Daily Archives: May 9, 2007

Spring, When SOE Blooms

Spring is proving to be a banner time for SOE and EverQuest II announcements.  Winter wrapped up with the announced increase in price for Station Access which caused some discontent in the community and cost SOE some good will on all fronts.  But winter has passed and with spring comes new blossoms!

First Game Update 35 was announced.  It will have a free content update that includes a new (old) city, Neriak as well as a new race, a new outdoor zone, Darklight Wood, and a playable new race, the Arasai, sort of an evil mutation of the Fae that will be one of the races that can start in Neriak.

In addition to that, SOE relented (a little bit) and announced an increase in character slots to be included in GU35.  Standard accounts go from 6 to 7 slots, which Station Access accounts go from 10 to 12 slots.  I still feel a bit stifled by the standard account number, 7 slots for a game with so many race and class combinations, but compared to EQ2 on release day, where you got 4 slots and there were no other options, things are much better.

And then this morning there was the official announcement of Rise of Kunark via Allakhazam’s EQ2 site. (Pardon me while I pat myself on the back one more time for being right on the next expansion location… it is such a rare thing in my life.)  While the official SOE site is not up yet (though they have claimed the likely domain), the basic information is available:

  • New Race: The Sarnak
  • New Starting Area: Timorous Deep
  • New Adventure Zones: Kunark is back, the biggest (and possibly best) expansion from EverQuest brought forward 500 years into the Norrath of EQ2
  • New Mount: That rhino from the loading screen! Forget the drooling warg, I want one of those!
  • Returning Deities: More choices, more powers, more quests
  • Level Cap Raise to 80 for both players and guilds
  • Full screen maps, in addition to the current mini maps
  • And More, more, more of everything that makes EQ2 the game it is

I think if SOE can follow this string of news up with a date for the new and improved launch pad and an intermediate pricing plan somewhere between the standard, single game subscription and Station Access, the SOE Fan Faire might turn into the SOE Adulation Faire, at least when it comes to the EQ2 community.

[Clarification of the Rise of Kunark features here.]

Five Podcasts To Listen To Again

The one thing that has scared me away from trying to do a podcast, after we discount the time commitment, the technical know-how, the equipment, how my voice sounds when recorded, the fact that I mumble most everything I say, that I speak too fast, that I laugh a little too loudly at my own so-called wit, that I say “ummm,” “hmmm,” and “oh” with every sentence, that I have no attention span and am easily side tracked, that I have a problem taking things seriously, that I am a constant stream of obscure, ancient, inane, and often inaccurate or incorrect cultural references, and that I really could not come up with a format or content that would add anything to the current MMO podcasting ecosystem… once we set that trivia aside, I worry that when you do a podcast, people listen to it once and then never again.

All that work, all those hurdles to overcome, and then, one listen and your audience, if you are lucky, comes back with, “Very good! What’s next?”

Brent at VirginWorlds a couple of podcasts back paid a high compliment to another podcast (the name of which I have forgotten, which brings up another item, that you cannot Google through podcast content) by saying that he listened to an episode twice.  That is something, by his own admission, that he never does.

Well, frankly, that depresses me, not so much for my own sake as for the fact that there is a lot of good material that goes out in podcast form.  But unlike a show such as “This American Life,” you cannot do reruns when you take a week off.  Most of the materiel is topical.  It is like the news, and you cannot rerun the news.

Okay, CNN and Fox rerun the same stories constantly all day long, but the usually cannot get away with running last months news or weather.  Like the weather report, most gaming podcasts have an expiration date.

So I set out to pick five podcasts that are worth listening to a second time.  The ones I have picked below I have listened to more than once.  They have content that is worth hearing again.

1. VirginWorlds #22 – Special Mid-week DDO Dungeon Experience episode –  Brent, Brenden, Albie, and Kim discuss Dungeons and Dragons Online and decide whether DDO really offers the ultimate dungeon crawl experience.  A difficult choice for me, as other possible candidates, The Auto Assault review in show #13 or the Top Ten MMOs, shows #34 and #36, were strong contenders.  I wanted to limit it to one entry per podcast however, and #22 is the one.

2. GFW Radio – 11/10/2006 Jeff vs. Jeff bonus podcast –   GFW Magazine editor-in-chief Jeff Green talks with Sigil co-founder and EverQuest co-creator Jeff Butler.  The Vanguard stuff will make you snort in retrospect, but a lot of the general talk is worth another listen.

3. Fear the Boot Episode 27 The RPG Movie Episode:  The FTB team, with a special guest Tony from Fanboy Smackdown, first review the two Dungeon and Dragons movies, then talk about RPG movies in general.

4. WoW Podcast #7  The Roundtable Discussion Episode –  Features special guests Brent of VirginWorlds, Brenden of FalconTwin, and Ryan of Massively Online Gamer.  Starts off mild, but then gets into gold buying and gold sellers.  This episode resulted in a complete host change over for WoW Podcast.

5. Massively Online Gamer  um… a sign of age… I forgot to write down the episode I really wanted, so I am falling back to Episode 33, the 2006 Austin Games Conference video podcast episode.  I guess that is really one to see again rather than listen to again, plus you’ll have to find it on their site or on iTunes yourself, as I cannot find a direct link.

Bonus – Not a podcast, but the Jason Scott presentation, The Great Failure of Wikipedia, is a fun listen.  More down on the pretentions of Wikipedia and the flaws in the current system than the basic concept, Jason Scott has some very amusing tales of the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Those are my picks.  If you have any you would like to recommend, please leave a comment!