Monthly Archives: December 2011

Lord British Now Expressing Fondness for the Mayans

Just filling in his dossier for future generations here.

Seems he pays attention to the Maya Calendar among other things.

I hesitate to ask what a “fitting” celebration involves.

Did they do human sacrifice as well, or was that just the Aztecs?

For me, buying them a new calendar, maybe something with nicer pictures, would seem sufficient.

Oh, and his documentary premiers soon.

I do want to see it, though I wonder if the focus will be too much on him.

Monitors, Mumble, and Mittaningrad

I think I had an authentic null sec experience last night in EVE Online.

I was logged on for a couple of hours and didn’t get to shoot a single thing.

Not that I did not have things to do in the game.  I was still getting things configured, making sure I had channels visible in their own windows, installing the standard set of Goon provided overviews, getting on the right Goon comm channels, and tinkering with ships and training.

At one point I had commented that I was going to need a bigger monitor with all of these things on screen, at which point Gaff said that you can play EVE without seeing space.

Picture me with big, glassy wet eyes, a tear rolling down my cheek, say, “Not… see… space?”

Space is one of the bits of EVE I love the most, the feeling of being in space, of being a small ship, insignificant against the backdrop of infinity.

Well, I have mapped the UI toggle to an easy key combo, so I can glimpse space without obstructions when I have the chance.  I have, after all, built up a whole blog dedicated to looking at EVE.

I did not have much to see in any case at that point, as I was working on getting plugged into the right communication network with yet another commo app, Mumble.

There was a fleet op going on, but I just missed it.  The fleet was set to leave about the time I logged in and there was no was I was going to catch up, not the way I navigate at the moment.

I am pretty lost out there.  I thought odd-ball names in Caldari space like Uosusuokko were tough to remember.  Null sec was named by the Cat in the Hat in the scene from the animated TV version where he and Thing 1 and Thing 2 are conducting their search.

“We’ll name this system RP-3T9!”

“And this adjacent one?”

“Call that one WT0-159!”

Or so it seems to me at the moment.

So I lean on Gaff… a lot.

“How do I get back to where we were yesterday?” I asked, “I want to get to my PvP Drake.”

He’ll link me a nice map.  But I don’t remember the name of the system we were in.  Plus there was a jump bridge in there somewhere, and that isn’t on the map… and I don’t remember what system that was in either.  (Or how to use it, for that matter.  That took me a minute.)

And so he had to spoon feed me directions… again.

So I did not make it to the Op, but I was able to tune in and listen.  Comms for the op were amusing.  I managed to get on the right channel and did not disgrace myself or my corp with microphone issues.  I just quietly listened.

It did not sound like anybody on the op was getting to shoot all that much either.  The opposing alliance appeared to have completely missed the whole State of the Goonion broadcast, which was up on the web moments after it was finished, and in which The Mittani clearly stated who we were going after along with when and where.  The OPFOR also seemed somewhat indignant about the Goons bringing super caps to an operation after The Mittani was so much in favor of the super cap nerf that came with the Crucible expansion.

As I was listening, I eventually made it to my PvP Drake, which was parked in the station named “Mittaningrad.”  I got it out, imported overviews, loaded up ammo, and got myself into position to join any additional wave that might be headed out to join the op.  There was a rumor of such at one point.

Outside Mittanigrad - UI Turned Off!

The follow-on wave never materialized and the op broke up as people on the East coast decided it was time for bed.  There was another op scheduled a half an hour later, so I stayed online, listening to comms, while paying bills and doing other administrative items at home.

Then it turned out that the fleet that was forming really wasn’t suited for a Drake, or so I understood, and probably wasn’t a good place for noobs in any case.  So  I called it a night at that point and went and played something else for a while before going to bed.

This morning my time and during the peak time for European players, there was a giant battle.  I hear we won.

I wonder what will be going on tonight.

World of Warplanes Reveals Some American Planes

Wargaming.net’s press release this morning, and they have a press release every week at a minimum, was all about World of Warplanes.

World of Warplanes Unveils USA Aircraft

Initial American Tech Tree Revealed

London, UK, Paris, FR and San Francisco, CA (20th December, 2011) — Wargaming.net, the award-winning videogame publisher and developer, is proud to introduce the initial tech tree of the American warbirds for its anticipated aerial action MMO World of Warplanes. The line of aircraft will be available with the game’s release and will feature two warplane branches to explore.

Along with the American line, World of Warplanes, now in its Closed Alpha stage, will feature the German and Soviet tiers upon its release scheduled for 2012. The first iteration of the American tech tree will feature a line of light fighters together with the unique branch of carrier fighters not available for other nations. Among others, players will be able to test the famous models including the F4U Corsair, the F4F Wildcat, the P-51 Mustang, and the F-86A Sabre.

“We are proud to reveal the initial American tech tree,” said Victor Kislyi, Wargaming.net CEO. “Throughout the course of WWII, the US planes proved to be extremely powerful and efficient machines, and we could not but include them into the primary stack of World of Warplanes nations.”

Find more about World of Warplanes at:

http://www.worldofwarplanes.com/

About World of Warplanes

World of Warplanes is the flight combat MMO action game set in the Golden Age of military aviation. The game continues the armored warfare theme marked in the highly-acclaimed World of Tanks and will throw players into a never-ending tussle for air dominance.

World of Warplanes will allow players to build full-scale careers as virtual pilots offering machines from several key eras, from1930’s biplanes to the Korean War jet fighters that led the way to modern air forces.

World of Warplanes will feature a wide range of warbirds, each of them unique in their effectiveness and behavior. Virtual pilots will choose from three main warplane classes – single-engine light fighters capable of engaging enemies in close dogfights, heavy fighters with their deadly straight attacks, and strafing aircrafts, the fearsome threat to ground targets.

Every plane will feature multiple variations of ammo types, engines, and other crucial modules, and their various combinations will allow players to pick the optimal configuration for the most effective behavior in combat.

The initial American tree looks a bit sparse.

Initial American Tree

Granted, the World of Tanks trees looked pretty sparse when they were initially announced as well.  Now however, after a year of work, there are an amazing number of tanks in game.  So I expect this will fill out as well.

I do have to wonder what a jet-powered P-51 will look like, and why they chose that.

Oddly, they included a set of pictures of the American P-39, which is not on the tree at the moment.

P-39 - Maybe on the Russian Tree

They did include some nice pictures of the Boeing P-12 as well, though I have never seen a picture of one painted as such. (I did see one at the USAF Museum once.)  And this plane is on the tree and belongs there.

Boeing P-12

Given how much fun World of Tanks has ended up being, I am interested to see how World of Warplanes develops.  I do wonder how they will deal with controls and if flight sticks and the like will become a serious differentiator among players.

Reviewing My Demands for 2011

This year I eschewed the traditional practice of making predictions and issued a series of demands for the MMO industry for 2011.

Why demands?

Well, when you make predictions and you are wrong, it is your fault.  If you make demands though, and the company does not live up to them, it is THEIR fault!  Ha!  Rather than scoring my own predictions, I get to score their behavior.

So it is time to review my demands for 2011, made way back on January 2nd.  I gave everybody until December 15th to meet my demands.  Now it is time to see who complied.

Blizzard:

Stop looking so damn smug.  Tell us what Titan is,  ship Diablo III, and add some more content to the top end of World of Warcraft.  I swear half the game is already level 85.  Oh, and another sparkle pony, but something a little less frou-frou this time.  And an expansion for StarCraft II.  Somebody has to sell some PC games this year.

See, this is what is wrong with Blizzard these days.  I threw a crapload of demands at them, six if you include “stop looking so damn smug,” and they barely made any of them.

To sum up, we still do not know what Titan is, Diablo III is out in 2012 somewhere, and no expansion for StarCraft II.  I mean, how tough was that last one?  Oh, and they still look damn smug.’

All we got was a new sparkly pony, the Winged Guardian Mount, and some more content at the top end of Cataclysm.  Not enough I say! Not enough.

Sparkle Kitty vs. Sparkle Pony

For this I decree that Mike Morhaime will have to come up with more public rationalizations about WoW subscription numbers, including at least one additional convoluted SWTOR impact denial.

Sony Online Entertainment:

Smedley? SMEDLEY!  Pull yourself together.  I know those PlayStation people are bossing you around, but you make money.  Certainly more than they make on hardware.  Refine what you have.  More server merges.  Reconcile EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended.  Work on the PC controls for DC Universe Online because I am NOT hooking up a console controller to my PC just to play it.  And finish with the Agency already, you’re starting to embarrass us all.

SOE on the other hand, complied with almost all of my demands.  We certainly got server merges on a number of fronts, and some are still coming, including the merger of the Live Gamer EverQuest II servers into standard servers. EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended were reconciled, with Live eating and then becoming Extended.

And they certainly finished up The Agency.  Ouch.

In fact, the only demand they missed on was fixing the controls for the PC version of DC Universe Online, and they were so busy launching, consolidating servers, and then converting to free to play that I guess they can have a pass on that.

For this I grant favorable portents for Planetside 2… provided they don’t pull an “Agency” move with it and string us along for several years.

Cryptic:

Just go free to play across the board already.  Champions and Star Trek Online.  Everybody else is doing it.  But don’t screw over the lifetime subscribers.  And when you go free to play, make sure you have something shiny and new to bring people back.  Oh, and Neverwinter, get it out this year and don’t screw it up!

Cryptic… Well, everything is either free to play or in the works.  They’ll be a month late on the demand in the case of Star Trek Online.

Neverwinter though… just where are you guys even going with that title these days?  Cryptic is supposed to be your company name, not your business plan.

I put a curse of market confusion upon Cryptic for Neverwinter… which they deserve just for choosing that name.  There are OTHER locations in Forgotten Realms you know.

BioWare:

Everybody is watching you.  You’re not making some single player game.  You’re making an engine, an engine that is supposed to take in money and deliver the joy of being in the Star Wars universe.  Don’t let those wankers in San Mateo make you ship early.  Meanwhile, since you guys seem to be in the MMO driver’s seat at EA, for now, don’t screw around with Ultima Online, but do something about Warhammer Online.  You’re bright guys, you’ll figure something out.

Wow, talk about delivering.  I am pretty sure they moved the early access back to the 13th of December just to be clearly within the scope of my demand.  And yet it is late enough that we cannot really tell if the engine is set to vacuum up money from Star Wars loving fans.

Plus they didn’t screw around with Ultima Online and they came up with a DoTA-like game reusing Warhammer Online assets and branding it as Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes.

Full points all around.  For this the force will be with them… for three months.  They are on their own after that!

CCP:

Will you put that drink down already?  EVE is still going, still making money, still popular, still unique, I get it.  And you are improving it over time.  But really, you’re starting to look like a one-trick pony.  What are all those people in Atlanta doing?  You don’t have to ship something new this year, but at least make us believe you’re really working on something new.  We’re starting to think you’re spending all that money you make on akvavit and exotic dancers.

CCP is the only company that actually responded directly to my demands.  CCP Manifest dropped my a note just 8 days after my post promising that we would all see amazing things from CCP this year and that my demands would be fully met.

And then, of course, Incarna hit, the player base blew up… more than usual…  plans were re-assessed, people were laid off, projects were set aside, and the summer of discontent basically loomed over the staff at CCP.

And then they refocused, shipped the Crucible expansion to mostly favorable reaction (it sure is pretty), and plans seem to be solid for DUST 514, with a release target (Spring 2012… which means by Christmas, right?) and a platform (PlayStation 3 works for me).

So I guess, in the end, they met my demands.

I would suggest that we did not need all the drama, but that seems to be one of the vital ingredients to any CCP operation.  That and alcohol.  I know they aren’t spending all their money on booze, but I suspect there is still a line item in the budget for it.

For this I grant an early Spring and no bankruptcy in 2012.

NCsoft:

Aion, City of Whatever, and Guild Wars.  Is that really all you have going in North America?  Well, there is Lineage II I suppose.  And what do you have on your to do list?  Blade & Soul?  Really?  Don’t bother.  And let Guild Wars 2 gestate to full term, which means don’t ship it in 2011.

I didn’t ask much from NCsoft, and they delivered.  No Guild Wars 2 in 2011.  Now the question is will we see it in 2012?

Your boon is the usual subscriber boost as you move all of your titles to free to play business model.

Trion Worlds:

Your big opportunity is coming.  Ship Rift at just about the time when WoW Players have finally wrapped up the high-end content and you could get… a stable half a million subscribers.  Okay, that isn’t WoW numbers, but history shows that most people just stick with their favorite MMO forever due to the social network they develop.  Hrmm… that is sounding like a prediction, not a demand.  Okay, go and get a half a million subscribers already!  By June!  With your shield or on it and all that!

Trion, you made it.  While you were out there claiming a million customers, I am going to take it as read that that meant more that half a million subscribers at one time.  And you even kept them for a while, thanks to Cataclysm backlash, a late ship date for SWTOR, and essentially no new competitors in your field.

For this you get favorable portents for End of Nations and a soft landing from the SWTOR effect.

Other MMO Studios:

Which of you is even poised to do anything in 2011?  TERA is going to be another Asian oddity, soon forgotten by the mainstream.  It was all that Aventurine could do to ship Darkfall, they won’t be doing anything else. Funcom won’t get The Secret World out in 2011, they’re more likely to cut more staff.  All of you other studios, select a champion and send it out to do battle.  Yes, it can be TERA if you cannot find anything else, but I’m telling you it is going to be completely forgettable.

Nothing?  Really, no small studio champion has arisen?

Fine, you’re all doomed to mutter about the success of Minecraft and Angry Birds.

Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw:

When Star Wars: The Old Republic ships this year, review it.  I know, it is a muh-more-puh-gah, but this is Star Wars and BioWare.  I demand it.  We all demand it!

Alright, you’re absolved because of the late ship date of SWTOR.  But  I expect a review of it next year.

Dr. Richard Bartle:

You were awfully quiet in 2010.  And you’ve got your three level 85s in WoW now. (A very common claim these days.)  Go say something controversial.  Declare WoW dead.  Predict SWTOR will be a failure as a virtual world.  Make some news.  Do an interview with those people at Massively.  They’ll print anything you say.

Dr. Bartle was kind enough to comment on my original demands list that, while I found the past controversies surrounding his statements in the gaming press amusing (remember the “I’d Close WoW” headline or his positive view of Stranglethorn Vale), the whole thing tends not to be so much fun for him.

And he managed to steer clear of such controversies, despite my egging on certain members of the Massively staff.

So he gets a pass as well.  We can just hope that somebody takes note of his idea of how to break the current state of stagnation in MMOs and that he has a good fortune in 2012 as he attempts to educate us on the obvious.  I personally look forward to further education.

Scoring

What is there to score?

Okay, if you want to view my demands as predictions, I think I did okay this year.  But I did not really go out on a limb with anything either.  2011 was a quiet year in many ways, with titles being pushed off into 2012.

Now, do I go back to outrageous predictions for 2012 or stick with unreasonable demands?

In Which I Fill Out Forms, Then Kill Myself

Gaff has been telling me I should come to 0.0 space in EVE Online for a while.

Lacking any real motivation to pick up where I left off with any of the Empire space activities, this time around I said sure.

He went off and figured out the easiest way to get me out into null sec space, which first involved joining his corp.  That seemed to be no issue with his personal endorsement.  My interview with the corp CEO basically amounted to him asking if I knew what I was getting myself into, me saying “Not at all!” and then Gaff saying he’d hold my hand until my head stopped spinning.

Then there was some work on my part transferring the CEO position of the Twilight Cadre to an alt, which took me a while to figure out. (Forgot you need to have actual skills for that!)  Then I applied for membership in the his corp, waited 14 hours for my past roles and the like to get removed, and then I was in.

In, and ready to fill out forms, download software, get an API key with the correct data set, and so on.  Gaff’s corp is in an alliance that is allied with the Goons, so security is a priority.  Corps with security issues find themselves in trouble and sometimes… I think this is the right word… “commissared.”

Then I moved into one of my jump clones without implants, moved my medical clone to one of the stations in their zone of control, and self-destructed.

Self Destruct Count Down

My death transported me to my clone in 0.0 space.

I was also handed a shiny new Ibis by the Secure Commerce Commission, the insurance people.  Handy in 0.0, I am sure.

And so I am in wilds of null sec, which I am told is both much safer and much more dangerous than empire.

I have seen my first player owned station.

I'm the tiny little Ibis in the middle...

My map of visited systems will soon have some new entries… I hope.

Where I had been up to this point...

New adventures await.  We’ll see if I survive in 0.0 space or come home crying carebear tears.

Anyway, I have a billion ISK, 70 million skill points, I am in null sec, it is dark, and I am wearing sunglasses.

Hit it.

LEGO Lord of the Rings: The Video Game – It Could Happen

This is the reason I keep Kotaku in my RSS read… for every hundred Japanese trends or cos-play articles, there is a gem I never see elsewhere… like this one.

Coming Summer 2012

As foretold by prophecy… or at least by my nearly four year old blog post… there could be a LEGO Lord of the Rings Video Game.  There will at least be LEGO Lord of Rings sets, but how can they do that and not a video game?

Actually, I would bet there are going to be three games, if any video games come to pass.

Anyway, I asked for and got LEGO Harry Potter… what else from that post might happen?

Probably none… I was being kind of silly.  But of the most serious two I asked for, one came to pass and the other looks like a solid “maybe.”

So I’ll be spending the rest of the day muttering, “That’s so cool!  Oh my God really?  Could it happen? That’s so cool!”

What I Saw at the End of the Galaxy

Star Wars Galaxies, that is, because last night was it, the end.  The servers are down and the game is no more.

But when I logged in, the results were in for the Galactic Civil War.  The Rebels took the war with a score of 10 servers to only 4 for the Imperials.

Final Results

It is like the basis of an alternate history novel.  How did things play out on, say, the Sunrunner server, where the Rebels only got 4%?  Is that the version of where Luke doesn’t leave the homestead and gets killed with his Uncle Owen and family when the stormtroopers show up?

Bloodfin, where the Rebels eked out 11%, must be the version where Darth Vader says, “I am your father!” and Luke says, “Really? Cool!”

I always picture myself saying that in Luke’s place.

While on Starfire, where the Imperials only got 7%, Luke defeats Darth Vader on Bespin while the Emperor slips on a bar of soap in the shower, cracking his head open and killing him.

And on my own server, Bria, the Rebels won, but only with 63%, which probably means that was the version where Lando and Wedge fail to get out of the second death star before it blows up… and all the Ewoks die due to debris raining down on Endor.

But any victory is still a victory, and so it was proclaimed.

Not sure who she was, but if they are casting for a Popeye MMO, she should try out for Olive Oyl.

The skies of Mos Eisley were filled with fireworks and rebel ships doing fly-bys.

Three is usually a “missing man” formation, right?

More fireworks

Meanwhile, in town, rebel troops were marching, counter marching, beating up suspected Imperial sympathizers, and collecting New Republic “taxes.”  Cash only, please.  No, you cannot have a receipt.

When I say, “Your left,” your left foot hits the deck…

Thinking this might be a good time to stay out of the way, and wanting to accomplish something on the last night of Star Wars Galaxies, I decided I would try to see at least something new on Tatooine.

I decided on Jabba’s Palace.

I managed to figure out how to get a waypoint set for the Palace and set off following the arrow in my X-38 Landspeeder.

A starter vehicle, modest in all respects

I didn’t get anything like that in SWTOR, let me tell you.

And it was then I discovered what a wasteland Tatoonie really was.  Desert is bad enough, but suburban blight had totally taken over.

Looks like a Star Wars trailer park

And it just went on and on and on.

Suburban Wasteland Sanctuary

I get that a lot of people really, really liked having not only a house in the game, but having that house exist as a separate physical structure rather than a door to 100 or so instanced versions of the same house.  But the downside though is easy to see.

On the ride from Mos Eisley, through Anchorhead, and to Jabbas Palace, there were only really breaks in the housing immediately around the towns and again at one point of interest, the Lars Homestead, along the way.

One clear spot, but I could see houses in the distance

Well, there is no point in kvetching about it now I suppose, but I just want to remember the endless sprawl as part of the whole.

I continued on towards Jabba’s.

More housing!

Sooner than I thought it would, Jabba’s palace hove into view.

Destination in sight

They let me in and I found my way around into Jabba’s chamber.

Reg!

And that is where I spent the remainder of the time SWG had left.  For a while it was just me and some of the standard cast.

His father was a much better dresser

A couple of other people showed up, choosing Jabba’s palace to be their final resting place in SWG.

It is what you do at a wake…

I listened to the players, long term veterans of the game, talk about the game while we were reminded every minute that the server was going down and that we should go some place safe to log out.

There was a last minute visitor who came to give Jabba his last regards.

Time to settle up

And then acted on his threat.

Boom Jabba!

And so I recorded Semmi Vipra’s last act in the game.  Soon the count hit one minute.

Some last farewells

And then the moment of truth came.

Connection to SWG Lost!

The connection was down, the game was over.

And so ended Star Wars Galaxies, a game with many high and low points, a game distinct in many ways, a milestone in MMO history.  The official site now has a final message from the SWG team.

A Thank You to the Star Wars Galaxies Community

Looking back on Star Wars Galaxies and all these years I am so thankful for being able to be a part of the Star Wars Galaxies community both as the Producer and as a fan. It would not have been the incredible experience that it was without you, the players and fans, the dedicated team of people who worked on it over the years and the fantastic Star Wars® galaxy itself, which offered us a very unique and compelling place to explore, fight, play, make friends, and build our homes.

This is a book of memories, so let me start with a few of my own.

When I was a little boy, my father brought me to the movies to see a new science fiction film that he heard was pretty good. What I remembered most was the feeling of awe I had back then, and still feel to this day. Once I had experienced Star Wars, my life would never be the same again. In May of 2004, I walked into the office at Sony Online Entertainment to start a new job working on a game based on the very same story that had amazed me in my youth. Cool! I was very excited. All I wanted to do then was learn how this thing worked, and I spent the next seven years doing just that. I can say that not a day passed in the development of Star Wars Galaxies where I didn’t learn something new. Each day presented different challenges and solving them was always a rewarding accomplishment. It is everyone’s hope to find a job that you look forward to each and every day. Being a developer on Star Wars Galaxies was just that kind of job for me.

Star Wars means something different to each of us. That’s why we played Star Wars Galaxies. On June 26th, 2003, SOE and LucasArts released Star Wars Galaxies and, for the first time, you could play online with your friends in the Star Wars universe. I was amazed at how much there was to do in the game – player housing, crafting, entertaining, combat, and more. One of the most exciting times for all of us on the team was the launch of the Jump to Lightspeed expansion, which let players fly and battle it out in space in a true 3D simulation. Now we could all truly live out our Star Wars fantasies. It was like being a kid again.

Giving players a chance to live out that Star Wars fantasy has been the best part of the job. Some of my favorite memories include fighting Imperial forces on Hoth in the Battle of Echo Base, seeing those first player-created quests in the Chronicle Master System, fighting the undead in the Death Troopers update and, probably best of all, taking part in invasions and actually getting to make a difference for my faction in the Galactic Civil War.

From my first day to the last, Star Wars Galaxies was, and will always be, a meaningful and memorable part of my life, an experience I’ll treasure and share with anyone who wants to hear a good story. It has been an honor to take this journey with you, the community and all of the team members who have made Star Wars Galaxies such an awesome game.

On behalf of the Star Wars Galaxies team, thank you. We have truly enjoyed getting to know you – our dedicated players – over the years. From in-game events to Fan Faires, we appreciate your continued loyalty and support. It would not have been possible without you.

May the Force be with you. Always.

– Tony “Teesquared” Tyson

There will be a memory book posted at some point.  And that is all that remains.

[Addendum: The SWG Memory Book is now available, as noted over at Massively.]

[Addendum 2: Oops, it is gone now, along with the SWG site.  I hope you grabbed it already!]

Path of Exile and that Diablo II Vibe

I was a bit surprised to get a note from Grinding Gear Games welcoming me into the Path of Exile beta.

Path of Exile

Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the game.  I think I read about it over at Massively at one point, signed up for the beta, after which all recollection dropped from my brain.

But there was the email, and it came just as I was ramping up on Diablo II, which essentially made the timing perfect.

They did give me a set of rules to follow for the closed beta.

  1. You can tell people that you are in the Beta. Your account is marked as “Beta Member” on the forums.
  2. You can discuss any publicly available information that you would normally have discussed before you were in the Beta test.
  3. You’re welcome to post your general opinions on the game. Please do not go into detail about unannounced specifics or unfinished systems.
  4. Please do not reveal unannounced information or comment on how things in the Beta work. For example, you should not post about some skill that hasn’t been announced yet, or some unannounced looting system we are testing out.
  5. Please do not post balance values from the game or update public websites or wikis with this information. For example, if someone is gathering a list of item names in the Beta, you should not tell them new names. This information will change very frequently and we don’t want to confuse people.
  6. You may stream gameplay or post screenshots and videos without permission. If recording video or streaming gameplay, please disable global chat and remind viewers that the game is in Closed Beta and that much is changing with every patch.
  7. Please do not share your account. In the future, we’ll periodically allow you to invite some friends to play with.
  8. If you abuse these rules we reserve the right to remove your access.

A pretty reasonable set of rules.  They obviously have a different world view than BioWare had with SWTOR, in that they need some publicity.

So I am going to say, under rule 3, that Path of Exile really has a serious “Diablo II brought forward to 2011” vibe to it.  Just look at it, as allowed under rule 6.

On the beach in Path of Exile

There are a bunch of things not in the game yet, but as it stands now, they appear to have put a lot of time and effort into making the basics run smooth and look good.  I even have a video. (You can tell I got Fraps installed again. I needed initially for SWTOR beta screen shots… which I barely used.)

As I said, very much a Diablo II meets modern production values sort of thing.

The classes, while they have different names, do strike a similar chord relative to Diablo II and, for the moment, have that “your class determines your sex” thing going on.

Seems like a soceress…

Not that the game is a complete lift and revamp from Diablo II.

They have their own skill and gem system.  I have only started to scratch the surface of that.

The potion mechanism, as it is implemented at the moment, is also a deviation from the Diablo II source, and not mere because they have FIVE potions on your belt. (Heretics!) Rather than having the constant “too many and then not enough” struggle that Diablo II had with potion drops, the potions in your belt are multi-use and refill with your activity.  Thus you have a cap on the amount of heals you can have at any given time, but you also essentially pick up potion drop… refill your potions… by killing stuff.

The stories in the world also have their own flavor, and seem to be a little more quest driven, though the current “you wash ashore after a ship wreck with only a club” starting tale has been used many times before.

And the real big difference from the Diablo series is the finance model for the game.  This is planned to be a persistent, online world (very much in the Guild Wars model of shared towns and cities with instanced adventure areas, or so it seems to me), that will be free to play and financed by micro transactions.

Grinding Gear is talking about “ethical micro-transactions” and is planning to stick to cosmetic changes or vanity items.  How that will work out in the real world… well, we shall see.  I know of no game that sells ONLY cosmetic and vanity items as their sole source of financing.  But since they are also pushing PvP aspects of the game, they have to be very careful where they tread.

In the beta I haven’t gotten that far in the game, though I have spent a lot of my time just looking at how the models move and the graphical details.  The game seems to be well honed on that front, as things look really good.

But this is closed beta, which probably means they have a long way to go and many things to tweak and otherwise work out.  Still, the bits I have seen so far look very promising.

So when you are looking that that Diablo III vs. Torchlight II comparison chart (hat tip to Massively), remember that Path of Exile might need to be figured into that equation.

And if you want into the closed beta, they are still letting people sign up at the official site.

Who else has spent some time in the beta?

Lord British is Talking to the Press, Not EA, About His Ultimate RPG

“I’m not sure what Richard Garriott is referring to.  But no one at EA is discussing partnership or licensing opportunities related to the Ultima Online franchise…”

Jeff Brown, EA’s head of corporate communications, Industry Gamers interview

Just to keep all the Lord British Ultimate RPG story in one place, here we go with an update.

Who Loves You EA?

I saw over at Massively that EA was saying they hadn’t heard a thing from Lord British about the Ultima Franchise and his Ultimate RPG.  This despite EuroGamer having quoted Richard Garriott de Cayeux saying

“We’ve actually talked to Electronic Arts about [Garriott leading Ultima Online again]. I would love to have access to the Ultima property. We’ve had discussions at very high levels with Electronic Arts about access to the property.”

Since the EA denial story broke, a spokesperson for Garriott de Cayeux offered this clarification:

“Richard is not CURRENTLY having conversations at high levels with Electronic Arts regarding the Ultima franchise. He never said that he is. I can assure you, however, that those conversations have taken place in the past.”

He added, “What is taking place right now are conversations with EA as well as other companies regarding potential partnerships/distribution deals involving our other products including Ultimate Collector and our Casino games, Port Casino Poker and Port Casino Blackjack. These are normal and expected communications taking place as we move closer to launching Utlimate Collector sometime after the first of the year.”

So we just have Lord British out there attempting to woo EA in the press by expressing his “great fondness” for the gaming giant… and then the next day complaining that their sports-game mind set ruined Ultima VIII… all without actually broaching the subject directly with EA.

Smooth.

As to how we got to this state of affairs, it is hard to tell.

Visionary people often project what they plan to do into sounding like it has been done already or connect unrelated things to sound like a single narrative.  I’ve lived that routine a few times.  This might just be Lord British in space… again.

And then there is the editorial reputation of EuroGamer.  They have certainly gotten confused by gaming honcho statements before.  Remember when they said that PlanetSide 2 would SHIP in Q1/Q2 of 2011?  Yeah, they’re good like that some times.

Anyway, this seems to be Lord British month.  Stay tuned for updates.

Experience to Come Quicker on Fippy Darkpaw and Something About SWG

There was an announcement over at the EQ Players site, which I will quote in whole both because it is short and because the URLs for such news items seem to change when they go from being in the current month to the archive of pasts months.  It is like SOE is still figuring out this whole “world wide web” thing.

Anyway, the quote, with a link to the forum post about it:

Experience Changes on the Time Locked Progression Servers with the 12/14 Patch

One of the most fiercely debated topics in the history of the current round of Time Locked Progression Servers has been the rate of experience gain that people on the Time Locked Progression servers achieve. During the early phases of the Time Locked Progression Servers, experience gain was severely curtailed to give a closer experience of what playing EverQuest was like in the early days.

As time has progressed and the servers have also, it became time for the Development Team to re-evaluate the rate of experience gain on these servers. After much thought and a significant amount of internal discussion, the Dev team has decided to raise the amount of experience gained on the TLPs. While this rate is still significantly slower than it is on the majority of normal servers, it is a noticeable increase from where the servers started out.

We look forward to seeing your reaction for the changes and hope you enjoy them!

This was alluded to before in the “why is my AA experience so damn slow” thread on the forums, but now there is an official date… which is today.  It is live already.

The announcement includes what might be one of the more transparent lies I have read this week, the idea that anybody is looking forward to the reaction.

Okay, I am looking forward to the reaction, but Peistro couldn’t have possibly known that when he wrote it, unless he too seeks to be an agent of discord and chaos in the world.

The first actual reaction was, as expected, about AA experience.  One of the complaints previously was that AA experience was accruing at drastically different rates for different races/classes.  Apparently it still works that way.

And in a complete digression into the Star Wars Galaxies forum, what has to be one of the more annoying and/or ironic posts in the thread “Where will your grave be?” (i.e. where will you be character be located when the server goes down), Yoyomike, who has 649 posts and a Princess Leia forum avatar, felt the need to remind the thread that the whole thing was “just a game.”

Thanks, I’m sure everybody appreciated that.

No link, since the forums will probably go away soon in any case.

Meanwhile, the best answer, as pointed out by Werit, came from Fishhook445:

No grave for my character, due to a hyperdrive malfunction when he goes into hyperspace in his YT-2400 he is going to be sent back in time to the TOR era. Which is where his story starts, and i’ll have the smuggler for that game so it’ll be as if I never lost him to begin with and only transfered him over to TOR.

Good on you Fishhook.  Always look on the bright side of life.

Oh, and a bunch of players got banned in EverQuest.