.
New Linking Blogs
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 June
For some reason my “Feedback Issue” post, which was almost unanimously shot down by comments here declaring that it is a practical impossibility to hide numbers from users so we shouldn’t ever try, was posted to Reddit. That in turn got a lot of people to come view it, though no visitor from Reddit left a comment about it either here or back on Reddit. Another internet mystery.
- The Feedback Issue – Which Weapon Should I Use?
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- PlayStation 4 Wins
- To War! We are Invading Fountain!
- What is it with Me and Storm Legion?
- Quote of the Day – The Strategy for the Conquest of Fountain
- EVE Online – The Odyssey Begins
- Walltreipers Alliance Defeated – Conquest of Delve Complete
- Meeting Up in Rift After the Big Change
- Thinking On Tank Crew Skills
- Neverwinter at First Blush
- Quote of the Day – It’s All About the Equity
Search Terms of the Month
humor planetside 2
[Then move away slowly, maintaining eye contact]
ccp eve online patch day humor
[A long and storied history there]
mmos that have music
[Regrettably, all of them insist on it despite most coming up with forgettable pap]
team edward to norrath game
[I knew that vampire race would be an issue]
The war in Fountain dominates my time there. Fleet ops are frequent enough that I can generally find one to join in on to help do my part in the war. And even the ones you expect to be dull, like following Suas around to blow up SBUs, can turn out exciting when Retirement Club decides to send out a Munnin fleet to stop you. Not that any fleet with Suas leading is ever dull.
How the war is going… well… that is a different tale altogether. Both sides claim to be winning. Neither side can actually produce irrefutable evidence that this is the case. So it seems like the fail cascade has yet to come.
Lord of the Rings Online
Back in Middle-earth, my main character… and I am trying hard to focus on just the one character… has passed through all of the well worn content I am so familiar and comfortable with and is in that 40-50 gap before Moria. It looks like I might get a second character into the nearly five year old expansion. But can I get him out the other side and into Mirkwood?
Trion has gone all-in on the free to play front, making the cash shop the interface for all your currency transaction in-game. Unlike LOTRO of EQ2, where you can avoid opening up the cash shop, in Rift any vendor transaction requires you to go into the the den of RMT. Will this constant exposure to RMT currency goodies lead to greater success? I suppose we shall see. Right now we are in the happy time. Check back in a year.
The war in Fountain goes on, so I suspect that will continue to dominate my time in New Eden. Moria looms in LOTRO. There is a possibility that the Saturday night group might all be on at the same time at some point, though given that we have only managed that feat once so far in 2013, I wouldn’t put money on that.
Summer means that there will be a Steam Summer Sale at some point. Given that I don’t play most of the games I have on Steam as it is… will probably have no bearing when something I want but don’t need is marked down some crazy amount. I am looking for Skyrim under $20.
A new expansion for Civilization V will be out soon. I pre-ordered. It will add in more features that were back Civ II, like trade routes. I would just play Civ II for that, but I still cannot find the damn disk. No idea where I lost it.
Meeting Up in Rift After the Big Change June 20, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Rift.
After having skipped a couple of weeks, we decided that we ought to have some sort of instance group night last Saturday. And seeing that Rift had just done the big free to play change over, we thought we ought to patch up and see what things looked like in Telara.
1.7GB of patch later, I logged in only to find out that my character Hillmar had been deposed as guild leader because he had not logged in for 36 days. Jollyreaper was promoted to guild leader on the basis of the “who touched it last” algorithm. I had actually logged into the game more recently than that, but not with Hillmar. And, something for the list of unhelpful features, when I did log in with Hillmar, I found not only the “you’re out!” message waiting for me in my mail box, but also several warnings that I would be deposed if I did not log in within the 36 day timer. Messages that I could not have seen unless I logged in, at which point they would be moot.
Somebody did not think that through.
Sadly, Jolly was away for the weekend, so we could not celebrate his ascension. Earl was also away, which left just myself, Zahihawas and Gizalia to see what Rift had to offer in its new free to play incarnation.
The first thing was a new mount, also waiting in our mail boxes. Veterans of the game got a shiny, ice blue tauntaun mount.
After looking at that for a bit, the three of us formed up in the same location and started talking about what we should do.
We decided on Instant Adventures more out of a lack of motivation than anything else. And that lack began to tell as running IAs quickly became tedious. The problem is that IAs are pretty much about getting experience and some sourcestones now and again. But as a group, we are still waiting to get together to knock off the first Storm Legion instance. We don’t really need any new levels and sourcestones rain on us no matter what we do, so chasing a series of “kill n rats” quests with a few strangers wasn’t really doing much for us.
So we ended up talking more than playing. We talked about Need for Speed World for a bit, a game which Potshot and I both seem to want to like more than the game is willing to let us.
There was also a long discussion about how hard it is to stay up as late as we used to. Back when the group started, we used to kick off at 10pm Pacific time and often did not finish up until as late as 3am at times, depending on what we were doing. Wailing Caverns took a long time back then, and I am pretty sure the sun was not far from rising when we knocked off Archaedas for the first time.
Now we start at 9pm and people are yawning by 10:30pm. And I am not sure how Earl does it, aside from being the youngest member of the team. He is on the east coast, so starts at midnight. We may need a new plan at some point going forward.
And then there was the examination of the Rift cash shop.
I am going to put a cut in before that… just because.
Rift Goes Free to Play Today June 12, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Rift.
The time has come, the day is here. Trion Worlds has followed through on their plan and changed Rift from a monthly subscription game into yet another contestant on the free to play field.
I actually have not been playing Rift for a while now. Not because of the business model transition, but because our Rift group is on summer hiatus so I have been off in Middle-earth and New Eden.
Never the less, I remain mildly bemused at the change. The new currency has been unleashed.
Once down the cash shop path you start, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will, until lock boxes and random card packs seem like perfectly reasonable ways to generate money and you start to pander shamelessly to the so-called “whales.” Or something.
They still want people to subscribe, and hand out a set of benefits according to the store page.
You can even buy subscriber benefits in 1, 3, 5, 15, and 30 day increments with the RMT currency. And then there is REX, which lets people exchange in-game currency for RMT currency benefits.
So Trion has a plan. I have no doubt that, during the initial “happy time,” everything will seem just dandy, with more people playing the game and revenues jumping. And if you don’t mind the game selling just about anything from their cash shop, life will be good.
And if that sort of thing… or the whole equity equation… bothers you… well… I guess there is still WoW and EVE Online. Though WoW is bad at the equity thing in its own non-cash shop way.
Addendum: Happy time… engaged!
May in Review May 31, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, Rift.
1 comment so far
Aside from putting all of my banners in a post where I (and everybody else) can easily find them, general site related news has been pretty slim. And after a month of record setting page views, things are back down to the level of mere mortals… and down a bit from even there. Not writing as much about actual games takes its toll.
So this month I will do what I often do, and pick on some dubious WordPress.com feature.
This month: Reblogging.
If you have a WordPress.com hosted blog and you use the somewhat dubious WordPress.com Reader (let’s just say it is not going to replace Google Reader in its current state), among the options you get is to reblog the posts you read.
And if you click that, you get a short excerpt of the post added to your own blog as an independent post.
Which is okay, I guess.
It appears to be an attempt be a bit like Tumblr, where people with picture focused… Tumblrs… repost from each other all the time, which means you will see the same picture over and over in whichever of the many Tumblr silos you happen to follow.
However, with WordPress, it looks kind of awkward. The post before this one is a reblog, so you can see what I mean. I picked on Tesh for this, since he has pictures, which adds to the effect.
All of which is neither here nor there, except that 99% of the time I see anybody use this feature is in attempt to create some insta-blog with content. At least three times I have had some blogger reblog every single post on my other blog, EVE Online Pictures. I can see no good reason to spend the time doing that.
Since my other blog is all pictures, I think maybe those rebloggers really belong on Tumblr. Or maybe my picture blog does.
One Year Ago
I played Portal finally. Now Zoidberg makes the cake joke!
I wrote about camping rare mobs and how this all came from the fact that MUDs used to crash pretty often.
There was the Newbie Blogger Initiative thing. I summed that up already this month.
On the Fippy Darkpaw server, The Gates of Discord unlock vote shut down that expansion. This caused some hard feelings. And then it failed the vote again.
38 Studios went tits up due to managerial incompetence. Not how you run a start up. But the myth of what greatness might have been lives on, fostered primarily by those whose reputations would benefit from such tales.
The instance group was clearing out King’s Breach.
Diablo III came out and… error 37. Then error 75. And installer problems. High expectations, huge sales, its always online nature, and memories of past Diablo games probably doomed it the eyes of many. Still, we played it a bit. I compared it to the beta version of Torchlight II, its primary foe in the click to kill genre. I moaned about atmosphere and the influence of WoW on it.
And then I complained about talent trees. Most people seem to like them more than I do.
But mostly I was on about EVE Online. There was a summary of Burn Jita. Hulkageddon V came and sort of went. There were spoils from the war in the north to be handed out. OTEC actually got out there, putting aside differences, to defend its financial interests. We blew up an IRC CSAA in Cobalt Edge. There was a question as to whether PLEX was cheating. I mined in null sec for the first, and so far only, time. There were stats about Escalation and Hulkageddon and just ships being blown up in general. And I made a post around John Smeldley’s tweet about Drakes and new missile graphics. He dropped me a note in reply. Turns out he is not only a huge EVE Online fan, but was in the CFC as well. As Mittens would say, one of us.
Five Years Ago
In EVE Online CCP gave us a date for the Empyrean Age as well as giving us all a gift on the five year anniversary of the game. Meanwhile I was building battleships, refining my Drake fittings, and laughing at a the EVE Online guide to talking smack.
Oh, and I was being propositioned in a standard Goon scam.
New Liking Blogs
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Most Viewed Posts in May
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- So What is the Verdict on Google Reader Alternatives?
- Further Mutterings about MMO Revenue Models
- New Blogger Initiative a Year Later – Who Survived?
- It is Never Too Late to Head to Mordor
- Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
- Memories, Timelines, and the Bigger Picture
- Rift to go Free to Play on June 12
- Diablo III – Now Featuring Hyperinflation
- Party in Amarr – EVE Celebrates 10 Years
- Blizzard – WoW Subscribers and the Diablo III Economy
- The First Computer Game I Ever Played
Spam Comment of the Month
Spamhaus a bunch of liars and criminals
Spreads slander about isps and their customers
Blackmails ISPs to comply to their rediculous “demands”
[two additional pages in the same vein cut]
When I get semi-literate automated comment spam claiming that an organization dedicated to fighting spam is bad, I want to applaud their work. Spamhaus must be doing a good job if spammers are taking time out of their evil ways to criticize them. Poor spammers are sounding butt hurt. Plus who doesn’t love to nitpick about the difference between slander (spoken) and libel (written). Though who knows, maybe Spamhaus is saying things aloud about spammers as well as publishing lists.
It has been relatively quiet for me in EVE. There was the 10 year anniversary. I did go on a couple of small fleet ops. I actually ratted a bit to earn some ISK. Mostly I have been training skills, which is something that goes on with little interaction from me. The goal, I think, is a carrier. I am currently working on Jump Drive Calibration V. And I am about to hit 99 million skill points.
Lord of the Rings Online
The approach of summer has seen a return to Middle-earth. How far will we get? We shall see. I am already into the Lone Lands, a place where many a summer group has left off. I have to say that now, after six years, the lifetime subscription I purchased back at launch was officially a good deal.
We have started to look into this. I am not sure where it will lead yet.
Rift seems to be on the back burner for now. It goes free to play next month. We shall see what that ends up meaning in the both the short and long term. Details have been sparse. One interesting idea that has been broached is selling additional crafting skill slots, so you could work with fewer alts. But would you spend $50 to have one character with all the professions?
World of Tanks
Somewhere along the line I just stopped playing this in May. I am not sure when. So call it a break. I still have more than half a year in which to make it to my tier IX tank goal. There is always the 8.6 update and all the arty changes to come.
As mentioned, Rift goes free to play next month. That should at least make for some discussion if they find some new way to serve up F2P.
In EVE Online, the Odyssey expansion comes out. That will shake some things up in null sec, to the point that there is a promise of war. Fun stuff.
And, at some point over the next month, barring a last minute reprieve, I am going to have to have to switch from Google Reader to some other RSS feed reading tool. Despite all the helpful feedback, I am not sure where I will go yet.
Finishing City Core and Starting Seratos May 21, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Rift.
Tags: City Core, Seratos, Storm Legion
While Middle-earth has been calling again of late… my relationship with that game has become as complicated as my relationship with EverQuest at this point… I have still found a bit of time to expand my reach in Storm Legion.
Previously I had made my way through Cape Jule and Pelladane, finishing up what are the first two Storm Legion zones.
I started off in City Core, which was close to hand and had a portal right near the entrance.
City Core is a small zone, and I would say more in the tradition of the game, with things rather tightly packed and a lot of use of varied elevations. Rolling through it was a bit more like the old game than the first couple of zones. But it was also quick. I racked up the key zone achievements and found myself spilling out into adjacent zones.
Those are the achievements for exploring the whole zone, completing the story line, finishing up the carnage quests, and killing a set of named mobs around the zone.
While the zone was more in line with older zones in Rift, the story was pretty forgettable. Well, I have forgotten it already, though I remember the climax, which involved a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid jump into a lake. And there wasn’t even an achievement for the jump.
After City Core, I was distracted for a bit by crafting. My warrior is an armor smith, but does not have butchering, so he needs to get leather from other sources. The price of the leather I needed was too high, so I got out my hunter spec’d rogue and sent him out to harvest leather. That took a bit, but the rewards were worth it. The crafted armor is noticeably better than the quest reward armor at this point. (Though, with the plan to sell equipment being part of the F2P conversion plan, I expect we’ll see crafting as a business die off.)
That done, I took my first run into Seratos.
This is a huge zone. It looks big on the map. It feels bigger when you get there.
I went into the zone one evening with the sole purpose of finding a portal, so I could get back to the zone easily. I ended up on a 90 minute expedition zig-zagging across the zone until I finally ran into a portal in the southeast portion of the zone in the city of Necropolis.
Later I looked up a map that had the portals on it, and I found that I missed at least three portals on my way across the zone. That, however, is a testament to its width and depth… and perhaps my bad luck.
Necropolis also had the now “must have in every MMO” quest.
I will say that they were very big rats. Level 55 elite rats the size of horses, actually.
So now I have to head back across the zone to find those portals and to pick up the threads of the story line that no doubt runs through the zone. And work on the carnage quests. I looked at the achievement and there are more than 50 in the zone.
So that is where I stand in Storm Legion. Pkudude99′s suggested warrior build has worked out nicely. In fact, it has kind of spoiled me for builds and classes where I have to press more than two buttons in combat.
Time for a Hiatus from our Hiatus May 16, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Rift.
Tags: Exodus of the Storm Queen
Whatever happened, we need to find out why it happened. But clearly it should not have happened.
-Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland)
We are reaching that time of the year when the sun is shining and various members of our regular Saturday night instance group are sometimes lured outside to see the world, visit relatives, or move across town or across country, judging from past experience. The summer hiatus is nearly upon us.
Which would be fine, except that so far 2013 hasn’t been the best of years for the group getting together. Take the weekend before last. Four of us were available. We got into Rift. We poked around. We ran into the Exodus of the Storm Queen instance.
You can tell that is a recent picture because the little orange dino pet from the recent Raptr promotion is there by my side.
We went through the first two boss events and then ended up at the third boss, Valthunder, where we again failed the DPS check, being short on person, and ended up in the usual state of affairs.
Then we chatted a bit, did a hunt rift, and called it a night.
So it has gone. The five of us haven’t been on together since the first weekend of the year.
I am going to guess that it isn’t for lack of desire. It isn’t as though one person has said, “screw it” and just stopped showing up. All of us have missed weeks and then have come back. There is usually a notification in advance that somebody won’t be on because of some event or another.
And now we are at the point where we traditionally break for summer, usually reconvening in late August for a return to our game of choice. So the lack of a full group will continue.
Which means Rift, as least for our main characters, is probably off the table for a while. Not that there is anything new coming in Rift that would impact us greatly. There will be a summer festival of some sorts. I forget what they did last year. And some tweaks no doubt. But the biggest news of late is the free to play transition which means… pretty much nothing to the group. There is another zone coming in, and signs that we might be getting some more dimensions options to decorate. But given the state of my own dimension, that isn’t a big draw for me.
So the question becomes, what should the summer be about?
Should we carry on as we have been? We have a set of intersecting games depending on who is online. We play World of Tanks when it is just the boys. We play Need for Speed World sometimes when the group includes some combo of Earl, Potshot, and myself. We were playing the Neverwinter Nights 2 with just me and the Potshots. But we still end up with intersections of people where Rift is the only game in common, and four player Rift only gets us so far with instances.
(I did suggest the last time around that we could just get the
dungeon finder looking for group tool to assign us a DPS player, but we eventually decided that having one person in the group not on Skype with us would end up feeling odd.)
So should we let Rift go fallow for the summer (unless we all happen to show up) and go for a nostalgia run?
We could go back to the Lone Lands in LOTRO and play some more anachronistic music with Anderson Cooper. My corp in EVE is looking into a summer run in LOTRO. The server they have chosen is Brandywine which, of course, is not one of the servers where I have characters. That is always the way.
We could get some scrolls of resurrection for WoW (Earl is still subscribed) and see what has changed in Azeroth. It could become the summer of dailies and pet battles.
We could even go really old school and take another stab at EverQuest. That is doable in groups of less than five.
I think most of the group has Guild Wars 2 at this point. Oddly, despite its “no need to group” focus and its “every man for himself” view on roles, I think it could work as a group game on the overland content. I ended up standing by myself in a bunch of group events, so bringing your own group would clearly be a help there.
Or is it time to explore something new and different. Neverwinter is out, which is new, but I am not sure how different it really is nor do I have a sense of how noxious the free to play aspects of the game are. There are crazy ideas like Darkfall or Planetside 2 or the like, which promote grouping but where level differentials do not keep people from playing together. Or we could explore co-op games. There is Diablo III, which at least three of us own, or Torchlight II, which is damn cheap for what you get. There is even Borderlands 2, which Gaff made me buy a few weeks back when it was on sale ($25 for the game + all DLC up to that point), but which I am so hilariously bad at on my own that I haven’t gotten very far and have pretty much stopped playing.
I think MOBAs like League of Legends are out, primarily because I cannot stand the genre.
Is there anything else we should be looking at as a possible summer hiatus game?