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Bloodline Champions Closed Beta Invite October 30, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment.
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10 comments

Did everybody get one of these closed beta invites to Bloodline Champions?

Welcome to the Closed Beta

Because it certainly seemed like everybody I asked got one.

Granted, everybody I asked had, in some way, given their email address to FunCom in the past.

Often the way was somewhat tenuous.

I mean, the email said this:

Funcom would like to thank you for your continued loyal support by giving you free access to the closed beta for Bloodline Champions, a player vs. player arena game that will truly put your gaming skills to the test. Easy to learn, challenging to master – Bloodline Champions is set to become one of the most important games within its genre.

But in my case, continued loyal support seems to be the fact that I signed up for the Clan of Conan newsletter about a year before Age of Conan shipped… and that’s it.  I never played the game.  Nor did I ever try out Anarchy Online.

Not what I would call loyal support.  I supposed I never clicked on the unsubscribe link for the newsletter, though that was mostly because it seemed to show up so sporadically.

And just in case you somehow didn’t get invite, each person who did also got two beta keys to hand out to friends.

Really, one of the most open closed beta I’ve seen.

Too bad the game doesn’t interest me in the least, important to its genre or not.

And what is its genre anyway?

TTH Picks the Top Ten PvP MMOs February 13, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online.
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15 comments

Lists, especially ranked lists, are always good for some attention.

In that vein, Ten Ton Hammer decided to stir the pot a bit by ranking what they consider to be the Top Ten PvP MMOs.

I’ll spoil the surprise and give you their list ranked top to bottom.  You’ll have to go read the article to get the justifications.

  1. Dark Age of Camelot
  2. Eve Online
  3. Darkfall
  4. Planetside
  5. Warhammer Online
  6. Aion
  7. Lineage 2
  8. Guild Wars
  9. Age of Conan
  10. Lord of the Rings Online

They used the phrase “out there” to describe their selections, by which I assume they mean they are measuring the PvP-ness you can get today from these games, as opposed to when they were at their peak.  So no Shadowbane.

That also might explain the lack of Ultima Online on the list.

But if you’re going to exclude UO for its current state of affairs, how do you justify keeping Planetside on the list?

Scoring My 2009 MMORPG Progdictionations December 29, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Humor, lego, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft.
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12 comments

The time has come to account for my January 1st predictions.

The real problem with me and predictions is that I set out to make a series of outrageous and humorous stabs at the future, but part way into it I get all reasonable and conservative and start making predictions that sound likely… or reasonable.

Not that I am any more accurate when I get conservative and reasonable.

On January 1st I made 15 predictions for the MMORPG market for 2009.  Below are the results.  I am going to assign each prediction a possible score of 10 points, with partial credit available.  How many points out of 150 will I get?

I am not going to paste in all the original predictions as it would make the post very long, plus I have a cold which has not put me in the mood to perform any more work that I absolutely have to.  But they are all right here if you want to see them in their original glory.

1 – Private Citizen British

This one was fulfilled before I managed to post it.  He wants to get back into fantasy gaming, but nothing came of it in 2009.  He did not, however, use the word “vision.”  7 out of 10 points.

2 – Bartle’s Test

Dr. Bartle was on the money with this one by extolling the virtues of Stranglethorn Vale from the aspect of zone design.  As expected, more than a few disagreed on that, STV being one of the more complained about zones in the game.  Dr. Bartle stood his ground however; he meant what he said and he said what he meant.  Not a huge controversy, but enough for my needs.  8 out of 10 points.

3 – Age of Anarchy

Funcom did not, as I predicted, merge Anarchy Online and Age of Conan into a single game with two different front end clients.  More is the pity, since Age of Conan seems to need some sort of boost these days.  0 out of 10 points.

4 – EverQuesting

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Underfoot,” and did not include any of the features I speculated about.  And it was only available as a digital download.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 2 points out of 10 on that alone.

5 – Call Your Agency

Of the three games Sony has been talking about, only Free Realms saw the light of day in 2009, which was one more than I thought would.  On the other hand, there is still no PS3 version of Free Realms.  So I am going to give myself partial credit on Free Realms, since I said that PS3 development would be holding up the launch and they decided to go without it.

We have not heard, officially or in rumors, that PS3 is what is holding up The Agency or DC Universe Online, so only partial credit there as well.  3 out of 10.

6 – Elves of the Burning Sea

Flying Lab Software did not attempt to boost their subscription rate by re-skinning Pirates of the Burning Sea with fantasy creatures, so 0 out of 10 points.  I should not let my own LEGO fantasies influence my predictions.

7 – LEGO Dalaran

Nobody built Dalaran out of LEGO bricks… yet, 0 out of 10 points.

8 – Station Cash Balance of Payments

I predicted that any game that did not get a Station Cash store was pretty much marked for closure.  The Matrix Online was the first to go.  Planetside is down to one server and Star Wars Galaxies isn’t making any headlines of late.  I am going to give myself 5 out of 10 on that one because I think Planetside will be gone when The Agency shows up.  And as for SWG…

9 – Star Wars Galaxies to Take A Bio

I predicted that we would find out this year that Lucas was only going to sanction one Star Wars themed MMORPG and that SWG was going to lose out of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I still think this is going to happen, so maybe I’ll roll it into the 2010 predictions.  But for 2009, 0 out of 10.

10 – Dawn of Darkfall

Darkfall did ship, but did not ship with the full list of promised features intact.  They suffered through launch issues like most MMOs, with things like skill exploits being closed off as time went along.  And they do appear to be walking the tightrope between PvP and other activities well for the time being.  You can argue amongst yourselves as to whether it is the second coming of Ultima Online or EVE Online in plate armor, but I’m taking 8 out of 10 points.

11 – Hero’s Slumber

Darkfall’s launch handed the MMORPG vaporware crown to Hero’s Journey which did not, as I predicted, ship in 2009.  That fact, however, was not the source of that much snarkiness that I could see, so 8 out of 10 points.

12 – Blizzard is Smarter Than You

I predict for Blizzard in 2009:

  • WoW Content patches – check
  • No WoW expansion – check
  • StarCraft II shipping – nope
  • StarCraft II and Diablo III news that will lead to whining – check
  • Info about their next MMO – nope

6 out of 10 points.

13 – The New Guys

Red 5 Studios, Carbine Studios, and 38 Studios provided practically no details about what they are working on.

On the other hand, I also said that nothing they announced would set the MMORPG market on fire.  Certainly saying little or nothing qualifies.  A point for that.

And MetaPlace looks unlikely to become a talent incubator for the next generation at this point.

1 out of 10 points.

14 – Heroes and Champions

This was a silly and complex set of predictions, all built in parody of NCSoft West President David Reid saying last year that Tabula Rasa was here to stay shortly before they announced it was being shut down.

Key predictions -

  • City of Heroes will shut down after David Reid announces things are going well – nope
  • Champions Online will launch in the Fall of 2009 – check (okay, Sept. 1 isn’t quite fall, but close)
  • David Reid will lose his job at NCSoft – check

6 out of 10 points.

15 – Tobolderized

No Toboldipedia or Toboldwiki created this year.  I blame Tobold’s summer break.

0 out of 10 points.

Results

The final count gives me 46 points out of 150, or 30.67% which, while abysmal, still beats last year’s 22%.

I think the Tobold predictions are dragging me down.  I may have to jettison him for 2010… or come up with something more plausible.

Now I just have to come up with some predictions for 2010!  Though right now, what I really want to predict is an over-the-counter decongestant that really works.  Stupid cold.

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Seeds of Destruction,” and did not include any of t

he features I speculated about.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 3 points out of 10 on that alone.

December in Review December 31, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, DS, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Sony Online Entertainment, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft.
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On Events in 2008

I sit here on the final day of 2008 looking back and saying, “WTF?”

Pirates of the Burning Sea set sail, but foundered.  Excellent ship to ship combat turned out to not be worth a monthly fee.

Age of Conan should have launched in March because it came on like a lion, but is now more like lamb in size and competitive vigor. (Or maybe a salt marsh harvest mouse.)  Folks in Oslo have since been heard saying things like, “Third time is a charm!”

Warhammer Online screamed “WAAAGH!” in September, but within six weeks the Mythic team was trying to consolidate its population rather than adding new servers, something that Mark Jacobs himself had previously said would be a sign they were in trouble.  Not that Mr. Jacobs is now saying they are in trouble, but I just love that quote as an example of things not to say. Meanwhile, even some WAR fanbois have changed their mind on the game.

Tabula Rasa, after a statement of support by NC West President of Publishing David Reid, was declared untenable just weeks later and slated to be closed at the end of February 2009.  The Bane issued a press release declaring total victory over the humans while General British, Colonel Blackthorn, and Major Miscalculation fled into space.  A blank slate indeed.

Sony Online Entertainment talked a lot about cool upcoming products, but shipped no new games.  Aside from two expansions and a lot of small content additions, the big headline of the year for SOE seemed to be, “EverQuest and EverQuest II: Now with RMT!”  While I won’t argue with Grimwell’s declaration of success on that front, the reaction seemed to me to be mixed.

All the while the Wrath of the Lich King seemed to be getting lukewarm support at best over the summer with many a blogger picking apart individual features or weighing the whole and declaring it “too little, too late” after nearly two years of waiting.  Then, as the day approached, people began filing back into Azeroth after their summer vacations in other lands.  On the ship date Wrath broke previous sales records set by The Burning Crusade, pushed WoW to a new subscriber peak (sure, just half a million people… small when compared to 11 million, but still more than almost any other subscription based MMO you care to mention has total.), and was generally declared wonderful by those who have enjoyed WoW in the past.

So screw convention wisdom, I’m going back to wild and crazy predictions.  Diablo III will generate more revenue than Toyota when it ships and StarCraft II will cure cancer and lead to the reunification of Korea.

The Site

I cleaned up the right hand bar quite a bit.  The most obvious piece that is missing is the counter for Feedburner.  I originally put it up there to encourage people to subscribe to the site via FeedBurner, since it offered some statistics.  However, most of the people who read the site via RSS use the WordPress.com feed, so the counter was displaying about 10% of my RSS readership.  Since WordPress.com has since added some minor stats about RSS, I decided to just remove the counter.  The FeedBurner feed is still live and will remain so, there just won’t be a link to it now.

One Year Ago

December 2007 seemed to be a busy time for the SOE.  First there was the whole “moving a whole guild from test to a live server” brouhaha.  Then there was the rumor of SOE being purchased by Zapak Digital Entertainment.  And, finally, there was the deal with Live Gamer to take over transactions on the Station Exchange servers, at which time Smed himself said that this did not mean that they were going to open the flood gates of RMT on any of their servers not currently served by SOE’s own Station Exchange RMT plan.  All of which I wrapped up in one post.

The yearly EverQuest Nostalgia Tour was off to the usual activities.

I put up my predictions for the “Next EverQuest II Expansion,” which I have yet to score.  I will have to get a post together comparing The Shadow Odyssey with my own guesses.

The Saturday Night Permanent Floating Instance Group was finishing up Blackrock Depths.

Dr. Richard Bartle brought up the “why so much fantasy” question for its regular beating to death.

I was interviewed over at World IV.  So far that is the only interview I have ever been asked to do.

I lost my first battlecruiser to pirates in EVE Online.  Meanwhile, after pissing away a lot of ISK on invention, I was not getting a lot of results.

And I bought a new gaming computer full of Quad Core goodness.

New Linking Sites

A big holiday thank you to these sites who link to The Ancient Gaming Noob.

Please take a minute to visit these sites, one of them may be your new favorite blog!

Most Views Posts in December

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Howling Fjord Quest Night
  5. Best MMO Expansion in 2008?
  6. Do You Name Your Ships?
  7. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  8. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  9. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  10. The Name Generator (which has nothing to do with #1)
  11. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?
  12. The Way Questing Used To Be

Best Search Terms

world of warcraft hot to get out of gnomergen
[A lot of people are]

which mmo
[A question that plagues so many of us]

new lego emperor
[That is what we all seek!]

Spam Comments of the Month

ignorant christmas wallpaper cell phone :PPP
[Not a random string at all!]

I use WoW code all the time as it saves time!
[added to my Know Your WoW Code post and linked to a gold seller.]

Deleted Comment of the Month

Die in a fire you ‘tard.
[Like almost all of the really hateful comments I get, this came from an EVE Online player.  The game inspires passion, both good and bad.]

EVE Online

EVE Has been quiet for me this month, not so much out of a lack of desire to play as a lack of time.  The first half of the month I was busy shipping a product before the holidays, and then came the holidays.  Still, I ran a mission or two, hauled freight when needed, kept production going, and brought in another pile of ISK.  Still no freighter though.

EverQuest

I have not played ANY EverQuest.  There has been no 2008 EverQuest Nostalgia Tour.   EverQuest II might be old enough now that it is suitable for nostalgia.  That certainly fits what I have been doing there.

EverQuest II

In Norrath I have been mostly involved with the adventures of Reynaldo Fabulous of Freeport, a swashbuckling berserker who has been cutting a swathe through the original level 1-50 content in EverQuest II.  With the support of his friends and his guild he has managed to get to level 52 and remain fabulous.

Lord of the Rings Online

The call of Moria seems to have hit Gaff.  Having a lifetime membership means I can pick that game up any time.  However, now he is talking about starting over on a new server.  Damn his eyes, I finally have horses on all my guys on the old server.

World of Warcraft

Holiday commitments and illness has kept the instance group from playing as often as usual.  Still, we are banging away in Northrend and expect full victory in Utgarde Keep any day now!

Coming Up

Santa delivered more than just LEGO kits to our house over the holidays.  There were also a few Wii and DS games that I will mention in future posts, though it seems at the moment that Cooking Mama II is the surprise DS hit with my daughter.

And, of course, tune in tomorrow for my predictions for 2009.  I’d better start working on them!

Scoring My 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations December 8, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, blog thing, entertainment, Humor, Misc MMOs, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Vanguard SOH, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft.
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6 comments

Back on January 1st, 2008 I posted ten MMORPG predictions.  These were meant to be outrageous, humorous and not very subtle jabs at some of the tepid, obvious, and vague predictions being made elsewhere about the state of the industry and its future.

But now the year has nearly passed and it has come time to do the accounting for my predictions.  I am not going to copy and paste the whole set of predictions into this post, but I will maintain the same titles and order, so you can compare the results to the original 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations list.

For the predictions, I am going to score each one out of a possible 10 points, so a prediction that is right on the money gets 10 points, while something completely wrong gets 0.  With a total of 10 predictions, that gives me a possible 100 points.

How close did I get?  Time to score the list!

1. Age of Conan

Funcom managed to avoid becoming major campaign issue in the 2008 US presidential elections.  Still, the boys from Oslo managed to screw up quite a bit without excess negative publicity, angry mobs, or government intervention.  I am going to give myself 4 points out of 10 just for predicting bad things happening with the game, even if they only led to layoffs as opposed to the complete dissolution of the company.

2. The Agency

The Agency did disappoint, if not in exactly the way I predicted.  It did so by simply not shipping.  Didn’t this game have a December 2007 ship date at one point?  Anyway, disappointment is disappointment, so I am going to be greedy and give myself 3 out of 10 points here.

3. BioWare

BioWare, EA, and LucasArts actually admitted that BioWare is making an MMO, and they even gave us a name.  Star Wars: The Old Replublic will be coming some time in the next decade or so it seems.  I was sure they were going to mess with our minds on this for at least another year on this, so 0 out of 10 points for me.

4. Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising

Nobody appears have picked up Rome Rising.  Not Mythic.  Not SOE.  Nobody.  0 out of 10 points.

5. Pirates of the Burning Sea

The first three words of my prediction, “While launching slowly…” were right on the money.

I think that gets me 3 points, one for each word.

The rest of prediction was garbage.  There was no surge of subscriptions in the UK, Spain, or France, certainly none large enough to influence gaming PC sales, nationalism in the three countries was not set afire by the game, and the summer of 2008 saw not one of these countries at war with another.

3 out of 10 points total.

6. Star Trek Online

The ghost of Gene Roddenberry may very well have possessed Daron Stinnett and taught him the true meaning of Star Trek, but a fat lot of good it will do anybody unless Daron passed that information along to somebody at Cryptic Studios, the team now working on Star Trek Online.  There was no return from the brink for Perpetual.  And so it goes.

Still, Star Trek Online is still alive and may still be able to prove (or disprove) that life in the 25th century is as dull as dishwater.  That fact alone has got to be worth 3 out of 10 points.

7. Tabula Rasa

My prediction that General British would be ganked in Tabula Rasa was completely turned on its head when Richard Garriott, in a surprise twist ganked NCSoft and fled the scene… hell, he fled the planet, at least for a while.  If only he had ganked them in a theater and had then fled to a warehouse so I could tie in the whole Lincoln/Kennedy thing.  Okay, maybe “ganked” is too strong a word, but nobody is coming away from Tabula Rasa smelling like a rose.  So there was some drama remotely related to something tangentially connected with something I predicted.  1 out of 10.

8. Vanguard

Brad McQuaid remained completely silent in 2008.  I have to give myself 0 out of 10 points on this one.  Honestly though, not having to read any more forum posts from Brad makes it worth being wrong.

9. Warhammer Online

I said I was not going to quote the original post, but I think I have to for this one.

Scared straight by the Conan debacle, Warhammer Online will slip further into 2008, and will only ship after the US presidential elections and the short war in Western Europe. While getting decent but not extravagant reviews, it will get a significant subscriber boost from players leaving other MMOs. This timing will allow Marc Jacobs to declare success immediately.

I am giving myself 8 points for that part alone.  My ship date prediction was a lot closer than Mythic’s first few guesses (not to mention being just six weeks off from the election), WAR certainly got a boost from people leaving other MMOs, and Mark Jacobs has not been shy about declaring success.

Mythic did not, however, adopt the “Mythic Ticket” subscription plan I predicted.  But given the end of the WAR launch euphoria, I have to imagine it might start looking like an attractive idea.  Plus, you cannot beat the name “Mythic Ticket.”  It makes “Station Access” sound like a low end cable TV package.

8 out of 10 points.

10. World of Warcraft

Blizzard shipped Wrath of the Lich King before the end of 2008, it was a huge success, it dwarfed past game sales records (also set by Blizzard), piled up huge revenues, and perhaps even saved PC gaming for another year or two.  I heard that a display of Wrath at a Best Buy in Ohio tipped over and the boxes fell into the shape of the Virgin Mary, which in turn healed everybody in the store.   I fear Tobold is going to have to keep his current job, as Michael Morhaime, Frank Pearce, and Rob Pardo are secure in their positions for the time being.  0 out of 10 points.

Total Score: 22 points out of 100

And a very generous 22 points at that.

But that is what you get when you go for outrageous and specific, which is why so many yearly predictions are tepid, obvious, or vague.  Some people prefer to be mostly right than patently wrong.  And since I set out to be patently wrong, I take those 22 points and as a condemnation that I was not outrageous enough in my predictions.

I will have to remedy that with my next round of MMORPG Progdictionations, coming January 1, 2009.

AoC-Daily.com May 24, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II.
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3 comments

For Age of Conan fans, the minds behind the EverQuest II news site EQ2-Daily.com have applied their knowledge to create a sister site devoted Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.

It is called, of course, AoC-Daily.com.

I do not know if, like EQ2-Daily, there will be an accompanying podcast, but it is a good place to start for a round up of Conan news and reviews.

Age of Conan: Hystarian Adventures May 22, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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22 comments

Do I have to get out my Senators jersey and take on the Darren role here?

On Tuesday I saw a quote declaring that “players don’t seem to be flocking to Age of Conan.” Yes, it was in the context of “Will Conan Kill Vanguard,” but still, it was freakin’ official launch day!

And then, in a rush to judgement, I see Tipa saying she was wrong and that Conan is a success, Genda saying that Conan will be chewing on WoW’s subscription numbers (focusing on that as yet unproven theory that WoW players want something new), while others are saying Blizzard had best put on their “A Game” now and show us something new if they want to remain the top dog.

All I can think is, can we at least get through the first full, live weekend, when most of the people who ponied up cash for the box will actually get a chance to sit down and play for an extended period of time, when the servers will actually get loaded up with players, before we start declaring success or failure?

MMOs are a long haul proposition.

Shut Up We’re Talking #26 May 20, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II, Podcasts, Vanguard SOH, World of Warcraft.
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Shut Up We’re Talking” one of the podcasts in the VirginWorlds Podcast Collective now has episode Twenty Six available.

For the show regular host, Darren of The Common Sense Gamer, was joined by:

Karen from Journeys with Jaye, officially starting her tenure as co-host
Scott from Pumping Irony
John, me, making my 8th trip to the microphone for SUWT

Topics:

  • Introductions
  • Show Sponsors – Completely ignored
  • What we’re playing
  • Listener Mail – From Seritaph
  • What’s Beta Got To Do With It? – In light of the AoC open and closed betas, we talk about what betas ought to be and what they ought not to be, inspired by posts at Keen & Graev’s and Bildo’s, plus my own crankiness on the subject.
  • Guild Hopping That Nobody’s Stopping – Primarily about WoW, with other games drawn in for comparison, we explore how to make a guild something more than a chat channel and a guild bank. Inspired by posts from Tobold, Potshot, Karen, and Cameron.
  • Demo That MMO – Some chat about the dynamics of MMO demos, how long should they last and what content should you get, brought up originally by Kanthalos at MMOre Insight.
  • Blog of the WeekOutland Bound
  • Out Takes – Only one this week… Darren left most of the incriminating stuff in the show

The show runs for one hour and seven minutes and you can get it here as well as via iTunes.

Another fine podcast done under the guidance of the polite barbarian and audio engineer Darren.

If you want to help support the show, digging it over at Digg.com couldn’t hurt!

I Want to be a Fanboy! January 29, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online, Misc MMOs, Star Trek Online.
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12 comments

I have the curse of the cynic.

In my life I have sat through pep rallies, sporting events, concerts, company team-building exercises, prayer meetings, and multi-level marketing seminars with groups of people who have been shouting, cheering, and immersed to the point of being practically overcome by what has been going on.

And there I am, somewhere in the middle, mildly detached from things, wondering in the back of my mind if whatever I am attending is going to end on time, what traffic is going to be like on the way home, and if I should finish off the rest of that pizza in the fridge before I go to bed or if I should save it for tomorrow.

That’s just me.

It isn’t that I despise this passion I see in others. I am quite envious of it.

And isn’t that I have not had passion for things in life myself. That passion just doesn’t come easily, it certainly does not come on command, and it definitely does not show up for anything that requires me to recruit friends and family into a sales network.

Still, I have hope.

I have something of a passion for online gaming, but no real passion right now for any particular game. I want to find a game that sparks my interest and imagination, one that will make me proudly wear the fanboy badge.

But where will I find this game?

I thought Star Trek Online might be it, but that seems to have fallen flat now. Plus I started off annoyed and opposed to some of the general directions the game was taking, and things just got worse from there.

Lord of the Rings Online had a chance. I love the books and two out of the three movies, but as much as I enjoyed the virtual tour of Middle-earth, I found the game itself tepid, something of interest but not passion.

So I found myself wondering last night about which future games might spark some passion in me?

Well, there are the usual suspects.

Age of ConanRobert E. Howard‘s works always left me a bit flat and the whole “M for Mature” thing is lost on me, seeming to be more of a bit of titillation intended to bring in younger gamers rather than keep them away. In the end, I could never really identify with Conan, and now the actor primarily associated with him is the governor of my state, further muddying the mental waters for me.

Warhammer Online – I didn’t like the table top game and, frankly, I dismissed World of Warcraft at first because it looked too much like Warhammer, so I start with a bias against on this game. Besides which, Warhammer seems to be camped by the PvP fanboys, all holding out hope for a mainstream PvP success. While I have wished for a true, immersive PvP experience, Warhammer does not look like it will break the PvP curse of “victory to those with the most free time.”

The Agency – Maybe… but maybe not. I am more of a John Le Carre or Len Deighton fan when it comes to the genre. I enjoyed “Sandbaggers” more than most Bond films. And couldn’t SOE have come up with a better name than “United Nations Intelligence and Tactical Experts?” While the game could be a lot of fun, the whole RMT thing might upset the tea cart.

Huxley – Somehow I do not see Webzen Games as a source of gaming passion.

Stargate Worlds – I do not really know the IP, but it is science fiction, and my moaning about the problems facing a science fiction MMO were drawn from my desire to play a good one. Maybe this one?

There are some possibilities, but no shoe-in candidates.

What else is out there? What else is coming? What might ignite some gaming passion?

2008 MMORPG Progdictionations January 1, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, Misc MMOs, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Trek Online, Vanguard SOH, World of Warcraft.
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It is the new year, a time when people assess what happened in the past twelve months and try to predict what will come in the next.

The past is a open book. We can quibble about the why and how, but the results are immutable: World or Warcraft went from huge to somewhat more huge, Vanguard stank on ice, and most of 2007′s most anticipated MMOs became 2008′s most anticipated MMOs.

The future though, that is virgin territory. Nobody really knows what is going to happen, and the truly wise keep their own council. Smarter and more knowledgeable people than myself are trying to foresee what is to come in 2008.

And even they shy from being too precise, seeming to channel more of Nostradamus than Jeane Dixon with predictions like “a game company will close down,” “another big name MMO will fail,” “some more former Blizzard employees will be mentioned in a press release about a new game studio,” and “Two countries will go to war, but only one shall be victorious.”

In that sort of environment, lukewarm predictions that follow the status quo, all the average player can be expected to make, are worth nothing.

The only resort for the silly and ignorant like myself is over the top!

With that in mind, here are my predictions for 2008:

1. Age of Conan

Funcom‘s Age of Conan will release on the promised March date, but their plan to make a more “adult” MMORPG will backfire horribly. They will go too far and Conan will actually spend several months as a major campaign issue in the 2008 US presidential election, only to be overshadowed in October by scientific evidence that Barak Obama is actually black.

Even in permissive European countries that sell children’a cough syrup laced with codeine over the counter, the public and governmental reactions to the graphic depictions of sex and violence in the game will make the team in Oslo really wish they had stopped after the /teabag emote.

Angry protesters will flock to their headquarters and the news will carry images of people holding up “/snuff funcom” signs. The more graphic commands, all taken straight from the game, will be too much for the news to display.

Later, after the company has been liquidated out from underneath them, the Funcom team will reminisce about how the Anarchy Online launch really wasn’t all that bad.

2. The Agency

The Agency, SOE’s spy-action MMO will disappoint all when it turns out to be an elaborate tie-in for the upcoming “Get Smart” movie. The game will be flat and lifeless and the NPC interactions will consist primarily of catch phrases from the movie. The missions will be entirely made up of scenes from the movie. This might have been okay, but the movie itself will bomb at the box office, with even Roger Ebert giving it a thumbs down.

A movie will show up on YouTube that purportedly shows John Smedley cutting off the tip of the little finger of his left hand before his superiors at Sony as atonement for this error. While the authenticity of the video is never verified (it is pulled from YouTube within 24 hours) the fact that nobody ever seems to see Smed’s left hand after that point leads to much commentary.

3. BioWare

BioWare will stay quiet for most of the year before finally admitting that they are not, in fact, working on an MMO and were just yanking out collective chains. A representative from LucasArts will confirm this and call us all “suckers.”

This will only spur greater excitement and speculation as to what kind of MMO BioWare is making.

4. Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising

After months of quiet, this game will appear in the news again after the rights, name, code, and all assets related to Gods & Heroes are purchased by Electronic Arts and placed under the EA-Mythic banner. Targeted for release in 2010, it is seen by some as a ploy by EA to beef up their MMO portfolio, but Marc Jacobs says that the essence of the game is sound and that it will be a solid, polished title by release, worthy of the EA-Mythic name.

5. Pirates of the Burning Sea

While launching slowly for the most part in the United States, Pirates of the Burning Sea will find a surprise and ardent following in Europe. Specifically in Britain, France, and Spain where the game will whip up a wave of nostalgic nationalism. The rate of subscription in these three countries will astound all observers and will drive demand locally for higher end PCs capable of running the game. The rivalries unleashed by the game will become so intense that by the end of the year two countries will go to war, but only one shall be victorious.

6. Star Trek Online

The ghost of Gene Roddenberry, propelled from its final resting point in space by the centrifugal force of the constant spinning brought on by Perpetual‘s actions, will possess Daron Stinnett and teach him the true message of Star Trek. Daron’s ability to faithfully articulate this vision will allow Perpetual to come back from the brink via a raft of new funding. Star Trek Online will become the darling investment of Wall Street.

The game produced, which will hit the shelves in 2010, will be a beautiful and deep simulation of life both in and out of Starfleet Command in the 25th Century. It will be hailed by critics and Star Trek fans alike. It will immediately attract a very strong following.

Unfortunately, that following will be too small to sustain the game, as life in the 25th century is only interesting to critics and Star Trek fans. The rest of us will ooh and ahh, then go back to playing something less beautiful but less boring.

7. Tabula Rasa

General British will end up getting ganked in Tabula Rasa before the end of 2008, as Lord British was in Ultima Online in 1997.

In a twist of fate common to bad fiction and end of year predictions, an investigation will show the following similarities between the two events that will stir up conspiracy theories and mystical pronouncements for years following the actions:

  • The names on the accounts of both gankers contained the same number of letters
  • Both gankers were born in ’78
  • Both gankers were Southerners
  • Both gankers were banned from the games before they could answer questions
  • Both victims were ganked on a Friday
  • Both victims were ganked from behind
  • Both victims had the same last name (British)
  • Both victims had, as some point, been warned about going to Dallas
  • Both victims were ganked in the presence of a “Blackthorn,” Lord Blackthorn in UO and Colonel Blackthorn in TR
  • Lord British was ganked in a castle and the attacker hid in a fortified campsite, while General British was ganked in a fortified campsite and the attacker hid in a cave in a mountain that, when viewed from the right direction and angle, looks like a castle

For years following the events, versions of this list, often with unverified additions, will be printed on T-shirts, mouse pads, posters, trading cards, and wall plaques.

8. Vanguard

The Return of Aradune! Brad McQuaid, having canvassed enough rest homes, bus stations, turnip trucking companies, and Ron Paul rallies, will reappear on the scene before mid-2008 and wrest the still struggling Vanguard from SOE.

Wrest might actually be too strong a word. SOE head John Smedley will protest publicly while quickly and quietly hanging the milestone that is Vanguard back around McQuaid’s neck.

The vision will be proclaimed again! Dozens will flock to the McQuaid banner and the subscriber base will double!

Then nothing will happen for two years and the whole thing will fall back in SOE’s lap again for a tiny fraction of the price for which they sold it.

9. Warhammer Online

Scared straight by the Conan debacle, Warhammer Online will slip further into 2008, and will only ship after the US presidential elections and the short war in Western Europe. While getting decent but not extravagant reviews, it will get a significant subscriber boost from players leaving other MMOs. This timing will allow Marc Jacobs to declare success immediately.

In order to keep interest up during the long delay before release, EA-Mythic will announce the “Mythic Ticket” subscription plan that will allow players access to all EA-Mythic online games, including Warhammer Online, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, and Gods & Heroes for a single monthly fee of $19.95.

10. World of Warcraft

The failure to ship the promised expansion, the Wrath of the Lich King, in 2008 will finally take the shine off of the land of Azeroth. While Asian numbers will remain healthy based on the strong PvP following and the late release of the Burning Crusade, a precipitous fall in subscriptions in the US and Europe and the consequent decline in revenue will put the fear of Wall Street into the corporate masters at Vivendi. Star Craft II will soften the blow some, but it will be released so late in the year that it won’t be able to make up for the droves of departing subscribers.

The team at Vivendi’s HQ will not swallow Rob Pardo‘s line about polish. They will want action and they will want it ASAP.

Michael Morhaime will be sacrificed to satisfy the financial markets and Vivendi will hire a top notch executive search team to find a replacement. The search will end when a proprietary computer algorithm reveals a single true match for the position.

Negotiations will commence. Offers and counter-offers will fly. In the end, the positions occupied by both Michael Morhaime, Frank Pearce, and Rob Pardo will be will be filled by Tobold.

The three former Blizzard execs will be the subject of an early 2009 press release about the formation of a new game studio.

[Addendum - The year has passed and my predictions have been scored here.]