Daily Archives: December 19, 2016

A Standing Stone Gathers No Momentum

Well, today’s big announcement in the MMO world has to be this bombshell about the development teams formerly part of Turbine.

All it does is spin...

All it does is spin…

I am going to quote the text in full lest the site disappear next week.

Today we have some momentous news! The game teams responsible for The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) and Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) are now moving from Turbine to Standing Stone Games, a newly formed indie game studio. In addition, we’ve partnered with Daybreak Games to provide global publishing services. They’ve had a long, successful history developing and publishing MMOs, and we’re happy to lean on their expertise.

With the announcement out of the way, I wanted to talk to you about what all this means.

We’re embarking on an exciting adventure as Standing Stone Games, a newly-independent studio staffed by people who have been working on DDO and LOTRO for many years. The teams remain very much committed to both games and are thrilled to continue development and operations of these games as an independent studio.  This is an opportunity for us to bring about our dreams while still working on two of the biggest licenses in video games. It’s a huge honor, and for you this means your games will continue to grow and improve. We love to focus on games with a high level of depth and scope, and we can’t wait to show you what the future brings.

Although a great many exciting things are happening on our end, you’ll be able to continue playing the game(s) you enjoy with as little interruption as possible. Our development continues on track, and the plans we have already announced remain firmly in our future view. Again, although we are a new studio, we are also the same developers who have been and will continue to work on our games.

Our success has always been possible because of your support. As we move forward, this is more important than ever. The ultimate goal of our new studio is to continue to bring you amazing experiences. We are excited for the future, and we’re thrilled to have you with us on this journey.

Here’s to great games, epic adventures, and memorable times with friends!

~Sev

Momentous news indeed.  That is a lot to take in, so let my try and parse it out into bite size pieces, for my own benefit at least.

  • Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online are no longer part of the WB owned game studio known as Turbine.
  • Those two remaining money making online properties from Turbine will now be part of a newly formed studio known as Standing Stone Games. (SSG? Like the Strategic Studies Group?)
  • The studio is alleged to be “independent,” but doesn’t really describe what that means.  I am pretty sure Warner isn’t just letting them go without any financial interest or compensation.
  • SSG is partnering with Daybreak Games Company, our favorite lovable band of west coast cowboys, to provide global publishing services.

There is a whole FAQ that goes with this, which I can summarize as “Don’t Panic!” as it doesn’t really add much in the way of details.  We won’t know what all this really means until some time passes and things shake out.

What it sounds like WB is doing is getting LOTRO and DDO off the books the way that EA did with Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot when they handed over to those two properties to Broadsword, a studio that they probably had a hand in creating.  Rather than having the headcount and servers and what not counting against margins… and Wall St. is obsessed with margins, so if you’re a public company you are as well… the whole things becomes a licensing deal that just generates income.  And the fact that “Standing Stone Games” appears to be a trademark of “Standing Stone Games, LLC” certainly makes it sound like it is fully spun off.

All of which probably means that we are pretty much done with any big investments in either game.  They have to survive on their own.  But they just got new servers and upgrades over the last year, so they should be set there.  Now the team will slowly move towards Mordor in the case of LOTRO, and something else in the case of DDO, getting bug fixes and updates so long as the money keeps coming in.

In the end, this is probably a good thing for both games.  They seem much more likely to carry on over time than they would in a company where accounting is looking to chop under performing assets.  Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 however are probably going to disappear for good.

The strange bit is the Daybreak tie-in.  Why would you go to a company that has no significant presence outside of the US for your “global publishing services?”  Didn’t SOE/Daybreak spend a couple of years trying to ditch their European customers by selling them off to ProSiebenSat.1 before finally giving up on the whole thing and bringing as many resources back to the US as possible?

What does a deal with Daybreak bring to the table?  Unless the SSG team didn’t get the billing department for the games and needs somebody else to charge credict cards for them, I can’t see the logic.  Will Daybreak be running their data centers?  Or will SSG be moving into Daybreak’s data centers?  What else could Daybreak do for them as a “publisher” for a game you download directly?  They can’t even run their own physical game card sales without problems, why would you go to them?

We shall see.

I don’t think this is going to mean LOTRO and DDO will end up on Daybreak Access, but stranger things have happened.

Addendum: And, as predicted, AC and AC2 will soon be gone… or sunsetted… or whatever the current term of art is.

Others on this bit of news:

Another Night, Another Keepstar Fight

This is becoming a regular thing.

Saturday night, after having gone out to see Rogue One, gone out to dinner, come home and watched Star Wars: Episode IV, I finally wandered around to my computer to see what was going on in New Eden.

Jabber had been up long enough that there was a ping about reinforcements going off to attack a Pandemic Legion CHAOS Keepstar up in the system of Vey.  The Imperium New Twitch stream was showing live video from the fight which showed the Keepstar coming online and the repair timer paused due it being attacked.  It seemed like there could be yet another Keepstar kill this month.

I was keen to get there and whore on the kill mail help out our fleet.

However, Vey is in the Placid region, which is Gallente empire space, and something of a haul from way down in Delve.  Also, the reinforcement fleet was well on its way.  A run by myself wouldn’t be impossible, but there were a lot of potentially hostile gates to pass through on the way there.

My first thought went to my Alpha Clone alt, Reynaldo Fabulous, who is now truly and Alpha as his account has lapsed.  He was parked in one of his hull tanked Thorax cruisers less than a dozen jumps from Vey.  I got him out… which meant I couldn’t log anybody else into the game… and headed that direction, but got caught on a gate camp in Renarelle and blown up, sending him back to Jita.  I put the kill rights he got up for sale at a low price and logged him out.

Getting to the fight now meant doing something with my coalition characters, both of whom were down in Delve.  I logged them in and looked at where they had jump clones.  Wilhelm’s closest was in Badivefi, which isn’t much closer than Delve.  But my alt had a clone in Amarr, which wasn’t too far from the fight.  So I jumped him up there.

Once in Amarr, I grabbed the fitting for the target painting Vigil that goes along with most of our fleet compositions and bought that and fit it all up (“buy all” and “fit” buttons for the win!) and set a course for Vey.  Once in motion there, I jumped Wilhelm to Badifevi and put him in a support Crucifier I had stashed there, undocked him, and set his autopilot to the last high sec station on the way to Vey, just in case I needed backup.

Then it was back to my alt who quickly got into Placid, bypassing any trouble right up the gate from Agoze to Vey… and the trouble there was time dilation.  I went from fast moving space straight into the soul-sucking sludge that is 10% tidi surrounding a big fight.  The warp tunnel almost seemed to stop and everything was in super slo-mo.

Which was a bit of a surprise after the 5,337 pilot battle at M-OEE8 because the numbers were less than half that when I hit the system.

Time dilation factor 10

Time dilation factor 10

From what I heard over the weekend, the big fight at M-OEE8 actually got to use the super Jita node (so the Jita market had problems that day) while this fight was just a standard reinforced node.  Judging from coms, the node had not been up to the load and people had been dumped from the game a while back.  But I was there at last and joined up with Asher’s Machariel fleet because… well.. Asher.

Landing on the Machs

My Vigil landing on the Machs

They were right in at the Keepstar.  I got in an orbit around the anchor and started painting the targets being called, which at that moment were fighters.

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

I also locked up the Keepstar and sent a missile its way just to get some damage in while I had the chance.  It still had quite a ways to go, but seemed to in peril.

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

However, by that time Pandemic Legion had gotten themselves assembled and began dropping their considerable capital ship assets on the Keepstar in order to defend it.  The weight of that turned the tide in their favor.

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

While others in the fleet had been going for five hours or more for this battle, including time spent forming up and flying out, we were now aligning for the out gate and heading home just minutes after I had arrived.  I tabbed out and stopped Wilhelm’s slow autopilot progress to the fight and sent him back the way he came, then aligned with the rest of the fleet as we, TEST, and other attackers sought to exit the system.  The Keepstar was going to be saved.

We slowly warped off to the gate and then waited there a bit until everybody arrived.  Then we jumped through and back into playing EVE Online and its normal pace, leaving all but residual bits of time dilation behind us as we made the trip back down to Delve.  That put us into Cloud Ring and then through the well trod path down the length of Fountain to Delve.  I stuck with the fleet for the ride home just in case we ran into any opposition… though a nearly 200 ship strong Machariel fleet would need some serious opposition for there to be a real problem.

Aside from a Sabre along the way, the route was clear and we arrived in Delve where a titan was waiting on a citadel to bridge us back to the staging system.  A cyno was put up at the far end, the bridge went up, and we went to jump through.

Bridge up on the titan

Bridge up on the titan, second titan in the background

However, before much of the fleet managed to jump, the titan, ran out of helium isotopes, the fuel consumed to put up the bridge and then to send each ship through, so those left behind were not going to be taking that bridge.  I made it, but others were still sitting there.  However the fleet was in luck as there was another titan on the citadel. It had a jump portal generator fit and enough fuel in its bay to send the rest of the fleet on home.  The fleet op was over. (More about jump drives and such if you are interested.)

We did not get a Keepstar kill, but the whole thing… and the fact that this was the third Keepstar battle in just over a week… made me start wondering about the state of Keepstar and citadel proliferation.  Pandemic Legion and its allies are going back to the old rental space model in null sec starting with the territory they just conquored in Tribute, which will likely expand into the Vale of the Silent region now that TEST and CO2 are moving south to stage in Derelik with an eye towards taking territory in Catch.

With a solid income stream behind them again and a strong capital fleet available to drop in defense (that whole “last war” polemic has not aged well) Pandemic Legion can keep putting up Keepstars and Fortizars to make a fairly unassailable perimeter. They won’t be able to hold more than half of null sec like the Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition rental empires of old, but they may not need to.  Fozzie Sov upgrades to null, citadels, jump fatigue, and overwhelming local superiority in supercaps likely means they can settle in for a long and lucrative stay in the north in some prime territory with easy access to Jita.  The ISK rolls in while whatever neighbors they have will keep the line members entertained.

With more than seven thousand citadels deployed already back during EVE Vegas, maybe citadel proliferation should be a Blog Banter topic?  Or maybe supercapital proliferation as a topic, since “build more supers” seems to be on every null sec power’s list of things to do?  Or maybe we can just do a Blog Banter about how the more things change, the more they stay the same or Malcanis’s Law or any of the usual tunes we all know the words to after more than a decade in New Eden?

Addendum: And the official rental space announcement is up on Reddit.  You can join Rate My Ticks (RMT, ticker: WERMT) and rent some prime space real estate in Tribute.  It is good stuff.  I know, I used to live there.

Addendum: EN24 has a post about the wider battle, as my perspective was pretty narrow.