Daily Archives: April 14, 2015

And The Sims Shall Continue to Rule Them All

I haven’t seen an Entertainment Software Associate sales chart in a while, so I was keen to see their new 2015 Essential Facts publication that includes a couple such charts.  The big news, The Sims still dominate the chart when it comes to PC gaming.

 

The Sims and a few of the usual suspects

The Sims and a few of the usual suspects

Yes, the source is NPD, whose data collection has flaws.  But some data is better than no data I guess.  They say they are better at collecting data on digital distribution in any case.

Blizzard is pretty well represent, with World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III all hitting the charts for both base games and expansions.  And you can see the hole that The Elder Scrolls still has on gamers.  It is also nice to see Civilization V on the list.  But 8 out of 20 on the list for The Sims is pretty funny.

On the console list, which holds less interest for me, I will note that Mario Kart 8 made the cut for the Top 20, which I am going to guess means that every single Wii U owner bought a copy.

And then there was how we buy games.

Digital vs. Physical

Digital vs. Physical

Digital sales are clearly the bigger slice of the pie now, though if you look at that footnote as to what counts as digital, that casts a pretty wide net.  For what NPD counted, physical still looks like a force that cannot be ignored.  I guess GameStop won’t be going out of business any time soon.

Anyway, the report is an interesting little glimpse at video games in 2014.  Game Informer sums it up if you don’t want to look at the PDF.

Liebster, Schmiebster

I was tagged by Kirith Kodachi and SynCaine as part of the whole Liebster thing that has been going around our corner of the blogesphere of late.  I suspect that there is something in the fact that two fans of EVE Online picked me, as opposed to anybody else so far.

There are apparently rules for this somewhere.  I think I grasped them.

I think this is part of the rules as well...

I believe this is part of the rules…

I have to list eleven random facts about myself, I have to answer their questions, and I have to pick somebody else with eleven questions of my own.  Easy enough I suppose.  I meant to get to it sooner, but I keep having those “I don’t know what I’ll write about… oh, wait, I have too many things I want to write about” weeks.  This week for sure!  So to kick off.

11 Random Facts

  1. I am not fond of yogurt, but am otherwise pretty pro-dairy products.
  2. I probably ate all of the black jelly beans.  I will pick them out of the bowl.
  3. I cannot smile if I am deliberately trying to smile.  I’ve learned to fake it by just trying to laugh, so at least I look happy and not like there is something seriously wrong with me.
  4. I am determined to beat Candy Crush Saga without paying a dime… and before King goes out of business. (Currently at level 369)
  5. I have never hit the level cap in any EverQuest game.  I’ve been close, but something always comes up, I get obsessed with alts, and then the cap gets boosted and I am behind again.
  6. If I live to be 80, the end of WWII will be as distant in time as the end of the US Civil War was when I was born.
  7. If I want to remember something, I need to say it 10 times… or write it out with surrounding context. (Hence, blog.)
  8. In 34 years of driving I have owned 6 cars, but two thirds of that stretch has been two cars, a Mazda 626 I bought in 1986 and a Toyota Camry I bought in 2003, and which I still drive.  I’d probably still be driving the 626 if a Honda Civic hadn’t plowed into it while I was stopped at a red light.
  9. I hate inkjet printers, and have since the HP DeskJet 500 came out way back in the late paleolithic era of computing.  We recently picked up a cheap Samsung M2020W laser printer and it makes me happy just to print stuff on it.
  10. I am much more outgoing in text than I am in person.  Much more interesting too, I suspect, which should serve as a warning.
  11. I think eleven is an unreasonable number, the person who started this should have stuck to five because, lets face it, most of us have trouble staying interesting past two or three.

Now onto the questions, which seem mostly focused on superlatives.  My favorite this or most memorable that.  Those are horrible questions for me, because I can never pick a favorite anything.  Ah well, I’ll give it a shot all the same.

Questions for Kirith Kodachi:

1. What was your first PvP experience in an MMO and did you like it?

Define MMO?  Define PvP?  I am going to go with Stellar Emperor on GEnie.  My scout ship got blown up.  I am not sure I realized what was happening at the time.

2. What’s your favorite season? What’s your favorite season for gaming?

Autumn.  There is a chill in the air, there is some rain, and contrary to popular legend, California… at least the northern end of it… does get season so the leaves turn color and all of that.  Also, it means the transition from allergy to flu season.  Winter for gaming, as bad weather is the all purpose excuse for sitting at my computer all afternoon.

3. What is your favorite period / place in history?

To live? Now, or any time/place with clean bathrooms and cheap WiFi.  To read about?  I run though interest cycles.  When I was a kid it was WWI and WWII.  Since then I have gone through periods where the Napoleonic era, or 1848 to 1914, or the immediate post-war eras have interested me.  And I like Rome as well.  I couldn’t really pick.

4. Talk about the first computer game where you were pulled in by the story instead of the gameplay.

Probably Wizardy, though I will admit up front I am frequently more of a “roll player” than “role player.”  I spent a lot of hours moving through that game, step by step, mapping my way, notating traps and regular encounters and what not.  I was immersed.

It can be hard for me to let go of the mechanics of a game.  Oddly, post-Cataclysm WoW, where the content got easy enough that you can mostly ignore gear and such, is one of the places where I can actually let that go and just get into the story.  Hrmm…

5. If you had to pick, which Bad Guy would you choose to be in any game?

Bowser.  He gets to steal the princess pretty much without long term consequence (and it is so easy and so frequent that she has to be in on it, right?), has a pile of castles, plenty of minions, hangs out with his kid all the time, and on his days off he goes karting or plays tennis or soccer with his nemesis.  The guy has it made.

6. What’s your favorite novel or novel series?

Again, how to pick?  Most re-reads?  Probably Catch-22 or The Lord of the Rings series.  Total time invested?  Probably Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series.  Most inspirational in my youth?  Larry Niven’s Known Space stories probably get the nod.  I could go on and on and not even get into things I liked at one point in time but which fell flat later because I changed as a person.  I have a problem picking favorites in any situation because everything is so situational… and I tend to over think these sorts of things.

7. Describe your perfect vacation.

The one where I actually come back rested, recharged, and happier.  Unfortunately, I find travel a pain, so coming and going is always involves stress and anxiety, which tends to undue the good bits.

8. Star Wars or Star Trek? Explain your answer.

Star Trek.  That was the inspirational bit from my youth.  I would sit and watch every episode, we would play Star Trek at recess, I read the novels, had the models, saw all the movies, and so on.  Not that I do not like Star Wars… and certainly Star Trek has waned in its influence over the years, especially relative to Star Wars… but it came after.  Star Trek was first and will remain so in my heart, even if only generated maybe three good video games. (And Star Trek Online is not one of them.)

9. If someone offered you a substantial sum of money to stop playing MMO’s forever, would you take it? What’s your price point? A million? A billion? Nothing? (Stole this one ’cause its good)

This is a good one?  Define MMOs?  I’ll say five million dollars.  For that amount of money I could change careers without worrying about retirement and find a new hobby… like LEGOs or console gaming.

10. Smart Phones are a boon to humankind, true or false?

On balance, true.  Access to all sorts of information and the ability to stay in touch and record so much of what happens in the world probably outweighs that guy talking loudly into his iPhone at the next table.

11. A solar flare is about to wipe all electronics on earth and it may take years to recover fully. You have three days to get all the gaming in you can, what do you play?

Sorry, I am too busy burning my iTunes library to CD and building a lead-lined box for a DiscMan to play games.  Oh, and shopping for a serious typewriter again.  I am not sure where my old Olivetti Lettera 32 is these days.  And printing out my blog.  On my laser printer.  Which rocks.

Or maybe I am just standing in line at the bank trying to get my money out like everybody else.

Seriously, three days left… I might log onto EVE and WoW to say goodbye to people, exchange addresses, and maybe have one last peek, but if everything is going away in three days, doing anything is futile.

Questions from SynCaine

1. What is your greatest MMO achievement?

That is a tough one.  There are a number of “being there” achievements I could mention, like being present for two of the biggest battles in EVE Online history.  But there wasn’t much I “did” during those, my presence didn’t make much of a difference.  A lot of the times I am most fond of are stupid things that happened early on in a game, things that become trivial later on, like my first successful run from Qeynos to Freeport in EverQuest or the day I managed to solo the Return the Light heritage quest in about two hours, back when the whole thing was a huge pain to finish because of a pile of special random spawns required, due to a succession of unbelievably lucky breaks.  Basically, all the spawns were up that morning and nobody else was doing the quest.

Let’s just go with that last one.  It was a good time.

2. If you could go back and stop any MMO from every being released, which one would it be and why?

I get the feeling you want me to name a specific game.  I don’t have a good answer for this one.  There are any number of MMOs that have disappointed me, or that I wish had been done differently, or where I think the dev resources might have been better used on other projects.  But wishing one out existence, I can’t really name one.  Just because a game didn’t click for me doesn’t make me hate it, and I am not obsessed, like some, about WoW or some other game ruining the genre or whatever.  People play the games they like.  If EQ or UO were the paradises we paint in hindsight, we never would have left.  And us leaving is what caused them to change.

3. What is your greatest ‘rage out’ moment in an MMO?

I don’t really rage all that much.  Probably the most annoyed I have been that I can recall involves a Nek Castle run in EverQuest II, back when that was current content.  A kid, whom I will call “two shirts” for reasons only Gaff will likely understand, enthusiastically agreed to lead us through what was a very complex run in order to wrap up a couple of heritage quests (and to start a third).  At one point, after a fight, about two thirds of the way into the whole thing (call it the three hour mark) he excused himself for a bio and went away… and didn’t return.  He was still logged on, his character was still there in game.  After about an hour of trying to ping him through other means, we managed to find somebody in the guild who knew him in real life and called his house.  His mother answered and said he had gone to bed and was asleep.  He just went to bed without bothering to let us know.  Of course, he was like 14 years old or some such, so what can you expect?

4. If you were forced to stop gaming and gaming-related activities (blogs, reading game sites) what would you do with that time?

I told my wife once that if we won the lottery I would quit my job and take some classes in oil painting and start doing landscapes or some such.  I think I was reading a biography of Churchill at the time.  Pretty unlikely, and since lottery winnings aren’t in the question, I’ll have to keep my job I guess.

I would probably go back to playing with all the LEGO sets I have accumulated over the years.  I have been tempted to go back and try and build that X-Wing kit again, which would mean finding all the parts and so on.

5. Do you have any plans to retire from gaming? From blogging?

Retire from gaming?  That is like asking if I am going to retire from breathing.

From blogging though… I have considered it from time to time.  There are plenty of days when I spend more time writing about video games than actually playing them.  But somehow I keep going.  My current plan is to get to the 10 year anniversary and then think about how I want to carry on.  10 years might be enough.

6. Which game had the most memorable ending and why?

Games have endings?  Seriously, see question 8.  Very little I have gotten into in the last decade or so has had an ending, and those that have had them I haven’t finished.  I am horrible like that.

But if I have to pick one, I’ll go with Pokemon White Version 2, which I wrapped up last summer.  It was a surprisingly good entry into the Pokemon core RPG genre (even if it has possibly the worst name) and actually changed up the standard Pokemon RPG ending.

7. Have you ever been a ‘whale’ in a F2P game? If yes, confess!

I am not very good with F2P when it comes down to it.  I will opt-in for the subscription, if there is one, if I am going to play a F2P game, just to cut through the restrictions.  But I tend to avoid the cash shop.  Well, maybe “avoid” is too strong a term.  I open it up, stare at it, and wonder who buys this crap.   I have problems spending cash shop currency that companies just give me, so I rarely even consider of buying any.  I think I bought some diamonds back when we tried Runes of Magic, but that is about it.  Given we played that for about 15 minutes five years ago (I think I spent more time patching than playing), so that isn’t a very good example. The F2P cash shop isn’t my thing, and that is where the whales go.

8. Is there a game or genre you wish you could enjoy, but just don’t?

I wish I could get back into single player RPGs again.  They were a staple of my early days, but since online multiplayer came around, it has been tough for me to focus on a world by myself.

9. How much time, on average, do you spend doing gaming-related activities per week (not counting actually gaming).

I am just glad that Raptr doesn’t track that.

10. Which former blog do you wish still existed or was updated?

Aggro Me or maybe Michael Zenke’s MMOG Nation.  So many have come and gone over the years.

11. Your ‘Mount Rushmore’ (top 4 all time) games are?

I already picked my 15 most influential games a while back, and had trouble winnowing that down to 15.  So, for me, a ‘Mount Rushmore’ game is more than a ‘top 4,’ it is a foundational game that lead me to greater things.  With that in mind, I will have to call out:

And it was tough to get down to that four, because I want to put Wizardry and Marathon on the list as well.

My Questions

Okay, I am going to come up with eleven superlative-free questions and then try to tag a couple of people who haven’t yet been drawn into this mess.

1. Why blog?  In this age of Facebook and Instagram and Twitch and what not, why do you work in a medium that is still mostly about words as opposed to video or connections or other things?

2. Why MMOs? (Or, why not MMOs?)  What is it about this never ending genre that pulls you in, relative to single player or even multi-player co-op games?

3. Science Fiction or Fantasy?  Which way do you lean when it comes to games, literature, movies, or whatever?

4. What of Steam?  Do you feel like you’re missing something by not browsing the shelves looking at boxes when shopping for video games?  Digital distribution is here, on the PC at least (consoles still depend on a lot of physical boxes), do you miss the old way?  Are you old enough to even remember the old way?

5. What gaming relics to you hang on to, if any?  Chat logs? Screen shots? Physical boxes? Just memories?

6. Name three (or more if you like) video games that shaped the gamer you are today.

7. You’re rolling up a new character in yet another fantasy title.  What race and class is always the first set you go with?

8. What video games, if any, did you play before you discovered MMOs?  Did you leave them behind?  Or have you left MMOs behind?

9. By whatever definition you choose, what would you consider to be the Video Game Capital of the World?  LA? Austin? London? Elsewhere?  Maybe just the Video Game Capital of your world?

10. Which MMOs have you really invested yourself in?  There are a lot of them out there, but you can realistically only really get into so many.  Which were they for you?

11. How do you spend most of your MMO time with relation to other players?  Are you solo, in a partial group, in a full group, in a raid, in a coalition-wide fleet operation, or some other formation?  What is your default mode?

So, there are my eleven questions.  I hope I made them interesting enough to answer.  I think one of the rules of this whole thing should require you to do a separate post to answer your own damn questions.  How clever would they seem then?  Maybe I’ll do that later, because I couldn’t even finish writing them before I had answers springing up.

Now for the tricky part, picking some people to tag.  As in my youth, it seems like all the cool kids have been picked already.

I want to pick a few people who have not yet done this (and, ideally, who have not yet been tagged, but I’m not going to try to check that, there being only so many hours in the day), who are likely to actually respond (we all know a couple bloggers who would find this beneath them), and who actually read this blog enough to actually have a chance to see that they have been picked.  That leaves a pretty narrow set of choices.  So who is on Team TAGN for this then?

That is a longer list than some but, with a few long shots in there, I am going feel good if two of them actually pick up the torch.

Addendum: Secondary Effects

Mrrx and Stargrace recycled my questions, so now I feel compelled to track those posts as well.  So you can find additional answers to my set of questions below: