Friday Bullet Points About Aether Wars, Stadia, and Other Things

It is Friday and, as often happens, I have a few items which I want to note but which I do not really want to create whole blog posts about.

  • Aether Wars

Tomorrow is the day, the time for the big attempt at the world record for most players together in an online battle… or so CCP and Hadean keep telling me.  They have had a count down all week on Twitter.  But it is tomorrow, Sat 23 Nov 2019 at 20:00 UTC.

Aether Wars Tech Demo

As I mentioned in my previous post, the client is available on Steam.  It is a quick and easy download and you don’t have to register or sign up or anything, just launch the game when the time for the event comes up.  The event itself has not changed much since the summer version, which I wrote about here.

See you there tomorrow?  What if I told you there was a Steam achievement for joining it?  Because there is.

You could also win an all expenses paid trip to Fanfest 2020 in Iceland by just showing up, but I am betting the achievement will have more influence on who plays.

  • Stadia Launches

Google’s cloud gaming service, Google Stadia, went live this week.  Reports were that the phone app required to configure the service and buy games was downloaded 175,000 times, which doesn’t exactly put the launch into the realm of unqualified successes.  However, the launch was only for people who pre-ordered the $129 Chromecast Ultra package.  Numbers will no doubt go up when the free version is released next year, but the press has not been kind to it and data usage could still be a problem for some.

Like some others, I don’t really get why Stadia is even worth considering relative to any of the possible alternatives, which might just mean I am not the target audience.  Still, there was an excellent long Twitter thread comparing Stadia to a similar product design from the past that stirred up my own lingering feeling that Google was doing this more because they can than because they believed there was a market.

But the real pessimists have started a countdown clock to Stadia’s expected demise, a number reached based on the average life of Google products.  And they do have a point.

  • Minecraft Plans

I was going to mention this previously… and then forgot.  Such is my life.  But back at Minecon it was announced that the next update for Minecraft will focus on the Nether, adding new biomes and structures and mobs.  There are some basic details here  However, if you put a bed down in the Nether and try to sleep in it, it will still explode.

As usual, the update will only affect new worlds or areas explored after the update drops.

  • Pokemon Sword & Shield Sells Big

I mentioned last Friday that Pokemon Sword & Shield was launching.

The core RPG line continues

While I wasn’t buying a copy… we don’t own a Switch… it turns out a lot of people were on board with the new game as it sold around six million copies in the first week, making it the fastest selling Nintendo Switch title so far.

Announce you’re making a real core Pokemon RPG game and people will line up.

  • Mobile WoW When?

Bobby Kotick was up talking about the idea of perpetual franchises, which I guess is the line you take when you cannot make anything new that outsells the stuff you already have.  Seriously, the Activision Blizzard big money makers remain World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Candy Crush Saga.

As part of that he said that the growth would be staggering once they brought all of these to phones.  That makes me want to ask where Diablo Immortal is, but never mind.  However it sure sounds like we’re going to get some flavor of Warcraft on mobile.  Maybe.  Some day.

5 thoughts on “Friday Bullet Points About Aether Wars, Stadia, and Other Things

  1. anypo8

    Might be roused from no longer playing EVE for trying out Aether Wars, but they’ve left out Linux. I could grab a Windows box, but really not supporting Linux in Current Year is kind of inexcusable — it just isn’t hard with any modern engine; also, the graphics and display on my desktop box are far superior to my Windows laptop. So… maybe. Haven’t decided yet, which probably means no. Leaving out Linux will make it easy for me to keep winning, so thanks CCP!

    (Also, looking at the mess they’ve made of the bookmarks revamp doesn’t leave me more excited to play. I’m guessing they’re about to make Katia Sae make some really hard decisions about their bookmark cache, which is super-sad and totally unnecessary. I *told* them how to fix bookmarks properly and forever several times, so there’s that. [Hint: public-key crypto is awesome and the players are better at this kind of thing than CCP.] Looking forward to @Wilhelm’s take on this one.)

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  2. Shintar

    OMG, I clicked on that Stadia countdown clock and followed the link there to Google Cemetery – I had no idea it was this bad! I kept seeing things on that list that made me go: “Oh, I remember that, I guess that explains why I hadn’t heard of it in a while…” And they are shutting down Hangouts next year? Dang…

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    anypo8 – “but really not supporting Linux in Current Year is kind of inexcusable”

    What percentage of the personal computer market is Linux? Now subtract MacOS. Then remove ChromeOS, which is not suitable for anything but browser apps. That gets you down to about half a percentage point of the market. Now divide that by the number of “popular” distros. And what do you get? An argument never to bother supporting Linux. CCP tried and wasted a lot of dev time figuring that one out.

    There has always been a movement to try and make Linux more mainstream and user friendly, and it always gets destroyed by the core Linux audience which doesn’t want anything between it and its command line. Linux has a place, but that place is developers and servers. Supporting Linux for an end user, non-developer application is a losing proposition.

    CCP spends dev time adding support for EVE Online to the Wine project to support MacOS. CCP doesn’t officially support any Linux distros, but there is a tiny group of players out there that have made it work. There is a section of the official forums devoted to Linux and even an entry about it over at EVE Uni. But that is all the support it is ever going to get.

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  4. anypo8

    @Wilhelm: I would guess that 3-5% of EVE’s current playerbase is playing on Linux. That’s based on the interactions I had with players in-game over 3.5 years. Saying EVE’s playerbase is “atypical” is a gross understatement of the situation. It’s not an amount CCP can’t afford to lose, but at a time when CCP is digging around pretty desperately for players it’s a big contingent to throw under the bus for no good reason.

    I never played anywhere but Linux, and as you said it was a fiddly mess but it also worked fine most of the time. When it didn’t work, I didn’t play. Ironically, the Linux situation was the best it had ever been just when I quit for other reasons. Also ironically, WoW works just fine on Linux (both classic and “retail”). So does GW2, and really any MMO I’ve ever cared enough to try.

    There is no reason Hadean could not allow what CCP’s client allows now, which is Wine. CCP has not added support for EVE on Wine on Linux to Wine, because it hasn’t had to — it’s been done for them in the process of supporting a billion other far more challenging titles.

    “There has always been a movement to try and make Linux more mainstream and user friendly, and it always gets destroyed by the core Linux audience which doesn’t want anything between it and its command line. Linux has a place, but that place is developers and servers. Supporting Linux for an end user, non-developer application is a losing proposition.” I’d strongly suggest a look at the Steam store to see which titles support Linux out of the box. My Linux Steam library contains every mainstream title I cared about playing and a bunch that I haven’t got around to yet (except The Witness, because Jonathan Blow is too smart to use a professional graphics engine). How have these titles managed it when CCP hasn’t been able to? Because modern titles have leveraged fully-developed game engines that already support Linux out of the box. Why do these game engines do this? Because (a) it’s pretty easy and cheap on modern hardware with modern Linux, and (b) they’ve gotten strong encouragement from Valve, who wants to avoid the Microsoft lock-in that murdered so many potentially successful business over the last 30+ years. Valve has threatened to build its own console before, and will again if Microsoft gets too uppity. Linux is the only realistic current choice of OS for such a venture, and Valve wants to have a bunch of mainstream titles ready-to-go.

    I don’t quite understand the Aether Wars project. I had assumed it includes a new client engine built on top of a commercial game framework. Maybe not: maybe they’re just using the existing EVE client, perhaps in some slightly-modified form, and working almost entirely cloud-side. I don’t know. But in either case, I think it would be smart to include the Linux users. I threw CCP something over $1000 during my 3.5 years in the game. It’s not real money, but I think it more than paid for my tech support.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @anypo8 – But they are not throwing Linux users under the bus for “no good reason.” You’re a dev, you know features don’t live in a vacuum. At no company I’ve ever worked at, on no project I have ever been on, have we had enough time or dev resources to do everything we wanted. Supporting Linux directly is a huge and constantly ongoing dev effort. Making that an unofficially supported platform and just doing MacOS probably saves them a lot of dev time to do other things and a huge honking load of QA time, which speeds up delivery of features, and that impacts the 95-97% of the player base that does not use Linux. For example, which would benefit CCP more, the Linux support you’re asking for right now or the rework of the UI you’ve mentioned previously? I know that dev time isn’t a fungible good, but you still choose who you hire and who you lay off based on your plans and your plans ought to be based on what does the product the most good. That they have a 16 year old game which probably still has some code from the 20th century in it just complicates things.

    Yes, there are a lot of Linux titles on Steam. And Steam has even tried to get people to standardize on a distro. But they haven’t quite gotten there, so if you want to play CS:GO or Rocket League or Three Kingdoms, you need a different version of Ubuntu for each of them. That essentially means you can pick one to play, and there is a big big difference between having 5,000 Linux titles and there being 5,000 Linux titles you can download and play with your particular distro.

    Aether Wars is a tech demo intended to test the server tech Hadean has, with an eye towards future CCP games being able to support giant, single server, many player battles. (My gut is that this stuff will never make it to EVE Online.) The client is a hand built that uses visual resources from EVE Online, but plays like EVE Valkyrie, and which probably has zero code from either. It was built for Windows 10 only. One of the problems I saw come up time and again in the Discord for the event was that it didn’t run on Win 7. If they cannot even get Win 7 working (and there was no MacOS support either), then Linux support is essentially asking for the moon.

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