Last week I looked forward to figure out where I might be headed online game-wise in the new year. That list was filled with a lot of not-quite-MMOs.
Now it is time to look back at what came to pass in 2011, or at least what came to pass from my vantage point in this little corner of the gaming world. So, as I did last year, I present you with a lot of bullet points in no particular order.
- LOTRO is still there, still has wonderful Middle-earth charm, still has some of the best role-play tools available in any MMORPG.
- Their games survived and thrived post free-to-play.
- They got a nice new chunk of Middle-earth on the map with Rise of Isengard.
- I made it to freakin’ Moria at last!!11 one one one
- Their stuff still doesn’t feel as polished as WoW or Rift, which is bad in a still-growing field of competitors.
- Their character models, awkward at launch, are not aging well at all.
- I am still in Moria and have no plan to buckle down and get to Mirkwood, much less Isengard.
- They shipped their last new game when?
Sony Online Entertainment
- I say this every year, but EQ still lives! 12 years in and still going!
- Time locked progression servers brought back a healthy slice of that MMO nostalgia goodness!
- I got to partake in that goodness with Potshot for a while… and it was damn good!
- EQ got a new expansion with things like parcel delivery through the mail, more zones, five new levels, and hotbars that look like they are now from this century.
- EQII still does a ton of things better than other games, like housing interiors.
- SOE reconciled the Live/Extended split so there is, again, but one
- EQII got a new expansion and actually added a new class, beastlords, to the game after seven years.
- Star Wars Galaxies goes out with dignity and some fond memories.
- Planetside 2 announced!
- Vanguard is actually getting some attention!
- That whole PSN/SOE hacking thing. It killed our momentum on Fippy Darkpaw and made SOE look bad in general.
- The nostalgia marketing effort around the EQ progression servers started weak and then totally disappeared once they went live. A 12 year old game has a big nostalgia card to play, but SOE chose to pretty much ignore it the day after the Time Locked Progression servers were launched.
- The behavior of some players on the TLP servers reminded us all why we went to instanced dungeons in the first place, plus a lot of other old arguments sprang up anew on the forums. Too much nostalgia.
- Hey EQ team, haven’t items through the mail been on every MMO since 2004? What took you so long?
- EQII still pisses me off with a myriad of stupid little things, like why is “auto loot” when solo and “auto greed” when in a group the same setting. I want to do one but not another. The game has more settings than any MMO I have ever played, yet felt the need to combine these two?
- EQII pissed off members of the instance group and pretty much closed the door on us ever going back there again.
- SOE remains amazingly unprepared to announce things. The whole merger of EQII Live and Extended brought up a couple dozen questions, the immediate answers to which were, “Uh… we need to think about that.”
- I still cannot get past level 60 or so in EQII before becoming bored.
- There were layoffs and the death of The Agency.
- Who decided that a double station cash event was a great idea three days after a triple station cash event?
- Planetside 2? Was the original popular enough to spawn a sequel?
- Star Wars Galaxies… Lucas pulls the plug, leaves SOE to clean up the mess.
- The EVE Online CSM actually does some good, gets management to focus on EVE fundamentals.
- CCP management actually turns things around for the next EVE expansion.
- Crucible moves the game forward by fixing what we already had.
- Oh, hey, I am in null sec! Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
- Dust 514 looks like it might become real giving CCP… two games.
- Arrogance, blindness, and Incarna nearly lead the company off a cliff.
- Over-extension of resources meant layoffs and the long-term postponement of a World of Darkness based MMO.
- EVE is back on the right course… but there are still times when the game is dull. I had to buy Peggle to play while sitting and watching local.
- Dust 514 makes sense I guess… CCP clearly has to focus… but with their customer base all on the PC, was going to a console game really the right move?
- WoW still has more players than any other subscription MMO you play… not that there are many of those left.
- Still immensely profitable.
- Has plans for pandas. My daughter is all over that.
- Oh, and they shipped Star Craft II in the last decade… and are talking about Diablo III and some new game.
- WoW is down 2 million players since this time last year.
- Cataclysm malaise and the killing of game nostalgia by redoing the world we started with. Can they ever do a WoW progression server now?
- The slow response time of Blizzard, which worked out fine when things were going good, is starting to work against them.
- Pandas? That was the big news in 2011 from Blizzard?
- Did they ship a freakin’ thing in 2011? Does Blizzard and its huge profit margin exist simply to keep Activision from losing money every quarter where they do NOT ship a version of Call of Duty?
- Rift actually turned out to be well executed. It is like somebody learned from the last dozen years of MMO foibles.
- Comfortable and polished enough to pick up and hold on to some defectors from WoW.
- Public quests… rifts and invasions… done in the way that Warhammer Online should have.
- Turned out to be a good place for the instance group to call home for now.
- It is, really, just another fantasy MMORPG in the WoW model. If it had shipped against Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King I am not sure it would have been as successful.
- Nothing in Trion’s next acts has me interested.
- I am beginning to reconcile myself with Steam. I am still not fully on board, but I see the utility of the system as a platform to distribute games.
- Wow, they put a lot of games on sale for real cheap over the summer and this winter.
- Steam achievements are… something I guess.
- The internet went down for a couple hours last week and guess what I couldn’t do? Play any of my games on Steam! And, of course, Steam is where most of the single player games I would want to play when the internet goes down are. This is the part I cannot reconcile.
- Just because a game is marked down from $29.99 to $3.74 does not mean I will like it. I have a lot of very inexpensive games that I do not like now that I simply wouldn’t have purchased at all were it not for a Steam sale. Victory for the developer and Steam there, not for me. Steam now represents the greatest collection of games I do not play on my current PC.
- Why in the hell did I buy the entire Pop-Cap catalog? I know it was marked down 84%, but I really only wanted Peggle. Damn you Steam! And damn me for violating the “never buy anything online after dark” rule.
- How often does Team Fortress 2 get updates? Steam was updating it so frequently I had to uninstall it.
Free to Play Movement
- Lots of free to play games out there to sample, like World of Tanks, League of Legends, and Need for Speed World, and a lot more are promised.
- Older games are getting a new breath of life via an influx of new players via this model. It seemed to do wonders for EverQuest II.
- Facebook… there were sure a lot of new games there.
- Lord British is now the self-designated champion of light platforms and free to play.
- To one degree or another, the current consensus on the business model seems to be that a company must bestow some sort of advantage on or remove some annoyance from players who pay. It is accelerated experience and golden bullets that support most of the games I see, with the selling of actual content far behind in the pack. And the idea of supporting a game entirely based on cosmetic items sales appears to be a myth on par with Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster.
- The games that I play that converted to free to play were the ones I played when they were subscription based. Time is still the biggest tax on my ability to play games.
- That a game is free to play does not make it fun to play. A business model can ruin fun, but it can rarely create fun.
- Is there any game idea that has not yet been screwed up in attempting to bring it to Facebook?
- Lord British is now the self-designated champion of light platforms and free to play
Players, Blogs, and Community
- Players, like those in EVE Online, show that a group with limited, rational objectives can make their voices heard and see their demands met. #Occupy protestors take note.
- Community and playing together is not dead. Thrown into the EverQuest progression servers, people got together, formed groups, and played nicely… for a while.
- Hey, we all like to comment on each others blogs! Thanks for taking the time to leave comments on mine.
- Every time I go into a game’s official forums, I am saddened. This is surely a symptom of the human condition.
- EverQuest progression servers were a self-selected population of those who wanted most to group up and play nicely… and that has devolved into all the problems that made the WoW model of solo content and instances so popular. Remember that when you have your rose colored glasses out.
- For every rational discussion where consensus is reached I see in a blog comment thread, there has to be a dozen cases of the complete inability to see the other person’s perspective or even admit that it exists. Can we get over that please?
- I am still not sure which is worse, people complaining bitterly about a game they do not play and do not understand, or people complaining bitterly about people who do not like their game de jour. Of course, they are often the same people on both counts, so at least they are easy to spot and ignore.
- Most of the problems in-game… in any game… such as hacking, cheating, bad behavior, poor community, illicit RMT, and the state of official game forums are all pretty much our own damn fault. Can we promise to try to behave better next year?
So that was 2011, at least from where I sit. Yes, I failed to mention SWTOR, but I think that is really part of 2012. There is still too much new game euphoria for me to get any feel for how things are going, especially since I am not playing.
Still, trying to recall a whole year, even with the blog open in front of my for reference, is doomed to failure. What did I miss? What came to pass in 2011 that I should have remembered?