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Items from the Mail Bag – Press Releases and Special Offers Edition April 8, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Mail Bag, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
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9 comments

Digging into the mail bag, another reminder that I haven’t felt inspired to write about much new of late.

Darkfall: Unholy Wait

Aventurine sent me the press release announcing that Darkfall: Unholy Wars would finally launch on April 16th, after a five month delay.

DFLOGO B-450

Back in September of 2012 they announced that the original Darkfall would shut down on November 15th to make room for Unholy Wars, which was slated to launch on the 20th of the same month.  And then… well… the Aventurine reputation needed to be maintain.  So here we are, seven months after that announcement, and the game should launch next week.

Now, the press release points out that this time was well spent, that much was learned from the beta.  We shall see next week.  Maybe.

Blizzard Remains Steadfast

After running out my seven free days of World of Warcraft, I remained on the fence about whether it would be worthwhile to subscribe or not.  And then, ten days later, I received an email from Blizz with a subject line asking me to resubscribe to the game.

WoWResubNow

I was intrigued.  I wondered if Blizz might sweeten the deal now that they had me thinking about the game.  A special offer might have been enough to tip the balance.

But there was no special offer.  It was just a link to the standard subscription page.  Blizz isn’t at a point right now where it feels the need to anything special to get people to come back.

Twitter Pushes Advertising

Twitter has decided that I am a small business and, as such, I need to advertise on their service.  So I received a whole stream of messages from them offering me a free $50 advance on my advertising.

TwitterAd

I have not taken them up on their offer, having no idea what I would even promote.

Mega Wars IV

Crimson Leaf Games, which recreated the classic CompuServe game Mega Wars III that I poked my nose into ages ago, has taken the idea a step further and created Mega Wars IV which includes a full graphical client done in Microsoft Silverlight.

MegaWars4

Interestingly, Stellar Emperor, the version of the game that ran on GEnie, which I have also covered, went this route in the early 90s, adding on a graphical client and updating the game, thus diverging it from what stated off as its twin, Mega Wars III.

Populist Wish Fulfillment

I keep getting press releases around a film titled Assault on Wall Street.  The synopsis for the picture is:

Jim is an average New Yorker living a peaceful life with a well paying job and a loving family. Suddenly, everything changes when the economy crashes causing Jim to lose his job, home and wife. Filled with anger and rage, Jim snaps and goes to extreme lengths to seek revenge for the life taken from him.

The poster shows the star, Dominic Purcell a pistol in one hand, a combat rifle in the other, with bullet riddled NYPD cars and SWAT teams deploying in the background.

So, yeah, gun violence.  I guess that takes Occupy Wall Street up a notch.  Let’s go kill the 1%!

Given that the only name I recognize in the cast is Eric Roberts, and that they are sending press releases to random gaming blogs, I am going to guess they couldn’t get any funding from those in the 1%.

World of Tanks Rolls On

Wargaming.net is very good about sending out regular press releases.  Two big things they have coming up are the World of Tanks 8.5 update, which includes more German tanks, redone maps, and changes to what non-premium accounts can do.  There is a preview over at The Mittani.

And then there is World of Tanks Blitz.

WoT_Blitz_Logo_800px

This is Wargaming.net’s attempt to bring World of Tanks to mobile platforms.  Featuring 7 vs. 7 battles, I will be interested to see how they translate their Windows shooter to that mobile world.

Items from the Mail Bag – Barrel Scrapings and the Like January 29, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Facebook, Mail Bag, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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10 comments

Mail bag was going to be a regular monthly feature, but frankly the mail I have been getting on the blog account really hasn’t been living up to the role.  Still, I do get something amusing now and again.  A pity none of it showed up recently, so this is all you get.

Three Kias, One Cup

The Kia Motors Overseas Communications Team ( 해외커뮤니케이션팀) wants me to go connect with their Facebook page so I can play a flash based tennis game featuring players that are, if I understand this correctly, anthropomorphized versions of their cars.  The SoulSorento, and Cerato to be specific.  Except I think that last one is sold as the Forte here in the US.

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

Totally not ripping off Disney/Pixar

All because Kia sponsors some aspect of the Australian Open… which is a tennis tournament.

I had to look that up.

I almost want to go play this, just to see how they get that lumpy Sorento to move its ass around the court.  But a surge of apathy has stayed my hand so far.

Still, don’t let me stop you!  You can find the page on Facebook here.  Just be quick, as the game only runs from January 16th through the 31st.  Of course, they only sent me this note on the 29th, so clearly my participation was not all the important.

Aventurine Fails Again

Aventurine sent me a “Media Alert” to invite me to come and explore the world of Agon, which I am afraid always brings up images of Larry Storch.

A little whackier than this though

A little whackier than this though

Unfortunately for Aventurine, all they actually had for me was a link to a dev diary video about their upcoming (some day) Darkfall: Unholy Wars reboot.

Then they listed out the price of the game ($14.95 if you are a Darkfall Online returning player or $29.95 (25% off) if you are new to this game) like they expected me, a member of the media (who else gets “media alerts” right?), to actually pay for it myself.  This is how you get 2/10 reviews.  (Though I still suspect there was a method to their madness.)

Haven’t we all learned by now that companies can get game journalists to degrade themselves and their profession with a few simple freebies?  Playing it straight is a mug’s game.

The Soda Sipping Inside Joke?

I keep getting press notices about a game called Soda Drinker Pro, but cannot tell if this is just the internet yanking my chain or not.  The quotes sound tongue in cheek.

Soda Drinker Pro is the most advanced soda drinking simulator ever created

While sites like Gamasutra have reprinted the press releases due to contractual obligations.

Mashable has a brief write up, but it still ends up sounding like an internet goof.

I have to think that the only reason I got this was that I have written about soda, and soda experiments, here in the past.

Somebody Sued Facebook

Which probably isn’t news, but the announcement showed up in my email.  It was something about sponsored stories.

Why did I get this notice? This Notice relates to a proposed settlement (“Settlement”) of a class action lawsuit (“Action”) filed against Facebook relating to a particular Facebook feature called “Sponsored Stories.” According to available records, you may be a “Class Member.”

What is the Action about? The Action claims that Facebook unlawfully used the names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users’ consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.

You can read more about it here.  If Facebook used your likeness without your consent, it could be worth a sawbuck to you.

Meanwhile if the suit succeeds the lawyers will all get paid for the hours they billed and Facebook will have to change their terms of service so that by accepting them you allow Mark Zuckerberg to do whatever he damn well pleases with your likeness.

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

Oh, Mark, you crazy!

So who is going to win here?

Raptr Has a List!

Raptr sent me a list of awards they made up and gave out for 2012 based on their game tracking stats.

  • Most Played New Game – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played Game (Released Anytime) – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Biggest Boost from User-Generated Content – Portal 2
  • Most Played Long-Awaited Sequel – Borderlands 2
  • No Bathroom Break – Borderlands 2
  • Most Played XBLA Game – Minecraft
  • Most Played New IP – Dragon’s Dogma
  • Most Successful Paid to Free-to-Play Game – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Some of those make sense, while others… I am not so sure.  The “Bathroom Break” bit probably relates to a measurement of play sessions, but how did they come up with “Long Awaited Sequel?”  Was Borderlands 2 really that long in showing up?  Relative to what?

Meanwhile, their last category almost always reflects a sentiment of “crap, we’d better mention MMOs!”  They used the same category as 2011, but this time they managed to combine it with an attempt to suck up to EA/BioWare.  Or does somebody think if you were going to mention MMOs that there weren’t other categories or titles you might choose?  “Most played MMO” or  GuildWars 2 certainly springs to my mind.

Anyway, you can read their full post here, which includes some additional details.

The Rest

Finally, I seem to be getting more and more messages asking me if I would like to come write for other sites.  These invites are rather transparent requests to please provide free content for such and such a site to exploit for ad revenue.

It is the sources of these requests that are getting more interesting.  I had one from a web media group from everybody’s favorite Germans, ProSiebenSat.1 and another from a group that purports to run the largest MMO gaming site in China.

All I can think is, “China?”  My Larry Storch jokes are probably too obscure for Cracked.com, how would they possibly play in China.

Anyway, send me something interesting that isn’t about your 99 cent iPhone app and maybe I’ll make fun of it.  As always, contact info is on the About page.

Darkfall: Unholy Wars is What Now? September 18, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs.
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9 comments

The story of Darkfall is a saga unto itself.

The game was initially announced back in August of 2001, a time frame I put into perspective this way back in 2008:

…in August 2001 Dark Age of Camelot was readying for release.  I was still playing EverQuest, which was on its second expansion (count now: 14), on my 400 MHz Pentium II system with a hot TNT2 based video card, having finally ditched the 3Dfx Voodoo2 configuration. And Duke Nukem Forever was only approaching its fifth year of not being available yet.

The game stayed in development, only starting to show signs of launching back in 2008, by which point there were plenty of people who viewed the game as vaporware, never destined to see the light of day.

The development history of the game has its own long section in the Wikipedia article.

The game promised a long list of features, which I copied into a blog post as a reminder to check against what was actually available at launch.  Of course, I never actually did that, because I never actually played the game, but I am going to guess somebody did.

And the game did launch!

It went live in Europe in February of 2009 and in North America in July of 2009, which opened up a whole new can of blog posts.

There was the great EuroGamer 2/10 review scandal, which gave SynCaine meat for a week’s worth of posts, plus an ongoing metaphor for crappy reviews, though I thought that the whole thing was a false flag operation to build community.

Then there was conflict about the mechanics of actually playing the game, which did not adhere to some of the past principles of MMO convenience.  Some of the things complained about were listed as features by Aventurine.

And then there was yet another Tobold vs. SynCaine face off over what counts as content when SynCaine declared that Darkfall had added more content in its first year than WoW had added in its first five. (Though neither of them knew the true powerhouse of content.)

Then things settled down and most people went back to not giving a damn about Darkfall.  Even SynCaine stopped playing.  There was peace in the world.  Or at least we found other things about which to bicker.

And then Aventurine decided to disturb the peace by announcing… something.

Oh, Darkfall: Unholy Wars… which has a feature list that sounds like a subset of… Darkfall.  So clearly I am missing something here.

  • Massive Land and Naval PvP Battles: Thousands of players can participate simultaneously in wars and sieges on land and sea, in real-time, on a single server.
  • A Huge, Seamless World: The world of Agon is a large open world that consists of both land and water and gives the freedom to players to uncover its hidden secrets.
  • Flexible Roles: Choose role at will, switching from meat shield to master mage to benevolent healer. Players can switch between roles, skills, spells, and ability boosters on the fly. Develop your skills in all roles and experience the game in a multitude of different ways over time or specialize in a single role and be the one your friends depend on to fulfill that calling.
  • Full Loot: You keep what you kill. Players can loot all of the goods from a slain enemy, and vice versa.
  • Persistence: Players can affect the fabric of the game world, constructing and fortifying cities across Agon and building empires that last as long as they can defend them.

Is this a rewrite of the original?  It sounds like a new game on the web site, though the features sound like the original.  I suppose there are some nice screen shots, but what else it is?

This, of course, ignited… something.  Well, SynCaine seems dutifully, if somewhat laconically, pleased.

Meanwhile, Tobold wasted no time trying to spark up the passion that has been missing lately in his relationship with SynCaine by trolling him as quickly as his fingers could type.  SynCaine may be evil, but he is our evil I guess.  (Though the “needs the money desperately” line seems awkward from somebody who himself has a donation button on his blog.  By that logic I guess I should thus assume that Tobold cannot afford coffee.)

And while those two warm to this new stage of their relationship, other people… well one other person… seems to be saying what I was thinking, which is probably best summed up as, “Huh?”

So, Darkfall… or Darkfall 2… or Darkfall: Unholy Wars…

What does it mean?

Rift Officially Launches Today, Though It Seems Like It Launched Last Week March 1, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs, Rift.
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16 comments

Rift officially launches today in North America for those who did not pre-order and get in on the head start last week.

Not a dye nor a floor wax

The game launches officially this Friday in Europe, purportedly because North Americans like game/movie launches on Tuesdays and Europeans like them on Fridays.

(Of course Pokemon Black and White is launching in the North America this coming Sunday, so maybe nobody told Nintendo about this.)

How will the official launch affect the game?  Did anybody who wanted to play Rift not pre-order?  Is anybody going, “Hey, it is launch day, I should go grab a copy?”  I guess at least Trion Worlds thinks somebody else is coming to the party, since they are adding another 31 servers it seems.

And while we’re talking about servers, what happened with the head start?  Why did the servers fill up so fast and necessitate the near doubling of the server count?  I read that the North American server count went from 17 to 39.  While you never know how many people are going to buy boxes off the store shelves, I would have thought that pre-orders would have been a literal known quantity.  They had to hand out keys for each one.  And the capacity of a single server likewise seems as though it ought to be a knowable number.

I am sure the calculation isn’t as simple as “pre-orders/single server capacity=servers required for the head start.”  But I find it hard to believe that it was so complicated that the calculation was off by nearly 100%.  Trion has not shown themselves to be dumb so far, so perhaps this artificial scarcity was part of the plan.  Or perhaps it is an attempt to stave off any ill effects from a potential drop in players when the initial 30 days runs out.

Subscription MMOs that reach their peak user base after the initial 60 days are a pretty rare breed.  And that number dwindles significantly if we stick to games that have launched since WoW.  The trend is towards server merges rather than splits and additions.  What post WoW game besides Darkfall has added servers after the 60 day mark?  Not counting games that went free to play of course, since they ceased to be subscription MMOs.

We’ll see over the next few months how Rift does in that regard.

Anyway, most of those playing the game seem to be very happy, if you leave out the server queues.  Syp could barely wait for launch day to declare the game a success.  SynCaine has hailed Rift as the first 3rd generation MMODarren is extolling how public Rift raids make for a wondrous community feel.

GameBreaker.tv even got a correspondent into Trion’s offices for a pre-launch tour.

And even though I am not playing the game, preferring to venture into the past, it almost feels like I am there because so many people I follow on Twitter felt the need to enable the option that tweets all their in-game achievements.  Tipa seems to be the most prolific in that regard, though I might have stopped following a few people when it started raining achievements like “A Rift No More” almost constantly.

Click on that, there is a picture attached of the achievement moment.

This seems to me to be, perhaps, one of those “just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should” sort of features.  You can, by comparison, tell Facebook to stop showing you FarmVille message.  For Twitter though, everything is equally important. (Or unimportant.)

Overall though, Rift seems to be both good and a good thing.  As I said in my post about my beta experiences, there wasn’t anything there that I disliked.  I just didn’t find anything that differentiated the game from my other choices for me to feel like joining in on the launch.

Of course, my enthusiasm for jumping into EverQuest instead of Rift probably says much more about me than about either game.

Anyway, to those who are playing, and to team at Trion Worlds, enjoy a happy and fun launch!

Reviewing My 2010 Predictions December 24, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, blog thing, Diablo III, Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Facebook, Lord of the Rings Online, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft.
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9 comments

Oh yeah, I made a bunch of crazy predictions back in January, didn’t I?

For some reason last year I changed my predictions format from a set of paragraph long generalizations to a series of one line, very specific (well, mostly) guesses at the future.  I think I was pressed for time and the humor muse had not bothered to visit.  Plus it was always hard to score those paragraphs, especially since I seemed to insist on points. (I have accounting in my background, I must quantify everything!)

Now, of course, we’re here at the end of the year and I have discovered the flaw in my plan; I need to go figure out whatinthehell I got right or wrong.  And there are like a bunch of them, some of which I have not bothered to pay attention to and others about which I really didn’t give a damn in the first place but was trying to get to a 200 point total for some maniacal round-number reason.

Anyway, what’s done is done.  Next year I think I am going to go back to big predictions and a pass/fail model.  Or something.

I started on this Thanksgiving weekend and, because of apathy, I haven’t found all the answers yet.  Fortunately, other people have started posting their prediction results, so I can crib from that a bit.  Plus I’ll make you, the reader, correct my mistakes.  How about that?

So let’s see how good that cold medication was last December.  What did I predict?

Predictions for Blizzard in 2010! (5 points each)

  • StarCraft II – Will ship second quarter 2010 – Missed by 27 days, 0 points
  • Cataclysm – Will ship fourth quarter 2010 – A pretty safe guess, 5 points
  • Cataclysm – Will beat WotLK’s 24 hour sales record – Yes indeed.  I do wonder how much digital pre-orders helped.  5 points
  • Diablo III – Will not ship in 2010 – Another safe one, in my opinion, 5 points
  • New MMO – An announcement at BlizzCon with the usual Blizzard mystery build-up – Nothing at BlizzCon, 0 Points

15 out of 25 points

Big Miss – RealID and Battle.net focus?  I’m not sure those were that big in the end.

Sony Online Entertainment predictions! (5 points each)

  • Planetside – Dead by December – Still alive… barely… but I always thought that The Agency had to come online before it went. 0 points
  • Norrath – Official details about the next Norrath based MMORPG some time in 2010 – We artist conceptions and some vague information, so I’m claiming 3 out of 5 points
  • Norrath – The next Norrath based MMORPG won’t be called EverQuest III – Do we have that in writing? No? 0 points
    EverQuest II – All digital distribution after the February expansion – I don’t see Destiny of Velious listed at Amazon.com, so I’m taking this as a yes. – 5 points.
  • EverQuest – The next round of server consolidation will happen, and it will be a good thing – And so it was.  I should have predicted it for EQII as well. – 5 points
  • The Agency – Won’t ship in 2010 – Saying The Agency won’t ship is like betting against the Cubs, and no, the Facebook game does not count – 5 points
  • PlayStation 3 – SOE still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010 – The put Free Realms on the Mac, but no PS3 support yet.  They’ve been talking about stuff on the PS3 since E3 in 2008 at least… go listen to VW Podcast #125… and still nothing.  You guys at SOE work for the PlayStation people now, right? – 5 points

23 out of 30 points

Big Miss – A free to play version of EQII

What will EA do? (5 Points each)

SWTOR – Not in 2010, no no no. – Another safe bet – 5 points

WAR – Won’t die in 2010, but won’t magically spring back to life either.  It will just trudge on with enough resources to keep it going and improve it slightly, but not enough to change anything dramatically. – Vague enough for 5 points

10 out of 10 points

Big miss – Umm… Lord of Ultima?  Was there a UO expansion or something?

Turbine predictions (5 points each)

  • LOTRO – Next expansion, announced in 2010, will be the Riders of Rohan! – Isengard, not Rohan – 0 points
  • LOTRO – Riders of Rohan will feature real mounted combat – 0 points
  • DDO – Continued success under the free to play banner with a push into some overland content – vaguely fulfilled – 1 point
  • New – We’ll hear about Turbine’s next project in 2010. – Not so much – 0 points

1 out of 20 points

Big Miss – LOTRO going free to play

CCP Predictions (5 points each)

  • Station ambulation – Still just a myth in 2010 – Again, like betting against the Cubs – 5 points
  • Dust 514 – Not for 2010 – What was that? – 5 points
  • EVE – Two Content Releases, don’t we always get two a year? – Well, we got 1.1 expansions - 2 points
  • EVE – Tech III ships will finally become common enough that you might actually see one now and again. – I have one and, while flying it, have ended up at a jump gate with another, is that common enough? – 5 points

17 out of 20 points

Big Miss – What was the big CCP story this year?

Runic Games (5 points each)

  • An inexpensive expansion will be released for Torchlight to keep funding going for Runic’s MMO – Nope – 0 points
  • Runic will give us some concrete details about said MMO – Nope – 0 points
  • That MMO won’t ship in 2010 – Well, they didn’t announce it, so 0 points
  • But said details will make some pundit say, “Wow, that’s what Dungeon Runners should have done.” – 0 points

0 out of 20 points.  I thought they would move faster than they are.

Big Miss – Multiplayer Torchlight, sort of the interim step between the first game and the MMO.

NCSoft (5 points each)

  • Aion – Going to seem like a replay of Lineage II, popular in Asia, less so in the west.  Still, it will have enough customers to keep going.  Given how readily NCSoft shuts things down, that will be saying something. – Um, I can’t even answer that – 0 points
  • GuildWars 2 – Not for 2010 – 5 points
  • PlayStation 3 – NCSoft still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010 – I guess I can let that old SCEA/NCSoft agreement die now – 5 points

10 out of 15 points

Other Titles (5 points each)

  • Darkfall – Will continue walking the tightrope between hardcore PvP focus and giving players something to do when they aren’t actively engaged in battle.  Slow growth with at most a single server added to the game for 2010. – Sounds vaguely right, but SynCaine will correct me – 5 points
  • Star Trek Online – Won’t disappoint Trek fans, but we’re all co-dependent on the franchise after years of reckless treatment by the studio.  We’ll all still be there after the first 30 days playing with our pre-order bonus items.  The rest of you people though… – I stopped playing, so there is a big claim I missed - 0 points
  • Hero’s Journey – It was best of show at E3 in 2005, but it will still be a no-show in 2010. – Like betting against the Twins – 5 points (Amusingly, Simutronics now has a somewhat whiny entry in their Hero Engine FAQ about Hero’s Journey, saying that the work for it is all in the Hero Engine so stop bugging them about it already.  Anyway, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the eventual showcase for their work, pretty much the make or break I’d guess.)

10 out of 15 points

MMO Industry

The following people will have new companies and new projects announced in 2010 (2 point each):

  • Mark Jacobs – No word here – 0 points
  • Richard Garriott – Some awful Facebook thing – 2 points
  • Bill Roper – Still at Cryptic doing… something – 0 points
  • Brian Green – Umm… The Fae’s Wyrd was a project, right?  – 2 points
  • Scott Hartsman – Rift, about which so many are talking of late – 2 points

6 out of 10 points

One of the following companies will announce their first/next project, and it won’t be an MMO (5 points):

  • Aventurine – no announcement
  • Carbine Studios – no announcement
  • Red5 Studios – Firefall – it is an online, co-op shooter, so not really a traditional MMO –   5 points
  • Simutronics – no announcement
  • Turbine – No announcement

5 points

One of the following people will move to Canada (5 points):

  • Scott Jennings
  • Mark Jacobs
  • Brian Green
  • Scott Hartsman
  • Richard Bartle
  • Alan Crosby
  • David Reid

Isn’t there some Canadian sovereign territory at Disneyland?  No?  0 points

Spurious Logic Random neurons firing for the following guesses.

Most subscription MMOs that sell vanity items like pets or appearance gear will sell custom mounts by the end of 2010.  WoW and EQ2 will be the benchmark. (5 points) – erm… can’t really say yes to that – 0 points

“Yahtzee” Croshaw will review exactly ONE muh-more-puh-gah on Zero Punctuation during 2010, and it will be Star Trek Online.  He won’t like it (duh) but the Trekkie humor will be too much for him to resist doing a review. (5 points) – Nope, 0 points

We will find out that the following people will be appearing or doing voice work in the Warcraft movie (IMDB  shows no actors as of this date – 1 point each):

  • Jack Black
  • William Shatner
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Ben Stein
  • James Earl Jones
  • John Ratzenberger
  • Bruce Campbell
  • Sarah Silverman
  • David Spade
  • Lucy Lawless

Nothing – No cast announcements yet.  IMDB puts it as a possible 2013 release – 0 points

0 out of 20 points

Total Points

My first pass, hand-waving total is 97 out of 200 points.

Not bad for my mix of obvious slam-dunks and way off the reservation guesses I suppose.

Now, I will look to comments for corrections and will post an updated score once people point out that I was really wrong about those 97 points and that my total should be much lower.

So correct me already.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a less intensive set of predictions for next year.

May in Review May 31, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, World of Warcraft.
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2 comments

The Site

As predicted, the disruption of being laid off meant less posts.  Theoretically, I have much more time in which to write.  However, I had a writing routine which is broken without the whole job thing around which it was structured, leading to less writing over all.

Well, less blog writing.  I’ve been writing lots of email, updating my resume, writing cover letters, and so on.  So the amount of writing I’m doing is going up over all.  You just don’t see as much of my output now.

My mother was also out to visit recently, which really has nothing to do with the site, but gives me an excuse to post a picture.

Authenticators Three

It turns out that while my mother, myself, and my daughter all have Blizzard authenticators, we all have different ones.  I am sure there is somebody out there who collects this sort of thing and who is saying, “Hey, where did you get that middle one?”

One Year Ago

It was just a year ago when I was able to expose the true conspiracy behind the EuroGamer Darkfall review.  Powerful forces have been suppressing this story ever since.

Meanwhile, EverQuest was celebrating its 10 year anniversary by putting up a new server.  Polled on what it should be, people chose the 51/50 rule set.  I’m sure that, somehow, that say something about MMOs and nostalgia.  And did anybody go play on that new server?  How did it work out?

I went back and played some Blizzard classics, Diablo II and StarCraft, both of which have patches now that mean you do not need the CD to play.  This was prompted by Blizzard’s pushing people towards Battle.net and the announcement of the opt-in for the StarCraft II beta.  I opted in right away.  I hear that some people got in to the beta almost a year later. *cough*

In New Eden, it was new ship time, as I picked up both an Orca and a Buzzard.  I also managed to lose my Cerebus.   Oops.

And speaking of EVE Online, it was a year ago that I announced my one year experiment, EVE Online Pictures.  That site is now two years old.

The instance group was moving along slowly.  We did hit Azjol Nerub, but vacations and such kept us down to four people, so we spent a bit of time back in Burning Crusade doing heroics and generally messing around.  That included our run into Ogrimmar to do Ragefire Chasm.

And a year ago Playboy’s “Massively Casual Online Game” Playboy Manager was announced.  The game was supposed to launch in the summer of 2009 according to the press release.  The site for the game is still there (go Google it) but it still mentions signing up for beta invites.  Casual might refer to the development plan I guess.

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  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Pokewalker Twinking
  4. Battle of the Immortals – Key Features
  5. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  6. Starting Fresh in Middle-earth Three Years Later
  7. So This is Where EQII Marketing is Headed
  8. April Fools at Blizzard
  9. TTH Picks the Top Ten PvP MMOs
  10. The Agency… on Facebook
  11. Re-Entering Middle-earth
  12. Of Server Merges, Memorial Dings, Vanity Mounts, and Predictions

Search Terms of the Month

freeport housing looks like shit
[Well, I hear the Halas housing is much better.]

how do i hack the arceus event
[I make a pokewalker cheat and this is what I get?]

MLB dugout blueprints
[I'm calling homeland security on this one.]

white mouse
[My first thought was, "Seriously?"  But it turns out the site is the number one response when you search Google images for "white mouse."  Go figure.]

Spam Comment of the Month

Tom Cruise is a fudge packer
[This was on a Pokemon post.  Again, go figure.]

EVE Online

The wormhole expedition seems to be back on.  Potshot has been leading on this, and has a couple of posts on the subject. (In order, Spaaace, Parking, Defenses, and Room.)  I opted-in by taking my pile of ISK and buying a couple of PLEX so I could be around to help out and still keep up my embargo on new expenses.  I also trained up Starbase Defense Management so I could man the guns should it come to pew-pew.

Lord of the Rings Online

I have a couple of posts backed up on LOTRO.  I have been playing my two new characters on Firefoot.  They are both past level 25 at this point and it feels like I could keep going at a moderate pace and make my goal from last year of at least seeing Moria.  Then again, things could flatten out.  We’ll see.

Lord of Ultima

A friend of mine thought Lord of Ultima looked neat, so I joined him in playing.  He has since stopped, but I plug along.  I am WilhelmIV on World 3.  It isn’t really anything like the Ultima series up to and including Ultima Online.  It is more like Evony without the ads, scams, and stolen artwork.  I’m about ready to build a castle, which makes you open to attack, to see how quickly I will get wiped out.  I am surrounded by BioWare Edmonton players.

World of Warcraft

After throwing out tons of different ideas and possible alternative games, it sounds like we are going to press on with our team of horde characters on Lightninghoof and see if we cannot blast through the Outlands doing only random instances via the dungeon finder.

Nintendo DS/Wii

Pokemon is still in play.  My daughter and I are both in Kanto now, another item I should post about, since we managed it in very different styles.  I was disappointed to find that Pokemon Ranch does not work with HeartGold and SoulSilver, and I am going to guess that Pokemon Battle Revolution is likewise incompatible.

While we have a new, favorite disk for the Wii, I will write about that later.

And we pulled out Wii Fit, which my wife got for her birthday in 2009 (she asked for it!).  The body evaluation section of the program declared my daughter obese.  We had to go in and change her profile.  She had grown over 7 inches since we last played.  Once fixed, she was again at the skinny end of healthy.

Coming Up

More sporadic posting, and it will get worse before it gets better, as once I get a new job (please!) there will be coming up to speed with the new position and the eventual creation of a new routine which may allow even less time to write, like if I get that job over in Emeryville for which I applied.  I would end up spending a lot more time commuting and a lot less time writing in that case.

But I should always have time for at least the weekly instance group write-ups.  We shall see what the future brings.

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.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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?

2010 MMORPG Progdictionations January 1, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, blog thing, Diablo III, Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
8 comments

MMORPG predictions, now in its third year here at TAGN.

Having done the same thing for both 2008 and 2009 predictions, I thought I would change it up a bit and go for a series of short, sharp, and easily scored predictions for 2010.

Yes, I still have that cold I mentioned the other day, so I’m not feeling very creative at the moment.

Of course, other people are putting out their predictions for next year, so I am putting this sentence in as a place to link to them as their posts show up.

See!  Creativity, out the window!  On with the floor show!

Not Nine, Just Six

Polar Bear in a Blizzard

My quick predictions for Blizzard in 2010! (5 points each)

  • StarCraft II – Will ship second quarter 2010
  • Cataclysm – Will ship fourth quarter 2010
  • Cataclysm – Will beat WotLK’s 24 hour sales record (early 2012 prediction: whatever follows Cataclysm won’t do as well)
  • Diablo III – Will not ship in 2010
  • New MMO – An announcement at BlizzCon with the usual Blizzard mystery build-up

Every Station but PlayStation

Sony Online Entertainment predictions! (5 points each)

  • Planetside – Dead by December
  • Norrath – Official details about the next Norrath based MMORPG some time in 2010
  • Norrath – The next Norrath based MMORPG won’t be called EverQuest III
  • EverQuest II – All digital distribution after the February expansion
  • EverQuest – The next round of server consolidation will happen, and it will be a good thing
  • The Agency – Won’t ship in 2010
  • PlayStation 3 – SOE still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010

Electronic Arts and Science

What will EA do? (5 Points each)

  • SWTOR – Not in 2010, no no no.
  • WAR – Won’t die in 2010, but won’t magically spring back to life either.  It will just trudge on with enough resources to keep it going and improve it slightly, but not enough to change anything dramatically.

Turning the Turbine

(5 points each)

  • LOTRO – Next expansion, announced in 2010, will be the Riders of Rohan!
  • LOTRO – Riders of Rohan will feature real mounted combat
  • DDO – Continued success under the free to play banner with a push into some overland content
  • New – We’ll hear about Turbine’s next project in 2010.

Glory to the CCCP!

(5 points each)

  • Station ambulation – Still just a myth in 2010
  • Dust 514 – Not for 2010
  • EVE – Two Content Releases, don’t we always get two a year?
  • EVE – Tech III ships will finally become common enough that you might actually see one now and again.

Leading by Torchlight

(5 points each)

  • An inexpensive expansion will be released for Torchlight to keep funding going for Runic’s MMO
  • Runic will give us some concrete details about said MMO
  • That MMO won’t ship in 2010
  • But said details will make some pundit say, “Wow, that’s what Dungeon Runners should have done.”

NCSofties

(5 points each)

  • Aion – Going to seem like a replay of Lineage II, popular in Asia, less so in the west.  Still, it will have enough customers to keep going.  Given how readily NCSoft shuts things down, that will be saying something.
  • GuildWars 2 – Not for 2010
  • PlayStation 3 – NCSoft still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010

Other Titles

(5 points each)

  • Darkfall – Will continue walking the tightrope between hardcore PvP focus and giving players something to do when they aren’t actively engaged in battle.  Slow growth with at most a single server added to the game for 2010.
  • Star Trek Online – Won’t disappoint Trek fans, but we’re all co-dependent on the franchise after years of reckless treatment by the studio.  We’ll all still be there after the first 30 days playing with our pre-order bonus items.  The rest of you people though…
  • Hero’s Journey – It was best of show at E3 in 2005, but it will still be a no-show in 2010.

MMO Industry

The following people will have new companies and new projects announced in 2010 (2 point each):

  • Mark Jacobs
  • Richard Garriott
  • Bill Roper
  • Brian Green
  • Scott Hartsman

One of the following companies will announce their first/next project, and it won’t be an MMO (5 points):

  • Aventurine
  • Carbine Studios
  • Red5 Studios
  • Simutronics
  • Turbine

One of the following people will move to Canada (5 points):

  • Scott Jennings
  • Mark Jacobs
  • Brian Green
  • Scott Hartsman
  • Richard Bartle
  • Alan Crosby
  • David Reid

Spurious Logic

Random neurons firing for the following guesses.

Most subscription MMOs that sell vanity items like pets or appearance gear will sell custom mounts by the end of 2010.  WoW and EQ2 will be the benchmark. (5 points)

“Yahtzee” Croshaw will review exactly ONE muh-more-puh-gah on Zero Punctuation during 2010, and it will be Star Trek Online.  He won’t like it (duh) but the Trekkie humor will be too much for him to resist doing a review. (5 points)

We will find out that the following people will be appearing or doing voice work in the Warcraft movie (IMDB  shows no actors as of this date – 1 point each):

  • Jack Black
  • William Shatner
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Ben Stein
  • James Earl Jones
  • John Ratzenberger
  • Bruce Campbell
  • Sarah Silverman
  • David Spade
  • Lucy Lawless

Total Points

If I count correctly, that should be 200 points total at stake.  I’m a little woozy at the moment, so I wouldn’t put money on it, but we’ll call it 200 for now.

If history is an accurate predictor of success I will probably get 40-60 points total.

Check back in December 2010 to see how I did.

In the mean time, what do you think will happen in 2010?

THE ULTIMATE CONTENT!!! December 19, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , , , , ,
23 comments

SynCaine and Tobold can bicker all they like about whether Darkfall has actually added more content in its 10 months since launch than World of Warcraft has in its five year history.

But they are like ANTS arguing over the relative merits of CRUMBS in my eyes!

Their talk of “sandboxes” and “amusement parks” are just a smokescreen to hide the complete insignificance of their positions relative to what I am about to reveal to you!

Truly, this revelation may be so shocking that I have to hide it behind a “more” link.

Take a deep breath, but only click through if you are prepared to have your view of the gaming world turned upside down and give a fierce shake!

The most awesome force in the gaming world is…

(more…)

EuroGamer: Darkfall Agent Provocateur? May 8, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, Misc MMOs.
Tags: , , ,
19 comments

By now you have certainly read about EuroGamer’s review of Darkfall which was riddled with hyperbole, inconsistencies, and factual errors.  You may have also seen Aventurine’s response and how solidly EuroGamer stood up to it, pointing out that the reviewer wasn’t actually a staff writer and offering to have somebody they, you know, actually trust re-review the game.

It seems a pretty cut and dried journalistic screw up.  A lone reviewer (how many hours did he play?) cuts corners and gets called out, end of story.

But to those of us who have experience in the shadow world of deception and conspiracies and who don’t take these things at face value, there is much more here than meets the eye.  This was quite clearly a false flag operation.

And what would Aventurine have to gain by such an operation?  Clearly, there are two obvious wins.

1. Further solidification of the of the Darkfall community

2. Inoculation against further negative reviews

For the first point, the Darkfall community has spent most of its time under siege.  Years of delays and being declared “vaporware” has driven the weaker members from the Darkfall flock and forged a small and dedicated fan base.  They have been the foot troops in the public relations war that Aventurine has waged… if somewhat haphazardly… for the last few years.  It is surprisingly easy to be fanatical in the name of a game that is not live yet.

But now Darkfall is real.  The game is live.  People are playing.  Aventurine has tried to keep the player base pure by creating a false shortage.  You cannot just pick up Darkfall off the shelf at Fry’s.  No, you must run the web gauntlet in order to obtain one of the rare spots in the game.

But this has not been enough.  There has been some unrest in the ranks.  The less hard core have managed to get into the game and have begun to express their dissatisfaction.  Aventurine has seen what happens when your hard core fans lose their edge.  They not doubt witnessed how so many of the “Warhammer Faithful” turned on the game after launch.

What they needed was an external crisis, an attack on the game, something they could use to rally the troops.

So the masters at Aventurine contrived to have a major European (because they view that as their base) gaming site, EuroGamer, to give them not just a low score, but a low score based on a review written as though it were meant specifically to incite the Darkfall player community.

Did Aventurine attempt to refute anything said in the EuroGamer review?

No, they just trotted out some server logs (which they control) that indicated the reviewer spent approximately two hours playing the game, and that most of that time was spent in the character creator.  The errors did not matter.  The community would take care of that.  Aventurine just needed to sew the seeds of doubt.  EuroGamer responded that the reviewer says he spent about 9 hours playing the game, but then the review itself talks about how the game progresses after the 10 hour mark, creating a huge credibility gap.  Was it around 2, almost 9, or more than 10?

And so the Darkfall community has been up in arms, united (as Aventurine planned) in the face of this outrageous attack on their game.

The second point, while a bit more subtle, is no less important.  With this review, EuroGamer has effectively inoculated Darkfall against further such reviews.  The EuroGamer piece was so palpably bad that people who do not play Darkfall have called them out on it.  It was so over the line that it does not matter what sort of review Darkfall gets from anybody going forward.  Certainly a good review would help them, but anything negative will be now be dismissed as more bias, and half-hearted bias at that, since nobody will write anything down at the level of this obvious shot at Darkfall.

Anything negative will be shrugged off as “another EuroGamer” by the core Darkfall fanbase and any other review will probably look good compared to the EuroGamer review for the mildly disinterested people outside of the community.  Of course the Darkfall haters will pick up on any new negative review, but they will likely have supported the EuroGamer review themselves, and are thus discredited as biased.

So Aventurine’s operation appears to have been a success.  Only the details of the actual operation, secret by necessity, remain in doubt.

Was Ed Zitron Aventurine’s inside man or just a patsy?  Did he act alone?  Or was it somebody at EuroGamer pulling the strings?

Certainly EuroGamer and Aventurine both act like they want you to believe this “lone reviewer” theory.

But there is much to suggest EuroGamer complicity if not outright control of the whole process..  A conspiracy there could have easily pushed Mr. Zitron in the right direction, given him the editorial attitude of the organization, pressured him with aggressive deadlines, and even edited his review and screen shots to maximize the anger of the Darkfall community.  It seems unlikely that Mr. Zitron could have manipulated his editors in that direction.  And you can see the way that EuroGamer hung him out to dry.  He wasn’t a staff writer.  We’ll get somebody we trust to re-review the game.  We’ll make this right!

And of course EuroGamer benefits from all of this controversy, maybe even more so than Aventurine.  All those page views.  All those unique visitors.  The big boost to their page rank.  On a site that is obviously financed, at least in part, by ad revenue, these are all the right moves.  All they had to do was hire somebody from the outside who would do their dirty work for them, somebody expendable to the organization.

And so much the better if the person in question has a history of negative reviews.  Somebody you can trust to make a scene. Somebody whose Wikipedia page was deleted for being pretty much at attack on him and his character.

All we need is a smoking gun.  A way to link the conspirators together.

Yes, we have this picture of three EuroGamer editors being hauled in by the local police for littering during the “Athens Event.”

Taken into custody

They are dressed like game magazine editors...

And then there is Mr. Zitron’s work with the “Free Play for Moria” committee and its alleged connections to NC Soft which needs to be explored.

threevaga

Mr. Zitron seated on the left with fellow committee members

And if you go look at the list of anagrams that can be made from the name “Aventurine” you will see “Van Uterine,” which turns out to be one of the online handles used by a highly placed member of the EuroGamer staff.  (Plus the fact that the word “urine” is right there in Aventurine’s name!  Hah!  Darkfall, however, only comes up with “Lard Flak.”  I am not yet sure if that is significant.)

Quite clearly there is more going on here than a simple bad review!

There are those who will say I am seeing things that are not there.  But this has to be a setup!  Can’t you see that the government is reading your mail nearly everybody in this cabal got exactly what they wanted.

Aventurine got community cohesion and protection from further negative reviews. (And who knows, maybe even a follow up good review from EuroGamer… anything higher than a 6 would be a reason to declare total victory.)

EuroGamer got some Euros from all that traffic and got to wash its hands of the review at the same time.

Even Mr. Zitron got a public platform from which to rant and a bit of internet fame… something he probably thought he wanted until it was too late.

We have to work on this!  We must find the evidence to crack this conspiracy!  I already have a message in to Dave Emory on this.  We need somebody with Dave’s body of work and experience helping us smoke out the real story!

This is what real bloggers are about!

(And if you believe I am serious about this, I know where you can get a good car on Craig’s List for cheap as well!)