Monthly Archives: March 2013

March in Review

The Site decided to give us some color in their “visits by country map.”

Actually, we had color, but the choices were limited.  Basically, it was red-orange, orange, or beige.

Visitors from around the world

Visitors from around the world

The map has changed a bit and we have a bit broader spectrum of colors.

A more colorful world

A more colorful world

But Greenland is still appears larger than South America or Africa.  Damn Mercator projection!  What does that say about

It has also been a little over a year since started tracking this sort of thing, so I thought I would compare the top 10 countries they list with what my Flag Counter side-bar widget shows.

WordPress / Flag Counter

  1. United States / United States
  2. United Kingdom / United Kingdom
  3. Canada / Canada
  4. Germany / Australia
  5. Australia / Germany
  6. Sweden / Netherlands
  7. Netherlands / Sweden
  8. France / France
  9. Brazil / Poland
  10. Poland / Brazil

It is the same ten countries with some difference in the ranking after the third position.  So I guess that means that one is about as accurate as the other.  Or something.

One Year Ago

The family and I went and visited the USS Iowa while it was docked up in Richmond.

April Fools spirit hit a little early.

It only seemed like Zynga was desperate a year back.

I took a quick peek back into Need for Speed: World.

Raptr said I could be the top WoW player they tracked… if I just played another 18,999 hours.

I also rolled a new character on a new server in LOTRO because… why not?

In EVE voting commenced and The Mittani won the chairmanship of the CSM 7 by a large margin.  And then he named names during his alliance talk and was removed from CSM 7 and banned from EVE for 30 days.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, we were being taunted by a LEGO Rifter that we were doomed never to see and Derek Smart was telling everybody DUST 514 was doomed to fail.

Meanwhile, the war in the north was heating up again even without The Mittani.  The CFC was picking up systems in Tenal as bases of operation for the upcoming offensive.  Then there was the bloodbath at C-J6MT.

In Rift, we had a couple of runs at the Foul Cascade.

EverQuest turned 13 and went free to play.  That saw more than a few of us run in to give it a try.  Fall nostalgia in the Spring.  We ran the tutorial, tried out mercenaries, and created a guild.  I am not sure what became of our little group.  Nostalgia is like that.

It was also announced that Vanguard would be going free to play as well.  While on the Fippy Darkpaw server, LDON and LoY went live… I think.

Then I was trying to find another blog name that used the TAGN acronym as a setup for an April Fools joke.  That totally fell flat.

And, finally, I attempted to bring together as many memories from the early days of Air Warrior as I could.

Five Years Ago

I was again ruminating about the whole “Why So Much Fantasy in MMORPGs?” thing, this time on the shores of chaos.

We started to see the end of the “Brent hand picks the news” era over at VirginWorlds.  The reign of myself and CrazyKinux was near to an end.

I got a Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond for my birthday!

EverQuest celebrated its 9th anniversary.  A very nice time line print of the game was posted over at the EQ Dev blog to celebrate, along with a video.

In Lord of the Rings Online some sites were speculating about future expansions.  And then Turbine announced The Mines of Moria!  Meanwhile, I was trying to give out some founder’s referrals.  I think I still have one or two of those left.

In World of Warcraft, patch 2.4 was the latest end-of-the-world panic.  I was trying out Alterac Valley trying to get a mount, not reading that I needed to get exalted reputation to buy it.  Meanwhile the instance group made it to Shattrath and then hit the Blood Furnace while my wife and her friends were drinking apple-tinis.

Official forums were the talk again for a bit, as Marc Jacobs said he wasn’t going to have them for Warhammer Online.  No, the Warhammer Herald (to be created in the image of the Camelot Herald) was going to be enough.  Well, we know how that worked out.

And, finally, five years ago Gary Gygax left us.  We still miss him because we still feel his influence every day.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  2. The Seductive Comfort of Azeroth
  3. Google Reader Alternatives? Again?
  4. Age of Kings Gets an Unofficial Expansion
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  6. Five Games I Want to See Revamped
  7. Completionism in the Wayfarer Foothills
  8. Wrapping Up My Seven Days of Azeroth
  9. Backwards in Time to Forgotten Realms
  10. Shroud of the Avatar – Lord British Discovers Kickstarter
  11. Jagdpanther
  12. First Time Out with Tech Fleet

Search Terms of the Month

heir to the empire audiobook
[I have that!]

bond almost dies
[Every Bond movie ever]

spaceship blows up
[Every EVE Online day ever}

churchill i with 100% crue

whats a goon in ancient rome
[Mittanicus Maximus?]

how mcuh isk poer hour can a hulk make?
[How is Veldsparr formed?]

EVE Online

I got in on an op early on in the month, when I was able to use my freshly finished logistic skills to fly my Oneiros at last.  And then there were the homeland defense fleets at the end of March.  However, the rest of the month was mostly passing on fleets where I did not have an appropriate ship handy, skill training, and figuring out what I want do to next in EVE.

Guild Wars 2

Well, that lasted a couple of weeks.  Didn’t hate it, just stopped feeling the need to play it once I hit the next set of zones.  Pretty much the same response I had with the original.  There is probably a lesson in that.  Anyway, I should probably explore the why of that at some point.

Neverwinter Nights 2

We played a bit of this in the Saturday night group.  It went from awkward to fun, and then we stopped playing.  We now have this odd fragmentation on Saturday night where what we play depends on who shows up.  I should make a Venn diagram.


Hey, we actually played some Rift.  Maybe we will carry on here and actually start in on the Storm Legion instances.  And speaking of Storm Legion, I am trying to figure out why I have no real enthusiasm for the expansion.  It was supposed to be bigger, better, and bolder or some such, right?

World of Tanks

Tanks keep rolling.  This is one of the subset of the instance group games.  I am chugging along towards my tier IX goal.  Russian heavies and German tank destroyers are the thing.

World of Warcraft

I played it for seven days and had about six and a half days of fun.  The last half day was less fun, and managed to convince me that I really did not have to subscribe to the game again.

Coming Up

Well, it is April Fools tomorrow, so tradition dictates that I post something about Blizzard’s jokes.  I have nothing planned for the site.  No, really.  The best I could come up with was to change the theme to something silly, and I think I’ve already done that, or change the site name to “Triaminoguanidine Nitrate” or some such.

I expect there will be a couple of posts about games I am not playing.  And the whole Kickstarter thing going on now with Shroud of the Avatar and Camelot Unchained.  I hope Mark Jacobs holds off until April 2 to launch his.  Too much risk of confusion on April 1.

And we are coming up to the 1 year anniversary of the Burn Jita event last year in EVE Online.  I wonder if there will be any follow up on that?

Chasing Around Deklein

There was a time last year when merely watching the Jabber announcement feed would end up giving me a quick fight a couple times a week.  I took note at the end of February 2012 that there was always a party. Hostiles would show up and camp the undock in VFK-IV, the de facto Goonswarm capital and we would go out to fight them right on our doorstep.  Sometimes we’d bag something big, like a carrier, right in VFK.  And sometimes I would get popped.  But stuff seemed to happy right in our midst on a regular basis.

And then came the wars to recolor much of the null sec map.

13 months of change

13 months of change

The action moved elsewhere.  We deployed to various locations on the map and the fights followed, first up to Branch and Tenal, then down to Delve and Querious, and then into Tribute and the Vale of the Silent.  That was pretty much a year’s worth of fleet actions.

And then they were over.  The new territories were split up and I returned to my starting point in Deklein.  Where not much was happening.

But there was still a war being settled down in the south and something of an inadvertent conquest in Cobalt Edge, so the attention of what I would guess I would call the free companies, groups who wander null sec looking for fights as opposed to sovereignty, was focused elsewhere.

Now though, things are a bit quiet.  Well, except for some pundits declaring that after over a year of non-stop war and change, that null sec is now dead.  But the quiet is really only relative to the massed fleets.  The operational tempo goes on at a smaller scale.  Roams become more of an activity, both by us and our neighbors and the free companies.

And so it was that last night alone I was in two different homeland defense actions.

The first was a force of Nulli Secunda and Northern Coalition that drove into Deklein and which we assembled to face.  Normally I would have just pulled out one of my Drakes to join this fleet, but Hurricanes were on the list of ships desired, and I happened to have one in VFK, so I grabbed it.  It was a DigiCane fit, which was for a fleet doctrine that became obsolete about 30 seconds after I bought it.  And so, despite my bringing it along on any number of ops where we expected to die and dragging it along to every war over the last year, I never managed to lose it.

Well, I took care of that last night.  We undocked, got on the II-509 gate, then went through to meet the enemy who put the hurt on us, winning the kill war at a 2 to 1 ratio, then took off while we were reshipping.  We gave chase, ending up amidst a null sec incursion, which change the color of space if nothing else.

Happens in null sec too

Happens in null sec too

Failing to catch up to the bad guys, we hauled ourselves back to VFK.

Fawlty7, our FC, was going to take the fleet out again in a roam to see if he could find some more trouble, but I declined to follow along on that and logged off for a bit.

And a while later, there was another call on Jabber.  Black Legion was around VFK in force.   This time the call was for Alphafleet and I had my Rokh ready to go.  As fate would have it, about the time we were ready to undock and face the bad guys, Fawlty7’s fleet was returning to VFK and got hit.

The Black Legion fleet fell back a system and we spent some time on opposite sides of a gate waiting for one side to barge in on the other.  Neither side was taking that bait however, and so they fell back to another gate and we followed.  And again.

Eventually the Black Legion fleet ended up in a pipe of systems that fell between the two ends of one of our jump bridges and we spent the next 40 minutes jumping through the jump bridge to block them at one end and then the other of the pipe, in something of an internet spaceships version of pickle.  Our fleet was a little bit bigger, but not big enough that we could divide our forces and press from both sides.

This went on long enough that we had to call a service guy out to ensure that the jump bridges would have enough fuel to keep it going.  A Rorqual showed up, which we were not supposed to mention on fleet chat because it is a high value target, and which I think we successfully mentioned less than a dozen times on all possible channels.  So much for operational security.

Black Legion clearly knew what was going on and eventually sent a sacrificial lamb out to bubble us on the jump bridge at one end of the game, which makes the jump bridge unusable, while they escaped out the other end of the pipe.  The bubble went up and we were stuck there for a bit, but it wasn’t long enough.  We caught up with them at FO8M-2 for a short, sharp fight where the kill totals favored us this time.  We got them in a bubble and the shooting began.

However, after blowing up their FC, Ipsimus, the Black Legion fleet made their way out of the bubbles and to the exits.  Well, there was that and the fact that a fleet of 27 CFC carriers dropped onto the field.  That tipped what would have been a fairly even fight into odds heavily in our favor, so they withdrew with good reason.

Somehow I managed to fail to get on a single kill mail in the fight.  I seemed to be always targeting the guy who just blew up just warped off.

And so it goes in Deklein, where such smaller fights seem to be becoming the norm again.

This Kickstarter and That Kickstarter

Lord British carries on, but his Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter project is coming to its close.  There are just nine days left to go at this point.  He is past his goal and sitting around the $1.2 million mark.


I have said in previous posts that this Kickstarter project is more of a marketing exercise than a financing necessity.  That it is being run to a plan.  And that even Lord British giving a controversial interview was part of that plan, though that seemed to go off course a bit.

And while I am sure I sound cynical at times… during waking hours is generally when this is so, though I am told I sometimes snore in derisive tones… I do not see this who process as not necessarily a bad thing.

Not a bad thing at all, really.

Lord British… and since he is putting his name at the top and playing the role as primary spokesperson, I’ll keep referring just to him… has availed himself of a useful publicity tool that brings with it many benefits, not the least of these is that it can turn a profit while getting the word out and getting his real fans to self-identify and invest themselves… emotionally and economically… in his proposed game.

And the plan continues.  They hit the checkpoint the other day where they announced additional benefits for each of the different pledge tiers.  This was not spontaneous at all.  This was a method to get people already on the hook to up their pledge.  Who doesn’t want an immortality fruit for just a few dollars more?

Available only to backers, you will receive one Immortality Fruit seed. With the Farming Craft you can plant the Immortality Fruit seed, which will bear a single fruit. When eaten, this fruit will fully heal you, and leave you with a single seed which can be planted and harvested, over and over, for all eternity. The Immortality Fruit seed can be transferred between players.

As far as I can tell, this did manage to shake a few more dollars out of people’s pockets, as I am sure his opening up pledges to PayPal users.

The plan though seemed to be based on a specific tempo.  The philosophy behind it appeared to be to make this as much of a spectacle during the 30 days of the project, with minimal information available before the kick off.

Every concrete detail we know about Shroud of the Avatar… including the name… has come since their Kickstarter has launched.  It has been a concentration of focus.  No warning.  Shock and awe, if you will.

And this interests me because not only is another industry veteran, Mark Jacobs, planning a Kickstarter campaign, but he is doing it in a very different way so far.  He and his company, City State Entertainment, have been talking about what they are planning for a while now.  They started their pre-Kickstarter awareness campaign back at the beginning of February.


We know the name already.  Or at least we think we do.  It is Camelot Unchained, with a faint “working title” scribbled in along side.


Mark Jacobs has laid out a series of design principles around the game cover things such as balance, crafting, socializing,  and taking chances, even bringing in another team member to cover graphics and the looks versus performance aspect of design.

They are already previewing and getting feedback on the backer’s tiers they plan to offer and some of the incentive concepts they plan to run with as part of the planned Kickstarter campaign, including something called Founder’s Points.  Those were mentioned in the Camelot Unchained newsletter if you subscribed to the mailing list.

I also said that that would be prizes and pie for all. Well, maybe I did not mention pie but I know I mentioned prizes so here is the first one. Everybody who has subscribed to our mailing before the Kickstarter launches will receive additional Founders Points. What are Founder’s Points you might ask? Well, stay tuned for the developer diaries to find out.

We haven’t gotten that developer diary entry yet.  These points will be redeemable for something, and you’ll get a few extra if you bought their March on Oz game, though they will be tracked based on the email address you use… and crap, I used a different email address for iOS purchases, Amazon payments, and signing up for email lists.  So I’m probably going to miss out on some points on that front.

But we still do not know when this Kickstarter campaign is going to kick off.

All of which, as I said above, is very different from how the Lord British campaign went.

Part of it is, I am sure, due to the asymmetry of the situations.  At one level it is two industry veterans playing to their fans and trying to revive what they felt was great about some of their past. And, oddly, both sold past companies to Electronic Arts and are now building on IPs similar to what they did in the past.

But Lord British has better name recognition and probably a bigger fan base built up over time.  This was no doubt helped by his Lord British character being part of the games and by the fact that his Ultima series of games spanned two decades.  We tend to remember that and not Tabula Rasa.

Meanwhile, Mark Jacobs, whose last great work was Dark Age of Camelot, has to live in the shadow Warhammer Online and a fashion designer.  So he has to build up some momentum in advance that Lord British could probably achieve on name recognition alone.  And then there are the teams behind the games.  Lord British shows all the games that his Shroud of the Avatar team have touched on the Kickstarter page, while Mark’s lineup is… a little more whimsical.

Still, even with the different relative positions and project goals, it is hard for me not to compare these two projects, at least when it comes to their Kickstarter ambitions.

Lord  British has made his million dollar goal, though he hasn’t exactly sped through the stretch goals.  Still, he can claim victory.  And he still has more than a week left to go, so there could still be a big surprise reveal on the plan.

Meanwhile, we do not even know how much money Mark Jacobs will be asking for.  Or when he will start asking for it.  And given how front-loaded all of the work has been so far, I will be interested to see how the Camelot Unchained 30 day funding campaign will unfold.  What is he holding back?  What reveals does he have in his pocket, waiting for just the right time?  Who is he going to insult in a controversial mid-campaign interview?

I can hardly wait to see how it plays out.

Oh… and if a good game or two comes from all of this, so much the better!

Anyway, expect that I will follow Camelot Unchained as vigorously as I have Shroud of the Avatar.


This just came in email, indicating at least that the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter is closer than I thought.  Also, they updated the CU web site since I wrote this.  Things look different and all links may not work.  Also, “working title” appears to have gone missing, so it looks like it will be Camelot Unchained.

Pardon the Delay!


The bad news is that Kickstarter campaign for Camelot Unchained is not going to start today. The good news is that our project is currently in review. As soon as Kickstarter approves our project, we will announce the official Kickstarter launch date. We have no reason to expect that it won’t be approved next week but our project is rather “complicated” as there are a ton of moving parts, including 30 very detailed reward tiers, all the individual rewards, Founder’s Exchange (the store), etc. Due to that complexity, the holiday and the typical studio issues of weather/illness/CPU going boom/etc., it took us just a little bit longer than we thought it would to put it all together so please accept our apologies for this brief delay.

We are going to take advantage of this “downtime” to post material from the campaign, starting with our pledge tiers. Our plan is to break up the tiers into multiple blog posts with the first part going up, on our brand new website, later today.

We will let you know the Kickstarter campaign’s starting date after our project is approved. Again, sorry for the brief delay but when you see our Kickstarter presentation next week, I hope you will agree that it was worth waiting for, even if the wait is just a wee bit longer than expected.


Blizzard Blindsided by Diablo III Auction House Popularity

While the auction houses reduced the fraud and effectively killed grey-market transactions between players and item- and gold-farming companies that hurt the online Diablo II community, Blizzard did not expect players to use them on the scale that they started to as soon as the game launched. Almost every player uses one or the other, according to Wilson, and nearly half use them regularly.

GameInformer article on Jay Wilson’s GDC 2013 Presentation

Two comments on this.

The first is, of course, that this revelation is months too late.  We were bitching about this sort of thing last fall. (Read my comment on that post.)  Hell, I brought it up in June of last year.

The second is, what do you mean you did not expect it?  Have you guys actually played the game?

The itemization that I experienced was such that nearly every single equipment drop I got was not only many levels below being useful for my character, but also many levels below the monsters dropping it.  Unlike Diablo and Diablo II, where gear you had to grow into was relatively common, I never got a drop like that in Diablo III.

Okay, there was crafting too...

Crafting wasn’t much better…

So I went right to the auction house to sell the useless lower level gear in order to buy gear closer to my level.  And I assumed that this was all part of the master plan to make people use the auction house.  I got that sense almost right away that low level drops were all part of the scheme to prime the AH pump.  He says right there that nearly every player uses the auction house at some point.  The strategy totally worked!

Now they are saying that it wasn’t intentional?

I cannot tell if I should be skeptical or flabbergasted.

In the article, he said they are working on a plan to fix the auction house problem.

Diablo II Shop

While avoiding this again I guess…

This I gotta see.

[Related: Green Armadillo and Player Motivation]

Over Geared Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Two weeks in a row in Telara!

However, this week around we again fell short of a full group.  This is becoming the most common story for our group in 2013.  But four of us were on and logged in.  Our group was:

  • Jollyreaper level 51 mage
  • Zahihawass level 51 cleric
  • Hillmar level 51 cleric
  • Gizalia level 53 mage

And to open up the evening, we did another round of carnival games.  This time I left the group set to public and we ended up in a balloon popping raid in Meridian.

We'll all pop together when pop...

We’ll all pop together when pop…

When you get 8 or 9 people together doing this, finishing up the weekly quest for 50 carnival games goes by pretty quickly.  We soon all had our second doubloon out of the three required to get the Aurora mount.

Of course, with that over quickly, we were left wondering what else to do.  I suggested the Codex warfront, as there were several carnival related achievements tied in with it.  That drew a pretty universal sigh of revulsion.  And, I had to admit, we hadn’t fared well previously in Rift’s versions of battlegrounds.

Zahi suggested we roll with another level 50 expert dungeon to see how we would manage with just four of us.  That meant we would need a tank and would have to walk to a dungeon, as the LFG tool doesn’t work with a short group.

Zahi volunteered to respec in a tank role and I rode on out to a dungeon.

More after the cut.  Pictures, spoilers, text, etc.

Continue reading

Quote of the Day – MMO Longevity

Games should never die. If you continue to develop the game and feed your fans what they want, you should be able to keep those alive. It’s only when something really drastic happens that’s business related… City of Heroes shouldn’t have died dammit! That was a great game. *applause* MMOs are designed to last forever. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to play EverQuest in 2050.

Dave Georgeson, on the Future of MMORPGs at PAX East 2013

Dave Georgeson seems to be on a roll for quotes this week.  First there was the camera insight and now this.

Can a game like EverQuest bend with the technology and stay relevant, or at least playable, for fifty years or more?

Was Anything Learned from SimCity? Should Anything Be Learned from SimCity?

…and remains one of the top 10 highest Metacritic-rated MMOs.

Mark Jacobs, in reference to Warhammer Online

I could list any number of reasons why I did not buy the latest SimCity.  I could go on about EA itself, or the Origin store, or the price, or always online issues, or the estimated lifetime of server support.

SimCity in 2013

SimCity in 2013

But in reality, when the game was announced, I realized that I have never quite gotten around to purchasing its predecessor, SimCity 4.  Despite having spent many hours with the first three versions of the game, I think it was clear that I was no longer as big a fan of the idea as I once was.  So I was probably not going to buy the new version in any case.

However, a lot of people did buy it.  It is (or was, or might be again) a huge and popular franchise.  And the pre-release reviews were overwhelmingly positive.  This was a game to have.

For example, there is the review over at Polygon.

I am going use their review, because they are pretty up front with how things played out.

Great Game – Score 9.5

Their initial, day before launch review, based on pre-release play time review gave SimCity a 9.5 out of 10.  The review praises the game mightily.  Addiction is mentioned in the opening sentence.  And the only real caveat about online play was a side bar that had to do more with the reviewers home router configuration than the game.  There was a caution that you needed to have a reliable connection to the internet to play the game.

Good Game – Score 8.0

Then came launch day.  Polygon, to its credit has a review policy that allows them to update review scores.  The old score remains, but an update gets added with a new score if something changes.  And the change was that a lot of people who bought the game couldn’t log on to play, even those with reliable connections to the internet.  And since there is no offline play option, lots of people were unhappy.

Due to these first day problems, Polygon changed their review to 8.0 out of 10.  The issues were likely temporary, but they felt that they could not keep the 9.5 score.

Bad Game – Score 4.0

Two days later, things had gone from bad to worse.  EA was behaving like a real city government and turning off what it deemed as non-essential services.  Leaderboards and cheetah mode were gone.  Yet there was no change to how the game was behaving.  So Polygon again updated their review.  SimCity was now rated as 4.0 out of 10, which I am pretty sure we all recognize as a “do not buy” recommendation.

Which, of course, was too late.  Part of the problem was that too many people had already purchased the game… well, too many people relative to the EA server infrastructure at least.

And there the review stands nearly two weeks later.

Meanwhile, EA began to consistently and repeatedly piss people off.  It told players they could ask for refunds, failing to mention that their policy is not to issue refunds for products purchased via digital distribution.  No refunds for Origin customers.  EA danced around issues like how long server support for the game was likely to be around and whether always online was just a DRM ploy.  And they outright lied about why online only was a requirement and that significant engineering would be required to allow the game to be played offline. (Even mainstream media is on their case about this.)

Meanwhile, the more hardcore fans were discovering that the simulation itself was not all it seemed on the surface.  Sims seem somewhat dim, and the depth of the game doesn’t seem to be up to past standards, not to mention the simple things, like saving a city then unleashing disaster to see what happens, while still being able to restore and return to your city, are no longer an option with the online model.

And amidst this, EA’s Maxis Label General Manager Lucy Bradshaw came out to tell us that in many ways they had built an MMO.  I guess if you consider an asynchronous experience like FarmVille an MMO, then SimCity fits the bill as well.  Or if you just want to count bad day one experiences as part of the MMO experience, it certainly fit in that regard.

So it was a disaster.  The Metacritic score sits at 65%, and is only that high because they only take the first review score and not revisions.  So Polygon, as an example, still shows as a 95% score on the list.  But enough sites waited that at least it won’t be the same situation as I quoted at the top of this post.

Amazon, where the game has a 1 star review average, stopped selling the game and has not resumed as of this time.  EA issued a directive to its sales and marketing channel to stop promoting the game.  EA ended up offering people who purchased SimCity a free game from their back catalog… which really costs them very little… but it was something.  The best bit or irony in that though was SimCity 4 appearing on the list.  There is your offline experience.

Well, there was one part that wasn’t a disaster.  The money part of the equation for went well for EA.  More than a million people sunk $60 (or more) into the game to play it.  So, financially, EA probably did pretty well.  And since all they need to do is sell the box to make their first big financial gain, there seems little incentive for EA to spend much right away on fixing issues.  As Lucy said:

We’re hoping you won’t stay mad and that we’ll be friends again when SimCity is running at 100 percent.

Whenever that is.  Because at that point I am sure EA will have some DLC to sell you.  Like the definition of MMO, I am not sure that Lucy is using the same definition for the word “friend” that I do.

Of course, I am not Lucy’s friend in the first place, since I did not buy her game.

All of which leads me back to the headline.  Was anything learned?

Does anybody think that the launch of the next big single player, always online game will be anything less of a disaster?

Will anybody think twice before purchasing that game if it is the next title in a big franchise?

Will reviewers hold off on their reviews for such games until any first day issues are apparent?  Or should such issues even be considered?  And should reviews change as they did at Polygon?

What should we take away from this event?

What will people take away?

What, if anything, should change?

Addendum: Another input. You can log in and play now, but is it worthwhile?

Talking About the EverQuest Camera View on NPR

Video game years are kind of like dog years, and that makes the game EverQuest, which turned 14 this month, positively ancient.

-David Brancaccio, host of Marketplace

The NPR show Marketplace had a spot this morning where they spoke to Dave Georgeson of SOE about EverQuest turning 14 years old.


The interview will annoy some, as the host kicks right off in calling EverQuest being “the first big game to be an MMO,” a phrase which will make those into the genre raise objections almost immediately.  What counts as an MMO, what counts as big, and what

(And I am going from the actual audio in the interview, not the transcription on the linked page, as that differs from what was actually said.  Nice work NPR!  So listen to the audio, it is less than three minutes long.)

Once Dave Georgeson gets on the line there is a lot of talk about free to play and making that work.  And then comes the question about what makes games like EverQuest so compelling to some people, which Dave pins on the camera view.

To me, that seemed like an odd thing to pick, all the more so when he spoke of the whole first/third person camera view being something new at the time.  In 1999 there were plenty of games with first person or over the shoulder points of view, though they were mostly shooters.

I suppose that contemporary role playing games… such as Baldur’s Gate or Diablo II… had a different relationship with the camera.  But did EverQuest change things up all that much?

How important was the camera to you back then?  Did EverQuest really go some place new with that?  Did the game defaulting to first person view (I played in that mode for a long time after launch) impact how you felt about the game?


I had to find a screen shot of the original UI in first person mode to remind me what things looked like 14 years back.

EverQuest in 1999

EverQuest in 1999

And another view:

Out in the dark night

Out in the dark night

Wow, how things have changed.

Image sources: Ten Ton Hammer and Something Awful.

Two Thousand Tank Battles

World of Tanks has been around for a while at this point.

It was a little over three years ago when we started hearing about the game.  We are a couple months past the two year marker since we were trying out in open beta.  And we are about three weeks shy of the two year anniversary of the game going live.

And, in the midst of this, I have hit my own milestone.  As the headline says, I now have 2,000 battles in WoT.

Which, considering that the launcher icon on my desktop says “World of Tanks closed beta” isn’t really that many.  Even starting on day one,  I am a solid 10,000 matches behind Mrrx, as an example.  I play a lot more casually than some.  My average is a little less than three battles per day, though there was a big gap when I did not play and then a huge upswing in matches after the physics update with version 8.0.  But it is a milestone none the less, and since I have no new tanks to write about this week, I thought this would be my update.

At the 2,000 match mark I had 998 wins, 984 losses, and 18 draws.  So I am on the winning side about half the time, which means I am about as influential as a coin toss I guess.  Here is a picture with some stats.

Basic stats at the 2,000 match mark

Basic stats at the 2,000 match mark

I also get blown up a lot, surviving only 28% of my matches.  I would like to credit this to the fact that I often try to plug the gap in our lines and end up alone facing a couple hostiles.  But it is more likely because I get as impatient as anybody and the fact that far too often I sit exposed to get off “just one more shot” before moving to a new position.  And then arty falls on me.  And I blow up.  Again.

This also shows my top 10 most played tanks.

At the top of the list is the dread Type 59.  This is the tank that makes most credits out of my garage, so I tend to fall back on playing that whenever I need some cash.  I have been playing it daily again in order to earn some credits towards the KV-4.  It does help that it is a reasonably fun tank to play.

Second on the list is the Churchill III, which is also fun to play and earns decent credits by virtue of being cheap to repair.  It also has the advantage of being a premium Soviet heavy tank, which means crews from my other Soviet heavies can earn experience in it as well.  So I have tended to use it to help my Soviet heavy crews get two bites at the apple when it comes to the bonus experience from the first win of the day.  Right now, the crew for my eventual KV-4 is training up their first secondary perk/skill in this tank.

Then there is the StuG III, which might be my favorite tank so far in the German tank destroyer line.  It is the one I gone back and played the most since I picked up the Jagdpanther.

Our Logo on a StuG III

StuG III in the garage

It also has one of my highest win percentages.  The only tank with a higher percentage… and at least 25 matches… is the Char B1.

Desert B1

Most winning tank

It is a strange beast.  If you get a tier IV match, you can rule the land.  In a tier V match it is in serious trouble.

And then we get into my Soviet heavies, with the KV-1, the T-150, and the KV-3.  Since I have been pressing up the Soviet heavy line, it is no surprise that these are on the list.  The KV-1 is no surprise, as it is the most played tank in the game.  But it is the T-150 that remains one of my favorites, to the point that I think I might sell the KV-1 for credits and a garage slot when the time comes for the KV-4.  And the KV-3 is no slouch either, though with the big gun on it now I need to get in closer to hit things.

And the list wraps up with more German TDs and the KV-2.

All of which is reflected in some nice charts from WoT Labs. (Thanks HZ.)  Despite my usual alt-itis and desire to try every tank on the tech trees, I have actually been reasonably focused.

Battles by Class and Country

Battles by Class and Country

Almost two thirds of my battles have been either in German tank destroyers or Russian heavies, with some French heavies add on to get past the 66.67% mark.

Light tanks are scattered because every tree starts with a light tank.  SPGs are divided up between French and Russian.

And medium tanks are mostly Chinese thanks to the Type 59, along with some Russian, which I suspect is mostly due to my time in the T-28 trying to get into the Soviet heavy line.  Medium tanks, for the most part, have not been my thing.

Battles by Class and Tier

Battles by Class and Tier

And when you break the chart out by class and tier, you can see the numbers clarified a bit.  Since the TD numbers are exclusively German, that slice of the pie pretty much works out to Pzjg. I, Marder II, Hetzer, StuG III, Jgpz. IV, and Jagpanther, which is the unlabeled slice, since I haven’t played it much yet.

And, after 2,000 battles, my rating, using the various scoring methods, is… average.  I mostly won’t lose the match for you.  Which is frankly about the best I think I can hope for, given my play style.

We will see if I get any better over time I suppose.  Or if something like World of Tanks Blitz, their recently announced iOS/Android version of the game, distracts me.

Wrapping Up My Seven Days of Azeroth

I wrote some about my return to the comforts of Azeroth last week, but I still had a couple more days in which to play.  So I spent a bit of time wrapping up the zone now known as Northern Stranglethorn Vale.

I finished up all the quests from the rebel camp and the Nesignwary compound, the latter earning me the Green Hills of Stranglethorn achievement.  However, with achievements shared across characters, I technically had it already.

I am not sure about how I feel on the achievement sharing change.  On the one hand I am happy enough not feeling like I should repeat some of them or being able to divide up the burden between among characters.  On the other hand, each characters story is mixed in with the others.

After those two quest hubs, there is a third down at the south end of the zone where I got in the remaining few quests for the zone achievement.


That is one I did not have before.

I actually stuck around for one final quest, Be Raptor.

Go on, be Raptor

Go on, be Raptor

That was kind of a cute one.  You take control of a small raptor who has to escape from Zul’Gurub.  I am not generally fond of quests that make you be somebody other than your character, but this one was simple enough.  You have to get through a couple stages of evading to escape.  But if you fail, you only go back to the start of a given stage rather than the whole thing again.  I eventually escaped and collected a bit of upgraded equipment.  You get some nice blue equipment as choices.

At that point I was done with Northern Stranglethorn and needed a new place to go.  The quest givers handed me a quest to head south into the cape, which is the southern half of what was once Stranglethorn Vale.  However, given how far ahead of the zone I managed to get in levels, I thought I had better seek something closer to my level.

So I headed back to Stormwind to see what the big board had to say.

More after the cut.

Continue reading