Monthly Archives: June 2011

June in Review

The Site

I passed the 2,000 post mark earlier this month.  That is more than one post a day since I started, though size and quality vary greatly among posts.  I will have to find some way to see how many total words I’ve written.

This month also saw the breaking of the daily page view record for the site yet again.  This time around somebody linked a rather old post on Reddit.  Reddit is a new experience for me, I’ve never used it and have never before been linked there.  The traffic from the link broke the old record by about 10%.  The link also made Reddit the #1 referral source, doubling a month of VirginWorlds traffic in a single day.

The post in question is at the top of the list of most viewed posts for the month.  Yeah, that one.  A prognosticating octopus, cats playing patty cake, and now that.

This is the sort of thing I couldn’t make happen if I tried.

One Year Ago

Warhammer Online, whose game tips I previously mocked, was out soliciting user written game tips with the most boring video game related video ever.  Really, I was embarrassed for them.

Meanwhile, there were comical tips to be found in another game.

CCP was telling people that the steep learning curve in EVE Online was just part of the game, and Hulkageddon III was on the way.

FrontierVille came along, evoking the whole Oregon Trail thing… for which they recently were sued.  And a good thing to, as they are a bunch of lying bastards there at Zynga.  They never sent me my FarmVille magnet.

There was the big news from Turbine with Lord of the Rings Online going Free to Play.  I wondered is Lifetime Subscribers like myself would get the shaft in this transition.  But Turbine made me a perm VIP instead and put out one of those charts that seems to accompany these multi-level subscription scams structures.  But I was winning LOTRO lotteries, so I was happy for the moment.

In Pokemon SoulSilver I had beat all the gym leaders, but we were having Pokewalker problems.

Then there was Blizzard.  Where to start?  They were to the Summer of 2010 what CCP is becoming to the Summer of 2011.

They were selling WoW Gold straight from the main page.  Really.  It just isn’t what you think.

They screwed up the parental controls interface… in my opinion… along with compromising the security of it.

The whole RealID thing was just getting warmed up.

One of the accounts in our guild was compromised and the guild bank was looted.  That has happened a couple times since and is barely news any more.

And during all this, the instance group was working its way through the Burning Crusade content with our Horde alts, but we weren’t really feeling it.

Ennui had set in and our only hope was Cataclysm.  And there were plenty of offers to get us into the beta.

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 June

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. EVE Introduces a New Currency – Aurum
  5. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  6. Monitize Your EVE Online App or Service… For a Fee…
  7. CCP – If The Players Won’t Create Drama, The Company Is Happy To Step In…
  8. The Slow Rise & Sudden Demise of LEGO Universe
  9. Trion – Those 600,000 Missing WoW Players, They Play Rift
  10. SOE Station Access Returns to 2004… And Then Some
  11. Star Wars Galaxies to Close in December
  12. And To Cap It Off, My Sentry Drones Barely Go *PEW* *PEW* At All

Most Common Search Terms of the Month

  1. world of warcraft
  2. how to catch zorua
  3. eve aurum
  4. how to catch zoroark
  5. guild names
  6. onyxia
  7. blood elf porn
  8. turbine points
  9. ancient gaming noob
  10. dire maul location
  11. guild name generator
  12. thorin

Notable Search Terms of the Month

draenei pokeball
[Will they fit?]

فار ابيض صغير

[More white mice]

10 most pressing world issues 2011
[This post is the first item returned for that search]

castle dollhouse plan
[Are they building something, or trying to produce a new TV series?]

eve online getting your bearings
[You can see exactly where you are if you jump off that cliff labelled “learning curve”]

what is the wilheim experience
[Sorry, this is the Wilhelm Arcturus Experience]

Spam Comments of the Month

You cannot post new topics in this forum…..You cannot reply to topics in this forum…..You cannot delete your posts in this forum…..You cannot edit your posts in this forum…..You cannot create polls in this forum…..You cannot vote in polls in this forum…

[And you cannot comment on this blog post.]

Most characters give little thought to their The guild names that make news such as Thott’s Everquest guild Afterlife Thott now runs the popular World of Warcraft site that bears his name are not the ones we remember for their names. Some guild names will make you smiles and other ones are just so cool that they deserve special recognition. Perhaps the ones that are most memorable are those that make a play on a band name.

[I think they were trying to make this look like a ping-back.  Linked to somebody’s Business Review site.  And they obviously have no idea how long Potshot and I spend thinking up guild names.]

wher exactly can I download pokemon black without paying?

[No idea wher, bro.]


Fippy Darkpaw is headed towards the next expansion, Scars of Velious.  Haven’t been back all month, but I keep meaning to visit.

EverQuest II Extended

This remains my main game for the time being.  Gaff and I have been on a lot and our guild is moving slowly towards level 40.  Getting the whole instance group to show up though… well… as I have said, there might be a reason we seem to have a hiatus every summer.

EVE Online

How to even summarize the last month of EVE?  My own experiences are so tiny in the backdrop of total forum war.

EVE is being hammered over a combo of bad turns.  There was the licensing fee for monetizing 3rd party apps which wasn’t really a bad thing, but was communicated so poorly… it was so vague that every negative “what if..” you could think of couldn’t be discounted… that it put the community in a bad mood.

Then came Incarna and the Noble Store and the new currency, which pissed some people off.  Then there was the pricing, which pissed off another segment.  Then there was the internal newsletter that talked about the possibility of selling things like special ammo and faction status, which really set a lot of people’s hair on fire.

And if that wasn’t enough to stir the pot, the rest of Incarna failed to impress a lot of people, me included.  Sure, the agent finder is good (though years late) and I want to try out the revised-yet-again new player experience.  But the Captain’s Quarters turned out to be amusing for a very short duration and turning it off to claim back the system resources it needed (or to make you system usable it you had an ATi video card) left you with the dreaded static station door picture.

Oh, and we got upgraded turret and beam graphics.  Mostly.  Don’t get me started on sentry drones again.

I cancelled my account 4 days into Incarna.  Not in rage over anything in particular, but because it brought nothing new to the table for me and actually made a few things worse.  I was not inspired to find something new to do in the game.

This who Incarna blow-up should make for an interesting “One Year Ago” post next June.  Now to see if CCP can fix it.  The CSM Incarna summit is even now going on.


I started playing the new Zynga game Farms & Allies or whatever it is called.  It is clearly another step in the evolution of games that Zynga has stolen created, building on FarmVille, FrontierVille, CityVille, and the work of Charles Ponzi.

You still do not actually interact with anybody else in real time, but you can attack other players and NPCs while you build your empire.  In a few more generations Zynga might actually be making “real” games, whatever that means.

If you’re playing, send me an neighbor invite soon, since my track record with Zynga is to get fed up with repetitive nature of their games in a few weeks time and leave, turning off all possible access I can with Facebook. (Because otherwise Zynga will flood you with messages.)

On the flip side, I stopped playing SOE’s Dungeon Overlord because I hit a point, not very far into things, where the only way I could figure out to continue the game was to spend money, and I frankly didn’t like it enough to do that.

I might have spent some money if I could have used Station Cash from my main SOE account, but Dungeon Overlord only accepts Facebook credits, which I am told are the Deutsche Mark of the Beast.

Other PC Games

I bought Gratuitous Space Battles on a whim.  I had a discount code and it looked interesting.  I may not have given it enough of a chance, but the space battles seem to be more tedious than gratuitous.  You set up the battle, then you watch the battle.  But I found watching the battle to be a chore… and I’m not all that sold on the fun of setting up the battle.  And yet I find practically the same mechanism in a game like Combat Mission to be quite engrossing.

PlayStation 3

The PlayStation Store came back online at last and I was finally able to download my free games as part of the Sony “make good” program.  I guess I should consider myself lucky, as I understand the PlayStation Network still isn’t fully operational in Japan.  After consulting with my daughter, we went with:

  • Super Stardust HD – An update to the game Asteroids.  Bright, shiny, loud, but not especially deep or engaging.
  • Wipeout HD + Fury – Mario Kart in futuristic hovercraft racers.  Bright, shiny, loud, and with a techno beat sound track, but Mario Kart.  Okay, there are a few race modes that Mario does not have, but we’re talking evolution, not revolution.

I wouldn’t have paid money for either game.  My daughter and I have played a bit of both, favoring Wipeout for the most part.  She likes the music.  In the end though, she downloaded the demo for Fancy Pants Adventures and probably spent more time with that than we did with the two free titles.

But the PS3 still makes a fine machine for watching movies in Blu-Ray or streaming Netflix in HD.  I think we stream more Netflix with it than all other uses combined.

Coming Up

We will see how the summer hiatus season affects the instance group and whether we will stick with EQ2.

I still have time on my EVE account, so I would like to spend an evening going through the updated Incarna new player experience.  Maybe that plus the new agent finder will make the expansion worthwhile to new players… and CCP might need some new players if they don’t get things settled down.

Then there is Star Wars Galaxies.  I grabbed the client.  I have All Station Pacsess or whatever it is called this week, so I am already subscribed.  I told myself I am going to take some time to visit the game one last time.  But honestly, I only played post-NGE and only for a short time, so I’m not actually all that invested and don’t really have any places I feel I need to visit “one more time.”

I’ll probably end up just running the tutorial and taking some screen shots of C3P-0 and Han Solo.

Not Knowing When to Let Go… A Class Action Suit to Save SWG

And the suit isn’t even aimed at saving the game, but merely to fight back against SOE shutting down those ever-so-effective internet petitions which have been springing up in the SOE forums and elsewhere in hopes of converting SWG to a free to play title.  You know those always get the job done!

Game Politics News and Kotaku are reporting that a group of 50 Star Wars Galaxies players are threatening a class action suit against Sony Online Entertainment because they claim that SOE is hindering their efforts to “save” the game from being closed.

Acting more than a few steps away from reality, the group is specifically suing SOE because they claim that the company has been locking petition forum threads (which along with poll threads, are explicitly forbidden by SOE’s forum rules) and banning those responsible, both pretty much within SOE’s rights and covered by the end user license agreement.

And the kicker is that SOE really has no control over keeping SWG alive.  LucasArts, which owns the Star Wars IP, has the final say on the subject, and they are never going to agree to anything but a full closure of the game, petitions or no.

LucasArts not only has a vested interested in supporting Star Wars: The Old Republic (and probably a contractual one as well), but they have a responsibility to protect the Star Wars IP and ensure that it is seen in the best light possible.  Letting SWG degrade over time, unsupported and with a population on the decline, does not serve that end.

Some seem to think that this is a nefarious plan to force SWG players to play SWTOR, something some are now claiming they will never do.  But a few subscribers (and few is the operative word here) isn’t the motivation.  It is protection of the IP and contractual obligations to EA and BioWare.

The writing is on the wall.  SWG is done, gone, will exist no longer after December 15, 2011.

Nobody wants to see their favorite game go away.  And people get especially attached to MMOs.  Emotions on the forums are running high.  But this whole assault on SOE is going to acc0mplish nothing.  There are more than five months left before the game goes away, use it.  Accept what is inevitable, make the time left meaningful, but be ready to say good-bye.

Slides from our Trip to Klak’Anon

It was another “off” week for the instance group… two weekends back.  I forgot to get to this last week so it is catch up time.

In the end, it was just Gaff and I online in EverQuest II Extended thinking about what to do.

I have been putting a little more emphasis on Nehru my templar so decided to do something with him.  At level 52 that set the range of places we could go.  We decided on Klak’Anon in Steamfont.

Once called Ak’Anon and formerly the home town of the gnomes back in EverQuest, it has since been overrun by their mechanical minions. (What is it with gnomish home towns?)

Gaff got out Gaft, a guardian, Nerral, a dirge, and Shrev, a defiler, all of whom were level 83, mentored down to Nehru’s level and we headed into the zone.

I won’t write a walk-through of our adventures.  First, it was almost two weeks ago, by which point a lot of the details have been pushed out of the very small buffer that is my memory.

And second, there wasn’t a lot interesting to tell.  We did a tour of the place, though we skipped the instance inside because it was getting late.  However, even mentored down, level 83s in raid level gear are extremely formidable, so we were bowling over most of the mobs we ran into.  Picture 12 with the mechnamagical hunter-seekers shows our most challenging fight, and it was only challenging because they whole group respawns almost immediately, so we ended up fighting through them a good half dozen times before we decided to leave the room.

The only other thing of note was how empty the place was.  It is an open dungeon.  However, unlike our experiences in some of the lower level dungeons like Stormhold and Fallen Gate, we saw only one other person in the zone the whole time we were there.  I am not sure if it is simply not a popular dungeon or if, at its level range, it is in the dread valley of the “mid-level” zones.

So instead of a long tale (or have I blown that idea here about half a dozen paragraphs in?) I’ll share pictures of our adventure, in chronological order.

Click on the pictures to view them as a small, slide-show format.  You can click on individual pictures in the slide-show, when they have focus, to see them full size.

Back to narrative next time around.

SOE All Access – What Does $19.99 a Month Get You?

As noted over at Massively, SOE has now put in writing what they announced at E3, a new version of the all-games-for-one-price plan, Station Access, priced at $19.99 a month down from $29.99 a month.

The plan, renamed to SOE All Access, is up on on the SOE web site.

And it has some nice new features, including a price break for subscribing in longer time increments, something previously denied Station Access subscribers.

There is even a spiffy new chart, and I love charts.

All Your SOE Subscription Options

You will note that Star Wars Galaxies is not listed.  That was expected.  You can still play, but it is in wind-down mode and won’t be accepting new subscribers soon.

And the chart itself is a bit odd in my opinion. They put free to play games in their own box, which I understand, but that does create a visual gulf between them and the All Access Pass.  And it is my experience that anything that can cause confusion will cause confusion and somebody is going to walk away from that chart convinced that All Access does not give them Gold access to EverQuest II Extended or member access to Free Realms.

At least they have removed the goofy Station Access Savings Calculator from the site.  Now they just need to make the URL redirect some place useful…

Addendum: Extra character slots are not part of SOE All Access.

If you are a current Station Access subscriber you get to keep you extra character slots as long as you remain subscriber, but anybody taking up All Access will no longer get this benefit.  Station Access used to give subscribers 2 extra EverQuest, 4 extra Vanguard, and 5 extra EverQuest II character slots.  Those will now have to be purchased with Station Cash.

Picking on Mr. Garriott

I used to feel a bit bad for Richard Garriott.

I used to think that perhaps the press was emphasizing the whole “Richard Garriott in space!” angle a bit too much.

Every story about the guy in the last five years or so has featured a picture of him in a space suite, regardless of the topic actually being discussed.  It often seemed a bit of a distraction, or an unnecessary implied comment on the man.

The headlines might as well read something like, “Crazy Space Guy is going to make Facebook Games!” or “Garriott to sue NCSoft once he Returns to Planet Earth!”

But then I started to follow him on Twitter.

And, aside from a Twitter feed that is a bit of a yawn fest (nice run there on Sunday, 4.52 miles in an hour is better than I could do these days), he does seem to emphasize the whole space thing quite a bit.

His Twitter pages lists his activities in this order:

  • Space Explorer
  • Game Developer
  • Entrepreneur
  • Philanthropist
  • Visionary
  • Explorer

And, of course, for his avatar, and the background picture of his Twitter page, he has a picture of himself in a space suit.

So every message from him has him in a space suit.

Congratulations Mr. Garriott.  May you and your bride find happiness.

Meanwhile, we’ll all be working out a joke involving you, your wedding night, and a space suit.

Or maybe that is just me.

Maybe the “crazy space guy” angle of things and the “ground control to Maj. Tom” subtexts are all just a product of my own imagination. Maybe it is me projecting these thoughts, and it is not some wry commentary at all when I see a story about his plan to make a poker game on Facebook and it includes the inevitable picture of him ready for outer space.

Am I alone in this?

Anyway, carry on with the space suit pictures.  It seems that this is something important to the man.

And To Cap It Off, My Sentry Drones Barely Go *PEW* *PEW* At All

To quote Wizardling, quoting EVE Radio, Incarna has something for everyone to get mad about.

Seriously, I am dismayed about Incarna.

First, the great big advance, full size avatars given a space of their own in which to play, turns out to be a few steps below Barbie’s Dream Quarters and suitable only for showing off crap from the much maligned Noble Store… and only to yourself, because nobody else can see your $68 monocle or $25 high heeled boots.

And you cannot go back to the old station view… it is gone for good.  So you are left staring at a generic station door graphic.  Only when you’re used to having a great big 3D rendered visual cue as to what ship you are currently jacked into, this seems a thin substitute.

No Jim Morrison, this door

Sure, the new agent finder is good.  But they went and simplified the agent classifications.  So, on the last day of Incursions I was parked in the center of a cluster of level IV agents who mostly gave me combat assignments, but would sometimes hand out a delivery mission.  Then Incarna came along and I find myself in the midst of a pack of level IV distribution agents who appear to give nothing but delivery missions.

Local Losers

Not cool guys.  Not cool at all.

And all my stuff is in the middle of this cluster and moving all of it to some place else will be a pain.

Fine… but at least I had the security blanket of sentry drones blazing away to cling to.  CCP said as much in the Incarna 1.0 patch notes.

Sentry drones such as Garde, Curator and Warden were missing their firing animations. Thanks to the new turret system we can now witness their destructive power.

Witness their destructive power!  Now that was something I wanted!

I did not even have the Sentry Drone skill on my main character.  I had trained that up with my alt.  So I bought the skill, trained it up, flew half a dozen jumps to get a mission from a level IV security agent, and then  flew off to see my sentry drones shine.

Only shine turned out to be operative word.  Destructive power my ass.

PEW... or spew?

If you look at the picture above you will see a green glow in the middle of the drone.  That is the firing animation.  All of it.  That is all the destructive power there was to witness.  Not a big change from a non-firing drone, really.

Stock sentry drone picture

Really CCP?  Was that worth the effort?  My wife has a solar powered butterfly light in the back yard which glows more fiercely  than that.  Other drones are probably laughing at these guys even now.  They were better off with no animation.  They could at least pretend they were just chillin’ in the back of the class.  But now… now they have to explain that no, they did not just ooze glowing green slime all over themselves, thank you very much.

Oh the shame of it all!  It was better to be boring!

Ah well.  I guess the beam weapons were fun to watch.  We still have that.

Kitchen sink inbound!

I have it all going on in the shot above.  Inbound beams.  Outbound shots.  A tractor beam.  A salvager beam.  There is even a missile headed in on the my Domi.

But I have yet to see anything that looked as cool or as detailed as the turret animations shown on the Incarna client launch screens.

Bait, meet switch.  Switch, this is bait.

Oh CCP, look at what you have wrought!

What Will The Weather Be Like For SWTOR?

For those who truly hate World of Warcraft and cannot stand to grant it even one accomplishment, the real reason for the success of WoW is encapsulated in the idea of the perfect storm.

The circumstances were simply right at that moment of time and big, dumb old Blizzard fell into their position of market leader due to circumstances beyond their control.  The changes, the flailing about, and the constant “dumbing down” of WoW only fuels the flames of the fire that keeps this theory on the boil in certain quarters.

And you will notice that “perfect storm” has a bad connotation in almost every usage, so no doubt refers to how Blizz destroyed the MMO market, one more slam against the current front runner.

I do not agree with this theory.  People espousing it tend to ignore the fact that Blizzard had a series of best selling games before WoW, so had a good reputation, and that the Warcraft franchise was popular.  A lot of factors went into the success of WoW, a topic that has been bounced around ad naseum.

But while the whole “perfect storm” thing cannot stand by itself, things were certainly working in Blizzard’s direction.

EverQuest, WoW’s spiritual ancestor and former market leader, had trained a lot of people on what a 3D fantasy MMO was.  There were a lot of EQ players and probably even more former EQ players by 2004 out in the market looking for something new.

Games requiring 3D accelerated video cards were common, and such cards were readily available and not too expensive, so the base of machines capable of playing WoW was much bigger at launch than it was for EQ back in 1999.

EQ itself had reached the stage of shoving unfinished expansions out the door every six months, while SOE was creating its own successor to EQ, EverQuest II, which wouldn’t figure out what it was about, in my opinion, until the two years later with the Echoes of Faydwer expansion.

So the market was ready, in a way, for Blizzard to come along with World of Warcraft.  And even with its own troubled launch, it still looked like a better deal than its competitors on the market.

Yes, that is a grossly simplified look at WoW’s competition.  There were other games out there like Dark Age of Camelot.  But things did seem, in general, to work to Blizzard’s advantage in late 2004.

And it is news this week that made me start thinking about what the market will look like for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and how things will work out when it launches late this year. (Or so they say.)

Certainly there are some immediate parallels with WoW in 2004, so much so that it is tempting to start forecasting the weather in search of another such storm.

More the SWG forecast these days...

What might we predict if we took today and projected it out to the SWTOR launch?

The Blizzard Conditions

Like Blizzard, BioWare is well regarded, has a strong following, and a track record of best selling, high quality games.

And while Warcraft is a popular IP, very few IPs beat Star Wars.  And this is not a new IP with which BioWare is working.  Their success with Knights of the Old Republic gives them credibility with the public that they can deliver a good Star Wars game as well as the leverage (or so I have heard) to tell LucasArts to “screw off” if they start telling BioWare what to do.

The market too seems to be aligning itself in favor of BioWare.

World of Warcraft – It’s Draining Subs

World of Warcraft is in the position EverQuest was in 2004, the undisputed market leader.  And like EQ, it is slipping into decline.  While it does not suffer from quality problems in expansions, it is still managing to alienate sections of its core player base.  Even my mom says Cataclysm is nice looking, but “meh” otherwise.  And by destroying the old game to redo levels 1-60, they cut the nostalgia cord with  their loyal fans.  Blizzard has the summer to come up with something new or they look to be in the long cycle of decline.  WoW will still be huge and profitable and highly polished for years to come, but things appear to be on the down slope now.

Star Wars Galaxies – That’s No Contract Renewal!

Then there was last week’s announcement of the closure of Star Wars Galaxies.  Of course, LucasArts is declining to renew its contract with SOE in order to support SWTOR.  The announcement said as much.  And while it is silly to assume that SWTOR will somehow automatically get all of SWG’s subscribers, it will be the only Star Wars MMO in town, so no doubt some of that population will come in for a look.  And those that come to look may stay because, unlike the mass of EQ players that went to EQ2, said “no,” and ran back to EQ, there will no “home” to which to return.

EVE Online – Unrest… but when isn’t that the case?

EVE Online is in chaos for the moment.  But when does it ever go for six months at a stretch without something driving the player base to howl?  And it is unclear to me if the echo-chamber of the threadnaughts represents anything more than the most vocal segments of the minority of EVE players than play the 0.0 segment of the game.  Still, EVE is a very interconnected game, so your empire space based mining corp would feel the pinch if null sec players stopped needing resources.  And EVE is a home for those who want a space MMO, and while SWTOR won’t be anything like EVE, you can be sure there will be some cross-over… and all the more so if CCP keeps stoking the fire or ire in the player base.

Rift – So Happy Today

Rift, the darling of late winter which bloomed so rapidly in the spring seems to be enjoying a stable summer.   The biggest selling point for a lot of people seemed to be that is was “not WoW.”  But it has started moving closer to WoW in difficulty and mechanics.  Will this flower be a perennial or merely an annual, shedding a chunk of its player base for the next “not WoW” thing?  Are the new trial servers an innovation or just a clever way to do a server shut down without doing a server shut down?  Will Rift be able to claim a sizable loyal core, or will its player base be tempted by something that may be even more “not WoW?”

Guild Wars 2 – When it Ships

Guild Wars 2, a serious contender for attention in this market now sounds like it won’t ship until 2012.  If SWTOR makes its own plan and launches this year, having GW2 out of the way will be an advantage.

Other Titles – Any High Pressure Systems?

What else will be coming out this year?  Diablo III and the next installment for StarCraft II represent all that Blizzard will have to offer.  They will steal some attention, but are really for something of a different audience.  There will be other games, many of them free to play, as well as expansions.

So What Is The Forecast?

Having taken a semester of meteorology in college, I know a wee bit about forecasting the weather.  And one of the truths of it is that a forecast gets more accurate the closer you get to the particular time for which you are attempting to forecast.  And accuracy only hits 100% when you are telling people what is happening right now for your current location.  The further away you get in time and space, the bigger the margin of error.

We are months away from a SWOTR launch and many things can change.

BioWare might need to slip the release into 2012.  Or, worse, they might really need to slip in to 2012 but get forced by EA to go out the door unready for prime time.

Blizz might figure out what it needs to do to get WoW out of its slow decline and restore growth.

EVE might stave off a player revolt (actually, it surely will, as such unrest is part and parcel of the game in my opinion) and introduce walking on stations in time to make space interesting enough to attract those who might not be sold on SWTOR. (Though that level of change would no doubt instigate another player revolt in the threadnaut echo chamber.)  Or EVE players might just stalk off to Perpetuum and be invested there when SWTOR rolls out.

Guild Wars 2 might launch this year.

Some other game, some sort of indie MMO with Minecraft-like powers of appeal, might show up and change the whole scene.

Heck, if we want to get wild in our speculation, SWG, riding a resurgence of interest based on nostalgia and its imminent demise, might start delivering enough dollars to LucasArts to make it think twice about shutting it down.  But I would rank that on the scale of “maybe the horse will learn to sing” as far as likelihood goes.

There is a lot that could happen between now at the launch of SWTOR.

And sometimes the weather throws you a curve ball.

That is this week’s forecast for Silicon Valley.  Rain is very uncommon in the summer here, but it happens.  And two hours ago that forecast had the picture for thunderstorms.  Even more rare those.

So, like the weatherman sitting here in late June and saying it is likely to rain in the fall, it is pretty hard to dispute the idea that a BioWare produced, Star Wars themed MMO with EA’s marketing muscle behind it is going to sell less than a million boxes in a short span of time.  Beyond that, you have to guess at what conditions will exist at the time of its release.

What do you think will influence the forecast for the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic?

Items from the Mail Bag

The email address on the About page here is an address that I use primarily for blog related activity.  I have other accounts for personal email, game registration, and the like.  Too many addresses probably, as I have no doubt I’ve lost a couple due to memory lapse.

So mail that comes to that blog address is generally addressed to be in my role as the guy who write The Ancient Gaming Noob.  I get press releases from a variety of companies, which I like, and the usual amount of spam, which I do not.

And then there are the messages that don’t quite fit, simple requests from individuals or small companies sharing information about an article or a product.  Some of these are no doubt shot-gun blast email attempting to get attention from some quarter, but some probably just went to me.  Maybe.

So I have decided that every so often I’ll just make a weekend post and put together these sorts of messages and let you tell me which ones were worthwhile and which were the suck.  This is what I have for June, in the order I received it.

  • Crimson Leaf Games, who remade MegaWars III/Stellar Emperor, have been working on a version of the game that has a GUI called WarpPlus.  They plan to branch it out into at least two different games when the work is complete.  You can see more at their site.
  • Technorati would like me to blog on their site, though they would allow me to cross post here.  They say I would get a lot more readers.  You or I can apply here.  I am not sure what Technorati’s role in the world is these days, so I am not sure what this offer means beyond “come give Technorati content for free.”
  • Jane at MSO Marketing “came across” a two year old post on the site about WoW Patch 3.2 would like me to post a few links on my site for a hosting company.  However, MSO Marketing does not buy links, though they would like to “support my web site with a donation.”
  • Chris at What MMORPG? would like me to link his site on the blog, but I cannot really tell what category his site would fit into, much less if the whole thing is an attempt to make money through game registration referrals.
  • GimmeGolf, which I mentioned in a post ages ago, and which has since ceased operation, but announced a deal where their registered users get special perks if they subscribe to World Golf Tour.  It does not look like you have to be a registered user, you just have to go to World Golf Tour from the GimmeGolf site.  So if you are quitting EVE and looking for a golf MMO, here is your chance.
  • Sara McDowell, who runs a site that appears to make money on referrals to video game design university programs, thinks my readers would be interested in her post on The 15 Greatest Video Game Designers of All Time.  A lot of Japanese guys on that list.
  • The Action Marketing Group, whose web site has an message about the company that flashes by so fast that I could not read it, thinks I would be interested in playing classic Atari games on Pepsi Throwback’s Facebook page.  I’m not sure how they failed to work Twitter into that pitch.  If you get a high score, you could win something.
  • Anna Miller, who runs a site that appears to make money on referrals to online degree programs, and who uses the exact same title, wording, and formatting as Sara McDowell, wants to share her post about the 12 Most Violent Video Games of All Time.  “All Time” is apparently an important modifier in these things, certain to help these sorts of posts stand up over time.  All time.  And I am going to guess that this post and Sara’s post were lifted from some other site.

All I can really say about the sites as a whole is that none appear to infect your computer with malware.

CCP – If The Players Won’t Create Drama, The Company Is Happy To Step In…

CCP stands for “Crowd Control Productions,” and never was a company more aptly named these days.

There have been more snippets from the EVE Online maelstrom about… I’m not even sure what it is really about.

Incarna being crap, cash shops, over-priced monocles, bad faith, broken promises, and divergence from the spirit of what makes EVE Online the game it is… these ideas and more have all been thrown around in various posts that are… well… everywhere now.

New item of the day for me is this message from CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, which I snipped from Winterblink’s post on the subject. (And which has two previous messages from CCP, if you want some back story or quotes for truth.)

We live in interesting times; in fact CCP is the kind of company that if things get repetitive we instinctively crank it up a notch. That, we certainly have done this week. First off we have Incarna, an amazing technological and artistic achievement. A vision from years ago realized to a point that no one could have imaged but a few months ago. It rolls out without a hitch, is in some cases faster than what we had before, this is the pinnacle of professional achievement. For all the noise in the channel we should all stand proud, years from now this is what people will remember.

But we have done more, not only have we redefined the production quality one can apply to virtual worlds with the beautiful Incarna but we have also defined what it really means to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life when it comes to launching our new virtual goods currency, Aurum.

Naturally, we have caught the attention of the world. Only a few weeks ago we revealed more information about DUST 514 and now we have done it again by committing to our core purpose as a company by redefining assumptions. After 40 hours we have already sold 52 monocles, generating more revenue than any of the other items in the store.

This we have done after months of research by a group of highly competent professionals, soliciting input and perspective from thought leaders and experts in and around our industry. We have communicated our intention here internally in very wide circles through the Virtual Economy Summit presentation at the GSM, our Fearless newsletter, sprint reviews, email lists and multiple other channels. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.

We went out with a decisive strategy on pricing and we will stay the course and not flip flop around or knee jerk react to the predictable. That is not saying nothing will change, on the contrary, in fact we know that success in this space is through learning and adapting to _what is actually happening_ and new knowledge gained in addition to what we knew before and expected.

All that said, I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished as a company, changing the world is hard and we are doing it as so many times before! Stay the course, we have done this many times before.

The train of progress is coming, get on, get out of the way, or get run over.  I guess that is the message here.

Twitter, which has been alive with comments on the subject for days now had three choice responses that I’d like to share.

Who is amoral, who gets destroyed, and who is a sucker… well, I suppose we shall see what comes to pass.

But 52 monocles sold already?  This surprises even my jaded outlook.

Star Wars Galaxies to Close in December

As noted over at Massively, where they have an exclusive interview with John Smedley of SOE, Star Wars Galaxies is slated to be “sunsetted” (read “shut down”) on December 15th of this year.

In the interview, Smed gives the reasoning:

The decision to shut down SWG is first and foremost a business decision mutually agreed upon between SOE and LucasArts. LucasArts has a new game coming out, and the contract would be running out in 2012 anyway, so we feel like it’s the right time for the game to end.

And here we see an issue inherent in working with a popular intellectual property for an MMO.

Vanguard, which SOE own outright, may run for years yet, so long as it makes just enough money to justify its existence.  But there is always overhead from the owner of an IP, like there was with The Matrix Online.  And so that closed, no doubt in part because Warner Brothers was owed money every month for the use of the IP.

And Star Wars is a valuable IP owned by Lucas and guarded jealously.  Any licensed Star Wars product that is not a sterling success reflects badly on the IP, and SWG has had its share of troubles. (Rooted mostly in requirements laid down by Lucas after the fact, or so goes the tale of the NGE.)

And so the contract with SOE is coming to an end conveniently at about the time EA and BioWare should be close to launching Star Wars: The Old Republic.

As I said in a past prediction:

We will find out in 2009 is that LucasArts is only willing to sanction a single Star Wars based MMO running at any given time.  SOE has known this all along and this is part of why they did not bother going to LucasArts with their Station Cash idea.

Seeing that BioWare is set to launch a Star Wars: The Old Republic… well… some day… the sense that time is running out will grip Star Wars Galaxies.  There will be a resurgence of subscriptions as a wave of nostalgia washes over the old hands while along with an equal surge of tourist who want to see the game before it goes away.

This enthusiasm will not last as long as SWG remains on the scene, thanks to BioWare’s creeping pace, and Galaxies will go quietly into the night a few months before SWTOR launches.

And while I was not right on all the details, including the date when we would find out, the central truth remains:  Lucas will only sanction a single Star Wars MMO in the traditional EverQuest, 3D virtual world, monthly subscription sense.  SWG is clearly out because SW:TOR is coming online.

(And no, Clone Wars Adventures does not count, it is clearly a different sort of gaming, lacking that whole virtual world aspect for a start.)

So let the rush to nostalgia begin!

You have less than 6 months to go before Star Wars Galaxies is no more.

See the sites.  Take your screen shots.  Get ready to say “Good-bye.”

Maybe I’ll hold an SWG “Farewell Screen Shot” contest rather than another such contest for EVE Online.

But what would I give as a prize?  A SWTOR game card?

Raph Koster, who was on the team that created SWG, has his own thoughts on the end of SWG.