Monthly Archives: August 2010

August in Review

The Site

This month saw another big spike in traffic due to something pretty much unrelated to the site.

Cracked.com linked to a rant I wrote quite a while back about the mis-use of the term “microtransactions.”  They did a humor piece about FarmVille, and somehow my post seemed relevant.

Obligatory Traffic Graph

Also driving traffic this month were the search terms “Blood Elf Porn,” “Elf Porn,” and “Ancient Porn.”  All this for a post titled Fighting Blood Elf Porn.  Do you suppose it was nerd rage that brought them here?

Along with the big PLEX loss story, those were the big three traffic driving posts of the month.

Aside from that, I took yet another baby step into the 21st century.  I now have a Twitter account.  All it does is tweet when I put up a post… WordPress.com does that for me automatically… and it works most of the time.  It will list posts for both this site and EVE Online Pictures, my other site.

Otherwise, I have little to say in SMS sized bits.

So far I have two followers.  You know who you are.

One Year Ago

The Matrix Online (MxO for those in the know) was shut down by SOE last August.  Planetside is still around though!  For now.

Bruce Everiss was getting sued for libel by the makers of Envoy.  That was eventually worked though this past March.  Enovy, LLC dropped their suit, but not before causing Mr. Everiss much pain and hamstringing his desire to be as forthright in the future.

Somebody was granted a patent for something that sounded a lot like podcasting.  How did that ever turn out?

That Wii Bowling Ball made another appearance.  Still no know deaths attributed to it.

I was wondering what genre our post apocalyptic future really was.  People assume it is Science Fiction.  Is it?

On the Blizzard front, we learned that we were not going to get StarCraft II for Christmas.  I still don’t own a copy yet.

There was a lot of speculation before BlizzCon about the next WoW expansion.  I tried to draw parallels between 2004 and 2009.

I subscribed to the BlizzCon Pay-per-view event via DirecTV.  That was a lot of gaming coverage to watch.

Meanwhile in the instance group, we were finally almost all level 80.  It was time to screw around in some old raid instances.

I actually posted the results of that cheating poll I had set up.  I generally mean to post the results of these sorts of things, but somehow I usually don’t get around to it.

And, finally, I was on a re-reading binge last August while making Code Red floats.

New Linking Sites

I would like to thank the following site for linking here.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. RMT and Microtransactions Rant
  2. Fighting Blood Elf Porn
  3. The PLEX Story We’ve All Been Waiting For
  4. Pokemon Enigma Stone Download Event
  5. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  6. WoW Account Hacked… Officially No Longer News
  7. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  8. WoW Account Hacked – This Just Keeps Happening
  9. EverQuest Next and Lessons Learned
  10. The Factions of WoW Account Hacking
  11. Torchlight II – Look Out Diablo III
  12. EQII Extended – The Trial of Inconvenience
  13. I Do Not Like Raspberries

Search Terms of the Month

blood elf porn, elf porn, ancient porn
[These seem to spike late on Friday night.]

bloggoleechification
[Thanks Tobold]

blizzard account hacked and i dont play
[I have no account, and I must be hacked]

hack beter wow very good
[Very good indeed]

Spam Comments of the Month

Now let’s create, continuous innovation with Fashion game network:
[Because that is the innovation that will revive the economy!]

May i sex dating with you?
[Me sex date you long time]

EVE Online

I am in total slumber mode in EVE Online.  I have converted some of my ISK into PLEX and am just sitting in the station training long skills.  Still, I will have over 60 million skill points soon.

EverQuest II Extended

I said I was going to play this when it launched, but I forgot that in the post-Google world, the word “Beta” means you’ve shipped.  So I was waiting for it to go live, but SOE has been letting all and sundry in to play.  I hear the load on the Freeport server is pretty heavy, apparently with EQ2 vets.

Lord of the Rings Online

Turbine is a company that knows what Beta means.

The instance group… well, four of the group… have been seen regularly in Middle-earth.  The game has become my only MMO for the moment.  While the instance group is in the 20s, I have been pressing on ahead in hopes of catching a glimpse of Moria.

World of Warcraft

My daughter is in the Cataclysm beta and has been taking screen shots now and again… when I ask repeatedly.  My own WoW account… lapsed.  While I may leave it like that until Cataclysm ships, that will mean missing out on the last bottle, and the achievement, for Brew of the Month club.  Decisions, decisions.

Coming Up

LOTRO will be going Free to Play soon, and no doubt that will change the feel of the game some.  We’ll see if it is for the better or not.

Aside from LOTRO, I expect this coming month to be pretty light when it comes to posts.  Summer is over.  My daughter went back to school last week and, this week, I went back to work.  My wife now has the house to herself again during the day, much to her relief.

Piracy vs. Opportunity

There are always multiple ways of looking at a problem.  The entertainment software industry sees the used game market, embodied by GameStop, as a bad thing.  As THQ’s Cory Ledesma put it in an interview over at CVG:

We hope people understand that when the game’s bought used we get cheated

And Penny Arcade got in on the act and made the “used games = piracy” association.

I wrote 1,500 words on the subject, but tossed them because in my mind it all comes down to a simple choice.

You can say “screw you” to those who purchase the used version of your game, as THQ did in that interview:

I don’t think we really care whether used game buyers are upset because new game buyers get everything. So if used game buyers are upset they don’t get the online feature set I don’t really have much sympathy for them.

Or you can figure out how you can turn them into a customer.  Here is somebody who has an interest in your game.  Getting that far is most of the battle.

Couldn’t you just tell them that if they want to access the online content they need to enter the code that came with the box, but if that code has been used or missing, they will have to purchase a new code for, say, $10.

$10 seems like enough to keep from rewarding the market from buying used.

Sure, you’d want to tinker a bit with what people got.  Maybe the original code gave you a little something extra, some sign that you didn’t buy used.  But you would want the second-hand purchaser to have access to all the functionality.

But if you work that out, it makes that person your customer in fact.  You made a sale that had very little overhead, the customer having provided his own box, disk, and manual.  It gives your marketing department another name and email address.  And I am going to guess that a certain percentage of such buyers will feel invested enough to buy your next game new.

It isn’t that I think THQ’s point of view is not legitimate.  They do have a point.

But is their response necessarily the best one?

Loitering in the Weather Hills

We had what is essentially the whole available team online and together in Middle-earth on Saturday night.

Our group for the night was:

  • Earlthecat – level 17 dwarf Guardian
  • Roderigo – levl 20 human Burglar
  • Garfinkel – level 22 elf Minstrel
  • Enaldie – level 23 elf Rune Keeper

Due to absences and alts, we have managed to get ourselves a bit spread out with regard to levels.  While LOTRO is somewhat self-correcting in this regard, lower level characters get more exp for the same, quest both in absolute terms and relative to their exp needed for the next level, than higher levels characters, having a six level gap over four players would prove to be trying.

I did have a suit of armor for Earl and a new weapon ready when he hit 18, which he did pretty quickly, so he was at least equipped as well as we could manage.

Before the topic of what to do came up, somebody said they were headed to Saeradan’s cabin.  We followed that lead and started in on Volume I, Book 2 of the epic quest line.

At Saeradan's Cabin

That first quest in the book 2 line used to be one of the more annoying redirects in the game.  You are in Bree and are told to go out into the North Bree Fields to Saeradan’s Cabin.  Saeradan then tells you to head to Candaith’s camp.

Candaith’s camp is in a remote corner of the Lone Lands, quite a long walk/ride from Saeradan.

To compensate for this, Saeradan is now a limited availability stable master as well as a quest giver.  When you have the quest that sends you to Candaith’s camp you can speak to Saeradan and get a lift.

Riding the horse to Candaith’s camp is considerably faster than walking, but it still takes a few minutes.  Well all adjourned for snacks and bathroom breaks while our horses carried us on.

Riding To Candaith's Camp

The riding route is not only shorter, but probably not a viable choice to walk at our level.  There are some hazards.

A pack of wolves in the Weather Hills

At Candaith’s camp, we had little problem dealing with his initial requests.

Kill some orcs.  No problem there!

Kill some craban and collect their eyes.  Eeew.  Plus each craban had four eyes.  Odd birds.

Kill the orc messenger. Does every fantasy game have to have at least one “kill the orc messenger” quest?  Is this a rule?

Assault an orc camp, kill their lead, steal their plans.  Loads of fun for the whole family!

The gate is open... is anybody home?

Scout the pinnacle of Weathertop.  Always nice to see the sights.

And then we got to the sticking point of the evening.  Retaking Weathertop.

Not a job for the four of us, not at our levels.

Sure, we had all gained a level or two since we set out, but this is a quest that needs a full fellowship of six, and we were but four.

Still, we were out there, the evening was still young, and it was a long hike to get to any other alternative activities, so we decided to give it a try.

Of course, as soon as we got there, it began to rain.

And Earl is wearing his brand new armor too...

The first stage involves one of the grand MMORPG traditions, the escort quest with the suicidally insane target.  It is like being Teddy Roosevelt’s secret service detachment, the guy just keeps charging up the hill after the goblin in the back row.

I realize that the code is a compromise when it comes to these things, but Candaith behaves bat-shit crazy at times.  The best, and probably safest moment for us, was when for some reason, Candaith went into orbit around Enaldie, circling her in a frenzy of movement until we rested up and moved forward.  Too much espresso or something for the ranger.

Eventually we got Candaith safely to the point where he goes one way and the rest of us go another.  No more escorting the nut case.  It was just a matter of killing off a couple of named guys, then meeting our ranger buddy at the summit.  We could handle that.

Up the hill

Getting to climb Weathertop is one of the many great points of the game for people who are fans of the lore.  We talked about how we imagined Weathertop to look.

When I read the books for the first time some 30 years ago, I never pictured Weathertop to be so big.  But then I did not get the real feeling for the Numenorian need to overcompensate on a grand scale… and apparently stimulate their economy through massive defense and public works projects… until I finally managed to struggle through the Silmarillion years later.  That book starts slower than Braveheart.

Anyway, we made it to the top to find Candaith waiting for us.  Only now Mr. Run-Ahead-and-Aggro-Everything seemed to have a change of heart.  He claimed to be wounded, though his limp seemed to change sides as he spoke, and said that he would cover us while we went in and took care of the rest of the mission.

Candaith weasels as the enemy musters

We stared at him, waiting for the “just kidding.”  But no, he was serious.

He said he would take care of anything that got past us.  We stared.

We attempt to move Candaith through peer pressure

But he wasn’t coming along.  It was up to us.

And so we gave it a shot.

We died…  erm… We were defeated.

Stone Trolled Again

It wasn’t a total, instant wipe.  It seemed like we might be able to get a handle on the fight if only we could just get things to roll our way.  But we never could.  Aggro would be lost, adds would go after the healer, crowd control would get broken, or that damn troll would just get a big crit and stomp somebody into a pulp.

We tried a few variations, but we just didn’t have enough oomph to finish off the event.  So when Garfinkel’s equipment started to go red in the paper doll, we called it a night.  (Pity the poor healer.)

In the end, we probably should have opted for one of our other choices from the previous week, finishing off the Barrow Downs or starting in on the Lone Lands quests around the Forsaken Inn.

We will need a few more levels before we run up the hill with Candaith again.

Massive Blips Bloops

Massive Blips is gone.

I woke up this morning and found their feed down.

Their site now redirects to this message (click to enlarge):

Thank you for your interest

Massive Blips was, until yesterday, a site that tracked and helped promote MMO related blogs.  It was one of a set of similar sites under the DailyRadar brand which also included WoW, Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox, and other gaming categories as well as a large number of non-gaming topics.

DailyRadar was somewhat in the Digg category of business models.  It produced no content of its own.  It just tracked the what other people were posting on their blogs, but tried to chop things up into categories of interest.  You could also sign up for an account and vote for posts.

I ran their Top Stories feed in my side bar for just over a year as a second source, after VirginWorlds, of posts in the MMO blogging community.

While the purpose of the site was to direct people to the community, Massive Blips never generated much in the way of traffic for me.  But as a site it seemed to be… under utilized.  A post with a dozen votes was huge.

And their tracking model did produce some questionable results, like SynCaine being flagged as the top WoW blogger for weeks on end.

But I still I found the site interesting to watch.

It was a good way to find blog posts on the same subject.  During the RealID revolt, you could find all sorts of posts, both pro and con, on the subject by heading over to MassiveBlips.

They tried to track which MMOs were being talked about the most, though with WoW in the picture, the top three tags tracked for the last year have been World of Warcraft, Blizzard, and Cataclysm.  I didn’t really need MassiveBlips to tell me that.

But the tag that was in fourth place was often a reflection of what was going on.  Star Wars: The Old Republic occupied that spot frequently, but not always.  Lord of the Rings Online was there for a few weeks after the announced their free to play transition.  And recently, also after a free to play business model announcement and the announcement of EverQuest Next, EverQuest bubbled up to the fourth spot.

It was also a good way to find new blogs or interesting posts from blogs you might not read regularly.  And the barrier to entry for having a story listed was pretty low.  If somebody linked from a post to your post, that was usually enough for your post to be listed and tracked.  You could also submit stories manually.

And the system didn’t get abused very often.  There was one WoW gold selling group that kept submitting their own stories and once in a while some porn site would try to get their stuff listed.  And then there was Temerity Jane.  I have no idea why her posts were regularly listed on the site.  We did certainly get to read a lot about her and Phil.  But other than TJ, the editorial staff kept things pretty much under control, so spam was never a bit deal.

The company which ran the site, Future US (which produces magazines as well, including PC Gamer, Nintendo Power and World of Warcraft: The Official Magazine) still runs quite a few other site, including GamesRadar.

But DailyRadar, and the MassiveBlips site, those are now gone.

So my blog outlives another gamer/blogger community site.  And my blog isn’t even that old.

Is anybody else doing something like MassiveBlips?

EQ2-Daily still does this sort of thing for EverQuest II posts, and they even have the voting aspect now, but is there anything else out there like this for the MMO blog community in general.

Cryptic Calls My Forgotten Realms Bluff

If you didn’t like the IP idea in my last post, why not just go with Forgotten Realms?

Is Forgotten Realms good for everybody?

(Quiet you Dragonlance weenies!)

As noted over at Massively, Cryptic announced their next project, Neverwinter.

Neverwinter

This is what Cryptic has to say about the game so far:

About Neverwinter

100 years have passed since the Spellplague consumed the world of Faerûn. Neverwinter, a once majestic city of magic and adventure upon the mighty Sea of Swords, is still being rebuilt from near total ruination. Even as new wonders of stone and iron rivaling ancient works are being raised by the hands of man, dwarf and elf, dark powers beyond reckoning vie for control of the land…

This is a world that promises death for the meek, glory for the bold and danger for all. This is the world of Neverwinter.

Neverwinter Nights Reborn

Continue the critically acclaimed adventure! The #1 best-selling Neverwinter Nights series of PC RPGs returns with an epic Dungeons & Dragons storyline, next-generation graphics, a persistent world, and accessible content creation tools.

Immersive, Imaginative

Enter a world ravaged by the Spellplague. Wrest victory from the claws of darkness and battle the greatest of civilization’s enemies in and around Neverwinter, a storied and ancient city upon Faerûn’s Sea of Swords.

Challenging, Complex, Classic

Epic gameplay and action rooted firmly in the best traditions of the RPG genre await those heroes courageous enough to brave the Spellplague and all that it has ravaged.

Build a Fantasy

Easy-to-grasp adventure creation tools empower users. Bring compelling quests to life and build challenging levels! Share creations with the entire world in-game. Become a part of the existing Dungeons & Dragons universe… Then build a new one.

Play Together or Die Alone

Encounter dangerous foes and perilous environments. Work with others, strategically, to overcome nightmares, demons, monsters, and beasts of legend.

World Without End

Neverwinter features co-operative multiplayer in an ever-evolving, persistent world where Dungeons & Dragons adventurers quest alongside thousands of other warriors, rogues, wizards and faithful avengers.

New D&D, Beloved D&D

Neverwinter is a true Dungeons & Dragons experience based on the acclaimed 4th Edition rules — a first of its kind!

A Legend Arises

Unprecedented character customization as only Cryptic can deliver. Imagine a hero, make a hero, become a hero.

Neverwinter is based on the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule set and set around the Forgotten Realms location of  Neverwinter.

This is pretty much what I have been asking for.

I was just commenting on a post the other day regarding DDO and how Eberron doesn’t thrill me, but Forgotten Realms… now there is an IP!

We’ll see how the D&D 4th edition rule set gets translated… that is always a leap of faith… but it couldn’t end up that bad, right?

And now, here we are.

Certainly, there are aspects to this concept that interest me.

  • Forgotten Realms

My favorite D&D campaign setting ever!

He’s the man for Forgotten Realms fiction… but doesn’t he work with Curt Schilling?  How do you explain that one to the head man?

  • Cryptic Studios

If nothing else, I want to see the fantasy RPG version of their character creator.  That should practically be a stand alone game in and of itself.  And if they’ve learned other lessons, so much the better.

  • Content Creation Tools

Yes, there is the 90% crap rule, but if they can figure out how to promote the good stuff so we can find it, this could be worthwhile.

  • Did I say Forgotten Realms already?

Oh yeah, still excited about that!

  • Not an MMORPG

Interesting.

Jack saysI wouldn’t say MMORPG at all — Neverwinter is a cooperative RPG.”

So where will Neverwinter stand then in the grand scheme of things?  And how does “not an MMORPG” fit in with their statement under “World Without End” I quoted above?

Is this just positioning, a “Neverwinter is not WoW” message?

Will it be “not an MMO” the way Guild Wars and Dungeons & Dragons Online are “not” MMOs, lacking as they do the shared, persistent world?

Will it be a step closer to the Dragon Age segment of the fantasy gaming world?

Or will it fall closer to Diablo III and Torchlight II?

And how will we be paying for this game, whatever it ends up being?

I will certainly want to keep an eye on this new game.  We’ll see if my calls for a real Forgotten Realms MMO were a bluff or not.  And, if nothing else, I always like to see how the game that ships lines up with the first press release.

Meanwhile, the last time I was in Neverwinter, it looked like this:

Neverwinter Map – TorilMUD

Not exactly impressive, but that was the way things were back in the day when I played TorilMUD regularly, and I enjoyed it immensely at the time.

Southshore Gets Slimed

Our Cataclysm Beta correspondent headed through Southshore in the Hillsbrad Foothills only to find that the Alliance had been pushed out and that the town lay in ruins.

Southshore Deserted

Pools of Plague All Over

The Southshore Inn Deserted

A Fire Still Burns Inside Though

A Plague Spreader on the Edge of Town

Tarren Mill

New Camp on the Road to Silverpine

A Closer Look at the Camp