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How Games Can Boost Their Raptr and Xfire Hours Played! January 28, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Path of Exile, Star Trek Online.
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3 comments

Just make sure your launcher/patcher counts as your game being played.

The other night I went to patch up Path of Exile.  It is going into open beta which, among other things, means that characters made from this point forward won’t be wiped.

And while it is really tough to build any enthusiasm for the third attempt to recapture the Diablo II spirit in less than nine months, it had been about a year since I last peeked into game, and so I thought it might be time to go back for a visit.

Of course, with that much time having passed, I was rightfully expecting a big patch.  So I waited until the end of the evening, kicked off the patch process, and went to bed.

And, in the morning, not only was the patching done, but I had two items in my inbox from Raptr.

Raptr was proud to tell me that I had earned the rank “Experienced” and the “Dedicated” for my playtime in Path of Exile.

Raptr Calls It

Raptr Calls It

Although I have to admit, Raptr does seem a bit confused as to what rank I really am.  Both of the messages are proud to tell me the rank I have achieved and what I have to do to get to the next rank, however they used the same name for both.  So am I experienced, or have I been experienced, or what?

Anyway, it ends up Raptr looking like I have played a lot more Path of Exile than I really have.

I am not sure how big of a benefit that really is, and I am almost completely sure that this sort of thing is the fault of the likes Raptr and Xfire as opposed to the developer.  But it did make me wonder what other games might be benefiting in the playtime number department due to this sort of thing.

I went through some of the other games I have installed and found that Star Trek Online’s launcher/patcher gives the same result.  I did not bother to try it with Xfire, as it would have meant re-installing Xfire again, but I have to imagine that the same thing happens with some games there as well.

Of course, the real question is, does it matter?  Does this make play time numbers from services like Raptr and Xfire any more dubious in your mind or not?

Now I wonder if anybody logged into my account by accident over the weekend.  Not that I need any more playtime credited…

The 2013 List – This Time it is Goals January 4, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, EVE Online, Rift, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Vanguard SOH, Warhammer Online, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
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9 comments

At the beginning of every year I write a post about the upcoming 12 months.  Sometimes it is silly predictions.  Sometimes my predictions are even correct, but not very often.  I have made demands.  I have asked questions.  Here is the story so far:

Now it is time for the 2013 version of my yearly post.

2013

This year I think I am going to set goals, which is just another way of drawing some marks in the sand to measure what happened when the year finally comes to a close.

1- Finish Rift

Well, finish Rift for a specific definition of “finish.”  MMOs are designed to never truly be finishable and Rift, with all its possible class builds, especially so.

In this case, it means hitting the level cap and running all of the five person instances with my main character, Hillmar, and the rest of the regular group.  And, just to put another parameter in the mix, I would like to see this happen before the inevitable Summer hiatus when we head out for vacations and other distractions.

2- Find a new goal in EVE

2012 was about learning to live in null sec and flying in large fleet operations.  There were large wars going on throughout most of the year and I flew all over null sec in fleet ops.  Now, however, things have quieted down.  There was no “Winter Break War” as there was last year and the prospect of any big conflict seems pretty remote right now.  We have been effectively ordered to not do anything that might result in the CFC having to deal with any more sovereignty.

Which puts me out of a job.

So I am in training mode with a little bit of ratting and selling now and again.  That can be lucrative, but it is also dull, as is mining.  (Though I hear from Gaff that with the new NPC AI, he has to actually tank all his mining ships as the rats now change targets.   And they pop drones without mercy, making drones pretty much useless for mission running and the like. So mining is dull AND annoying now!)

There are some things I could train up.  There are a few decent guides on planetary interaction out there, if I wanted to add that do my EVE resume.  There are some player skills I could work on, like scanning.  I am hopeless at scanning at the moment and, historically, every time I make an effort to figure it out, CCP changes how it works.

But as for what would essentially be a new vocation in EVE, I do not have a plan… or even a general direction.  It might be time to go back to that chart.

3- Get to Tier IX in World of Tanks

This is something of a vague goal, as I do not really have my eye on any specific Tier IX tank in WoT.  For now the Soviet heavy tanks seem to be my favorites, followed by the German tank destroyers.  But who knows, I might be mad for French self propelled guns or get the itch to nip about the field of battle in one of those Cromwells.  And then there is the Chinese tank line coming along soon.  Or so they say.

Anyway, barring any dramatic need to start up on another branch of the tree, Tier IX ought to be an obtainable goal even with my somewhat sporadic play schedule.  I just need some focus.

Good luck on that.

4- Finish that Second Instance Group Video

Almost a year back I put together a video about the first year of the regular instance group in World of Warcraft.  Fun stuff.  I like to go back and watch that video now and again.  Not quite as emotionally evocative as Sayonara Norrath, but a lot closer to home.

Originally I was going to make a video about our whole experience, but that was a huge project, so I cut it back to just the first year with the idea that I would do one for each of our six… headed into seven… years.

But while the first year was a good plan (for me at least) as it gets our origin, how do you distinguish it from year two, three, four, and so on?  So I decided I needed another specific subject.

I chose our time in Wrath of the Lich King for the next video.  I even started in on the long job of reviewing and editing pictures.  WotLK was the pinnacle of the instance group in WoW, where we finally got our act together.  It was also our downfall, the last happy time in WoW.  We got good at the game only to find that it isn’t that much fun when you are good.  When you are a random, badly equipped group running comedy specs in the wrong roles, every boss kill is a major victory.  When you are geared appropriately, using the right spec, and playing your role correctly, it starts to become a matter of just figuring out the gimmick for any given boss.

Archaedas was exaltation.  By the time we hit King Ymiron, he was just another boss on the long list.

Still, those were good times and set a standard of effort and fun that Cataclysm couldn’t match.  And it was a nice, discreet time frame.  We were there the day the expansion launched through to finishing off the last instance.

Piece of cake to put it together, right?

Except I cannot find the right music.  I need that to inspire me.  Earl’s rendition of Eleanor Rigby, with its twangy sounds and great mix of nostalgia and irony (all the lonely people indeed!) really moved me to finish the first video.  But I have not found the right music to get me excited to finish this video yet.  What will capture Northrend and the instance group, our travels, our defeats, and our victories?

So really my goal is really to find the right music.  We shall see if I can get there.

5- Retry an MMO That Didn’t Stick

There are a number of MMOs out there which I have tried and let drop after some effort.  For one reason or another the games just did not hold my attention or otherwise compel me to keep moving forward.

There are a number of options for this goal.  Possibilities include Vanguard, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Star Trek Online, Runes of Magic, Warhammer Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and probably a few more I have forgotten.  Pirates of the Burning Sea maybe!

The trick here of course is to find a game where whatever made me stop playing has either been changed/fixed or was something that I have since changed my mind about.  And that, in turn, is something of a function of the time that has passed since I last played the game.

SWTOR, for example, is just a year gone by, and I did not like blaster combat or having dialog forced on my character. The former probably hasn’t changed, while the latter is the vaunted “fourth pillar” that was going to distinguish the game, so it seems like unlikely that I am going to like the game any more than I did the first time around.

At the other end of the spectrum is Vanguard, which I haven’t really played since late beta, and which I only recall as being an ugly, lagging, broken, resource hog of a game that was clearly not ready for prime time.  Six years down the road it is possible they may have addressed some of those issues.

6- Scout for the Next Instance Group Game

With the downfall of WoW as our default game, it has become an ongoing task to scout for the next game we might try.  We are currently settled in Rift, but since the first goal on my list is to “finish” Rift before the Summer hiatus, it seems likely that we will need something new come the end of vacation.

As always, the usual parameters are in place.  It must have content that caters to groups of five or six people.  It has to work for a variety of play time budgets. (Some of us will play all week long, others will only play on group night.)  It has to have content that we can enjoy in our standard “three hours on a Saturday night” parameter.   And it has to be something that we can all buy into.

There are a lot of options out there, even discounting things some of us have already played.  I think that, as a group, we might find a month or two of fun in PlanetSide 2.  Four of us would probably find Need for Speed: World or World of Tanks good fun, but I am not sure about all five.  And there are candidates from both the previous and the next goal that are possibilities.  Picking one though and getting everybody to download and commit, that can be a challenge.

7- Book My Autumn Nostalgia Tour Early

Every autumn I get the urge to go back and play some game from my past.  Sometimes it is EverQuest or TorilMUD.  This past year is was EverQuest II.  And given my long time attachment to the games, you can probably put WoW and Lord of the Rings Online on the list of potential candidates.

The thing is, the urge tends to hit me rather suddenly and I run off, play for the requisite month or so solo, then the urge tapers off and I am pretty much done. (Pro Tip: Always subscribe month-to-month for nostalgia based events.)

But while this is often fun, it is usually a lot more fun if I can get Gaff or Potshot in on the tour.  Nostalgia is a meal best served family style or some such.  So if I can just peer into the future and maybe decide on my target, we can get together on the plan and have a great time.  The thing is, which game?  Do I book a room in old Qeynos for the rainy season, or is the Forsaken Inn a more likely holiday spot?

8- Blog Stuff

Often when I look at the future, I will tack on something about “playing more and writing less.”  Over time though, this has increasingly looked like nonsense.  Writing here on the blog is clearly part of the process of playing games… or at least online games… for me.  The writing, the remembering, the picking of screen shots, and the clicking of the “publish” button are all part of the package.

So my goal for the blog is pretty much “stay the course.”  And maybe find a new theme.  Though I have been saying that for about six years and I am still using the same WordPress theme that I had on day one.

So those are my goals for 2013.  Not very exciting.  We shall see how they play out.

How does 2013 look to you?  And any ideas for music for that video?

EverQuest II Throws in With Random Lockbox Schemes August 2, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II, Star Trek Online.
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6 comments

Step Right Up!

We are adding a feature where you can play instanced mini-games to win random loot in game!  You purchase a ticket that gives you access to a mini-game instance.  Should you beat the simple, fun game, you receive a random reward from a chest, or opt for tokens you can spend on items available on a merchant.  We will be selling the tickets for Station Cash in the marketplace.

As noted over at The EQ2 Wire, there is a new cash shop item in the EQII August Update Planes posted by Holly “Windstalker” Longdale.  That is the quote at the top of the page.

While still pretty vague in the “how much” and “what do I get” departments, it looks like SOE is stepping into new territory in order to hustle Station Cash.  New for them at least, this is old hat elsewhere.

Other games have been criticized for selling random prize boxes.  Syp did a post over at Massively called The Truth About Lockboxes, which includes directly calling them gambling, which has been the literal truth in some cases.

SOE looks like they are going to try to skirt the gambling charge by following the carnival game example.

As I recall, in my home state, the elements of gambling of gambling are:

  • Consideration – You have to pay something in order to participate
  • Prize – You get something of value if you win
  • Chance – There is an element of luck which may keep you from getting a prize

Rules in your jurisdiction may vary.

Carnival games do not qualify by being about skill and not chance.  You need just the right throw to get that hoop over the stuffed dog and the base on which he rests.  And lockboxes like the ones Star Trek Online hawks so vigorously do not count in my state either, since you always get a prize.  But the random nature of the boxes trips over the rules in other places.

In a carnival game, you know what the prize is in advance, so if you have the skill, there is no chance.

SOE is also trying to introduce some skill with the mini game.  We shall see how easy or fun the games really are.

But SOE is still offering up the random prize box, which might make the whole skill aspect moot.  The hinging factor might be that they added in the option to simply take tokens which you can spend.  You can opt out of the random factor.

Will this avoid a gambling charge in all jurisdictions?

We shall see.

Will this take “pay to win” and make it “gamble to win?”

I can hardly wait to see what the prizes will be.

I guess if your cash shop is overly dependent on certain items… like mounts or heavily discounted Gold subscriptions… you have to find a way to branch out.  And these sort of random box schemes have been a gold mine in other games.  They might even be why STO is Not Dying.

I’ve said it before and I am sure I will say it again.  I like that there we are entering an era of varied subscription options.  The box price and monthly fee add up to a big barrier to entry for many.

On the other hand, I am not really happy about what some games become when they go free to play.  And if you look at the MMOs I am actually playing lately… Rift, EVE, and a bit of WoW… you will see the common thread is that they are classic subscription model games.  I am not sure if that is an accident or not.  Like others, I seem to like my subscription.

How about you?  Do you like random lockboxes?

And how soon after conversion will they show up in SWTOR?

Star Trek Online “Not Dying,” Nixon “Not a Crook” August 2, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Trek Online.
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10 comments

Shiva H. Christ on a crutch, when will people learn?  How can you get so far and business and not know how this works… or at least not be working for EA?

Here is the process, step by step.

A corporate representative gives an interview in which they say something that seems like a “good thing.”

In this case we have Dan Stahl of Perfect World Entertainment who went to the Star Trek Online forums to try and spread some joy.  And so he wrote… which implies he thought about it in advance… the following:

Cryptic was sold because it was a profitable business and worth at least $50 million to Perfect WorldSTO is not dying by any means and continues to grow stronger. Just last month we took over as the top performing game for Perfect World in North America.

He probably wrote a lot more than that, but this is what got quoted in the press, so is all most of us are ever going to see.

His message was that STO was not only a valuable asset to Perfect World, it was their best performing game.  Great stuff!  The game lives!  Fans rejoice!

Then, of course, the gaming press gets wind of it.  I saw this reported over at Massively with the above quote.  And what is the headline of that article?

Cryptic producer: Star Trek Online ‘not dying by any means’

Hrmm… well, that does kind of emphasize the negative perception, doesn’t it?

But negative headlines draw in page views.  Nobody buys a paper when the headline is “Nothing Bad Happened.”  Likewise, a headline like “STO Worth $50 Million” or “STO is Perfect World’s Top Performer” do not grab attention… at least not like that “dying” quote does.

“Not dying by any means” smells of desperation.

You want to go take a look because there is something going on.  The headline is the smoke and you just have to see the fire.  After all, if he is denying the game is dying, then clearly somebody thinks it is on its last legs.  Time to go see how the company is rationalizing things.

And if we follow the link and go read the article, we will see the “not dying” quote in context.  But for most people, unless you have some investment in the positive side of the story… in this case, you play STO and want it to survive… the headline has already tainted your point of view.

You are very likely to come away from that article still thinking that STO is dying despite the value assigned to it and its position in Perfect World’s stable of games.  He might be trying to put a brave face on for his dying game.  And, frankly, maybe Perfect World is about to go down the tubes if a dying game is their top performer.

Now, you may argue that you are smarter than that.  But that is likely because you are already involved with the topic being discussed.  If something new comes up, the headline is very likely to set your perception.

Merrie Spaeth, a former White House director of media relations calls this “The Bimbo Moment.”  This is when you make a statement in the negative that becomes a headline and which reinforces the exact perception you meant to deflect.  One of the most famous is probably Nixon saying, “I am not a crook.”  Spaeth, being a staunch conservative, isn’t likely to name something negative after our 36th president.

So, instead, it was named for… well, I’ll just quote her site:

…memorializing the protest of a young lady whose tryst with a well-known evangelist some years ago made news around the world. Her comment, “I Am Not a Bimbo,” became the headline in scores of newspapers and made the cover of People Magazine in 1987.

I actually remember that Jessica Hahn quote.

And she just kinda ran with it…

Merrie Spaeth and her staff actually put out a monthly Bimbo Memo newsletter that points out ways in which quotes are taken, often out of context, and become headlines that simply reinforce the negative view the person saying them was trying to avoid.

If you deal with the public, you should probably read this.  It is both amusing and informative, even if it does slant to the right at times. (Merrie Spaeth does hate the Occupy movement to an almost unseemly degree.)

Anyway, you can sign up for the newsletter here (or get the somewhat less reliable RSS feed), or go through some of the past annual winners on the archive page.

In the mean time, live and learn.  Star Trek Online is THRIVING!

That is what you meant to say, right Dan?

January in Review January 31, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, iPad, Month in Review, Rift, Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft.
8 comments

The Site

After five years, I updated the About page for the blog.

The primary improvements, a relative term on the best of days, were removing my picture and rewriting the whole thing up as something mildly resembling a FAQ, despite the fact that none of the questions listed have ever been asked with any frequency whatsoever.  Still, one less picture of me, so a win for the internet!

And the whole thing does give some sort of outline to the philosophy behind this blog.  Read it at your peril, and remember that any promise of candy is likely to be a lie.

Then, due to an RSS feed misfire, my very first post on the blog… a “Welcome” message which coincidentally also attempted to establish some sort of blogging philosophy, though it was clearly in a much more primitive state at that point… received more views this month than it had during the entire history of the blog so far.

So for all of you who missed it five years ago, welcome.

And finally, I’d just like to say that I think the special iPad format that WordPress.com has looks pretty neat.

iPad version of TAGN

Of course, since it is graphically focused, my urge to make sure every post has at least one picture has been reinforced.

One Year Ago

Eschewing the predicting convention, I issued demands for 2011.

The blog was listed at a Vietnamese gaming site in a top 10 post that looked suspiciously like one from Massively.

TERA was trying to win notice by telling people how they had boars in their game!  BOARS!  Can you imagine?

EuroGamer tried to tell us PlanetSide 2 would be out by Q2 2011.

It was time to start messing with the then new EVE Online character creator.

DC Universe Online launched.  I played in the beta just long enough to remind myself I am not a superhero kind of guy.

I used Google to tell me World of Warcraft’s five most pressing issues at the time.

Meanwhile, the Twilight Cadre was back in Azeroth in force and checking out Cataclysm.  We got our first guild achievement.  Our group of new characters, four worgen and a gnome, went through Westfall and all its phasing magic, wailed in the Wailing Caverns, before settling down to a pattern of doing three instances every Saturday night.  I wasn’t sure if we had skilled up a lot or if the game had been dumbed down that much, but clearly the 1-60 game in Cataclysm was proving to be not much of a challenge.

There was some cool stuff in Cataclysm.  I like the balloons.  Redridge, never one of my favorite places, got turned into a fun solo experience.  And there was the Murloc combat ability.  But otherwise, the game was starting to lose us.

And, finally, Pokemon was coming to town.

Five Years Ago

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s takeon the generation debate.

The instance group finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my swashbuckler in EQ2 was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded, but when the game actually launched, I declined to buy the box.

And, finally, Blizzard launched the Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that tend to accompany an expansion, though I couldn’t figure out why I was bothering to buy a copy.

New Linking Sites

I would like to thank the following site for linking here in their blog rolls.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Post in January

  1. Hulkageddon V: Unholy Union – Coming Soon
  2. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. Twelve Questions for 2012
  6. The MPAA Paints A Chilling Portrait of Things to Come
  7. What Happens After the End of White Noise in Branch?
  8. LEGO Lord of the Rings: The Video Game – It Could Happen
  9. Remembering My First PvP Death in EVE…
  10. Type 59 Being Pulled from the World of Tanks Store
  11. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  12. Scraping Off the Rust in the Iron Tomb

Spam Comment of the Month

Everybody is jumping on the SWTOR bandwagon!  I got a burst of such comments a couple weeks back.

SWTOR Secrets is the first true strategy guide written for SWTOR, making it a massive opportunity for anyone interested in getting into the gaming niche. And because this guide is so unique and has so little competition, traffic will surge into your landing pages, eagerly eating up whatever content you provide. Conversion rates are through the roof right now, meaning you do less work and make more money for your time.Enjoy!!!

EVE Online

After an eventful December in which I first ventured into 0.0 space, January has been kind of quiet.  The war in Branch hit a lull and I spent most of my time worried about skills and ratting in my Tengu.  Of course, just as I have been closing in on my final Maelstrom skills, the word was passed down that those with the right skills should fly a Drake.  Well, that was where I started.

And now the war is back on.  The corp has declared war time rules again, which amount to “knock off that carebear crap when fleet ops are active!”  Maybe, just maybe, I can get on the kill boards for something other than structures, in a Drake or not.

Rift

I have been playing a whole lot of Rift.  I post regularly about the instance group, but that is generally one night a week plus maybe a little bit of prep.  I have to find some time to write about what I have been doing with the other 75% of the time I have been spending in Telara.

But, as a whole, I am pretty happy with Rift for now.

Star Trek Online

It went free to play and do I care?  I am a lifetime subscriber.  Maybe not.  I keep the game patched up, but I do not play.  I did actually log in after it went free to play, just to see where I stood.  I have 1040 Cryptic bucks, or whatever their currency is called, and so many changes since I last logged in that I probably need to start over.  We’ll see.

World of Warcraft

Hrmm… I hit level 85 and haven’t done much since.

Coming Up

I think I summed up my to do list above.  Post about new null sec adventures in EVE (if any), write up something about all the non-instance group stuff I have done in Rift, and figure out where I stand with Star Trek Online and World of Warcraft.

Other than that, maybe something about iPad games and the PS3 and… oh, I don’t know… baseball movies.  We just saw Moneyball and spring training is coming up.  Or maybe not.

Struck from the List… January 4, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, Runes of Magic, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online.
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11 comments

With the new year comes some feeling, some need to assess and reassess things.  And so it is today with the side bar of my blog.

For those viewing via remote reader or those who have never looked at it, down the right hand side there are two sections among the many categories of links titled “The Games I Play” and “The Games I Watch.”  They are so named partially so that they will sort in the order I want along the side bar.  WordPress.com only lets you have one list of links in your side bar (though you can whip up your own with a text field and some simple HTML if you really need more, but that goes beyond my ability to care about the side bar really) that can be divided into as many categories as you like.  But the categories sort alphabetically.  So I had to name them all in such a way that they would sort out correctly.

They are also named as an indication of my status vis-a-vis a given set of  games.  “The Games I Play” are the titles, usually just two, that I am actively playing.  It is easy enough to understand that.

Then there is the section “The Games I Watch,” which sounds a little odd, like they are being broadcast on TV or something.  The title was chosen for its ability to sort where I wanted it more than its clarity of message, obviously.

Games on that list are ones that I am not playing actively.  Sometimes there are games that have not even shipped yet on that list.  Diablo III is on that list right now, and it is months away at best.

Games in that section are games to which I pay attention, games which interest me, and games which I fully intend to either play when they ship, or go back and play at some point if I have already been there at some point.

And now, in the harsh light of the new year, I look at that list and I can see some entries that no longer fit the bill.

Runes of Magic

Remember back when a free to play games of any quality were a rare thing?  And there was Runes of Magic trying to bridge the gap between subscription quality and free to play access with, among other things, that $10 horse.

Back in the day, when he wasn’t on about that horse, Darren called it a WoW rip-off, which at the time, what with being free and all, seemed like a hearty endorsement to me.  So much so that, despite one of the worst installers ever, some of the instance group ran off to try the game at one point.

And it was okay.  It had the usual stuff, a few interesting twists like dual (and now triple) classing, as well as the standard “suffer or give us money” options when it came to storage and experience gain.  And gold spammers.  Many, many gold spammers.

My primary memory of RoM

But in the end, there was nothing there that really stuck with me.  We ran off to play other games.  Half the subscription MMO universe went free to play in the mean time, so that no longer suffices as an attraction.  I’ve totally forgotten my password… both of them, since there was a second login and password required to access the RMT currency, some of which I purchased at one point.

And then there is that installer.  Have they fixed that yet?  Or does somebody new still install the 2009 version of the game and then spend the next week patching?

Finally, the game is no longer interesting merely for its free to play model.  That was something worthy of note a couple years back, but not so today.

So I think it is time to admit that I am just not that interested in the game and the odds of my going back to falls somewhere between “slim” and “none.”  So it gets struck from the list.

Warhammer Online

You might be surprised that I still had Warhammer Online on my list until now.  Despite the howls of the now repentant fanbois every time I dared say anything negative about the game, there was a lot I did like about the Warhammer Online.  Our guild did have some excellent PvP battles at times, though for every good battle there were a couple of empty roll-over victories.  And then there was our first taste of a dungeon, which left nobody interested in a second.

The instance group in Warhammer

But the world itself was very well done, worthy of exploration.  And if I was complaining about the quest log, it was because I was using it a lot to run through the PvE portion of the game to see that world.  In fact, it was the idea of seeing the world that kept the game on my list.

The instance group moved on and there were other games higher on my list, but I kept thinking that at some point Mythic would change something in the game worth seeing or put out a “come back and play” offer that would get me to return.

They did have a come back and play offer at one point, ten whole free days, how generous!  But it involved giving Mythic a credit card, and that seemed like a really good way to get screwed by Mythic, given their past sloppy handling of credit card transactions.  So I didn’t try that.

Then, more than a year after launch, they made the trial version of the game, which restricted  you to a tier 1 character, unlimited.  That was interesting for some I suppose, but where I wanted to go would have put me well outside of tier 1.

They even talked about producing a Mac version of the game.  Did they think that Mac users were that desperate for an MMO?  I was tempted to try that just to see how bad it was, but never got around to it.  I don’t even know if that came to pass in the end or if it is even still supported.

In the end, no “right moment” to go back ever materialized.  Nothing compelling to me was ever offered up after launch.  And I would still have to pay a subscription fee to go back and explore, and the bar to get me to do that has only gone up in the last couple of years.

So that world will remain unexplored by me, as Warhammer Online is off the list.

Games Close to Being Struck

Star Trek Online is on the edge. I keep thinking I will go back and play.  But every time I log in, I am faced with a wave of changes similar to what Ravious described in going back to LOTRO, and I end up so mired in figuring out what to do that I end up logging off for a few more months, only to repeat the cycle again.

I logged on long enough to get this screen shot!

At some point I hope I will have enough time and desire to play, at which point I will start with a fresh character and learn it all from scratch again.  Only there are always a couple of other games I would rather play first.  Well, maybe some day.  But for now it stays on the list, if only because of that lifetime subscription I bought.  Oof.

And then there is Dunegons & Dragons Online, which I really want to like, but which is likewise always in 4th or 5th place on my to-do list.  At least it is free to play and uses the Turbine patcher which at least puts it a couple steps ahead of Runes of Magic.  But it is in jeopardy of being struck at some point.  I just never get to it.

Games On or to be Added

You might point out that I have declined to play Star Wars: The Old Republic so far post-beta.  But I will likely play the game again at some point.  There is enthusiasm for it in the instance group, and even Gaff has picked it up already.  And I do watch the news about it.  I am interested to see, for example, if torture ever comes up as an issue the way it did for WoW back with Wrath of the Lich King.  I am guessing that for most people, that ends up being a matter of “Sith will be Sith.”

I should probably add Torchlight II to the list.  I have no doubt that I will play that when it launches.

Likewise, Guild Wars 2 will probably get a slot at some point.  It is on my list to play, but I haven’t spent much time with the news or marketing build-up.  So I am not really “watching” it yet.

And the rest of the list… well, those are games I am sure I will continue to keep an eye on and poke my nose into every so often.

How about you?  Have you reassessed any games on your list, be it written down or just in your head?  Are there games you have decided that you just are never going to get back to?

Reviewing My Demands for 2011 December 19, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, blog thing, Diablo III, entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
5 comments

This year I eschewed the traditional practice of making predictions and issued a series of demands for the MMO industry for 2011.

Why demands?

Well, when you make predictions and you are wrong, it is your fault.  If you make demands though, and the company does not live up to them, it is THEIR fault!  Ha!  Rather than scoring my own predictions, I get to score their behavior.

So it is time to review my demands for 2011, made way back on January 2nd.  I gave everybody until December 15th to meet my demands.  Now it is time to see who complied.

Blizzard:

Stop looking so damn smug.  Tell us what Titan is,  ship Diablo III, and add some more content to the top end of World of Warcraft.  I swear half the game is already level 85.  Oh, and another sparkle pony, but something a little less frou-frou this time.  And an expansion for StarCraft II.  Somebody has to sell some PC games this year.

See, this is what is wrong with Blizzard these days.  I threw a crapload of demands at them, six if you include “stop looking so damn smug,” and they barely made any of them.

To sum up, we still do not know what Titan is, Diablo III is out in 2012 somewhere, and no expansion for StarCraft II.  I mean, how tough was that last one?  Oh, and they still look damn smug.’

All we got was a new sparkly pony, the Winged Guardian Mount, and some more content at the top end of Cataclysm.  Not enough I say! Not enough.

Sparkle Kitty vs. Sparkle Pony

For this I decree that Mike Morhaime will have to come up with more public rationalizations about WoW subscription numbers, including at least one additional convoluted SWTOR impact denial.

Sony Online Entertainment:

Smedley? SMEDLEY!  Pull yourself together.  I know those PlayStation people are bossing you around, but you make money.  Certainly more than they make on hardware.  Refine what you have.  More server merges.  Reconcile EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended.  Work on the PC controls for DC Universe Online because I am NOT hooking up a console controller to my PC just to play it.  And finish with the Agency already, you’re starting to embarrass us all.

SOE on the other hand, complied with almost all of my demands.  We certainly got server merges on a number of fronts, and some are still coming, including the merger of the Live Gamer EverQuest II servers into standard servers. EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended were reconciled, with Live eating and then becoming Extended.

And they certainly finished up The Agency.  Ouch.

In fact, the only demand they missed on was fixing the controls for the PC version of DC Universe Online, and they were so busy launching, consolidating servers, and then converting to free to play that I guess they can have a pass on that.

For this I grant favorable portents for Planetside 2… provided they don’t pull an “Agency” move with it and string us along for several years.

Cryptic:

Just go free to play across the board already.  Champions and Star Trek Online.  Everybody else is doing it.  But don’t screw over the lifetime subscribers.  And when you go free to play, make sure you have something shiny and new to bring people back.  Oh, and Neverwinter, get it out this year and don’t screw it up!

Cryptic… Well, everything is either free to play or in the works.  They’ll be a month late on the demand in the case of Star Trek Online.

Neverwinter though… just where are you guys even going with that title these days?  Cryptic is supposed to be your company name, not your business plan.

I put a curse of market confusion upon Cryptic for Neverwinter… which they deserve just for choosing that name.  There are OTHER locations in Forgotten Realms you know.

BioWare:

Everybody is watching you.  You’re not making some single player game.  You’re making an engine, an engine that is supposed to take in money and deliver the joy of being in the Star Wars universe.  Don’t let those wankers in San Mateo make you ship early.  Meanwhile, since you guys seem to be in the MMO driver’s seat at EA, for now, don’t screw around with Ultima Online, but do something about Warhammer Online.  You’re bright guys, you’ll figure something out.

Wow, talk about delivering.  I am pretty sure they moved the early access back to the 13th of December just to be clearly within the scope of my demand.  And yet it is late enough that we cannot really tell if the engine is set to vacuum up money from Star Wars loving fans.

Plus they didn’t screw around with Ultima Online and they came up with a DoTA-like game reusing Warhammer Online assets and branding it as Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes.

Full points all around.  For this the force will be with them… for three months.  They are on their own after that!

CCP:

Will you put that drink down already?  EVE is still going, still making money, still popular, still unique, I get it.  And you are improving it over time.  But really, you’re starting to look like a one-trick pony.  What are all those people in Atlanta doing?  You don’t have to ship something new this year, but at least make us believe you’re really working on something new.  We’re starting to think you’re spending all that money you make on akvavit and exotic dancers.

CCP is the only company that actually responded directly to my demands.  CCP Manifest dropped my a note just 8 days after my post promising that we would all see amazing things from CCP this year and that my demands would be fully met.

And then, of course, Incarna hit, the player base blew up… more than usual…  plans were re-assessed, people were laid off, projects were set aside, and the summer of discontent basically loomed over the staff at CCP.

And then they refocused, shipped the Crucible expansion to mostly favorable reaction (it sure is pretty), and plans seem to be solid for DUST 514, with a release target (Spring 2012… which means by Christmas, right?) and a platform (PlayStation 3 works for me).

So I guess, in the end, they met my demands.

I would suggest that we did not need all the drama, but that seems to be one of the vital ingredients to any CCP operation.  That and alcohol.  I know they aren’t spending all their money on booze, but I suspect there is still a line item in the budget for it.

For this I grant an early Spring and no bankruptcy in 2012.

NCsoft:

Aion, City of Whatever, and Guild Wars.  Is that really all you have going in North America?  Well, there is Lineage II I suppose.  And what do you have on your to do list?  Blade & Soul?  Really?  Don’t bother.  And let Guild Wars 2 gestate to full term, which means don’t ship it in 2011.

I didn’t ask much from NCsoft, and they delivered.  No Guild Wars 2 in 2011.  Now the question is will we see it in 2012?

Your boon is the usual subscriber boost as you move all of your titles to free to play business model.

Trion Worlds:

Your big opportunity is coming.  Ship Rift at just about the time when WoW Players have finally wrapped up the high-end content and you could get… a stable half a million subscribers.  Okay, that isn’t WoW numbers, but history shows that most people just stick with their favorite MMO forever due to the social network they develop.  Hrmm… that is sounding like a prediction, not a demand.  Okay, go and get a half a million subscribers already!  By June!  With your shield or on it and all that!

Trion, you made it.  While you were out there claiming a million customers, I am going to take it as read that that meant more that half a million subscribers at one time.  And you even kept them for a while, thanks to Cataclysm backlash, a late ship date for SWTOR, and essentially no new competitors in your field.

For this you get favorable portents for End of Nations and a soft landing from the SWTOR effect.

Other MMO Studios:

Which of you is even poised to do anything in 2011?  TERA is going to be another Asian oddity, soon forgotten by the mainstream.  It was all that Aventurine could do to ship Darkfall, they won’t be doing anything else. Funcom won’t get The Secret World out in 2011, they’re more likely to cut more staff.  All of you other studios, select a champion and send it out to do battle.  Yes, it can be TERA if you cannot find anything else, but I’m telling you it is going to be completely forgettable.

Nothing?  Really, no small studio champion has arisen?

Fine, you’re all doomed to mutter about the success of Minecraft and Angry Birds.

Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw:

When Star Wars: The Old Republic ships this year, review it.  I know, it is a muh-more-puh-gah, but this is Star Wars and BioWare.  I demand it.  We all demand it!

Alright, you’re absolved because of the late ship date of SWTOR.  But  I expect a review of it next year.

Dr. Richard Bartle:

You were awfully quiet in 2010.  And you’ve got your three level 85s in WoW now. (A very common claim these days.)  Go say something controversial.  Declare WoW dead.  Predict SWTOR will be a failure as a virtual world.  Make some news.  Do an interview with those people at Massively.  They’ll print anything you say.

Dr. Bartle was kind enough to comment on my original demands list that, while I found the past controversies surrounding his statements in the gaming press amusing (remember the “I’d Close WoW” headline or his positive view of Stranglethorn Vale), the whole thing tends not to be so much fun for him.

And he managed to steer clear of such controversies, despite my egging on certain members of the Massively staff.

So he gets a pass as well.  We can just hope that somebody takes note of his idea of how to break the current state of stagnation in MMOs and that he has a good fortune in 2012 as he attempts to educate us on the obvious.  I personally look forward to further education.

Scoring

What is there to score?

Okay, if you want to view my demands as predictions, I think I did okay this year.  But I did not really go out on a limb with anything either.  2011 was a quiet year in many ways, with titles being pushed off into 2012.

Now, do I go back to outrageous predictions for 2012 or stick with unreasonable demands?

How Was Star Trek Online NOT Free to Play Already? September 1, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online.
Tags: ,
7 comments

When I think of subscription games that have switch to the free to play model, Star Trek Online pops into my head, and has for some time.

And then I have had to remind myself that no, the game is not F2P, not yet.

Now though, that appears to have changed.

Perfect World Entertainment, which is apparently my company of the day, and which acquired Cryptic Studios back in May, has announced that Star Trek Online will be going F2P this year, or so reports Massively.

Only available in America?

F2P... it is a gold mine... like re-runs!

Now, as a lifetime subscriber facing yet another company changing business models, I do wonder how they will treat me.  Not that I have played the game in the last year.  My one year anniversary post for the game is still sitting as a draft.

Look, I logged on long enough to get a screen shot!

The Lord of the Rings Online transition from subscription to F2P treated lifetime subscribers very well I felt.  I was quite satisfied with how that turned out last summer.  I will be interested to see how this plays out with STO.

And you can just bet if they shaft the lifetime subscribers, I will complain about it despite having no real investment in the game.  It is just the way it has to be.

What is the Scale of this Blog Health-o-Meter? January 4, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, EVE Online, Star Trek Online.
Tags: , ,
9 comments

WordPress.com had something new for me this new years.  They sent to me, and presumably anybody else with an active WordPress.com blog a little year end summary report on my blog.

Actually, I received a report for three different blogs: this blog, EVE Online Pictures, and Star Trek Online Pictures.

(That last one represents how committed I was to STO a year ago.)

The report came with the option to automatically post it to your blog, though I declined to do that here as I found the formatting awkward and inconsistent with the theme I use.  But if you really want to see a full report, I did post the one for EVE Online Pictures just to see what it looked like. (Awkward and inconsistent.)

But getting three reports let me see something that somebody might not notice if they only had a single blog or perhaps multiple blogs that got about the same number of page views over the course of the past year.  The report has a “Blog Health-o-Meter” as part of the package, and it is, I gather, based on the number of page views your blog received in 2010.

So, for example, this was the meter reading for The Ancient Gaming Noob:

Health of The Ancient Gaming Noob

I think that “Wow” is their assessment of the blog and not an indication of what I a lot of my posts are about.

And then they include some text to give some basis to the reading of the meter.

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 460,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 20 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, you wrote 396 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 1763 posts. You uploaded 894 pictures, taking up a total of 160mb. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

20 days of Louvre traffic.  So that is what it takes to get my reading on the meter. (The site actually had 473,063 page views, but I guess I fell into a bucket of 460-475K or the like.)

So there, I thought, is the scale.

Then I went and looked at the EVE Online Pictures report, which had this meter reading:

Health of EVE Online Pictures

Not bad.  I’m on fire, which I guess is a good thing.  And given the size of the whole meter and the difference in position between the two blogs, you might guess that EVE Online Pictures is somewhere in the same zone as TAGN.

Here is what WordPress.com said:

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 38,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, you wrote 107 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 308 posts. You uploaded 155 pictures, taking up a total of 59mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The ratio there is about 12 to 1 in favor of TAGN, something you don’t really get a sense of from the meter. (The actual page view number is 38,966 for 2010, so they were closer this time around.)

And we learn that the Lourve is more than twice as popular as the Taj Mahal.  I bet you didn’t know that!

And then there is Star Trek Online Pictures, which I suspended posting to when I stopped playing regularly, which wasn’t that long after launch.  Here is the meter for that:

Health of Star Trek Online Pictures

Doing awesome, up there on the line between the green and the… not green section of the meter.  And what does it take to get on the line like that?

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, you wrote 13 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 21 posts. You uploaded 25 pictures, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

There is about a 17 to 1 ratio in favor of EVE Pics and a 209 to 1 ratio in favor of TAGN, but still in the green.  They were nearly spot on with the number of page views (2246 total) and they left me with the strange desire to calculate how many 747-400 jets it would take to transport all the visitors to the Louvre… or the Taj Mahal… or both.

But the scale of the meter, that is still somewhat ambiguous.

Okay, I get it.  WordPress.com is in the business of hosting blogs and you get people to pay for services by encouraging them.  With that goal you can’t really send people a meter with the arrow all the way to the left and the caption, “Nobody even knows you exist!” then compare them to, say, the number of live births at the North Pole and expect that to be a winning formula for customer encouragement and retention.

And maybe the green segment has significance.  Maybe you do not even get a chart if you do not meet a certain minimum threshold.

I have two other blogs that I was experimenting with at one point, one of which got 516 page views in 2010, and one which got 5.  I did not get a report for either of those.  Then again, maybe they haven’t gotten that far down the list.  I wonder how many page views is at the mean of the bell curve.  With 16 million blogs hosted, I cannot imagine it is a huge number.

Do you have a WordPress.com blog?  Did you get a new year’s chart?  To what did they compare your traffic?

Do you use a different service for your blog?  Do they do anything similar?

Integrated stats is one of the main reasons I went with WordPress.com over four years ago, after experimenting with a couple of other services.  But things change.

My Demands for 2011 January 2, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, blog thing, Diablo III, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Humor, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
10 comments

It is the new year, and with that comes predictions.  You can find plenty of them out there.  Lots of people have them, like Tipa, Spinks, Lum (those were predictions, right?), Green Armadillo and Keen. (More linked as I find them.)

Me?  I’m done with predictions.  Predictions come from a position of weakness!  I think my 2008, 2009, and 2010 predictions pretty much prove that.

For 2011 I am making demands!

And if my demands are not met, there will be consequences!  Consequences I tell you!

You have until December 15th to meet these demands!

Blizzard:

Stop looking so damn smug.  Tell us what Titan is,  ship Diablo III, and add some more content to the top end of World of Warcraft.  I swear half the game is already level 85.  Oh, and another sparkle pony, but something a little less frou-frou this time.  And an expansion for StarCraft II.  Somebody has to sell some PC games this year.

Sony Online Entertainment:

Smedley? SMEDLEY!  Pull yourself together.  I know those PlayStation people are bossing you around, but you make money.  Certainly more than they make on hardware.  Refine what you have.  More server merges.  Reconcile EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended.  Work on the PC controls for DC Universe Online because I am NOT hooking up a console controller to my PC just to play it.  And finish with the Agency already, you’re starting to embarrass us all.

Cryptic:

Just go free to play across the board already.  Champions and Star Trek Online.  Everybody else is doing it.  But don’t screw over the lifetime subscribers.  And when you go free to play, make sure you have something shiny and new to bring people back.  Oh, and Neverwinter, get it out this year and don’t screw it up!

BioWare:

Everybody is watching you.  You’re not making some single player game.  You’re making an engine, an engine that is supposed to take in money and deliver the joy of being in the Star Wars universe.  Don’t let those wankers in San Mateo make you ship early.  Meanwhile, since you guys seem to be in the MMO driver’s seat at EA, for now, don’t screw around with Ultima Online, but do something about Warhammer Online.  You’re bright guys, you’ll figure something out.

CCP:

Will you put that drink down already?  EVE is still going, still making money, still popular, still unique, I get it.  And you are improving it over time.  But really, you’re starting to look like a one-trick pony.  What are all those people in Atlanta doing?  You don’t have to ship something new this year, but at least make us believe you’re really working on something new.  We’re starting to think you’re spending all that money you make on akvavit and exotic dancers.

NCsoft:

Aion, City of Whatever, and Guild Wars.  Is that really all you have going in North America?  Well, there is Lineage II I suppose.  And what do you have on your to do list?  Blade & Soul?  Really?  Don’t bother.  And let Guild Wars 2 gestate to full term, which means don’t ship it in 2011.

Trion Worlds:

Your big opportunity is coming.  Ship Rift at just about the time when WoW Players have finally wrapped up the high-end content and you could get… a stable half a million subscribers.  Okay, that isn’t WoW numbers, but history shows that most people just stick with their favorite MMO forever due to the social network they develop.  Hrmm… that is sounding like a prediction, not a demand.  Okay, go and get a half a million subscribers already!  By June!  With your shield or on it and all that!

Other MMO Studios:

Which of you is even poised to do anything in 2011?  TERA is going to be another Asian oddity, soon forgotten by the mainstream.  It was all that Aventurine could do to ship Darkfall, they won’t be doing anything else. Funcom won’t get The Secret World out in 2011, they’re more likely to cut more staff.  All of you other studios, select a champion and send it out to do battle.  Yes, it can be TERA if you cannot find anything else, but I’m telling you it is going to be completely forgettable.

Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw:

When Star Wars: The Old Republic ships this year, review it.  I know, it is a muh-more-puh-gah, but this is Star Wars and BioWare.  I demand it.  We all demand it!

Dr. Richard Bartle:

You were awfully quiet in 2010.  And you’ve got your three level 85s in WoW now. (A very common claim these days.)  Go say something controversial.  Declare WoW dead.  Predict SWTOR will be a failure as a virtual world.  Make some news.  Do an interview with those people at Massively.  They’ll print anything you say.

Points?

I suppose you expect me to assign points to these, and to score my success at the end of the year?  Screw that.  If my demands are not met, I will just sit back and announce the consequences.  And I have 11 or so months to work on that.  Remember, you have until December 15th!