Monthly Archives: February 2011

February in Review

The Site

I guess the big thing for the site this month has been the the Say100 recognition.


That was quite a surprise to me.  And it brought a lot of traffic to the blog, though not in the way you think.

I do get a referral or two a day from the Say 100 site.  They put all of my posts in their feed.  But they also put up the posts from Joystiq, Destructoid, and Games Radar, so my few posts a week kind of disappear in that mix.

No, WordPress.com sent me all the resulting traffic.  The blog was featured again on the Freshly Pressed front page.


That sent me enough traffic to finally remove Paul the Octopus from the “most traffic in one day” throne.  A World Cup winner picking cephalopod and cats playing patty cake are no match for the web referencing itself.

It was actually a banner month for traffic here, with the highest average page views per day so far and the most page views ever for a single month.  Not bad for a 28 day stretch.

The other big contributor was the team at Wargaming.net who linked my post reviewing World of Tanks, or at least my view of the open beta, on their Facebook page.  So there is a free tip if you are desperate to drive some traffic to your site, go write something about World of Tanks.

Of course, these traffic spikes are mostly one-time viewers.  Writing about EverQuest for a week straight showed the more steady stream of regular visitors, as EQ doesn’t bring out that much excitement.  Still, after each of these spikes, the overall page view average goes up ever so slightly, so a few people stick around.

One Year Ago

We learned SynCaine’s dirty secret.

I was invited to go play in the beta for the web based Crown of Byzantus.  It didn’t really stick with me, though I wrote about it a couple of times.

There was another press release or some such for a Wheel of Time MMO.  My call: It isn’t going to happen.

Ten Ton Hammer made a list of their Top Ten PvP MMOs, and there was some chagrin that Ultima Online didn’t make the cut.

For reasons I cannot recall, Omali started looking into how MMO companies ranked over at the Better Business Bureau.

There was an announcement for this new game… World of Tanks!  Hey, almost a year later I got to try it!

In World of Warcraft, the instance group got as far as Zul’Farrak in our horde adventures, though we were still forgetting we could use the Dungeon Finder.  Otherwise we were running around doing holiday events and the like.

Oh, the Dungeon Finder.  My first runs with that were… not so good.  I seemed to run into some cliche bad groups.

Meanwhile, WoW decided to emulate WebKinz and start selling stuffed animals that had codes for in-game versions.  Did anybody buy one of those?

And the Azeroth Advisor went buh-bye.  I saved all the email tips they sent me.  They are all pretty much worthless post-Cataclysm.

Finally, I was still playing Star Trek Online.  The head start ended, The game went full-live, I was fiddling with my super special pre-order collector’s edition junk, and I gave out some codes in a caption contest.  There was even some new content.  But by month’s end, STO faded for me.

New Linking Sites

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return, it is totally worth your time.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. And Then I Was Mistakenly Declared “Influential”
  2. Battleground of Tanks
  3. Download Mythical Celebi at GameStop
  4. Shiny Pokemon Events Coming to GameStop in January
  5. Pokemon Black and White Tour – Hunting Pokemon at Oakridge Mall
  6. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  7. Download Ash’s Pikachu at Toys R Us
  8. Fighting Blood Elf Porn
  9. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  10. Hulkageddon Declares War on All Industrialists
  11. 2011 Pokemon Video Game Championship Series Announced
  12. Hulkageddon IV – Tears of Veldspar is Live

Most Common Search Terms of the Month

  1. gamestop celebi
  2. pokemon black and white tour
  3. tagn
  4. blood elf porn
  5. elf porn
  6. white mouse
  7. celebi at gamestop
  8. ancient gaming noob
  9. guild names
  10. thorin oakenshield
  11. hulkageddon 2011
  12. eve character creator

Search Terms of the Month

raspberry dessert for those who dislike raspberries
[sadist]

“everquest 2” “no pants”
[Is that the Destiny of Velious?]

my mum is a noob
[My mum has two level 80s and can kick your mum’s ass!]

Spam Comments of the Month

Greetings! Mitigate the immature wench, I contrariwise play a joke on started to effort recently on the Internet
[Uh, greetings to you to I suppose.]

These condoms are really great, and despite what you might read below, are not that huge. They’re the same length as regular rubbers, and only slightly girthier (is that a word?). Anyway, you can look up the stats on these and see, in millimeters, that the measurements aren’t all that different.
[What makes you think that “not huge” is what I want to hear?]

Where I Spent My Gaming time

Game time distribution as counted by my Raptr profile, which doesn’t count everything… it still doesn’t track Lord of Ultima.

  1. EverQuest – 40%
  2. World of Warcraft – 27%
  3. World of Tanks Beta – 16%
  4. Rift Beta – 12%
  5. EVE Online – 3%
  6. Lord of the Rings Online – 2%

EVE Online

I haven’t been doing much with EVE Online, mostly training and playing the market there.  I have been living on PLEX purchased with my ever diminishing fortune.  That time may now be at an end.  I forgot to buy another PLEX and my account lapsed.  I cannot see spending any money to get back into the game just to keep training going.  So I stopped at somewhere around 67 million skill points.

So that is what I did during Hulkageddon IV.

EverQuest

The surprise game of the month for me.  I had been pretty neutral on the idea of running back to old Norrath.  And then, like the old dope peddler, SOE gave us all a free taste that included the new Fippy Darkpaw progression server.  Right in the vein.  And it was good.  Good enough to sign on for another month at least.  We’ll see how it goes from there, but so far the whole thing is just authentic enough to bring back good memories, while mellowed out enough with updates to the game to remove some of the more heinous parts of the 1999 experience.

Lord of the Rings Online

I enter the lotteries that the community team posts… when I remember.  And winning usually gets me to log in for a bit.  But other than that, I have not done much in Middle-earth.  No closer to Moria.

World of Tanks

This has been the new game of the month.  The beta turned out to be surprisingly good in my opinion.  The whole thing still needs a bigger reason for being beyond 16×16 death matches, but it looks good and is playable in short bursts.

World of Warcraft

I did not get in a lot of play time in Azeroth in February.  The instance group only got together for one night over the course of the month, and EverQuest ended up eating heavily into my discretionary gaming time.  I’ll be back, but for now I am enjoying the old school experience of Norrath.  I’ll have to watch out though, my mom is going to beat me to level 85 if I am not wary.

Coming Up

Pokemon, EverQuest, WoW, and… who knows.

Oh, and GDC is this week.  There is always the possibility of seeing something interesting there.

But I think there will just be a lot more Pokemon and EverQuest posts in March, unless something else big is coming our way next month.

Hulkageddon IV is Over

The event is over.

Despite what I wrote previously, it ended at 00:00:01 on February 28th, 2011.  I read the time frame as through the 28th, not until the 28th.  My mistake, but it is over all the same.

Of course, now is the time to take a peek at the killboard for the event.

This time around there were 843 exhumers and 574 mining barges destroyed.

Unless I am reading the kill board incorrectly, that is a serious decline from Hulkageddon III, when the exhumer count was over 1700, along with over 700 mining barges.

And, continuing the trend, the killboard only reports 6 Orcas destroyed, down from 29, though Roquels remained even, with one killed in each event.

This time around industrial ships counted for credit as well.  There were 504 basic haulers killed, 30 transport ships, 2 freighters, and a single jump freighter.

On the other side of the equation, Griefer-Geddon has their own prize list posted.  The Griefer-Geddon kill board does not have a nice summary page like the Hulkageddon board, so I cannot tell exactly how many gankers they thwarted.  Nor do I have any way to connect the lower kill count for Hulkageddon to the existence of a counter event.

I am sure somebody out there will have a more detailed analysis.

So what did you do during Hulkageddon?

Press Release Bookends for NetDevil and LEGO Universe.

In with a press release.

The LEGO Group Selects NetDevil To Create Branded MMOG

Billund, Denmark – March 5, 2007 – The LEGO® Group today announced it has commenced a working relationship with NetDevil® to develop a massively multiplayer online gaming experience to further engage its dedicated and active community.
“As children around the world continue to spend more time online, we are developing new and engaging ways for them to interact with our brand,” said Lisbeth Valther Pallesen, Executive Vice President, Community, Education and Direct Division LEGO Group. “The LEGO brand represents construction, creativity and problem solving – values that complement the MMOG market. By merging the online world of social interaction with physical play, the LEGO brand is providing new experiences for children, as well as fans. NetDevil’s technological capability, openness to work with a large community, and enthusiasm for the LEGO brand make them a natural partner.”
“Playing with LEGO bricks and developing online worlds are both creative activities. To bring them together is deeply professionally satisfying and we look forward to working with the LEGO team,” said Scott Brown, president of NetDevil.

About the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group (www.LEGO.com) is a privately held, family-owned company, based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 4,500 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries.
LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2006 The LEGO Group.

About NetDevil, LTD
NetDevil is a leading independent game development company that specializes in the creation and construction of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). Founded in 1997, under the inspiration of JumpgateTM, the world’s first massively multiplayer space simulator, the company carries on a commitment to creating interactive, virtual worlds in unique and elaborate settings. Led by a development team of talented and experienced industry veterans, NetDevil has grown to over 50+ employees with plans to hire and retain top industry talent for work on its large-scale projects in development. All NetDevil employees share a common vision to bring the mysteries of new and exciting worlds to life as immersive online universes. NetDevil is a privately held company, with headquarters in Louisville, CO.

Out with a press release:

February 24, 2011 – SAN MATEO, Calif. – Gazillion Entertainment and LEGO System A/S jointly announced today that Gazillion agreed to sell its rights in the development of the LEGO Universe massively-multiplayer online game to the LEGO Group, the publisher of the game. The majority of LEGO Universe development team members, formerly part of Gazillion’s NetDevil subsidiary, have been offered employment by the LEGO Group, who will continue game development and operations from the current Louisville, Colorado studio.

“We’re excited about the launch of LEGO Universe, and are happy to have the developers officially join the LEGO team,” said Jesper Vilstrup, Vice President at the LEGO Group. “This acquisition demonstrates our commitment both to the ongoing success of LEGO Universe and to an overall strategy to expand our brand online.”

“Gazillion’s focus is developing, operating, and publishing the next generation of browser-delivered games,” said David Brevik, Gazillion Entertainment President and COO. “We’re proud of the game our team built, and are certain that it has a bright future. The transition of members of our team to the LEGO Group enables us to focus completely on internally-published, free-to-play game businesses.”

LEGO System A/S entered into a work-for-hire relationship with NetDevil to build LEGO Universe in 2006. In 2008, Gazillion Entertainment acquired NetDevil. The acquisition of the rights to the game and the ability to transition members of the team to continue work on the game follows the fulfillment of the LEGO Universe development contract. Gazillion will move its other NetDevil projects to a new location.

About LEGO Systems A/S
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company, based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children. The company is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities through its products, which can be purchased in more than 130 countries. Visit www.LEGO.com

LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of The LEGO Group. (c) 2011 The LEGO Group.

About Gazillion Entertainment
Gazillion Entertainment is a privately held developer and publisher of free-to-play online games for everyone. Gazillion’s games feature revered brands and original properties, superior production quality and unmatched gameplay. Gazillion Entertainment is headquartered in San Mateo, California. For more information on Gazillion Entertainment and its studios please visit www.gazillion.com.

I included the “About” sections of the press releases just to juxtapose what changed and what remained the same.  LEGO is still LEGO, and their stock statement is basically the same.

NetDevil though, has lead a more turbulent existence.  Jumpgate, Jumpgate Evolution, Warmonger,  and Auto Assault leave something of a mixed legacy for the company.  And even LEGO Universe has its issues.

And Gazillion… well, their statement sounds like a dozen other companies that are hot at the moment.  What more revered brand than LEGO will then be working with I wonder?  Tupperware?

I’m glad to see that the team working on LEGO Universe will be able to carry on.  But this is yet another marker for where the money is going these days.

All Set for Pokemon Black and White

It is almost here.

Pokemon Black and White editions are set to be released in the US on March 6th, which is just a week away.

And we are all ready in our household.

We have completed Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver.

Well, I have completed SoulSilver.  My daughter is a couple of steps shy.

I have defeated all of Team Rocket, become the undisputed regional champion, and captured all of the legendary Pokemon in the game.

I have also unlocked all of the Pokewalker routes, because I wear my Pokewalker every single day… and I make it a point to leave my desk and actually go for a walk at least once a day.

Pokewalker on my Belt

Yes, I cheated a little bit.  But that did not last.  So most of my Pokewalker steps are legitimate.

And, of course, thanks to some serious OCD, I completed the National Pokedex… including the extras.

After that, we turned our eyes to Pokemon Black and White pre-launch events.

We have been to GameStop on three occasions to download the three shiny legendary Pokemon.

Raikou, Entei, and Suicune

They unlock a special encounter with Zoroark when transferred into Black or White.

We have been to the Pokemon Black and White Tour to see previews, get prizes, and of course, to download another special Pokemon.

Mythical Celebi

Without this special Celebi transferred into the game, you won’t be able to encounter Zorua in Pokemon Black and White.

Plush Zorua and Pikachu

Are you starting to see a pattern here?  To complete the next game you have to have done the last game and you have to have downloaded Pokemon from special events along the way.

Oh, and you have to have two Nintendo DS units handy to transfer these Pokemon to the new game.

Still, it does get you out and at least standing next to some other Pokemon fans as we all stand around GameStop and download. (Unless, like us, you get a parking spot close enough to the store that you can sit in your car and do the download.)

Okay, so at least it gets us out of the house.

We also went to Toys R Us to download Ash Ketchum’s Pikachu.

Go Pikachu!

Pikachu doesn’t actually unlock anything in Black and White, and it isn’t like you can’t catch all the wild Pikachu you want in game, but this one is special and he’s just cool to have.

We haven’t gone completely overboard.  We won’t be, for example, ordering the special edition Pokemon Black and White themed Nintendo DSi sets.

I like Pokemon... but maybe not that much

Now it is just the wait for the launch.  March 6th is the date, though we will have to wait a little bit beyond that.  Next week is my birthday and I can’t go out and buy new stuff for myself.

But the delay should be short.

My daughter has already “called” Black, so I will be playing White.

And does it seem odd to anybody else that the legendary Pokemon with Black and White are the opposite color respectively?

In Norrath You Can See Forever

And it is starting to bug me a little.

There is a distinct lack of fog in EverQuest these days, and fog is one of the things I associate with early 3D games.

My thoughts primarily hearken back to the original days of games like EverQuest and Tribes in that regard.

The fog that hid the tree tops in Surefall Glade, the fog in the middle distance that made me tread carefully across the Qeynos Hills towards Qeynos.

Or the fog that hid the far side of a battlefield in Tribes, out of which the occasional tracers or disc projectiles would fly.

I had to use Google to find some old screen shots to show what I mean.

Now you may look at that and say, “Hey, you know it is raining in most of those shots, right?”

True, but these were the best screen shots I could find, so you’ll have to trust me that, at least in my memory, the fog in the game was present even when it wasn’t raining.

And these days in EverQuest, this is what I see most of the time.  Outside of Qeynos it is this.

Running towards a clear blue horizon

From our favorite bandit camp in West Karana, the view is this.

A clear vista of West Karana

But for me, the clincher, the proof in my mind, that the fog is gone, is this shot from Surefall Glade.

Are those supposed to be trees?

Surefall Glade, the zone where I started, the first place I saw back in 1999, used to have the permanent layer of fog above it, so the giant tree trunks seemed to disappear into the mist.  It was like a Northern California redwood grove in the winter.

Now it looks like great big wooden dowels holding up a blue surface.  Or if I turn the picture upside down, it could be pilings sticking up out of water.  But either way, the fog is gone.

Of course, things have changed over the years.  I started playing EverQuest on a 400MHz Pentium II machine with a 3dfx based Voodoo 2 card, which I upgraded soon afterwords to a very nice nVidia TNT2 based video card.  All that fog was there as a blind to keep from over-working the then current crop of video cards.

These days my current machine is considerably more powerful and the video card, a GTS 450, benefits from a decade of research and development.

My machine might now be too powerful to bother rendering fog as it can handle any request that EverQuest throws it.  Moore’s Law may have rendered fog rendering obsolete.

How about you?  Do you remember the fog back in the day in games like EverQuest and Tribes?  Is my mind coloring in blank spots with fog?

And do you see fog in old Norrath today?

Who is Going to GDC 2011 in San Francisco?

The Game Developers Conference up in San Francisco is NEXT WEEK!

(SF is up on the map relative to me, your relative direction may vary.)

I will be able to attend the Expo and recruiting part of the event thanks to the fine people at FileCatalyst who provided me with two Expo passes this year.

And it is a good thing too, since Expo passes are up to $200 this year.

I will be sure to visit them at booth #2030 on the Expo floor to say thank you and to see what they have to offer.  Their booth usually has comfy chairs!

Unlike last year, there is not (as yet) any planned group/blogger/podcaster meet-up.

But I will be on the Expo floor on Thursday, March 3rd and I am trying to get Potshot to take the day off and show up as well.

So if you are a reader and will be around GDC and want to say “Hi,” drop me a note.  My email address is on the “about” page for the site.

Oh, and to make people from out of town feel at home, we’ve turned down the thermostat here in the SF Bay Area.

Look at that weather forecast.  A chance of snow!  It hasn’t really snowed down at sea level around here since February 5, 1976.  We get confused when the rains start here in the Fall, imagine us in the snow!

World of Tanks Sets a Record, I Look for the Definition of “Server”

I received this press release from Wargaming.net, the makers of World of Tanks.

I get a press release of some sort from them about once a week and they vary in quality.  But today’s had me… asking questions.

Here is what they said:

World of Tanks Sets World Record

London (24th February, 2011) Wargaming.net is glad to announce that its free-to-play action-MMO game World of Tanks has set up a Guinness World Record™ in the category of Most Players Online Simultaneously on One MMO Server.

The record was registered on January 23rd, 2011 when the number of players on the game’s Russian server totaled 91,311.

“We are excited to see so many people playing World of Tanks and the new record is an important achievement for us,” said Victor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming.net. “However, with the population of the game growing steadily another week or two would let us report a more impressive record as the current PCCU number surpasses 120,000 players”.

Wargaming.net wants to thank all World of Tanks fans that made this record possible.

Join the beta at: http://game.worldoftanks.com/registration/ (NA server)
Join the beta at:
http://game.worldoftanks.eu/registration/ (EU server)

For more information on World of Tanks, visit http://www.worldoftanks.com/.

This confuses me a bit, since I do not understand what they mean by “One MMO Server.”

Not to bash Wargaming.net or anything, but there isn’t a lot of shared space in the game.  At the most you are involved with 31 other players you can see and otherwise you are in your own private garage or in the queue to get into a battle.  So it isn’t exactly like 91,311 people shared an experience together.

Plus, is under 100,000 really the high point for what we define as a server, shard, or realm?

Surely some game like Guild Wars has already been there, done that.

Or a game that plays like World of Tanks… like, say, StarCraft II?  If you can call WoT an MMO at the moment then the door seems open for StarCraft II, doesn’t it?

So unless they can prove that all 91,311 people were logged into the same single server in their data center rack, I’m not sure this record is very well defined.

What do you think?  Record? No Record? Poor definitions?