Monthly Archives: December 2009

December in Review

The Site

I actually got a few links from sites outside of the norm. pointed my way for the first time, which is saying something given how many WoW blogs there are, when they posted the Lich King Casino Royale Style video.

Then Binge Gamer’s The Bender Podcast mentioned and linked to me two times running with regards to Star Trek Online pre-order items.  I should probably go listen to what they actually said.  I just haven’t had the time.

I also got a shout out on the Multiverse Podcast.  Thanks guys!

And, in addition to all of that I got a nice note from the local and litigious  Erik Estavillo thanking me for linking to his site and offering to let me interview him if I liked.  Interviews are not really my thing, but I thought I would mention his willingness in case somebody else wants to pick his brain.

One Year Ago

Last December seemed to be all about the micropayments and the like.  Sony Online Entertainment surprised some by putting Station Cash driven stores into EverQuest and EverQuest II.  The selection wasn’t great and the pricing seemed a bit off, but I was more interested to know what other SOE products would get the Station Cash treatment.

And then EA announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic would be microtransaction financed.  Or maybe they didn’t.

In EverQuest II I ran Reynaldo Fabulous from creation to level 50 in an very short (to me) stretch of time.  And then I stopped.

In Azeroth we were still coming to grips with the Northrend instances.  In Utgarde Keep we managed to kill off Prince Keleseth, but couldn’t hold it together to finish the instance.

Meanwhile, somebody was working on a WoW code, akin to the old geek code that used to clutter many a .sig file back when Usenet was cool and we knew the spammers by name.

I actually found some time to play Lord of the Rings Online.

And on the MUD nostalgia front I was reminding people what quests used to be like and sharing some really bad limericks.

New Linking Sites

The following sites have been kind enough to link here.  Please take a moment to visit them in return!

Most Viewed Posts in December

  1. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  2. Star Trek Online Pre-Order Choices
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. The Catch in the Free-to-Play Model
  6. WoW Patch 3.3 Musings
  7. Torchlight Troubles
  8. The Wintergrasp Cheat?
  9. The Lich King… Bond Style
  10. Heroic Deadmines!
  11. Star Trek Online – More Desicions on What to Buy
  12. Star Trek Online Options We’d Like to See

Deleted Comment of the Month

you guys are such losers get a life
[Don’t worry MMO gamers, it was on a Pokemon post]

Search Terms of the Month

Il faut donner tout pour tout
[Who am I, Dag Hammarskjöld?]

+”brent hand”
[I’m not sure I want to know…]

EVE Online

Nothing.  Really, I’ve done nothing but change skills for the last month.

Oh, sure, I flew around in my Zephyr long enough for a screen shot or two, but that was about it.

EverQuest II

As I said in my other post today, I think EverQuest II has ceased to be an active and viable game for me.  My heart just is not in it any more.  And I cannot even got back just to play with Verteran Rewards anymore.  They fixed the counter so that as of some point in mid-2009 it only adds the days you are actually subscribed, not just the days since you created your account.  A pity, since that was something that actually coaxed me back regularly.

Station Access lapses today, so I’ll have to indulge my nostalgia quickly.

Star Trek Online

I’ve pre-ordered from GameStop so I’ll get the classic Enterprise as my bonus.  Plus I went the collector’s edition route.  I am a sap that way.

World of Warcraft

The instance group has been big on the horde side of things this month.  Meanwhile my mother, my daughter, and I have all finally hit level 58 and can now proceed to the Outlands.


The Wii has seen a bit of a revival after a dormant summer.  Rock Band livened things up a bit, plus my daughter has been interested in going to back to some of the LEGO games.  We’ve been working our way through LEGO Batman again.  Catwoman is my daughter’s favorite character.  Mine too, but for different reasons I’m sure.

Coming Up

It will be a new year soon.  That means some predictions of some sort in the January 1st tradition.  Look for them tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Star Trek Online will go into open beta in January.  I’m sure I will have something to say about that.

And, of course, there is always WoW.

Checking My 2009 Gaming Goals

This is one of those posts that would be a lot more effective if I had gotten around to doing a post early in the year about what those goals were.

I started on that post, but never quite got around to putting it up.  I have the draft still sitting around, so I’ll work from that.

Cap Out In WoW – Completed

I wanted to hit the level cap of 80 and, with the instance group, finish out all the base five person instances.

We managed to do that by August.  In fact, I have two level 80 characters, one of which leveled through instances and another who did so through questing.  So I do feel I got quite the tour of Northrend and ingested a large dose of WoW lore, which comes in quite concentrated form in Wrath of the Lich King.

Blizzard has added some more content for the instance group since I hit my goal, but that will be for next year I think.

See Moria – Fail

Moria is one of the places in The Lord of the Rings that I really want to see brought to life in a 3D world.  And so, with the Mines of Moria expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, I had an opportunity.

I started new characters on a new server, ran one up to level 30 or so, then did not get much further.  The closest I got was Rivendell.

Take a Year Off from SOE – Mostly Complete

After my late 2008 run to level 50 with Reynaldo Fabulous, I was feeling quite bored with EverQuest II.  EverQuest I only visit for nostalgia purposes, and there are no other SOE games to which I feel any strong attachment.

So I thought I would just take a year off from SOE.  Maybe that would make Norrath seem more fresh.

I came back a little early to attend the Revelry and Honor anniversary bash, but really haven’t felt like logging into EQ2 (or any other SOE game since I had to invest in a month of Station Access to make sure I could play the characters I wanted to during my time on).  Even my daughter, who wants to see Frostfell Village every Christmas was done running around there in under 15 minutes.

EQ2 might have gone from “games I play” to “games I used to play” and become one for the nostalgia list.

Double My ISK in EVE – Complete

In EVE Online, I wanted to double my ISK holdings and buy a freighter.  I managed to buy the freighter and more than triple my ISK reserves as measured from the start of the year.

Now I have a whole bunch of ISK and no goals.

Two Comment Maximum – Mostly Complete

More of a blogging goal than a gaming goal, but I blog about games, so they mix.

The idea here was to limit myself to a maximum of two comments on any post on another blog.  After that point, anything further I had to say would have to come in the form of a post on my own blog.

The reasoning behind this was:

  1. To not be the persistent a-hole who monopolizes (and thus generally destroys) a comment thread by latching on to a single point and beating it to death
  2. To not become invested in petty arguments that are generally as meaningful as arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin
  3. To put more thought into my comments

The first is easy to see.  It happens all the time.

I think the second is obvious, though often only after the fact.

The third though, is a bit deeper.  Like most people, I imagine, my comments on posts tend to get a lot less thought than things I post on my own blog.  By limiting myself to two comments (one to express my point and one clarify anything I might have not stated as clearly as I would have liked) I felt I would force myself to think more before I commented.  I thought perhaps it might drive me to greater clarity and less confrontation.

Or at least it might make for a few more posts on my own site.

In the end, I managed to mostly stick to two comments.  I think I only violated that when somebody grossly misunderstood what I was saying and I had to back and point out that I was actually agreeing with that person and was, perhaps, not as clear in that statement as I should have been.

I’m not sure I gave them all more thought because of my limit or if I just took two cheap shots and called it a night.  It did lead to one of my more creative posts of the year though.

This goal, of course, did not apply to comments on my own site.  In your own home you get to do as you like.  This was about being a better person in the homes of other people.


On failed completely, two fully complete, and two mostly complete.  Not bad.

I’ll have to think about what I should shoot for in 2010… and maybe even post about it before next December.

How about you?  Did you have any gaming goals for the year?

Star Trek Online European Pre-Order Bonuses

The Star Trek Online area of the UK MMO Hub Star Trek Online site has a listing of all the Star Trek Online pre-order bonuses that are being offered both in Europe and North America.

It currently looks like the only in-game item that European players will get that we in North America won’t is a Starfleet Shuttle, which is available if you order via GameStation.

On the flip side, it looks like Europeans won’t face quite the myriad of conflicting choices if they pre-order. There appears to be no Constitution Class ship option, for example.

Only available in America?

On the other hand, their special Gold Edition (Collector’s Edition?) includes a T-shirt and a map of the Star Trek Universe.

That is all I have seen on the subject so far.  Has anybody seen anything else?

Last Day for the Pandaren Monk

Blizzard Store Image of the Pandaren Monk


Or it is at least close to the last day to buy the Pandaren Monk in-game pet and justify it to yourself as a donation to charity.

Half of the purchase price of every Pandaren Monk sold through December 31, 2009 will be donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, further demonstrating his benevolent nature (though, in idle moments, he may still practice his Kung Fu moves).  Once activated, this World of Warcraft in-game pet key applies to all present and future characters on a single North American World of Warcraft license.

So Blizzard may go on selling the Pandaren Monk after December 31st.  The statement does not say that sales will stop on the 31st.   But Blizzard won’t be donating any more of the proceeds to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Those in Europe have a version to buy as well.

I’ve held out on buying one so far.  Have you?

Hulkageddon Returns!

If you are mining in EVE Online you had best keep an eye on who is coming and going in your system and make sure you have a your shield booster ready to activate, because it looks like Hulkageddon will return.

Yes, from January 7th through the 14th of 2010 the swarthy pirate set will be vying for billions of ISK in prize money plus special achievement awards, all for killing the most mining ships in Empire space.  You can even send in your guess as to how many Hulks you think will die in Hulkageddon II.

This is just the sort of emergent gameplay that sandbox games encourage.

Coming to a New Eden solar system near you!

Meanwhile a co-worker also reports that somebody is offering up a bounty to the person who can kill the most Zephyr scout ships in a 24 hour period.  Does somebody have any details on that?

Scoring My 2009 MMORPG Progdictionations

The time has come to account for my January 1st predictions.

The real problem with me and predictions is that I set out to make a series of outrageous and humorous stabs at the future, but part way into it I get all reasonable and conservative and start making predictions that sound likely… or reasonable.

Not that I am any more accurate when I get conservative and reasonable.

On January 1st I made 15 predictions for the MMORPG market for 2009.  Below are the results.  I am going to assign each prediction a possible score of 10 points, with partial credit available.  How many points out of 150 will I get?

I am not going to paste in all the original predictions as it would make the post very long, plus I have a cold which has not put me in the mood to perform any more work that I absolutely have to.  But they are all right here if you want to see them in their original glory.

1 – Private Citizen British

This one was fulfilled before I managed to post it.  He wants to get back into fantasy gaming, but nothing came of it in 2009.  He did not, however, use the word “vision.”  7 out of 10 points.

2 – Bartle’s Test

Dr. Bartle was on the money with this one by extolling the virtues of Stranglethorn Vale from the aspect of zone design.  As expected, more than a few disagreed on that, STV being one of the more complained about zones in the game.  Dr. Bartle stood his ground however; he meant what he said and he said what he meant.  Not a huge controversy, but enough for my needs.  8 out of 10 points.

3 – Age of Anarchy

Funcom did not, as I predicted, merge Anarchy Online and Age of Conan into a single game with two different front end clients.  More is the pity, since Age of Conan seems to need some sort of boost these days.  0 out of 10 points.

4 – EverQuesting

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Underfoot,” and did not include any of the features I speculated about.  And it was only available as a digital download.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 2 points out of 10 on that alone.

5 – Call Your Agency

Of the three games Sony has been talking about, only Free Realms saw the light of day in 2009, which was one more than I thought would.  On the other hand, there is still no PS3 version of Free Realms.  So I am going to give myself partial credit on Free Realms, since I said that PS3 development would be holding up the launch and they decided to go without it.

We have not heard, officially or in rumors, that PS3 is what is holding up The Agency or DC Universe Online, so only partial credit there as well.  3 out of 10.

6 – Elves of the Burning Sea

Flying Lab Software did not attempt to boost their subscription rate by re-skinning Pirates of the Burning Sea with fantasy creatures, so 0 out of 10 points.  I should not let my own LEGO fantasies influence my predictions.

7 – LEGO Dalaran

Nobody built Dalaran out of LEGO bricks… yet, 0 out of 10 points.

8 – Station Cash Balance of Payments

I predicted that any game that did not get a Station Cash store was pretty much marked for closure.  The Matrix Online was the first to go.  Planetside is down to one server and Star Wars Galaxies isn’t making any headlines of late.  I am going to give myself 5 out of 10 on that one because I think Planetside will be gone when The Agency shows up.  And as for SWG…

9 – Star Wars Galaxies to Take A Bio

I predicted that we would find out this year that Lucas was only going to sanction one Star Wars themed MMORPG and that SWG was going to lose out of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I still think this is going to happen, so maybe I’ll roll it into the 2010 predictions.  But for 2009, 0 out of 10.

10 – Dawn of Darkfall

Darkfall did ship, but did not ship with the full list of promised features intact.  They suffered through launch issues like most MMOs, with things like skill exploits being closed off as time went along.  And they do appear to be walking the tightrope between PvP and other activities well for the time being.  You can argue amongst yourselves as to whether it is the second coming of Ultima Online or EVE Online in plate armor, but I’m taking 8 out of 10 points.

11 – Hero’s Slumber

Darkfall’s launch handed the MMORPG vaporware crown to Hero’s Journey which did not, as I predicted, ship in 2009.  That fact, however, was not the source of that much snarkiness that I could see, so 8 out of 10 points.

12 – Blizzard is Smarter Than You

I predict for Blizzard in 2009:

  • WoW Content patches – check
  • No WoW expansion – check
  • StarCraft II shipping – nope
  • StarCraft II and Diablo III news that will lead to whining – check
  • Info about their next MMO – nope

6 out of 10 points.

13 – The New Guys

Red 5 Studios, Carbine Studios, and 38 Studios provided practically no details about what they are working on.

On the other hand, I also said that nothing they announced would set the MMORPG market on fire.  Certainly saying little or nothing qualifies.  A point for that.

And MetaPlace looks unlikely to become a talent incubator for the next generation at this point.

1 out of 10 points.

14 – Heroes and Champions

This was a silly and complex set of predictions, all built in parody of NCSoft West President David Reid saying last year that Tabula Rasa was here to stay shortly before they announced it was being shut down.

Key predictions –

  • City of Heroes will shut down after David Reid announces things are going well – nope
  • Champions Online will launch in the Fall of 2009 – check (okay, Sept. 1 isn’t quite fall, but close)
  • David Reid will lose his job at NCSoft – check

6 out of 10 points.

15 – Tobolderized

No Toboldipedia or Toboldwiki created this year.  I blame Tobold’s summer break.

0 out of 10 points.


The final count gives me 46 points out of 150, or 30.67% which, while abysmal, still beats last year’s 22%.

I think the Tobold predictions are dragging me down.  I may have to jettison him for 2010… or come up with something more plausible.

Now I just have to come up with some predictions for 2010!  Though right now, what I really want to predict is an over-the-counter decongestant that really works.  Stupid cold.

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Seeds of Destruction,” and did not include any of t

he features I speculated about.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 3 points out of 10 on that alone.

The Wintergrasp Cheat?

I was up for Wintergrasp the other day and ended up being involved in an odd battle.

2 minutes 11 seconds into Wintergrasp

As noted, this picture was taken just over two minutes into the battle.

There are 11 vehicles rolling towards the keep.  Not catapults, but demolishers and siege engines.

At some point between the kick off and that point, 11 members of the horde team managed to get promoted to lieutenant and roll almost all the way to the keep.  More than 11 actually, since at least one siege engine has gone down in that picture.

Usually in the morning battles in which I get involved, the first 3-5 minutes is spent standing around at the front gate of the keep trying to kill enough people so you can get the rank gain that allows you to pilot first catapults then siege engines and demolishers.

In fact, one of the most effective keep defenses I ever saw was when the horde side simply refused to come out and play, denying us kills and thus denying us vehicles.  Once we got a vehicle or two, they would pop out, concentrate on that vehicle, then duck back again.

But then there was the picture above.  How did they do it?  Is there another way to get promoted to lieutenant besides killing opposition players?  I believe that opposition NPCs also count towards rank, but that is still a lot of NPCs to get in two minutes.

Needless to say, we lost that round of Wintergrasp pretty quickly.

Making Merry

Last Saturday night we decided to do a little work on the current holiday in WoW, the Feast of Winter Veil, with our main Alliance characters.

This is our second pass through the holiday, so we had all knocked off at least a couple of the achievements.  In fact, for the most part, we were all reasonably well set up to get the meta achievement and the title except for one item.  We all still needed the Winter Veil hat for the ‘Tis the Season achievement.

The hat is the “fight a boss” item.  You have a couple of choices for the boss.  We decided to go with Grand Magus Telestra in the Nexus.   So Bung, Ula, Skronk, and Vikund, who were all on a bit early, headed out to Coldarra

This turned out to be pretty quick.  At level 80, if you walk the right path and take care, you only have to kill two patrolling mobs before you get to Telestra.

However, if you want to play it safe, you should probably kill the four guards in the room with her.  When she starts flinging people around the room there is a chance you’ll aggro them if you’re not careful.  We did that on the first run.

Not that it mattered.  Being level 80 in a level 70-ish instance means room for error.

We did managed to screw up now and again.  Only one hat drops per fight, so we had to reset and redo our run three more times after the first fight.  We did find out, for example, that there are no invisible walls to keep you from falling off of those bridges between platforms.  Skronk managed to prove that point.

But in the end, we all got out hats.

Hats all around

By that point Earl had joined us and we got out the horde characters for our first run into Scarlet Monastery.  The line up for that was:

28 Orc Shaman – Earlthebat (Earlthecat)
29 Tauren Druid – Hurmoo (Vikund)
30 Undead Mage – Bigbutt (Bungholio)
30 Blood Elf Paladin – Enaldie (Ula)
30 Tauren Druid – Azawak (Skronk)

We used the new dungeon finder interface to teleport our group to the instance, avoiding all that messy travel.

The point of entry

We were looking to do the graveyard section of Scarlet Monastery.

The graveyard should be pretty familiar to us by now, having done the area at level quite a while back then having visited repeatedly during the last two Hallow’s End celebrations.

Into the graveyard again

The graveyard went quickly.  Quickly enough that I really didn’t take any further screen shots.

After that, we talked about moving on to the next section of the instance, but Earl was tired out so we decided to call it a night for the group at that point, having at least advanced our instance march one more notch.

At that point the evening became a casual affair.  Skronk and I headed to Dalaran to see if we couldn’t close off the last couple of achievements.  Working together we managed to spot all of the race/class combos we needed for the snowflake achievement, allowing us both to claim the title.

We’re still on a holiday achievement roll.  I think the Lunar Festival is next up on the list.  And more Scarlet Monastery for the horde group.

Ponder the Social Aspect of MMOs

I got a comment on yesterday’s post that questioned what some would consider one of the primary pillars of the MMO experience:

Dear Wilhelm

I think your overestimating the social significance of MMOs. After many years play as a non-guilder/PUGster, I’ve come to the conclusion that meeting people in MMOs is like going to Kindergarten.

. you make instant friends for the day (and everyone is bubbly)
. you’ll never see them again (they just disappear into the aether)
. you speak like a little kids
. everyone tends to be greedy, but in an innocent way

Its fun, but its not that significant…

Now, I had my own snarky response to this.  I was snarky because I do not think that, in general, I espouse a philosophy on this blog that places emphasis on social interaction.  A recurring theme here is playing with the same four people once a week and rarely getting involved with anybody else in the game.

In fact, yesterday’s post was worth posting because I actually did, grudgingly, go play with some strangers.  I am certainly not the poster boy for socialization.

I did end my response with something that I can sum up by paraphrasing Tom Lehrer:

The social aspect of MMOs are like a sewer; what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

Frankly, when it comes down to it, my experiences are probably more akin to the commenter than not.  But even as somebody who tends to be a solo player in multiplayer games, I have managed to collect a string of friends and acquaintances over the years.

So as a legitimate point of view for an individual, I cannot really fault his statement.  But as a sweeping generalization of the total MMO experience, I just cannot get there.  I know too many people for whom the social aspect is the main draw.  After all, one of the four quadrants of the classic Bartle Test is “Socializer.”

How about you?  How significant do you see the social aspects of MMOs in your view?