Daily Archives: July 11, 2008

Lag City in Lonetrek

Did something happen to EVE Online while I was away on vacation?

I tried running missions the last two nights and the responsiveness of the game was such that I had to give up on one mission and a ship was lost on another.

Okay, it was Gaff’s Carcaral blew up, not my Raven.  That will teach him to follow me into level 4 missions.

But he lost his ship sitting there waiting for his warp drive to engage.  The classic “waiting for the warp drive active indicator to hit the end of its sweep” routine.

He picked up aggro from a battlecruiser.  I tried to switch targets to either distract the battlecruiser or blow it up (they don’t last long when I focus my Raven on them), but the response time for modules at that moment was running at about 20-30 seconds between clicking and activation.

I watched his shields go.  I watched his armor go.  I watch his hull diminish.  Then he was just an egg in space.

At about that point my first cruise missile headed off towards the battlecruiser in question.

I told him to stay put and collect the bounties as I slowly finished off the remaining targets, including a battleship with a 900K prize on its head.

In the end, with insurance, bounties, and the mission reward, he probably came out a bit ahead in ISK, but what a pain all the same.

And yes, this was in Lonetrek, depressingly close to Jita, so there were 150 people in the same system while we were running the mission, but we were ran a few missions before I went on vacation without any problems and the same mass of people in system.

This morning I got an IM from Gaff, who was off mining.  He said that the lag was pretty bad even for that.  Opening containers and moving ore was lagging quite a bit.

He was headed off to Amarr space, to our old HQ out there, to see if things were less lagged.  Initial reports were positive, but the system was still short of peak hour at that point.

So what gives?

Blizzard Web Site Marketing Cookie Cutter

I have heard more than a few people credit Blizzard’s marketing as a key to the success of World of Warcraft.

Often it is compared against SOE’s marketing, usually in a “Goofus and Gallant” fashion in an attempt to explain how EverQuest II is a better game, yet it is WoW that has millions of subscribers.

With the announcement of Diablo III, Blizzard now has three “new” products in play (but not a release date among them), giving us a chance to see side by side comparisons of Blizzard’s marketing acumen in the web sphere. (but not the WebSphere.) How does Blizzard position and explain these three products?

I started off looking at the Diablo III page. This page has sections for Classes, Bestiary, Environments, Lore and Dungeons. Each section features an entry or two, but will no doubt be filled out further as time goes on.

Then I went to the page for the World of WarCraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. This page features sections on the new Class (the Death Knight), Bestiary, Environments, Story (lore), Factions (more lore), and Dungeons. These sections have a few entries each, including interviews with members of the development team.

Finally I went to the StarCraft II page and saw something similar. Not exactly the same, there was only Units & Building and Game Universe sections, but those equate out, in my mind at least, to Classes, Bestiary, Lore, and Environments.

While I commend the clarity of all three of these sites in delivering the sometimes scant information about the games in question, I have to wonder if there is a template at Blizzard for unreleased title web site design. A checklist with the following required items:

  • Game Logo
  • Iconic Game Artwork
  • Features page
  • Screenshots page
  • Artwork page
  • Downloads page
  • Movies page
  • FAQ page
  • Community/Forum page
  • Blizzard Logo in game theme color

Thus you end up with three web sites for three different games that feel very much alike.

And what is my point? Aside from the fact that Tobold could have probably put together a realistic mock-up of a Blizzard web site for The Freezing Jihad, I don’t really have a point to make. It is more of an observation about how a leading game company like Blizzard with a vaunted marketing department ends up keeping things simple and predictable.

Nothing here is a mystery. Sites devoted to unreleased games have most, if not all of the same elements. But not many of them are laid out with the style and informational simplicity of the Blizzard sites. Looks good, delivers the information.

I can think of game sites that looked good but made finding information difficult. Gods & Heroes, Age of Conan, and most EverQuest/EverQuest II expansions have fallen into that category.

And there are sites that get the information out there, but are not much to look at. I hope that EA-Mythic (or, soon to be just Mythic again soon) spent their time putting style into their game, because they didn’t waste many cycles doing so to their web site.

Does anybody else follow Blizzard’s pattern of simplicity and style?