Monthly Archives: May 2018

May in Review

The Site

May always seems so quiet after the bustle of April and the April Fools traffic it gets.  May is down 50% when it comes to page views.  I suppose that is what happens when not much happens.  The most viewed posts for the month reflect this as the old Google search favorites return to the top of the list while things I actually wrote in May are somewhat scarce.

So, looking further afield, what was the biggest thing to happen this month?  Probably GDPR.

Look for the EU Label

I am happy to announce that there has been no change to the privacy policy at TAGN, since I never had one since I don’t keep any data on you myself.  WP.com has some statement on that, since they actually hold all the data, but things around here are business as usual.  I’m not even sure that cookies warning comes up correctly.  But I don’t have ads here.  I pay not to have ads here.  No ads, no cookies for tracking ads.  It does pop up on my other blog.

One Year Ago

Nintendo announced the new 2DS XL hardware.  It seemed like a deal, since all it was missing was the somewhat unloved 3D option.

Being a bit down on crowdfunding MMOs, I was wondering who was backing Ashes of Creation.

Daybreak was giving out free level boosts… again… in EverQuest II.

Over in the land of Everquest, the new Agnarr limited progression server went live with a promise never to progress past the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion.  I wondered about the life of progression servers and if this attempt to make a perma-retro server might extend beyond Daybreak.

I returned to the land of the ten dollar horse of legend, Runes of Magic.  Once a trailblazer, an Asian MMO built for the west and designed on the free to play model, in some ways it is very much stuck in time.  And I am not just talking about the archaic patcher.  It still feels like it did back in 2009.  Which isn’t a bad thing, really.  Look how popular retro servers are now.  And it isn’t a bad MMO either.

I worked my way through to the first big city, explored the cash shop, and carried on through the month until the grind started to surpass any sense of nostalgia I was feeling.  As with many such games, if I was playing with a group it would have been fine, but as a solo venture it had its limits.

EVE Online turned 14 years old.  I was again looking at the monthly economic report where Delve was leading null sec in ratting and mining and the Rorqual remained the top mining ship.

The May update for EVE Online gave us new PLEX and the Blood Raiders ship yards.  New PLEX was a money making opportunity for some.  New PLEX went well enough that CCP decided to covert the Aurum they gave away for free sooner than expected.  And then there were the new small skill injectors.

The first Blood Raiders ship yard showed up in Period Basis.  I went to go visit it.  After some trial and error the Imperium went old school and reinforced it with a mass of T1 frigates.  I missed the destruction (and TEST swooping in with interceptors to steal the loot) but still managed to get blown up by the leftover Blood Raider forces.  A dread can one-shot an Ibis.

In other ops in New Eden we went to a brawl around an Astrahus in Catch and I manged to get my Cerb blown up trying to catch up with the fleet, which gave me an opportunity to try flying an interdictor.

In a bullet points post I noted that Blizzard called Overwatch its eighth billion dollar franchise, but I couldn’t figure out what the other seven might be.  Has Blizzard even had eight things one might call a “franchise” at this point?  Also, SuperData was splitting WoW into East and West versions again.

And I rather optimistically suggested that the Mineserver Kickstarter project might still happen.  Ha, ha, ha, I can be so naive.

Five Years Ago

I celebrated the five year anniversary of a blog.  No, not this one.

EVE Online turned 10 (I even made a movie) and reminded us of its true nature, while DUST 514 finally went live for real.

Somebody was saying that there had only ever been two successful MMOs, EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

I checked up on the Newbie Blogger Initiative to see who survived their first year of blogging.

Camelot Unchained made its Kickstarter goal one day before their campaign ended.   Success at the last minute is still success.

The project code named Titan was rumored to have been pushed out to 2016. Meanwhile Activision-Blizzard announced that WoW had shed 1.3 million subscribers, dropping to 8.3 million total.  And then there was the problems with the Diablo III economy.  Rough times.

The XBox One was announced.  Or the name was.  I didn’t like it.

I made a chart about the relative natures of MMO economies.  I was also musing about dangerous travel.

We were starting to peek into NeverWinter as a possible game for the instance group, in hopes that we might have a hiatus from our long hiatus.  We also played a bit of Need for Speed: World.

Rift, ostensibly the game the instance group was playing (and which I was still playing a bit of), announced it was going free to play, which made me mutter about revenue models again.

Our EVE Online corp decided to go play some Lord of the Rings Online, and so my relationship with Middle-earth continued and I was quickly in the Lone Lands.

And finally, I wrote a bit about the first computer game I ever played, which led to some charts about my video gaming timeline.

Ten Years Ago

My daughter and I were finishing up the final battles in the base game of Pokemon Diamond as well as staging our own gym battles.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a date for the Empyrean Age as well as giving us all a gift on the five year anniversary of the game.  I still have that gift in my hangar.

Meanwhile I was building battleships, working the regional price variations, dealing with the realities of production, refining my Drake fittings, and laughing at a the EVE Online guide to talking smack.

Oh, and I was being propositioned in a standard Goon scam.  Damn Goons!

In World of Warcraft the instance group was doing some quests to level up a bit because the Mana Tombs were proving to be a challenge.  We also did some mucking about with alts.

And, in the industry in general, Turbine got $40 million dollars to play with (I wonder where that ended up?) while Age of Conan launched amid immediate declarations of success and failure.

Fifteen Years Ago

SOE launched PlanetSide, their MMOFPS.

3DO laid everybody off and filed for bankruptcy, leading to the end of the line for it and its subsidiary New World Computing, best known for the Might and Magic series.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. What Would Even Help This Genre Anyway?
  4. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  5. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  6. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  7. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  8. EVE Online Third Party Apocalypse Day
  9. Lost Dungeons of New Eden
  10. Rift Prime Time
  11. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  12. The Road to CSM13

Search Terms of the Month

do people still play everquest in 2018?
[Daybreak has never been owned by Columbus Nova]

google play talent tree rpg
[I’m not sure how that works]

what is impulse control eve online
[Not buying PLEX?]

swamp of sorrows or winterspring
[Hrmm… neither?  Winterspring maybe?]

games gay nude servers
[Would there be a point to non-nude servers?]

spanking organizer adult software
[I’m sure I saw a spanking organizer on Steam]

EVE Online

We got the big Into the Abyss PvE expansion for the game, which introduced Triglavian ships and modules, all obtainable via the deathtrap solo space dungeons known as abyssal pockets.

In game, in null sec, in the north, things were exciting for various reasons.  GotG announced they were going to stop trying to defend Fade and Pure Blind, which led to dissent in MOA, which lived in Pure Blind, and which decided to abandon its position there.  And then Circle of Two came over to take up stewardship in Fade, giving the Imperium groups deployed in Pure Blind a new set of opponents to spar with.

EverQuest II

The Daybreak team was handing out level 100 characters again, this time with gear that would keep you from being squashed like a bug when you hit the latest content, so I went and made yet another character, a Shadow Knight.  Despite a few hitches, I actually played a bit with him.  A post about it to follow at some point.

Pokemon Go

Still at level 32, but chugging along.  The change up in available Pokemon and the occasional events keep things interesting.  I did get one of those Alola Exeggutors… a few actually.  They were on every street corner yesterday.

My current state of affairs:

Level: 32 (+0)
Pokedex status: 327 (+15) caught, 349 (+7) seen
Pokemon I want: Still Lapras, still don’t have one
Current buddy: Spoink

Rift

I logged into Rift Prime for 21 days during May, collecting my daily prize until I got another mount, then stopped logging in altogether.  And that is likely the end of that for now.  Still a decent MMORPG, lots there to love, had fun in Freemach and Stonefield, it was great to be in the mass of players at low levels, but soloing along just wasn’t keeping me invested.

Coming Up

In EVE Online the CSM 13 elections are slated to happen from 12 noon UTC (EVE Time) on 4 June through until 12 noon UTC on 11 June.  Be ready to cast your ballot.

Also coming to EVE Online is the great null sec outpost conversion, where all those stations in conquerable null sec systems will be converted to faction citadels.  This is slated for June 5 and will result in a lot of assets that have been locked in hostile stations suddenly becoming available via asset recovery.  I expect some last minute grabs at stations over the weekend.

I may go play some more EverQuest II.  Maybe.  I have until June 7th to see if it is worth subscribing to… and I’d need to buy the expansion… for that one free level 100 heroic character.  Is this the whole “giving away the razor then selling the blades” thing at work again?

The Kickstarter campaign for The Flower of Knighthood will wrap up, though I cannot imagine why they haven’t cancelled it already.  While it has gotten some more pledges, it still hasn’t managed to collect, all total, as much as it needed to get every single day of the campaign in order to fund.  It is currently trending to hit 1% of its $600K target.

The Summer Fantasy Movie League is kicking off with new rules.  See the previous post for details and a link to join.  We shall see how that turns out.  I don’t usually mention FML in the monthly review post, do I?

Finally, summer will commence on the 21st, my daughter will be out of school, and I will likely have to leave the house and go on a vacation or something.

Summer Fantasy Movie League – Now With New Rules!

The time of transition is here.  Our Spring Fantasy Movie League ended yesterday and the final scores were posted earlier today.  Now the Summer League is upon us, a time for new picks, new deadlines, and new rules.

Thanks to the changes that FML made earlier this year, leagues can go their own way.  Going with my whim and the results of a poll I posted l two weeks back, the TAGN league will be departing for the FML default to charts its own path.  I give you the summer season!

The rules for the season, as you can probably guess from the graphic above, are:

  • No bonuses – Raw box office take only
  • Early lock – Thursday at 9am Pacific Time

The early lock will keep people from being able to pick based on the Thursday night previews that are usually available before the standard 9am Friday lock time.  It will also keep the final theater count out of the running, since that usually doesn’t finalize until Thursday around noon Pacific Time. (New arrivals usually have a theater count before then, but you might not know which older titles are going to drop theaters.)

And then there is the no bonuses thing.  People seemed in agreement on cutting out the $5 million weekly perfect pick bonus.

But I also decided to go against the grain and kill the best performer bonus, which is $2 million a screen, so capable of adding as much as $16 million to a weekly pick, as it did with the Baby Driver lineup last summer.  I can see the upside of it, but I felt a no bonus league would be better, or at least more interesting.  We shall see.

There is still a $2 million per screen penalty for blank screens, but I did not add in a penalty (or bonus) for getting the worst performing pick each week.

The hope is for there to be more volatility and variety in the picks with less time to research without leading to insurmountable scoring gaps with the absence of the bonuses.  We shall see.

So if you are up for it, let the summer games begin.

The opening week of summer, coming after the three day Memorial Weekend is a bit of a let down.

Solo                    $514
Deadpool 2              $325
Adrift                  $215
Avengers: Infinity War  $167
Action Point            $143
Book Club               $126
Upgrade                 $62
Life of the Party       $49
Breaking In             $36
Overboard               $30
Show Dogs               $25
A Quiet Place           $21
Best of the Rest        $19
RBG                     $15
Rampage                 $7

There are three new movies on the list this week, Adrift, Action Point, and Upgrade, but none of them are in the summer blockbuster league.  The best of them, Adrift, only made it to third on the price list.  Instead Solo, now condensed to a single day, tops the list for the weekend, followed by Deadpool 2.  And I feel like Avengers is a better pick than Adrift for the pricing.

At the filler end of things is almost all of the same old stuff we’ve been looking at for at least a few weeks… aside from Upgrade, which made the filler end of things in its first week.  But it might be the wild card if it does better than the $2.5 million that the long range forecast has it pegged to do.

This week’s surprising bit is the return of the Best of the Rest at $19, putting it ahead of two picks.  When Best of the Rest isn’t the cheapest pick, it always makes me wonder.  If there is some movie that they expect will be better than others already on the list, why not just put that movie on the list?  And if there is not, what justifies Best of the Rest being more expensive than RBG and Rampage.

So those are the choices for week one of the summer.

If you want to join in, now is the time.  I will put a link in the comments that you can click on to get into the league.  You will need to create an account, but that doesn’t take much.

You also have an extra day to join.  On weeks that start with a Monday holiday all lock times are pushed back a day, so the lock time for the league this week will be the usual Friday at 9am Pacific Time.  Starting next week the league picks will lock on Thursday at 9am.

Spring Movie League – Kessel Also Ran

The time has come, the season has drawn to a close, the last week is over, it is now time to count up the final scores.

Yes, our Spring Fantasy Movie League ended with Solo: A Star Wars Story over the US Memorial Day weekend.

Alas, poor Solo, what went wrong with him?  Was Marvel Universe still too much of a draw?  Have we become over saturated with Star Wars movies?  Did The Last Jedi sour too many fans on the franchise?  Is Han Solo just not that popular?  Were there no back story questions we felt needed to be answered?  Did the whole thing feel like an expensive attempt to again validate that “Kessel run in 12 parsecs” gaff from A New Hope? Was everybody just out camping over Memorial Day?

Yes, there is something odd about the headlines decrying the failure at the box office of a movie that brought in over $100 million over the four day weekend.  But this is a Star Wars movie, and that means that there are expectations.

Still, some of us were not fooled.  Liore and I were discounting Solo in MCats Slack early in the week, where I was calling it $100 million over four days due to a lack of excitement in the force.  And I stuck to that, opting to anchor on Deadpool 2.  Liore couldn’t resist Solo though and anchored on it all the same.

In fact, in the MCats League I was the only one not to bet on Star Wars, which is why I won the week there.  In the TAGN League there was less enthusiasm for Han Solo, so seven of us went with Deadpool 2, though a couple hedge with a Monday Solo pick as well.

But in the end, while Deadpool 2 wasn’t even the winning anchor, it was The Avengers backed up by five screens of Book ClubDeadpool 2 was second best and Solo was in third.  How crazy a week was this?

Sure, it was the pricing and studio predictions that set this course, but who would have pegged a Star Wars movie only running to $103 million on an opening 4-Day weekend?

And then there was the filler picks.  There was a lot of discussion as to what would be the best performer.  Rampage, A Quiet Place, and Life of the Party all had their fans.  Even Show Dogs, which was causing some controversy, had supporters.  But in the end, Overboard took the best performer slot, acing out Life of the Party.

But that didn’t make it a good pick.  It was better to have as much Book Club as could, it held strong from last week, then fill with just two screens of Overboard at the end, a choice it looks like only two people made.

Spring Week Thirteen – Perfect Pick

Nobody in the Meta League had the perfect pick.  The winner for the week was SynCaine, one of those who anchored on Deadpool 2.

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $91,661,374
  2. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $85,559,599
  3. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $84,922,565
  4. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $82,869,211
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $80,463,749
  6. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $80,463,749
  7. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $79,848,296
  8. Kraut Screens (T) – $78,075,953
  9. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $77,414,439
  10. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $76,334,572
  11. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $76,334,572
  12. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $75,485,422
  13. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $74,869,036
  14. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $72,970,209
  15. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $71,451,624
  16. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $69,176,242
  17. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $68,730,172
  18. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $66,575,638
  19. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $65,051,142
  20. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $62,496,157 (Did not pick)
  21. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $60,209,580 (Did not copy picks)
  22. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $41,139,005 (Did not pick)

The Meta League Legend:

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

That was a pretty crazy shake up of the usual order of things, with Biyondios, Ben, and Corr way down the list.  SynCaine took the week, his Life of the Party filler lineup giving him the edge.

But the final season standings, with came out as:

  1. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $1,461,821,220
  2. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $1,436,682,416
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $1,420,901,968
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $1,405,745,374
  5. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $1,388,655,028
  6. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $1,381,421,102
  7. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $1,365,385,176
  8. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $1,357,376,973
  9. Goat Water Picture Palace (T) – $1,342,783,242
  10. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $1,302,008,386
  11. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $1,289,493,645
  12. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $1,286,471,231
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $1,226,445,994
  14. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $1,216,573,742
  15. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $1,178,875,806
  16. DumCheese’s Cineplex (T) – $1,173,846,467
  17. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $1,166,013,150
  18. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $1,152,016,914
  19. JHW’s Cineplex (T) – $1,122,435,526
  20. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies (T) – $1,108,293,580
  21. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex (T) – $1,095,907,569
  22. Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $994,744,898 (Adjusted for main pick)

Given far down the weekly list some top players were, there was very little change in the final ranking.  The week just wasn’t big enough to let people jump more than maybe one spot on the list.  Just $105 million for the perfect pick on a four day weekend with a Star Wars movie opening was not what I expected back at the start of the season.  Sorry Solo, you just didn’t give us the big, dramatic finish we were expected.  A metaphor for the film?

Anyway, congrats to Biyondios who won the spring season after passing Ben a couple of weeks back!  Victory is yours!

This is the end of the Spring season and the end of the Meta League.  With rule changes everybody seems to be going their own way.  So, if nothing else, I won’t have to color a bunch of letters every week.

A post will go up a little bit later for the Summer league plans and rules, with a link if you wish to join.

Find Your Own Private Abyss in New Eden

The EVE Online expansion Into the Abyss went live earlier today.

Into the Abyss

Announced at EVE Fanfest last month, the expansion is centered on new PvE content for the game in the form of abyssal pockets.  These are solo PvE encounters.  However, you need to take care.  Once you start one of these encounters you have 20 minutes to complete it and come out the far end.  If you fail, the pocket will collapse and you will lose your ship and your pod, ending back up where ever you have your death clone set.

A new way to stimulate the market?

The pockets come in multiple flavors (5) and levels of difficulty (also 5), but you can only get into one if you have an abyssal filament.  You can find those at data sites or, likely, on the market.  I am sure enterprising explorers will be happy to see some.

In the pocket you will face three encounters with Sleepers or the new Triglavians.  But when you go into a pocket a marker is left that lets people scan down where you will re-appear once you are done.  And if you do level 4 or 5 difficulty pockets you will also have a suspect timer when you exit, so anybody can shoot your likely damage ship and take your stuff.  Fun fun!

So why, given the drawbacks, would anybody bother with abyssal pockets?

Well, loot of course!

Rewards include blueprint copies for one of the three new Triglavian ships, entropic disintegrators and related modules, the hot new weapon system the Trigglavians bring to the game, or those Mutaplasmids, special items that can mutate the stats of current modules in New Eden, making them better… or worse… or just different.  For the new ships and modules there are new skills you’ll need to train up… because of course there are.  For the Mutaplasmids though no special skill is required, just a willingness to gamble with modules.

Or maybe you will want to go just for some screen shots.  Those abyssal pockets are pretty.

Eagle in a pocket

Just don’t go out of bounds in search of a good screen shot, that’ll blow you up as well.

Maybe try abyssal pockets out on the test server first.  That’s what I did.

That is the big anchor feature of this expansion, solo PvE death dungeons… in space!

But that isn’t all there is to the expansion.  Also announced at EVE Fanfest was the fact that somebody at CCP actually tried Planetary Interaction and found out that the interface was confused shit.  So they decided to try and fix that.  The feature’s only been around for eight years, coming in with the Tyrannis expansion back in May 2010, so it was about due for a pass.  There is a whole dev blog about how CCP plans to make things better.

Of course, if you’ve grown used to the unintuitive psycho-clicky interface over the last eight years, I am sure the new one will seem a burden, at least for a while.  Time to re-learn.

Aside from that, you can no longer have a warp core scrambler stabilizer fit if you want to use a Factional Warfare acceleration gate.  Unless you have a mobile depot out and quickly refit after activating the gate… or so I hear.  CCP was going to fix that by not allowing people to refit while aligning for or in warp, but it turns out capital pilots use that feature pretty often.  After dismissing the capital pilot outcry for about a day by pointing out that this was an unintended feature they had been using for years, CCP relented and left things as they were.

There is also the usual range of big fixes and the like.

And then there was one more item.  CCP also updated the recommended computer specifications for playing EVE Online.  Those are now:

Windows:

  • OS: Windows 10
  • CPU: Intel i7-7700 or AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @ 3.6 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 16GB or higher
  • VIDEO: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 580 or better with at least 4 GB VRAM

Mac:

  • OS: Mac 10.13
  • CPU: Intel i5 Series @ 3.8 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 16 GB or higher
  • VIDEO: AMD Radeon Pro 580 or better with at least 4 GB VRAM

That came as a bit of a shock.  CCP defended this move by pointing out that they haven’t updated the specs since 2013, but in the world of video games, where “recommended” often really means “minimum” and where “minimum” usually means “the publisher wouldn’t let us ship if they knew how demanding our game really was, so theoretically you can play with this config, but it will likely be frustrating” that seems like a pretty high bar to set.  People may assume that they shouldn’t bother if they don’t have the recommended config.

However, the minimum specs didn’t change, so I guess we’re all still okay with this update.  I assume I’ll still be able to carry on running two clients with graphics turned up, in the manner to which I have grown accustomed.   But I am now fairly far behind the recommended spec with the following:

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Processor
  • RAM: 12GB of RAM
  • VIDEO: nVidia GeForce GTX 960 video card with 4GB of VRAM

Oh well, we shall see.

The expansion has been successfully deployed.  Details are available in the Patch Notes and on the Updates Page.  There is also the Known Issues post about what has been found so far with the expansion.

The next big update will be coming next week when, on June 5th, CCP retires all of the null sec outposts, converting them into faction citadels.  At that point all of the lost goods, trapped in hostiles stations, will go into asset safety, leading to… I am not sure what.  INN has some speculation on that front.

Memorial Day 2018

Marching Men

Under the level winter sky
I saw a thousand Christs go by.
They sang an idle song and free
As they went up to Calvary.

Careless of eye and coarse of lip,
They marched in holiest fellowship.
That heaven might heal the world, they gave
Their earth-born dreams to deck the grave.

With souls unpurged and steadfast breath
They supped the sacrament of death.
And for each one, far off, apart,
Seven swords have rent a woman’s heart.

Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922)

Level 100 in Norrath Yet Again

In EverQuest II I have two level 100 characters and one level 95 character and I don’t think I have ever leveled up past 70 myself.  Instead, it is because Daybreak keeps just giving me high level characters.  There was also a level 85 character in there somewhere, but I deleted him at one point to make room for one of those level 100s.

But wait, I will soon have another.  In order to celebrate Game Update 106, Daybreak is offering people yet another level 100 character.  You even get a mount with the deal.

Here we go again…

This is a very generous offer and I will make the time to go take advantage of it.  But on a Friday where I am feeling more skeptical than usual… which is pretty damn skeptical… I have to wonder how effective such offers are.

I mean, I guess it must be somewhat effective if they keep doing it.  And this time around it has a hook in that you are allowed to play in the Planes of Prophecy expansion while the offer is active, after which you will be have to pay to continue there… or to continue to level up, since you need the expansion to go past level 100.  But you get to keep all the prizes you’ve been given otherwise.

However it also seems to expose yet again the ongoing problem for long running MMORPGs that based user advancement on levels.  If you don’t simply allow, but actively encourage players to skip you’re old content, that doesn’t say much for it.  Of course, when the new content is complex due to years of progressive additions, then you’re really in a bind.

Bhagpuss and Isey both have comments on this as well.

The Unchecked Optimism of Not Knowing Better

I want to say up front that I am not writing this post to be mean.  But, given that I am going to explore something with so many things wrong with it, I am sure that is the way it will come across.  Such is life.  I suppose I could just not make the post, but I just cannot let this pass, it being an object lesson on so many fronts.

l speak, of course, of The Flower of Knighthood Kickstarter campaign.

The Flowers of Knighthood for Algernon

I’ve been down the list of things wrong with past Kickstarter campaigns.  I was critical of The Fountain War, Hero’s Song, and The World of Warcraft Diary Kickstarter campaigns, calling them all problematic early on, because they all seemed to fail on fronts that seemed obvious to even an outside observer like myself.

But The Flower of Knighthood seems on track to outdo them all.

Let’s start with the asking amount.  As I have said in the past, the amount you ask for needs to reflect reality.  People with industry fame like Lord British and Mark Jacobs, they were good for $2 million.  Brad McQuaid, certainly famous in MMORPG circles, didn’t have enough pull for $800K, but came close to $500K.   Eric Heimberg, who could at least point to some successful MMORPGs he had worked on, had to take three runs at Kickstarter campaigns for Project: Gorgon before getting the mix of publicity and goals correct. to bring in nearly $75K.

Basically, a little bit of research can give you some baseline expectations when it comes to funding.  Those aren’t hard and fast numbers.  You too could possibly bring in a million dollars on a campaign without being Lord British, but you would have to do something else to bring attention to your efforts.  You could get media outlets interested in your project, have some sort of event, or maybe buy ads on Facebook.  I hear those can swing national elections.

What you shouldn’t do is just forge ahead with an ask you think you need but have no reason to expect you’ll make.  So there is The Flower of Knighthood looking for $600K.  No real publicity in advance… I mean, I pay attention to things better than most and I only heard about the campaign when Massively OP posted about it earlier this week.

Before that there was just a post about their project, but no mention of funding, no attempt to get people ready to buy in, just launch the Kickstarter without preamble and hope for the best.

This campaign is not going to make its $600K goal.

My rule of thumb, based on observations of successful campaigns, is that if you cannot secure 20% of your funding in the first 24 hours you are not going to make your goal.

The first 24 hours is when your installed base, the true fans of your plan, will show up and support you.

The Flower of Knighthood brought in just $351 in the first two days of its campaign, a dismal 0.006% of their goal, and I rounded up a bit to make that number look better.  If you follow the campaign over at Kicktraq it will give you the scale of how far they are off from their goal.  The campaign needs to bring in $20,000 a day to hit its goal.

$351 is such a ridiculously tiny amount that it brings into question how serious this team really is about their project.  Seriously, the base level of effort I would expect, the low end support they should be looking for is from their friends and family.  Surely they went out and at least told all connections on Facebook about this campaign to at least drum up some level of pity support.  If you can’t get your mom to kick in five bucks, just go home.

And yet in the first two days they managed to get pledged from just nine people.

Given the lofty goals and wide scope of their plan, I have to believe there are more than nine people working on this product.  Whose mom wouldn’t pony up?

So the whole thing is dead out of the gate.  No real publicity, no real effort to rally fans, nothing but a misguided belief that if they put up the project then fans will magically appear. (And, best of all, they have stretch goals already, out to $4.8 million!  Plan for success I guess.)

Somewhere they missed the news about how 20 new games popped up on Steam every day in 2017, a number that has continued to rise in 2018.  In the flood of new games that is our current reality, how did they expect somebody to find theirs?

Of course, that doesn’t start to get into some of the other issues hindering this campaign, like the game itself.

I know from long experience that any game, or any aspect of a given game, no matter how horrible and tedious you may find it, is somebody’s favorite thing.  That is the nature of the world.

But just because you know somebody out there will like your game doesn’t mean that there is a big enough audience out there to support it.  The campaign states “the main point of our game is realism” and they are taking that seriously.  For example, I give you the summary of the crafting system:

Authentic craft system – thanks to Dr Stephen Mileson from Oxford University we are creating a maximally authentic craft system. It means that during craft activities you will accurately repeat the actions of 15th-century blacksmiths, carpenters, leatherworkers, tailors and other craftsmen.

I am sure this will appeal to somebody, but I already have a day job.  People found the old EverQuest II multi-level crafting, where you had to refine raw materials, build components, then assemble them into a final finished product, so I have to wonder how realistic they can afford to get.  Will things take literal days and weeks to create?  And what is everybody using until production gets under way?  There is something about NPCs being able to do some of the tedious work, but will they want to get paid?

To make thine axe…

And speaking of paying people, what about the economy to support this crafting?  They don’t say much, aside from the fact that there will be no instant travel and thus, I assume, no instant delivery auction house, so it sounds like people will be walking around from town to town trying to sell things.

Then there is the combat system.  They have rejected hit points and have declared for a realistic physics based system of attacks and blocks.

This reminds me of the post from back in 2010 from the dev at Undead Labs who was going to revolutionize MMOs by eschewing auto-attack and skills for the ability to just swing a bat and hit somebody.  That… and Syp’s reaction to it… got a long response from Brian “Psychochild” Green back then.

More telling, Undead Labs ended up releasing State of Decay in 2013, a single player game.  Even the recently released update, State of Decay 2, is four player co-op, so you’re only bashing zombies, not other players.  So much for fixing MMOs. (There is an Honest Game Trailers about State of Decay if you’re interested.)

And while games like Darkfall and Asheron’s Call have done positional based combat… you have to at least be in the arc of the attack to get hit… I am not sure they attempted to match up attacks versus blocks in a PvP world.  Latency is still a thing.  I can speak from experience in EVE Online, where it has been proven that the person closest to the London data center gets their attack in first.

Okay, you might think, but maybe their goals aren’t so lofty?  Maybe they are overstating things by declaring it an MMORPG?  Maybe this is really meant to be something small, like Medieval Engineers or some such.

Well let me disabuse you of any thoughts down that path.  They want all of that and they want it on a massive scale.  From the Kickstarter:

Talk of ‘massive’ does not mean 100 vs 100. We want to make it possible to gather armies of 1,000 people on each side of the battle. This allows you to implement diverse tactics and combat strategies. You can use archers to weaken your opponent’s army and then send heavy swordsmen with high shields in to attack, and in the most tense moments you can strike with your cavalry into the opponent’s flank.

Two thousand people on field?  I have been on internet spaceship battles in EVE Online of that scale and larger, but fights in New Eden are “press the button to shoot” level of complexity, where you just have to get hostiles within your weapons envelope, open fire, and let the server calculate the rest.  The system gets so slow and so unresponsive that the thought of having to do individual attacks seems ludicrous.  And, as a defender, being able to put up blocks to counter attacks… attacks you would have to see coming… seems like a pretty dicey proposition.

When questioned about this on the Kickstarter page, their answer expressed a confidence that it could be done given enough server computing capacity, which I know to be the answer to all performance issues, but which seems a bit smug given the level of funding they have achieved so far.  Server capacity costs money.

Meanwhile, they just sort of wave away the end user’s video card capability to render such a battle with the idea that first person view will help.

But when they are planning on “realistic” graphics and character movement based on motion capture, facing even a hundred live and active players seems likely to melt ones video card.

Basically, almost every aspect of this project, from funding to design to implementation, seems like pie in the sky.  They are even missing one of the key items of every MMORPG Kickstarter campaign, the list out of the veterans on the team and the projects on which they have worked.  If you’re going to do something this crazy ambitious, you want to at least be able to say you’ve got somebody on the team who has done something similar.  There is a reference to somebody with 21 years of experience, but neither the projects they worked on nor in what capacity.  If it was somebody with 21 years experience working on server side code for some big titles, I might be impressed.  If it is somebody with 21 years experience doing character models and textures, not so much.

At best they seem to have checked too many boxes on their wishlist.  Maybe this is viable as a multi-player co-op.  Leave out the massive battles and cavalry charges and just have players join tournaments and fight off the odd bandit.

And, yes, I am sure I have just expended 1,500 or so words shitting all over somebody’s dream.  But the company, Eaglance (not to be confused with Swiss SEO firm of the same name), really hasn’t the groundwork to be taken seriously.  They’re an effectively unknown company with nobody on staff they can name with relevant experience, planning technical feats that have thwarted the likes of Blizzard in the past, with just a bunch of features, asking for an amount of money that manages to be both ludicrously large and hilariously small at the same time given their abilities and needs.

Anyway, I invite you to take a look at their Kickstarter and their web site to tell me if I have missed something that indicates that this project might have a chance.  To me it seems likely to simmer for years before either shipping something with little relation to their grand vision or disappearing altogether.