Category Archives: entertainment

A Sad Day for Sims

Upon seeing the news about Maxis yesterday, I realized that I had probably not sat down and really played a game from Maxis this century.

I bought a copy of SimCity 2000 from GoG.com for some tiny price back when EA/Maxis was busy shooting itself in the foot with the latest SimCity.  That was the last game in the series I could recall having played.  And I put SimCity 4 on my Steam wishlist and a reader actually bought it for me. (Thank you again!)  But I never managed to sit down and focus on playing either for any real length of time.  The crude graphics and the awkward interfaces of both chased me away pretty quickly.  Minecraft seems more palatable to me these days than either of those.  And I certainly wasn’t going to give EA any money for their latest version.

And without SimCity, what is there when it comes to Maxis?

Well, I guess there is The Sims, the best selling game series ever and probably the one reason that there is still a Maxis left to shut down in 2015.  EA seem dumb, evil, and heartless… often on the same day… but they do love the sound of money.  It’s just a good thing they haven’t figured out how to make money via malware or we would… oh, wait, I forgot about Origin.  Never mind.

However, I never played The Sims, aside from a brief dalliance with the Facebook version, back when that was how all game companies were going to get rich like Zynga, and we saw how that turned out.

And your father smelt of elderberries...

My usual interaction options with Tobold… we flirt shamelessly

And if I understand the history correctly, EA had already brought The Sims into their Redwood Shores lair, placing it directly under their control before letting it return to the Maxis logo, creating a taint that explained to some why The Sims 4 seemed like a step back from The Sims 3 in many ways.  So that wasn’t going to keep Maxis viable any more.  EA could just snatch The Sims back any time they felt like it.

Fun Created Here!

Fun Created Here!

And without The Sims, that left Maxis with… um… SimCity 2013 and… Spore maybe?  Talk about a couple of titles that failed to live up to expectations.  I didn’t even know that Spore had a follow-on game, which was even more poorly received.

So I suppose the real question is why it took EA so long to finally shut Maxis down and close their no doubt pricey digs across the bay in Emeryville. (I had a job interview right around the corner from Maxis back in 2010, with another company that is no longer around.)

Still, I feel some lingering nostalgia for Maxis.  I remember back when the original SimCity came out, when it was something new and different and people were struggling with the idea of it being a game because there was no obvious win condition.  Some were insisting we call it a computer “toy” or some other ambiguous title.

SimCity back in the day

SimCity back in the day

Back then I played many, many hours of SimCity.  Likewise with SimCity 2000 (which like a lot of games of its era, was much better on Mac OS).  I would let my city run while I was in the other room or at work (with disasters turned off naturally) to build up a tax base and then spend the evening expanding my domain and fighting off fires and alien invasions, all while trying to keep my ungrateful population happy enough to not flee the city.  I’ll tax you little bastards back to the stone age!  I remember the music especially, the jolly, bouncing, honky tonk tones of a happy thriving city or, more commonly, that trudging, day-to-day, we’re just getting by melody.  Is the SimCity 2000 sound track available on iTunes?

I am pretty sure I also bought SimCity 3000, but can only recall a mild sense of disappointment.  Plus it came out in 1999 when EverQuest pretty much owned my play time.

A bunch of other “Sim” games came from Maxis over the years, none of which really appealed to me.  Looking at the list of Maxis games, there are a lot of titles there that I let pass on by.  I think Maxis might have been ahead of their time in some ways.  SimFarm, as an example, was never a hit back in the day, but Farming Simulator has sold millions of copies on Steam.  Gaff can’t get enough of that one.  The simulation craze came too late for Maxis.

The only other Maxis titles I can muster much nostalgia for are RoboSport and Marble Drop.

RoboSport was a simultaneous move, multiplayer combat game, something of a precursor to the Combat Mission series of games, where both sides give their units instructions during the orders phase, then both sides act on those order at the same time during the combat phase.  For a season, when we were not playing Full Metal Mac or Bolo or NetTrek, it was the after work game of choice.

Then there was Marble Drop, which was probably the last Maxis game I purchased.  It apparently got poor reviews, but I recall it as being a fun little puzzle game that I played all the way through… though time may have fuzzed the edges of those memories.

A level in Marble Drop

A level in Marble Drop

And that is about it for the history of Maxis as viewed the prism of my experience.  They mostly made games which I did not play.  Then they were acquired by EA which kept them around a lot longer than some other studios they have purchased.  But now Maxis has joined the list of the departed, along with Mythic, Origin, Kesmai, Westwood, Pandemic, and Bullfrog.

You can argue over whether Electronic Arts buys studios that were destined to die anyway or, if by buying them, EA destroys them on its own.  Either way, there does seem to be a pretty strong correlation between being bought by EA and being shut down by EA.

But the world of video games is volatile and it isn’t like the only studios that shut down are the ones owned by EA.  So we say farewell to Maxis and wish good luck to those who are now out there looking for a job.

I feel like I have been writing a lot of these nostalgic/memory/milestone/obituary posts lately.  What is up with 2015?

Quote of the Day – A Treasure Trove of Turbine Turmoil

LOTRO’s launches in Japan and Korea were so disappointing they were immediately and quite effectively brushed under the carpet and never spoken of again.

-Aylwen, LOTROCommunity forums

Well, if you were looking to kick Turbine while they were down, Massively Overpowered linked to some forum posts earlier that will both set the “down” scenario and give you plenty of targets to kick.

In fact, if there is some Turbine issue you want to pick at, you’ll probably find it.  Infinite Crisis as an ill-conceived disaster that is hemorrhaging money?  Check!  Self-destructive rivalries between groups?  Check!  F2P conversions that did not meet expectations despite the external hype? Check!  Cheaping out on expansions?  Check!  Blizzard induced paranoia?  Check!  Leadership problems and rampant self-deception?  Check!  Neglect from corporate overlords?  Check!

It is like Ikea!

Bad marketing ideas? Well, we had proof of that already, didn’t we?

I picked the quote at the top because that was an event I couldn’t even recall.

And while the author of these posts, a former Turbine employee, says he is not disgruntled, this does feel like an EA Louse-level event for Turbine, and I haven’t even gone through half of it yet.

The Proposed Phase Two of Sovereignty Changes

There was a big, big dev post from CCP yesterday about their next phase of changes to null sec sovereignty.  The first phase came with Phoebe back in November, which introduced jump fatigue.  That expansion changed the null sec map… before it even arrived.  The big null sec blocs adjusted themselves and settled in.  There has been some fighting in the east where the Russians have been staging a comeback, but they were already players on the map for many years.  The much ballyhooed, mythical big blue donut remained pretty much intact.  The names on the map sometimes change, but there are very few new powers that have shown up in my time.

Null Sec Sov - Dec 2011 and March 2015 compared

Null Sec Sov – Dec 2011 and March 2015 compared

You may see Absolution Alliance on the right side, but that is just White Noise from the left hand map.  Brave Collective is new, but it has TEST hanging out with them.  Even Intrepid Crossing is still on the map as two tiny little green boxes in The Spire.  You need a score card to tell who is dancing with who these days, to torture a metaphor, but a lot of the same players are out on the floor.  So, yes, there might be some justification for tinkering with sovereignty.

Anyway, the second phase is based on a series of goals CCP is attempting to achieve.  They are:

1. As much as possible, ensure that the process of fighting over a star system is enjoyable and fascinating for all the players involved

Hard to argue with that one, though that might be more because it is pretty vague.  Fights are fights after all, and I have been involved in some really great fights under the current sov system because timers force the issue and make people come out and play, because otherwise they will lose their holdings.  I think the previous dev blog about nerfing Ishtars and Tengus would be as likely to accomplish the “enjoyable” goal in my book, but I’ll take it as “don’t make things worse.”  I can live with that.

2. Clarify the process of taking, holding and fighting over star systems

Okay, amen to this one.  I’ve been a soldier in the sov wars since December 2011 and I still can’t tell when we are really, truly fighting over the very last, final, there ain’t no more, we get the system now, timer unless the FC explicitly says so.  And I’ve been on ops where the FC has said that and has been wrong.  Of course, they went on to describe a new system that seems to be just as arcane in its own way, but at least they want to give it a UI that mere mortals can access and decipher.

A UI proposal

A UI proposal – Also, Atlas Alliance!

I don’t get access to Region Commander, so it would be nice for CCP to let the soldiers be able to tell what is going on.

3. Minimize the systemic pressure to bring more people or larger ships than would be required to simply defeat your enemies on the field of battle

Make it so when the defenders bring three fleets we don’t have to up the ante and arrive with four I guess.  After two reads through the whole thing, I am not sure how a bigger coalition is not going to be incentivized to roll out as many fleets as possible when an important system is in dispute.

4. Drastically reduce the time and effort required to conquer undefended space

Sounds good.  I’ve already been through undefended region grinds.

5. Provide significant strategic benefits from living in your space

I’ve seen this one getting some heat.  What it means is that the systems you use to rat and mine and produce in, those will get a defensive buff.  What it does not mean, and what some people seem to expect it should mean, is any sort of boost to the benefits of living in null sec.  Without that latter bit, there are a lot of raggedy ass, bad true sec systems out there that alliances tend to hold merely because they happen to be in the same neighborhood as the systems they actually use.  All of null is not equally valuable, so I wonder what becomes of the off brand stars that don’t spawn worthwhile anomalies or asteroids.

6. Spread the largest Sovereignty battles over multiple star systems to take advantage of New Eden’s varied geography and to better manage server load

This is one where I begin to wonder if CCP plays its own game.  Have they been in a sov war since time dilation was introduced?  Because outside of Jita, very few star systems appear to get their own dedicated resources.  The same set of CPUs seems to run a whole constellation, or even a whole region at times, because a big fight in one system will spread the time dilation love to adjoining systems so we all share the pain.  So this one seems moot unless there is some server infrastructure change that goes with it, as 4,000 people in one system and 4,000 people in one constellation seem to be about as likely to bring the servers to their knees based on my own past experience.

7. Any new Sovereignty system should be adaptable enough to be rapidly updated and to incorporate future changes to EVE

CCP actually attempting to plan for the future.  Will wonders never cease?  Next they will tell us that their programmers comment their code in a comprehensible and meaningful way… and then I will know they are full of shit.

Thoughts on This

So those are the seven goals which are alleged to inform all of the mass of text that follows them in the dev blog.

What does it all mean?  Damn if I know.  I just align where the FC tells me and shoot the targets indicated… or rep the targets indicated more likely… when I can be bothered to stop trying to get good screen shots.

Moving sovereignty fights so that they occur in multiple systems in a constellation sounds interesting, if not exactly logical.  In order to capture system A you need to blow something up in system b and c?  Sure, I’ll do it, and I guess it makes as much sense as timers do in the first place.  And the defense bonus structures will get means that bigger fleets will still be encouraged by the system.

Likewise, the whole Entosis link module sounds interesting.

And they come with a flow chart, so #winning

And they come with a flow chart, so #winning

Of course, I am sure that module will never be abused, there being absolutely no history of EVE players gaming the system or min/maxing or finding strange new uses for things. (Cue footage of hot Ishtar on Ishtar action and suicide gankers resupplying from Orcas.)  I know, stop laughing.  But if you are thinking that at least it will put power in the hands of smaller groups, you might want to remember that the coalitions have their own think tanks dedicated to optimizing that sort of thing.

But we might have to start using all those SBU’s that Wibla is purported to be holding for a rainy day, as they will be obsolete when the new system comes online, replaced by the Entosis link module.

Freeport mode sounds like it could be rich in comedy.  I fully endorse that.

Being able to set your prime time defense window favors defense.  While I have seen it said that this pretty much lets the pacific time zones out of playing to sov game, you know some group will recruit Australians just so they can set their timers to go off when Europe and North America can’t get numbers on grid.  This will be a strategic decision.

While there seems to be an unstated goal in the mix about making sovereignty accessible by a more diverse group rather than the same old players that are in the maps at the top of the post, I am not sure that the price will be paid by the big blocs.  There are a lot of corps out in null sec only because they can rent space.  They are the most likely group to be driven out of null, replaced by whichever new groups (or reconfigured old groups) that want to grab a piece of space real estate to call their own.  Is that a good thing?  If you’re thirsting for sov, probably yes.  If you’re a renter corp, maybe not so much.

Finally, while I have seen a couple of references to the end of the blue donut again with this dev blog, I do not see anything in the whole mess that would make me think for an instant that the big, well organized, and currently entrenched blocs will be at any sort of relative disadvantage when the change eventually comes.

But I wouldn’t expect to see such a thing unless CCP completely lost hold of their senses.  Alienating a large and fairly dedicated chunk of your player base never plays out well.  Nobody wants to be part of the next NGE fiasco, so CCP isn’t going to change things to allow a couple 100 person corps to throw Goonswarm out of VFK.  They want null to be more interesting, but not THAT interesting.

Anyway, the dev blog is all just a proposal at this time for something to hit come the summer, so there will be plenty of time for CCP to gauge reaction and adapt to the holes poked in their ideas.  Plus they will get a couple of new CSM members putting their two cents in soon enough, and one of them is likely to be Endie, which should make for a good time.

We shall see what the summer brings I suppose, but first we have to get through Fanfest and spring and a couple more of those every five week releases.

Others writing about this dev blog:

WoW Tokens – PLEX with Price Supports

Well, they went for it.  I was predicting against it due to the frenzy of bitterness left over from the Diablo III real money auction house fiasco, but it looks like there will be a PLEX-like item from Blizzard, as was previously brought up, that people can buy for real world money and then convert into in-game gold in World of Warcraft.

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

Current prices are ~800 million ISK in Jita

Called WoW Tokens, Blizzard will join the other games that have followed EVE Online and its PLEX model to help combat/sate the pressure some players feel is on them to buy the in-game currency in order to get what they want out of the game.

The WoW Token highway has no exit

The WoW Token highway has no exit

While Blizzard is not the first to take their cue from CCP on this front, though they do appear to be one of the few, aside from SOE, to avoid a cute acronym.  And even Krono (as in “Chrono” as in “Time”) strikes me as a bit cute.  But for WoW it is just a token.

Past versions of PLEX from other companies include:

  • KronoEverQuest & EverQuest II and maybe other titles.
  • CREDDWildStar
  • GRACEAnarchy Online
  • DUELDarkfall
  • REX – Rift
  • APEX – ArcheAge

Avoiding a cuteness however is not the only thing that sets Blizzard apart on the PLEX-like front.

Process diagram

Process diagram

First off, the WoW Tokens are good for one sale and one sale only in-game.  You cannot buy one from another player, then hang onto it until the market price goes up in order to resell. This avoids speculation and investment buyers that have been driving up the price of PLEX in EVE now and again.

Then there is the gold you get for your WoW Token.  As World of Warcraft has over 500 servers outside of China the last time I looked, the market would seem to be fractured in the extreme.  Yes, the more recent server pairings have reduced the effective number of servers by joining them in every way short of a full-on merger, there are still a lot of servers out there.

The Blizzard plan appears to be to join WoW Token sales into unified markets based on regions.  These regions will be:

  • Americas, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Europe
  • Taiwan
  • Korea
  • China

This should prevent the low population server problem, like Daybreak has with their Krono, where prices can vary wildly because of demand on a given server.

Within these markets, you will get a price quote up front when you list your WoW Token for sale.  I find this to be the most interesting bit, as within this special marketplace, it really looks like Blizzard wants to be able to inject gold into transactions to keep the market stable.

Blizzard is setting up a region-wide, cross server, cross faction market, with no fees, promising a specific amount of gold up front, and not necessarily matching up buyers and sellers directly the way it works in the auction house, all with an eye towards stopping illicit RMT.  It does not seem like very much of a stretch for Blizzard to step in now and again and complete outstanding orders now and again when the buy and sell prices get out of alignment.

That makes complete sense if you view this as Blizzard attempting to apply a topical antibiotic to the festering sore that is illicit RMT.  For this service to have any impact, it needs to feel like a viable alternative to the gold sellers.  So I suspect that, when this service goes live, you may end up buying a bit of your gold directly from Blizzard.  I suspect somebody diligent like Gevlon will watch this market and will be able to “prove” at some point that Blizz is kicking in some gold now and again.

All that is left is to set the price of a WoW Token.  Blizzard has left that in the TBD file, but the price has to be more than $14.99 to cover the additional overhead that this program will entail, but I doubt the price can exceed $19.99 per token if Blizzard wants it to succeed.

And then we will have to see what the in-game market will bear.  A quick Google search shows gold sellers going down to fifty cents per 1,000 gold.  Now Blizzard doesn’t have to match that price, since they offer a safe and legitimate method of buying WoW gold, but they can’t be off by a huge factor either.  So I couldn’t see a WoW Token for selling for less than 30K gold given a high estimate price of $19.99 per token.

Which doesn’t seem that bad I guess.  Blizz might not even have to get into the price support business to aggressively at that level of pricing.  But how that will play out in the longer term will be interesting to watch.

Anyway, you can read the sum of all knowledge on the topic over at Blizzard’s site.

And, of course, this being a WoW related topic, lots others have opinions.  It is big enough news that my wife caught it on a Yahoo headline.  A few posts from the local blogesphere you might care to peruse:

Progression Servers and Post-Cataclysm Norrath

We came up short as a group in Azeroth this past weekend.  Life will get in the way and the whole group has gotten older over the last eight years we have played.  But three of us, Potshot, Ula, and myself were online.  We got on Skype together as we went about doing some garrison things and quests and what not.  Blizzard has made “soloing in a group” work a bit better over the years, but sometimes it still feels like the optimum open world group size is one.

Potshot and Ula were off on a quest chain to unlock a garrison upgrade while I was running around Azeroth visiting elders for the Lunar Festival.  I was sparked into late action on that when I read that 40 tokens from elders will buy you a 60 to 90 heirloom armor upgrade as part of the whole new heirloom system that came in with patch 6.1.

Blizzard has found a way to get me to do holiday events again, gotta give them that.

Anyway, as we were off on our tasks, we started talking about the possibilities of the EverQuest progression server that may (or may not) be showing up at some future date.

Potshot and I are pretty much on board for it… same as it ever was.  We will be there for the dawn of whatever new server they put together.  We also sold Ula on the idea for the moment of going back in time to a world of simple graphics, bad linoleum textures, and limited skills and spells.

Bandit fight in West Karana

Bandit fight in West Karana

Depending on when (and if) Daybreak gets this going, a progression server excursion might make a nice break from Azeroth for a bit.  I would call it a hiatus, but I think we would need to play more to qualify for the term.

On conversation meandered about on the idea of EverQuest nostalgia and then I started to compare old EverQuest to EverQuest II, which in many ways seems to be almost the antithesis of EverQuest, at least when comparing the early versions of both.

Vinkund's hot bars

At what point in EQ did you need 3 full hotbars?

Of course that made its way around in my mind to what an EverQuest II progression server would be like.  How do you take what there is out there today, the game having just hit the 10 year mark back in November, and recreate the 2004 experience?

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 - Nov. 14, 2004

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

Even the EverQuest II team, during their recent “Don’t go, we’re still alive!” live stream the other day spoke of a desire to do something like a progression server for EverQuest II, if they could figure out how.

And therein lies the rub.

I must assume that the EverQuest II team is stuck with the same restrictions that the EverQuest team faces when doing progression servers, which means working with the current client and server and zones and just playing with some of the flags and settings in the background.

In this EverQuest has a clear advantage in that SOE hasn’t spent a ton of time going back and revamping old zones.  Yes, they redid Freeport and the Commonlands and the Desert of Ro, for which they will spend time in purgatory I am sure, but a lot of the old zones are still the same ugly ass stuff we thought was the bees knees back in 1999.  This is why I always roll on the Qeynos side of Norrath.

Qeynos... at night!

Qeynos… at night!

SOE added a lot of stuff to EverQuest, including a starting tutorial and some new starter zones, but they left a lot of the old stuff intact.  Camping bandits in West Karana in 2011 was very much like camping them in 1999.

We're hunting bandits

We’re hunting bandits

EverQuest was ever looking forward to the next expansion, the next round of content, then next increase in the level cap, the next pack of AA skills.  It isn’t like it launched perfectly.  There were many problems, some of which took years to fix.  But the team seemed to have their eyes constantly on the horizon as they chased a crazy two expansions a year dream, which ran unbroken for a five year stretch of time, from Legacy of Ykesha to Secrets of Faydwer.  Success allowed that.

Meanwhile, EverQuest II has spent a lot of its first decade trying to fix, change, or simply forget about what the game was like at launch.   There have been a lot of revamps of game mechanics, as there have been with EverQuest.

But the EverQuest II team has also spent a lot of time going back to the original content to change and update things.  Qeynos and Freeport have been changed and revamped and updated to the point that it is difficult to compare the 2004 versions with the what is there now.  There is no Isle of Refuge on which to start anymore… unless you want to run around your own version… and I am not even sure you can still get to the swamp where that first screen shot above was taken.

And zones that made a huge impact on me back in the day, like the Thundering Steppes or Nektulos Forest, have been changed so much over the years that they hardly feel like the same places.

Taunting centaurs

Remember when centaurs were all group encounters?

Given all of the changes that have rolled back over the original game over the years, I am not sure that much of 2004 can be really recreated given the limitations that the EverQuest II team will face.  They are not going to be allowed to roll a special client or a special version of the server software, which leaves us with what?

I suppose there would be some interest, some value, some fun to be had in simply rolling up a fresh EverQuest II server that required Station Access or SOE All Access or Daybreak to Dusk Access or whatever the all-in-one only subscription option will be called some day, starting with just the original zones, and then not allowing transfers or level 90 character boosts.  Maybe they could tinker with the experience table or toughen up the mobs a bit.  It could be a hardcore or challenge server maybe.  But I bet it would be tough to justify keeping the cash shop limited, especially if it turned out that the people who jumped on that server were subscribers already.  Siphoning your most dedicated players off to their own isolated server can’t be viewed as a win in accounting.

So where does that leave us?  Back with the status quo?

Of course, it is also reasonable to ask about how much nostalgia there is for the early days of EverQuest II.  In many ways 2004 in Norrath feels like a survivors tale of horrible ideas we’re all pretty much glad we no longer have to deal with.  Is any significant population of players really longing to go back to early days of the game?

There is an EverQuest II emulator project out there, but it doesn’t seem to generate anywhere close to the amount of interest that classic EverQuest or World of Warcraft or even Star Wars Galaxies server emulation does.

The cliche response is always that you can’t go home again, but in this case, do we even want to?

February in Review

The Site

I did have my first failure of my current Rube Goldberg MMO blogesphere feed this month when somebody decided that Pinboard, a key player in the chain of events that moves things from my Feedly feed to the sidebar of this blog, was picked to receive a DDoS attack for a couple of days.

FeedDownFortunately things came back together in a couple of days, but for a while there the side bar was back to depending solely on the VirginWorlds feed for links to posts on other blogs.

And then VirginWorlds feed started to have some problems.  I think there is an RSS problem in one of the blogs on Brent’s list, which is causing only a few sites to get picked up.  Plus Massively is no longer updating, long a staple of his feed.  And then another site on his list became a spam site and some odd things started showing up in the feed, so I took it off the side bar and dropped Brent a note.  We’ll see how that plays out.

One Year Ago

A lot of people got their panties in a twist about Steam tags.  It was the literal end of civilization as we knew it… for about 30 minutes.

EA handed over the running of Camelot Unchained and Ultima Online to Broadsword.

I spent some time with Warcraft III attempting to discover the pre-history of WoW.

There was Diablo III version 2.0, and the changes looked promising.

On the World of Warcraft front, we were still talking about Warlords of Draenor.  Pre-orders were announced an there was a rumor that the expansion would cost $60, which seemed a bit steep.  Also, insta-90s looked to be coming as a cash shop item.  Would all of that stem the tide on subscription decline?

Meanwhile, I finished the last of the LFR raids, witnessing the downfall of Garrosh Hellscream.  For all of the complaints about LFR, I enjoyed my raid tourism.  The instance group did Grim Batol, then made the jump to Pandaria before returning with slightly better equipment for Heroic Deadmines.

I was wondering why PvP seemed to be a requirement for all MMOs.

I got into The Edler Scrolls Online beta and declared it Skyrim-like enough for me, then never played it again.

Brad McQuaid’s Pantheon: Further Falling of the Fallen Kickstarter campaign was winding down, doomed to failure.  There was talk about what would happen nextPlan B anybody?

I ran another EVE Online screen shot contest to give away some items from the Second Decade Collector’s Edition which I scored for free… after having bought it for myself.  And then there was the monument and drone assist and campaign medals and the repercussions of B-R5RB to talk about.

And I wondered what was going to happen with people being given free reign in Landmark.

Five Years Ago

We learned SynCaine’s dirty secret.

I was invited to go play in the beta for the web based Crown of Byzantus.  It didn’t really stick with me, though I wrote about it a couple of times.

There was another press release or some such for a Wheel of Time MMO.  My call: It isn’t going to happen.

Ten Ton Hammer made a list of their Top Ten PvP MMOs, and there was some chagrin that Ultima Online didn’t make the cut.

For reasons I cannot recall, Conner at MMO Fallout started looking into how MMO companies ranked over at the Better Business Bureau.

There was an announcement for a new game… World of Tanks!

In World of Warcraft, the instance group got as far as Zul’Farrak in our horde adventures, though we were still forgetting we could use the Dungeon Finder.  Otherwise we were running around doing holiday events and the like.

Oh, the Dungeon Finder.  My first runs with that were… not so good.  I seemed to run into some cliche bad groups.

Meanwhile, WoW decided to emulate WebKinz and start selling stuffed animals that had codes for in-game versions.  They are still around.  My daughter wants the Windrider Cub.

The Azeroth Advisor went buh-bye.  Thanks 38 Studios!  I saved all the email tips they sent me, however they are all pretty much worthless post-Cataclysm.

Finally, there was Star Trek Online.  The head start ended, The game went full-live, I was fiddling with my super special pre-order collector’s edition junk, and I gave out some codes in a caption contest.  There was even some new content.  But by month’s end, STO faded for me.

New Linking Blogs

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. WoW Insider Reborn as Blizzard Watch
  2. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  3. The End of Sony Online Entertainment, the Coming of Daybreak
  4. On Departures from Our Corner of the Web
  5. Shot at Daybreak – First Casualties of the Acquisition
  6. A Warning to My Fellow Dummies
  7. Two Paths Forward – Blizzard Watch and Massively Overpowered
  8. Pet Battling Across Azeroth
  9. SWTOR Returning to that Fourth Pillar
  10. Too Late for Torchlight II?
  11. Quote of the Day – Skepticism Blooms
  12. Crowfall Kickstarter Commences

Search Terms of the Month

pirating star wars galaxies for emu
[You mean, for the pirate server?]

eq2 100% weight reduction bags
[I’m pretty sure weight is no longer a thing in EQII]

wow epic dungeon group
[Wow, have you come to the wrong place]

fastest way to get sky golem mount
[The auction house]

EVE Online

I started off somewhat active in New Eden.  There was a reavers operation going on in Period Basis, and those are always good for me because you can drop in at just about any hour of the day and find something going on.  Granted, “something” generally means shooting a structure, but that something is better than nothing.  And I can always tab out and do pet battles in WoW if there is no opposition.  But then that op wrapped up and there hasn’t been much else going on that I have been able to get to.

World of Warcraft

There are days when I feel like I am stuck in my garrison.  With five garrisons running, there are evenings when my play time is just about exhausted when I have finally done every little thing in every garrison and whatever daily quest and the daily pet battles and checking the auction house.

Coming Up

I actually have a couple of outstanding posts I haven’t gotten to yet.  That is “outstanding” as in “on my list of things to do” and not a measure of their quality.  The instance group went and ran the Iron Docks… like four times.  I just haven’t gotten around to putting that post together.

I also have a list of things to write about when it comes to WoW Patch 6.1.

There is another EVE Online expansion coming along, because every five weeks is the way they roll.

A couple of Kickstarter campaigns will be wrapping up, so there will be some dollar totals to write about.  And I am sure there will be something new on Daybreak front to talk about.

I am also waiting for Raptr to send out their 2014 game play summaries, so I can see where I wasted my time last year.  It is, frankly, one of the few reasons I still run Raptr.

Otherwise it will be March and something about a salt marsh harvest mouse.  There was so much going on in February, maybe things will just take it easy in March.

The Influence of Star Trek

In a world where there was no Star Trek, what becomes of the post-Trek cultural artifacts that range from Galaxy Quest to The Big Bang Theory to catch phrases to television tropes to William Shatner doing Priceline.com commercials?  He’s not getting that gig because of T. J. Hooker or that one episode of The Twilight Zone.

What does the world look like without Star Trek’s influence?

I know, Star Trek feels dated.

The pilot for the original series was done and rejected before I was even born.  The series itself had run its three seasons and was cancelled before I even old enough to know it was a thing.

But then, somehow, it stayed alive.  It ran, and remained popular, in syndication for years and year.  I and millions of others watch those re-runs and the follow on animated series.  Before Star Wars could have an expanded universe there was already a pile of Star Trek novels available.  There were models and costumes and board games and books just about the phenomena that was Star Trek.  There was even a store over at the San Antonio shopping center at one point called Starbase One or some such.  It sold other science fiction stuff.  You could find a battery powered Robby the Robot or a model of an Eagle from Space 1999 or a few Lost in Space related items, but most of the place was just stacked up with Star Trek related items.

There was a time when having a store dedicated to Star Trek seemed like a sound business decision.  And I used to just nerd out in there when I wasn’t over at the Hobby Shop.

I’ve even written about the first computer video game I ever played, which was, of course, Star Trek.

Star Trek in vt52

Star Trek in vt52

Star Trek was a big freakin’ deal.  And it was cemented into my consciousness before Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica or Alien or any number of other science fiction franchises.

It wasn’t high art.  The original series could be groan inducingly bad at times.  The third season especially seemed to have trouble finding decent scripts.  And it hasn’t aged very well.  It feels awkward and self-conscious today.

But at the time it filled a need.  It was water on a desert.  It was optimistic and hopeful and showed us a future that looked pretty damn cool.  I wanted to be on the Enterprise, to be a part of that crew.

And the cornerstone of that crew was the half human, half Vulcan Mr. Spock.  I do not think Star Trek works without him and his exotic look and pointy ears and oddly compelling logical view of the universe.  Yes, sometimes emotion would win out, but only when it was logical for it to do so. No character so well defined the series (or was so completely abused in the subsequent flood of novels) than Mr. Spock.

I remember once, back in the early 90s, explaining to a co-worker about Star Trek.  She grew up overseas and emigrated to the United States as a graduate student and then stayed on, marrying a fellow immigrant and settling down in Silicon Valley.  She was (and remains) very smart and was interested in various cultural things.  One day we were giving the Live Long and Prosper sign in the lab and she wanted to know about it.

So I gave her a little background on Star Trek and then tried to help her get her hand to do the sign, which she couldn’t quite manage.  Then her husband showed up to pick her up on the way home from his job, and when he walked into the room I turned to him and gave him the sign… and he put his hand up and returned it, causing his wife to boggle in disbelief.  She practically shouted the question, “How do you know that?”  It was a beautiful moment.

Being able to do that was the universal nerd secret handshake and high sign at the time.  If you were in the club, you practiced making that sign until you could do it without hesitation.  And if you couldn’t do it, you weren’t in the goddam club.  But he was in the club.  We were all in the club around those parts.

Live long and prosper

Live long and prosper

I know that this is a bunch of silly, half thought through, semi-connected statements, but it represents the rush of emotion that ran through my brain when I read today that Leonard Nimoy had passed away at age 83.  He and his character were an unreasonably big part of my early life.

And I know he was more than just Mr. Spock, that he played more roles and had a wider range of interests and a life outside of all of that.

But Mr. Spock was important to us and he got that and he played the role long after many people would have tired of the whole thing because he got how important it was.  And through that he will have achieved a sort of immortality.  Mr. Spock lives on.