What Happened To 2006?

The last 12 months went by and ended with me playing pretty much the same games I was a year before.

In December 2005 I played a lot of EverQuest II, a little World of Warcraft, and dabbled a bit back in EverQuest.

In December 2006 I played a lot of EverQuest II, a little World of Warcraft, dabbled a bit back in EverQuest, and trained skills in EVE Online.

In between, both a lot and nothing much at all happened.

I stopped played EverQuest II for 10 months, with the exception of a 10 day free pass I got in June, which seemed to coincide with the height of the server issues, at least on Crushbone.

I nearly bought Dungeons and Dragons Online, but then I read the copy on the box and put it back on the shelf.  I hate to encourage lying, but when you cannot even get me to buy the box, you are in trouble.

I played the free trial for City of Heroes and tried to play the trial version of Saga of Ryzom, but neither did much for me.

I alternated between anger at and interest in Lord of the Rings Online.  The comments about it in Massively Online Gamer episode 44 has put me back in interested mode.

I started writing a gaming blog because it seems to be more fun to bore strangers than my guild mates.

I trained up 3.5 million skill points in EVE-Online.

High Points of 2006

Podcasts – I had avoided podcasts up until mid-way through 2006.  I was afraid they might be something like pre-recorded versions of public access television. (Okay, some are.)  Sony putting out the SOE podcast got me to try out listening and whetted my appetite.  I then went to iTune in search of more MMO related podcasts and picked out VirginWorlds, which in turn ran a podcast review episode, and now I get cranky during my commute when I run out of podcasts. (As opposed to getting cranky during my commute because my iPod lost my spot in an audio book over night.  Not a big deal for 2 hour abridged crap, but when I lost my spot for the third time in the unabridged version of “The Gulag Archipelago” I was about ready to scream.)

Echoes of Faydwer – Not so much for the expansion its content, though that is great, but because the release of EoF may well be marked as the point at which EverQuest II was really ready for prime time.  The endless series of changes that went with year one and the frustrating server problems that plagued a good portion of year two have finally settled down.  Go forth and quest!

World of Warcraft – It is polished to a glossy sheen.  Or at least it was when I started playing.  My account dates back from early 2005, should they start handing out veteran rewards, but I did not really begin to play until the end of 2005.  WoW accommodates about 60% of my play style and needs.  I love that you are really never lost for what to do next.  It is too bad that there is very little to do if you stray from the well developed, easy to follow, highly polished paths Blizzard has laid down for you.  Still, there are a few path choices and with the 5 person instance group I have been able to explore one that most people do not get to see. (At least at the appropriate level.  I have a level 60 friend who keeps telling me she’ll run me through all these instances.)

Low Points of 2006

World of Warcraft Patcher – Seriously, I put WoW on my office machine to show people the game and foolishly let the patcher run.  Within 10 minutes I had 4 IT guys in my office wanting to know why a machine I owned was connected to over 400 different external IP addresses and had brought down our firewall.  There was an awkward moment.

Comment Spam – The site is now just popular enough to attract comment spam bots.  Fortunately, the Akismet spam protection on the site is pretty accurate and only two spam comments have made it through to the moderator approval queue.  I do wonder what the point of the spam is.  It is all very easily caught and it all seems very unlikely to interest anybody.  Or am I the only one who would not buy car insurance based on link in a comment on a gaming blog?

EverQuest II Character Slots – I need more.  How can you give me a new race and not give me more character slots?  And now you are promising me more races!  You had better give me more damn character slots!  I cannot bring myself to delete characters into which I have so much invested!  I think Mrrx’s Character Slot Epic digs into this more articulately than I can manage.

Mixed Results of 2006

The Serpent’s Spine – The best new player experience that EverQuest has ever had.  It is just a shame that with a download-only distribution model, very few new players are ever going to see it.  If you make a potential new player buy EverQuest off the shelf, install it, buy the new expansion online, then download it, you have lost the whole impulse market.  Expect high-end raiding content for the next 27 expansions because TSS failed.

The Burning Crusade – Fine.  It is late.  Blizzard won’t lose a single sale because of the ship date.  Still, there is much pissing and moaning and shouts of “you promised.”  The biggest downside for Blizzard will be that all of the content in the expansion will be so well documented because of the extended beta that there will be few surprises for those who read the gaming press.  Of course, that is only a small percentage of their subscriber base, and they are all going to buy it as well, so that may be no big deal as either. The upside of the delay is that it did give Echoes of Faydwer the holiday season to itself.  That little edge probably gave EoF quite a boost.

EVE Online – Gah, the hard science fiction junkie in me wants to like this game so much.  I just cannot get into it.  I hate to admit it, but I might need to get out of the pod and walk around.  I might need to beam down to the planet.  I might need intractable aliens with whom to vie.  Is Star Trek Online ready yet?

The Saga of Ryzom – A neat looking little game.  Oops it went bankrupt.  Yippee, it has a new owner.  Does it still crashes after five minutes every time I try to play it on my machine?  Yes.

Summary

So is that it?  I listened to the Virgin Worlds/Massively Online Gamer year end podcasts and how they went on about what a crap year 2006 was for the MMO world.  And you know what?  It seems to be true, if you were looking for something new.

I wonder what I will be playing in December of 2007?

15 thoughts on “What Happened To 2006?

  1. Stult

    Doesn’t your gaming interest of 2007 depend on where I need a healer at that time? Since when did your personal interests trump my need for a ready-made healer in a time zone two hours my junior? Seriously–I actually saw Vanguard preorder boxes on the shelf at the mall yesterday. It was somewhat creepy. I don’t know if a new video card will fix the issues most beta folks say the game has, though it is supposed to be one of the most massive games to date. I hate to think it will have the same level of grind as EQ, but I think that is a franchise standard.

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  2. Saylah

    I for one am glad you started a blog. I’m so in love with this medium for communicating with people you’d never get to meet in person. For gamers, I think it’s phenomenal that we can share reviews and experiences about games with each other. These games aren’t cheap – boxes and monthly fees, getting insight from others is very helpful in avoiding just the hype.

    I pre-ordered Vanguard. My PC is fairly new so I think it can withstand the specs. It’s one of those games that is just a must try for me in 2007. I have to try some other games ‘cuz I’m not sure TBC can hold me for long. I’m toying with the idea of messing around with EVE Online again. Not to play it immediately, but just skill up a character just in case. I gave my account and my character away before so I’d have to start all over. I think this is still a game to watch and would like to keep my finger on the pulse.

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  3. comment spam

    comment spam is designed to improve search engine ranking by linking to other sites and pretending they are popular

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  4. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I had not considered that dimension. Still, being so easily recognized, it can hardly be doing much good… not that a tiny return on a small investment in automation ever stopped anybody on the net.

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  5. darrenl

    Great post Wil,

    I think we’re all agreeing what a crappy year it was. Not much happened at all in terms of new games. I think 2007 will see quite a bit of action though…almost too much if the release dates hold.

    I really think the one to watch will be Lord of the Rings Online IMHO.The game has got the lore and from what I hear, the PvE environment is really well done.

    Its too bad you didn’t pick up DDO when you saw it. I tried it out for a month or two. Its dungeon experience was one of the best I have played….especially as a rogue. Wow..real traps that actually can kill you. What? The rogue is actually a useful class??

    I’m not too sure about Vanguard. I smell EQ2 in 2004 all over a gain. I seriously have doubts that these guys have learned the lessons given to us by WoWs dominance to be successful. This maybe a game to get in 2008-ish when they’ve had a chance to give their heads a shake.

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  6. dutchkids

    I began playing EQ in 2000 and lost intrest at about level 55… I played an Enchanter on Mithanial Marr… Then I started playing EQ2 and got my Illusionist to level 51 and I am bored to death… Do you have any suggestions for making the higher end game more fun?

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  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I would say that, beyond level 40 in EQ2 or WoW (or level 20 in EQ), how much fun you have greatly depends on the people with whom you play. The primary reason I stopped playing EQ2 for 10 months was because the “regular” group of people I used to team up with ran off to play WoW.

    While I believe in that answer fully, I am still probably the wrong person to ask. I have to characters up to your level because the second I get bored I start an alt, which brings me back to the whole character slot issue….

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  8. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    On DDO – I would have considered buying it if I knew some people playing or who wanted to play. It said right on the box when I picked it up that the game requires groups to play. Since no regular groupage was why I had recently left EQ2, DDO seemed like a bad idea.

    I considered it again after VirginWorlds podcast #22 (one of my favorite episodes btw) but rejected it again in the end for the same reasons. I would be much more likely to pick up one of the Guild Wars games I think.

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  9. mrrx

    Just making sure you know you can get 10 (station access for you right ?) additional characters by playing on Test. Set up a separate Test folder and start the game via a different link; instructions are on the Sony knowledgebase.

    Test is an extreme soloist’s environment, unless you are a dedicated tester, which is the downside.

    Or, you could get the same thing by picking one of the European servers. You have to switch that region thing in the upper-right of the login screens.

    The downside there is you have to wait for it to patch extra when switching between regions; I never found it to be a big hindrance but I have fast cable. It takes me longer to get the computer on and the game started than it does to patch, so I’m hard pressed to be bothered.

    I’m after a more deep experience with every game, and I’ve been happy to be playing EQ2 for nearly the entire year. In a sense I’m fine with a “bad year” for MMO’s because that should keep people in the game longer. It remains to be seen if any game can pry me away from the much-improved experience Sony is putting out.

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  10. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Thanks for posting those tips here. I actually picked them up from your own discussion of the topic, but spreading them a bit further always helps.

    The test server does not appeal to me. I might try out a euro server for PvP. But I really want to have more than 6 on the same server with a normal acount. I have Station Access, so I get 10, which is actually enough for me, but I may not want to keep paying the Station Access rate.

    Right now I have 7 real characters I have some investment in (characters it would pain me to delete), plus two more I could delete without much of a pause. Perhaps what I really want to know is what happens if I go back to a normal account and have 7 characters? Does one get deleted? Which one? Or does one just get locked out? Who picks which one? Or do they all just work fine, but I cannot make any more and if I delete one, I lose that slot?

    I suppose I could actually ASK SOE. I just worry that the answer will annoy me. (Or that I will get a canned answer that indicates nobody really read and/or understood my long-winded question.)

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  11. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Oh, and I agree, I am really happy enough with what I am playing. I am just sort of surprised that it is pretty much the same stuff two… well three is we just look at EQ2… Decembers in a row!

    An additional bright side is that I did not spend very much on new games in 2006. (Bright for me, not for the industry I suppose.)

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  12. Pingback: What Happened To 2006? « The Ancient Gaming Noob « Chinese News Farmer

  13. dutchkids

    In answer to to your question about what gets deleted… I had 10 station access accounts by paying the Station Access rate. I stopped paying it and it deleted the 4 chars that had been dormant the longest…. It sucked because I had one char, Tinkerbell (originally a gnome lol) that I made and was saving the name for when EOF came out… Needless to say I lost the name…

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  14. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Ouch! Well, good to know! The last time I cancelled Station Access, I deleted the 7th character I had myself.

    I had a carpenter in our guild make a huge number of boxes so that all my chars had lots of bank slots. There was no way I was going to risk losing those, so I cleaned out the character completely first, then deleted him.

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