Monthly Archives: May 2007

May In Review

The Site

Another month goes by and goofy things continue to drive traffic here.  This month it was my post “Rejected Arasai Character Model” that seemed to bring people this way, as it somehow managed to become the #1 returned article for the search term “arasai”on Google.

New Linking Sites

Most Viewed Posts In May

  • Rejected Arasai Character Model
  • Vanguard, Hardware, and Consoles
  • SOE – Hero, But For How Long?
  • Five Minor LOTRO Gripes
  • Tourist Photos from Middle Earth
  • Vanguard Rumors and Recriminations Begin
  • New World Economics
  • Rise of Kunark?
  • The Downloading of the LOTRO Beta
  • Enjoying LOTRO – Buying LOTRO
  • The Missing Ingredient
  • Going Epic in Middle Earth
  • Spring, When SOE Blooms
  • How Many More EverQuest Expansions?
  • Title Mania!

Best Search Terms of the Month

raph koster swg failed blog

(I am the #2 result on Google for that term… who knows why.)

here I am Lord

(And that brought you here, which is certainly evidence for the whole “mysterious ways” thing.)

EVE Online

No, I have not started playing it again, but I was certainly tempted by Van Hemlock’s write ups about his adventures in game over the last few weeks.  Of course, they also point out one of the aspects of EVE, in that it simulates life a little too well.  There can be hours and hours of tedium interspersed with moments of terror and excitement.  If the game interests you, give these a read.

EverQuest

I now own the Anniversary Edition of EverQuest, which gets me all of the expansions up to and including “The Buried Sea.”  At $19.99 SRP, it is the deal of the year if you want to catch up on you EQ expansions.

When will I use the 30 days of play that comes with the expansion?  I am not sure yet, but you know I will end up writing about it.  Maybe I will finally get my Drakkin shadow knight to level 20.

EverQuest II

I was back in Norrath in May after a short break and got Blintz up to level 55.  Still, I am in something of a slump in game.  I am a very quest driven player, and the pool of quests available that are at least green to me that I can manage is currently pretty small, so if I get stuck on one thing, I have no alternative paths.

Of course, this may be because I am now far beyond my previous level cap in game, so I do not already know where to find quests.  Still, I have been grinding along some and have even poked my nose into the Kingdom of the Sky.

Lord of the Rings Online

Three alts and no main!  Or Three mains.  Or maybe a main, a main alt, and a secondary alt.  Anyway, I seem to be intent on pushing three characters through the game simultaneously, which partially explains why my highest level character is only 19.

The game is still fun and interesting to me.  Our regular instance group has been running through the Barrow Downs.  While we have run some of our alts through the Epic quest line, our main, committed to the group characters have no progressed further down that path.  We still have to get together and talk to Tom Bombadil in the Old Forest.

Vanguard

I didn’t play, but it certainly provided a lot of grist for the blogging mill.  There has been so much attention paid to the SOE buyout of Vanguard, the way Sigil employees were treated, and the whereabouts of Brad McQuaid on the day in question and the previous three to eighteen months that I have not read much about what has actually been happening with the game.

World of Warcraft

I have only poked my nose in game a couple of times over the last month.  Of course the latest major patch update required an update to all Add Ons, which is par for the course.  My account actually lapses in a few days and I probably will not renew it until our instance group decides to pick up again in WoW.

Wii

My daughter can now officially kick my butt in all of the games in Wii Sports.  She has a lot of fun playing and really gets a workout.  We had family over last weekend and she got my wife’s mother, aunt, and uncle playing.  My mother-in-law is surprisingly good at Wii Tennis.  I still hold the edge in most of Wii Play and SSX Blur.  I brought home Mario Party 8 last night, so I suspect I will be playing a lot of that with my daughter this weekend.

Upcoming

LOTRO and EQ2 will likely remain my games of choice for June.  I am not up for any betas and my time will be somewhat short.  Restructuring at work has left me in charge of a larger group and many more projects.  In addition I will have to do some travel for work, primarily to our office in Dallas.  Any readers around Richardson?

The Missing Ingredient

There is a constant low hum going on in the gaming media and the MMO blog community about World of Warcraft and how a given past/present/future competitor stacks up.

The most common list of comparisons are the bullet points from Rob Pardo’s keynote at AGC last year.  Passion. Polish. Scope. Accessibility.

All of those are key items, and I have no doubt that they have played into the success of the game.

But do you know the real, number one reason that World of Warcraft is the top dog in the MMO market?

It is because Blizzard is a successful software game company with a track record of very good, hugely successful games under their belt.

Before WoW was holding that #1 sales spot most weeks of the year, Warcraft III and its expansion were up there.  And before that, Diablo II and its expansion.  And before that there was StarCraft, StarCraft Brood War, and Diablo.

The combined sales of these games, the games that have set the community expectation for Blizzard products, are huge.  Blizzard is a winning team.  The record says that buying a game from Bilzzard is a safe bet for a fun product.  A lot of people will buy whatever they ship just because it has their name on the box.

Compare this to SOE and EverQuest II.  The captive audience for EQ2, the people who will buy an SOE game merely because of their reputation is relatively minuscule compared to Blizzard’s core of players.  The total number of accounts created for EverQuest was quoted by Brad McQuaid as being around 2 million.  That would have to be the primary pool from which to draw for a sequel.  Star Wars Galaxies was also a potential source, though to a much lesser degree I would imagine, both because of the genre change and because of the level of dissatisfaction in the user base.

Given this comparison, it isn’t much of a leap to think that EQ2 really never had a chance of matching WoW in subscribers no matter how polished the game was.  The user base that was willing… that is willing… to invest in an SOE game is just not big enough.

So the next time somebody poses the question about whether a given game is a potential “WoW Beater,” look at the track record of the company in question.  Do they consistently make high quality, best selling games? 

I don’t think anybody has a track record quite like Blizzard’s, but does anybody come close?  Who else has a large and dedicated following?

Passive Aggressive Quests

Inspired a bit by Melmoth’s “MMO Concepts That Were Turned Down,” I started thinking about bad MMO ideas.

I came upon an amusing one.  How about an MMO where all quests were written the in the passive aggressive form illustrated on this blog?

You could have a whole chain of quests about Hot Pocket theft, incorrect microwave usage, and the correct methods for using a public restroom.

I’d play that.  Maybe.  For a while.  If it were free.

[And the fact that Hot Pockets have a rather detailed entry on Wikipedia disturbs me a bit.]

Allakhazam’s Okay Again?

Once upon a time, far back in MMO history, at the dawn of EverQuest, there was a web site… THE web site… to visit for information about the game.  That was Allakhazam’s Magical Realm.

Truly, there was a time when it was the be-all end-all of EverQuest sites.  It certainly was for my time in EverQuest.

Then I went on MMO hiatus for a few major life events.  Marriage, house, parenthood, all those adult things I suddenly found myself faced with.

I came back to MMOs to play EverQuest II.  Of course, the first place I looked for a information site was Allakhazam’s

At the time, Allakhazam’s was not the place to be for EQ2 information.  It was light on content, outdated in format, bristling with pop-up ads, and, as I was to learn, tainted.  You see, while I was away, it had been bought by gold sellers.

The place to be for EQ2 was OGaming’s site.  It’s design was easier on the eye and its content was vast and handily searched.

Then those pesky gold sellers, went and bought OGaming.  Or something.  Damn them!

OGaming’s vast content was folded into Allakhazam’s slightly spiffed up, but still rather outdated format, and there was much grumbling.

Last month, Affinity Media, the company that owned both Allakhazam’s and the gold selling site, sold the gold sellers.

And then, in what I took as a sign that the taint had been officially removed (along with the pop-up ads), SOE used Allakhazam’s to officially announce the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, The Rise of Kunark

That seemed like quite an endorsement of the site.

So is it okay to, you know, publicly admit you actually use Allakhazam’s again?

Memorial Day 2007

Today is Memorial Day in the US. I however have been having my own version of the day, my own reflections, all week long.

They were stirred up by some old airplanes.

Out of Moffet Federal Airfield, once Moffet Naval Air Station, three World War II bombers have been making regular flights around the valley. A B-17G, and B-24J, and a B-25J from the Collings Foundation have been available for tours. If you were willing to part with enough money, you could even get a ride. It must have been a popular attraction, as the three planes spent all last weekend and much of the week slowly circling our local air space.

The B-17 seems to have been the most popular of the lot. The Sunday before yesterday, while I was working in the back yard, it flew around and over our house more than a dozen times. The sound of its four big Wright radial engines became a common sound over the few days it was here to visit. I remarked to my wife as it flew over, “Just a normal Sunday afternoon… in 1944.”

The B-24 made fewer passes, and its pilot seemed unwilling to stray over our home. It floated past, low in the sky, skirting the edge of the valley where it begins to climb into the Pacific Coast range.

The B-25 I only saw twice. Once on my morning commute to work and once, low, slow, and magnificently loud right over our house.

And through the presence of these planes, I have been thinking of my grandfather’s generation, the generation that made up the bulk of those who went off to WWII.

I was born at a strange time. I am either the youngest member of the Baby Boomer generation or the oldest of the Gen-X generation. My father preceded the post war baby boom, being born at the outset of the war, while my mother, 19 years my senior, just qualifies for the very start of that generation.

To me the war has always seemed like a distant event, nearly ancient history. The black and white movies that make up most of the film record of the war always made it seem like a different age. And an overcast age. The sky is always grey in those movies, so much so that I am frequently shocked when I see color footage of the war featuring clear blue skies and bright sunshine.

But in truth WWII was not so distant. It was less than 20 years past when I was born. The young men who went off to fight in that was were around my age now at the time of my birth. The war was still a vivid, living memory to them.

But that memory is fading. The major leaders of that time mostly passed before or during my childhood. The senior core of the pre-war army, the older men who formed the cadre around which the armed forces were built during WWII, passed in my youth.

And now the young men who made up the officers and men who filled out the army, who helped mobilize the entire country, who went off to distant places to prosecute a war for their country, they are now passing. They are now in their late 70s and early 80s. Their memories, the final remaining first hand accounts of the war, are slowly fading away.

So, with appropriate poignancy, the planes which stirred up these thoughts are gone. The sky is quiet, and I miss them.

Level 55

Thanks largely to Gaff and Lurk mentoring me and running around the Desert of Flames grinding mobs for a few different quests, Blintz has made it to level 55.

We had to call it a day in DoF when Blintz was just shy of level, so later on he went out to Lesser Faydark where he finished up a writ and levelled up.

level55.png

Now to get out of this quest slump Blintz has been in and press on towards 60.  Gaff and Lurk are, of course, already 69 at this point.

Fitting In…

Blintz jumped on the boat to Nektulos Forest and took a spot next to a couple of other fae…

fae? Blintz does a double-take.

arasaiboat2.png

The first Arasai I have laid eyes upon, a level 20 and 22 who were out for a stroll in Butcherblock I guess.