Category Archives: EverQuest

The Burning Lands Expansion Launched Just After Layoffs at Daybreak

We learned a little over a month ago that The Burning Lands, the 25th EverQuest expansion, was slated to go live today.  And so it has.  We knew it was coming, but we were finally getting some detailed information.  Also, pre-orders were open.  You could start giving Daybreak your money.

Does this feel a little “Disney” to you?

The high level points of the expansion seemed to be about on par with what we have come to expect annually from the Norrath team.  Some new zones around a hub, new raids, new quests, new abilities, and a new mechanic.

  • Luck Stat – A brand new stat that influences just how lucky you are! This stat will randomly increase the amount of gold in your split, the amount of critical damage you do, your chance to succeed at a trade-skill combine, and much more!
  • 6 Expansion Zones – You’ll adventure throughout the grand and fantastic environments and architecture of the Planes of Fire, Air, and Smoke!
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections

There is nothing on that list that is going to drag anybody new into the game, but that was to be expected.  MMORPGs beyond a certain age become more about tending to the installed base than trying to grab new players.  Anybody proposing otherwise is fighting history and wasting money.  Once you’ve launched and gone free to play there isn’t anything left to attract new players in anything like the quantity needed to support any radical change.

So a normal autumnal expansion release for EverQuest.  Maybe a couple weeks later than we might have expected… November is more the norm… but close enough.  All seems normal in Norrath.

Or would seem normal if Daybreak hadn’t just laid off a big chunk of their staff on Friday.

Daybreak, not being a public company, doesn’t have to tell us about layoffs.  But in the age of social media, word of layoffs get out quickly and this round was no exception, with John Smedley echoing what he had heard on Twitter Friday morning.

Once the press had been alerted Daybreak issued an anodyne statement about optimization while refusing to mention any details.

We are optimizing our structure to ensure we best position ourselves for continued success in the years to come. This effort has required us to make some changes within the organization and we are doing everything we can to support those impacted in this difficult time. As we look to improve efficiencies and realign resources, we remain focused on supporting our existing games and development of our future titles.

That statement is an example of one trying to have ones cake and eat it too.  Reports say that between 60 and 70 people, or roughly one third of Daybreak’s staff, was given their notice on Friday.  When you are down by a third it will be difficult to both support existing games and develop new titles.

Of course, what even are the existing Daybreak titles at this point?  EverQuest and EverQuest II,  holding up the fantasy end of the catalog, were merged into a single shared group some time back.  DC Universe Online is the superhero game and reportedly the most consistent revenue generator, the PlayStation 4 version being the breadwinner there.  And then there is PlanetSide 2, which has been problematic in the past, though it is still getting updates.

H1Z1 Battle Royale went to NantG Mobile as part of the joint venture between NantWorks and Daybreak announced back in September.  NantWorks had the money and Daybreak had the IP I guess, though Daybreak apparently held on to the PlayStation 4 version of H1Z1.  So if there was anybody left working on H1Z1 or the esports league, they were probably seen as expendable.

Word is that the layoffs were concentrated in the Daybreak Austin office and were related to a new project being developed there around a “top IP.”  Daybreak said that the Austin office was not being closed, but I guess that they are no longer working on that “top IP” if they’ve been mostly let go.

People working on the new thing are gone and people working on the old stuff were already spread a bit thin.  Where does that leave Daybreak.

Back in May there was a post on Reddit alleged to be by a former Daybreak employee about plans for the company.  I summed that up in a post here, and a good thing too as it was removed from Reddit by the author not too long later.

The removal led to it being declared a fake, but some key details certainly ended up coming to pass.

Sure, Just Survive sunsetting was hardly a reach.  Even I predicted that back in January.  But the whole Z1 Battle Royale was alluded to, something we didn’t end up hearing about until September.  And the trajectory for PlanetSide 2 seems to line up.

So, in looking at the rest of that post, you have to ask if we are looking at the end game for EverQuest and EverQuest II, if Daybreak is holding out for one last anniversary update for each of them (they turn 20 and 15 respectively next year) before moving on to the alleged EverQuest 3 and its plan for PvP focus anchored on a fantasy battle royale feature.

If that is the case, my prediction would be to prepare for disaster and a belated attempt to return to catering to the installed base once EverQuest 3 flops, because PvP has never been much beyond a distraction in Norrath.

But, the word has come out that we might be hearing about something new from Daybreak on Thursday.  Bets on what it will be?  PlanetSide 3?  EverQuest 3 PvP?  PlanetSide Mobile?  EverQuest Mobile?  What else have they got to work with?

Sources:

25 Years of TorilMUD

About a decade back I wrote a short (by the standards of my current writing style) post celebrating the approximate fifteen year anniversary of TorilMUD.  The trigger event to get me to write that post was the 30th anniversary of MUD1 (which is now 40 I suppose).  MUD1 gets a lot of deserved credit for its position in the history of online games, but I felt that TorilMUD had been a bit overlooked.

So I wrote about how I ended up playing TorilMUD, called Sojourn MUD back in 1993, the little bit of the history and evolution of the game I could recall, its revival nearly fifteen years back, and the influence it had on EverQuest.

The influence on EverQuest is hard to overstate.  It is often said that EverQuest was the graphical translation of the DikuMUD model, but it was specifically a translation, often down to the level of item names and stats, of the mechanics of TorilMUD.  That was because a number of the key EverQuest developers, including Brad McQuaid, were TorilMUD players.

That post, a decade back, got me thinking about TorilMUD and led to a number of follow on posts.  I explored some of the EverQuest influencing things like how vendors worked (including how stuff you sold went back up for sale), how class roles evolved from TorilMUD through to WoW, how game information was treated, and how the inability of a commercial game to depend on crashes led to the epic mob camps of early EverQuest.

That post also led to a series of posts about TorilMUD itself, including how the in-game economy used to work, how questing was in the game, dealing with never raising the level cap, the idea of greater challenges, and my recently completed Leuthilspar Tales series of posts about the life and times of the Elves of Evermeet. (I wanted to get that last zone post done before I wrote this.)

By the time the twenty year anniversary rolled around I had a series of posts to which I could link, along with some tales about how people still play and a run through the zone credits.

So what do I write at the twenty-five year mark?

TorilMUD remains up and running and people are logged in and playing.  Again, that includes many of the same people I met along the way over the years, including at least one from twenty-five years back. (Mori, who rescued me back in the Faerie Forest.)  But development and change continues.  It one of my recent research explorations I ended up in over my head against a pair of very angry bugbears and died.

Back in the day, death was a chore.  The whole thing about having to go find your corpse to retrieve your gear in EverQuest, that was a mechanic lifted directly from TorilMUD.  Experience and possible level loss on death as well.

That was removed from EverQuest years ago as a mechanic too punishing on players.  TorilMUD has caught up, and now death does not have nearly the sting.  Text from the game as I died:

When you die, you are transported to Kelemvor’s realm on the Fugue Plane
with all of your equipment. As you are technically dead, you can’t do much
on the Fugue Plane. From there, you have two choices:

1) Wait for another player to resurrect you.
2) Enter a portal that allows you re-enter the game at your guild master.

However you choose to enter the game, there are two penalties for dying:

* Equipment damage. Your worn equipment will take damage that costs money
to repair. See “HELP REPAIR” for details.

* Death Fatigue. Your stats will be negatively impact for a short time after
death. See “HELP DEATH FATIGUE” for details.

You don’t lose any experience when you die, and your equipment always stays
with you. The manner in which you enter the game will determine how much damage
your equipment takes and how long you will be under the fatigue effects.
Typically, powerful spells such as resurrect will lower the penalties
significantly, while entering the game on your own will incur the highest cost,
but it the most convenient.

As with many modern MMOs, the penalty is now in the form of equipment damage and resurrection sickness.

They have also added in a maps function to the game.  It still isn’t a replacement for the world view of my aging collection of ZMud maps, but it can help you if you’re lost.

And even as I was preparing to write this piece, TorilMUD added yet more content.  The zone count went up again with the addition of Bahamut.

Bahamut, king of dragons

From the update post:

For many years, Tiamat, the Queen of Evil Dragons, has reigned supreme as the pinnacle of epic foes on TorilMUD. Today, a new challenger approaches.

The God of Dragons. The Justice Bringer. The Angel of the Seven Heavens. The Platinum Dragon. These are just some of Bahamut’s many titles.

Bahamut is the king of the good dragons, and the eternal rival of his sister, Tiamat. He can be found on Lunia, the first layer of Celestia, where he guards an enormous treasure trove. A mysterious dragonspawn has also been spotted lurking in the shadows of an old forest, with needs as dark as the most vile desires.

Bahamut is the second epic zone added to Toril and is intended for 20-30 players. It will present a challenge every bit as difficult as Tiamat, with rewards to match.

I went on a Tiamat run at one point years ago.  It took a lot of planning and coordination and whole day’s commitment and we never even got to her.  I spent most of the day dead.  But for the dedicated player, challenges still remain.

I think I am past those days myself.  When I drop in to do research and say hello… when ZMud is being cooperative… I sometimes get carried along for a zone run.  It is an interesting reminder of how things once were.  But my ability to mentally parse… or even read… so much scrolling text on screen has faded.

But while I have grown tired, the game still seems strong, with updates coming regularly, a dedicate development team tending to its needs, and a collection of regulars who still log in every day to hang out and run zones.

The Burning Lands Expansion Coming to EverQuest December 11, 2018

Yes, this was announced last Tuesday and I am just now getting to it.  What can I say, I was busy and pretty much had last week all written by Monday night and then there was BlizzCon to write about yesterday.

We knew it was coming.  As sure as daylight savings time gets rolled back every year, so does an EverQuest expansion appear.  Or something.  What a horrible metaphor.

Also I posted about it like a month ago.

But now things have changed.  We have some more information and you can pre-order the expansion.  So what does the 25th EverQuest expansion, The Burning Lands, bring us?

Does this feel a little “Disney” to you?

Delaying this post means I can put in the replay of the live stream Daybreak did about the expansion.

The stream starts off with three people who look like they were in diapers still when EverQuest launched and who, as with the Chaos Descending live stream from earlier in October, spend the first chunk of time talking about the stuff you get if you order the Collector’s or Premium edition of the expansion.  But after about the ten minute mark an adult shows up and starts talking about the actual expansion.

Again, I couldn’t sit through the whole live stream, but I did watch a bit, enough to see both how far the graphics have come in this soon-to-be 20 year old game and how short of current they remain.

If you don’t want to watch the live stream though, some information has been posted.  The order page describes the expansion like this:

The longstanding peace between the jann is over, and war has broken out between the djinn from the Plane of Air and the efreeti from the Plane of Fire! What has sparked this dispute and who will emerge victorious? Will you survive the Trials of Smoke and help end this conflict?

It is time to head back to the Planes and unravel the mysteries that await you there!

Back to the elemental planes, as foretold by prophecy and a need to crank out an expansion for both Norrath based titles.

The bullet point summary is:

  • Luck Stat – A brand new stat that influences just how lucky you are! This stat will randomly increase the amount of gold in your split, the amount of critical damage you do, your chance to succeed at a trade-skill combine, and much more!
  • 6 Expansion Zones – You’ll adventure throughout the grand and fantastic environments and architecture of the Planes of Fire, Air, and Smoke!
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections

The Lucky Stat sounds like something new to optimize.  Six new zones seems about par for the course.  All the new stuff is, likewise, expected… though I hadn’t realized that collections, something I think of as an EverQuest II mania, had made it into the original.

Also as expected, the expansion is available in three packages.

I had to update this graphic finally!

The standard edition gets you all the expansion content, plus all previous expansion content.  So if you skipped last year’s Ring of Scale expansion, you get all that and anything else you might have missed.

And then there are the much pricier Collector’s and Premium editions.  I am not sure where I stand on these.  Over on the EverQuest II side of the house the upscale editions do deliver some significant boosts.  You can debate over whether any boost is worth $55 or a $105 in extra cost, but at least they seem more tangible that what the EverQuest versions bring you.  Going all in for the full monty Premium Edition of The Burning Lands will you get an item that teleports you to the new content, a house item that does that, a new mercenary, a stat boosting saddle, some cosmetic items, experience boosts, and familiars including the dread fire slug.

Not this however, this is a snail

That isn’t enough to sell me an upgrade to the base expansion.  But I am unlikely to buy the base expansion either, so I might not be the best judge.  I just know that I look at the EverQuest II upsells and I think, “Hmm… maybe…” while I look at the EverQuest upsells and think, “Nah, not worth it.”

Anyway, there it is, coming December 11th.  And how many 19 year old games are not only getting new content, but are able to sell it?  MMORPGs are strange.

LOTRO and the Legendary Server Idea

We are excited to announce a new way to experience The Lord of the Rings Online: Legendary Worlds! Relive the tales of Middle-earth, chapter by chapter, visiting iconic locations and adventuring with new friends – or reconnecting with old ones – on the path of Frodo, Gandalf, and the Fellowship of the Ring.

Join us this fall on a Legendary World and make a fresh start with a brand new character; see Tolkien’s bustling realm anew, whether for your first or fiftieth time. Initially, the Legendary World will begin at the very start of the game and run through Angmar, then open new regions and levels over time. Relive the legend: where everyone is here and the story is now.

-Standing Stone Games, Legendary Server Announcement

I think the big question up front is whether or not WoW Classic is going to wreck the retro/progression/vanilla server idea for MMORPGs the way that WoW itself can be argued to have wrecked MMORPGs overall.

Yes, that is an odd way to start off a post ostensibly about Lord of the Rings Online, but World of Warcraft remains the dominate power in the genre and when they get into any given aspect of the genre everybody else has to take notice or get trampled.  So bear with me for a minute.

I wonder if WoW Classic will set the bar for quality and fidelity so high as to be unattainable for studios who don’t practically print money.  I mean, you can shit on Blizzard because you think they might not get the Vanilla WoW experience to line up exactly with your memories from 2005, but who else out there has the staffing and budget to pick a point in the past and go remake the game from that time so it will not only run, but will be a full on quality Blizzard experience?

All of which came to mind when I saw the Standing Stone Games announcement about their planned LOTRO Legendary Server… or World… they use both terms.

We’ll just stick with “Legendary” I think

The announcement itself is pretty brief, quoted almost entirely in full at the top of this post.  The bulk of the information is in the form of a FAQ, and the key to the whole thing, and in my question above, is in the final question.

Is the Legendary server a “Classic” or “Vanilla” server?

By most descriptions, a “Classic” server is an attempt to recreate LOTRO exactly as it was at launch, using only assets and content that was available in 2007.

A Legendary server runs alongside existing servers, and therefore contains many of the changes that have been made to the game over the years, such as UI improvements, bug fixes, changes to game systems, etc. In cases where we have updated or changed the layout of regions, the Legendary server uses the updated version of the regions. In cases where we have changed items or player abilities, the Legendary server uses those updated abilities.  Some content or gameplay that isn’t appropriate to the Legendary server’s current level cap may be restricted, until that portion of the story unlocks with level cap increases (one does not simply walk into Mordor on Legendary until the time comes).

This, along with some of the other questions, makes it clear that this is more of a fresh start progression server than anything else.  New classes, new races, and all other changes that have gone into the game over the last decade or so will be present on the Legendary server.  There will be, so far as I can tell from the FAQ, virtually no difference between starting a fresh character on one of the current servers and on this new server, save for the fact that cash shop items related to later features, like legendary weapons, will be absent and you will need to have a VIP subscription in order to play.

So what is the draw then?

This isn’t EverQuest, where the original 1999 content has been bypassed by a tutorial, fresh starting zones, and the Plane of Knowledge.  Going back to an EverQuest progression server means going into content you likely wouldn’t otherwise play.  And while some of the world has had its graphics updated, if you’re like me and long for original Qeynos, it is still there waiting for you. (Just don’t get me started about the fog.)

Also, EverQuest has 20 years and 24 (soon 25) expansions worth of content to work through.

All of the improvements from the Live servers come along for the ride, so hot bars work like you expect and WASD is a default control option, but things that came with later expansions, like new races and classes, are held off until that expansion unlocks.

And this isn’t World of Warcraft, where a lot of the original Vanilla content was hacked out of the game like a tumor, so there is no going back to play it unless you want to try a pirate server, at least until WoW Classic comes along.

As far as I can tell, Standing Stone isn’t even going to make you wear the hair shirt so popular with this sort of server by clipping experience gain or the like.  It is just going to be a live server for VIPs with all the new features and classes and currencies, just restricted to before Mines of Moria expansion… for four months, with new expansions every four months after that until they unlock Mordor two years down the road and it essentially becomes a VIP only server.

So I am not feeling the draw for this Legendary server idea.  I suppose if you had a group of friends and wanted to do a fresh start, this will be your opportunity.  And, of course, there will be the launch time euphoria when for a brief moment everybody on the server will be level 1 together and all the early zones will be full of players.  I might try it for that last aspect alone… I have a lifetime subscription, so why not… though I am not sure how long I would stay.

In addition I wonder both if there is enough to draw players and, if there is, can the live servers stand the hit?  That is a topic that has come up with both EQ and EQII, that the progression

Then there is the fact that, to my eye at least, LOTRO has not aged well.  It is still a balky UI with tiny, hard to distinguish icons graced with some of the least informative imagery to every land in an MMORPG.

EverQuest is old and it feels old as well, but the team has polished up the UI some.  The hitbox for your own character is still huge, so you end up selecting yourself annoyingly often, but a lot of other things are better than they were back in the day.  Those updates smooth out annoyances that you wouldn’t likely want to remember, things that would more likely get in the way of your nostalgia rather than enhance it.

I do want to be fair to Standing Stone Games.  Given their limited resources this is about the level of server they are up to providing.  This isn’t a cash grab, as some have already announced, but an effort to provide something akin to what a vocal segment of the community has been asking about for a while now.

All of which brings me back around to what effect WoW Classic will have on this sort of thing going forward.  When EverQuest or RuneScape classic servers were the benchmark, things like Rift Prime didn’t seem so far off base.

But when WoW Classic shows up with a remade version of late 2006 Azeroth, with paladins who can’t tank and only have a ranged attack good against undead and hunter pets for which you have to go out in the world and find updated skills and ammunition in your bag and the whole Sunken Temple or Uldaman dungeons available in all of their previous horrific glory, how is a special server that limits you to the initial content but is otherwise indistinguishable from the live servers going to stand up?

Oh well, we shall see.

And, in one last bit of irony, even at the four month between expansions drop rate for the new server, the journey from start to the opening of the Mordor expansion will still take longer than the War of the Ring, if measured from Gandalf telling Frodo to get the ring out of the Shire (April 12, 3018 TA) to the Battle of Bywater (November 19, 3019 TA), clocking in at 2 years compared to 1 year 7 months for the events in the book.

Still, that is much faster than the decade it too the game to get to the gates of Mordor the first time around.  And you might be able to start late, a month after the Mines of Moria unlocks, and try to keep pace with the books.  That would be an interesting project… maybe more interesting to read about than to try, but there it is.  Though you could do that on the live servers right now if you wanted.  Oh well.

Others writing about the server announcement:

The Burning Lands set to be the 25th EverQuest Expansion this December

The expected second shoe dropped as Daybreak announced late on Friday the next EverQuest expansion, The Burning Lands.

Beware: Hot Snail

I am not sure why a snail was the monster they chose tease the expansion with, but maybe they are fans of the Pokemon Magcargo.

And what is it with Daybreak and Friday afternoon announcements?  That is when you put out press releases you want people to miss.  I know I did.

The short producer’s letter mentioned the expansion and some general details about the setting.  As I predicted back in January, EverQuest will be following its younger sibling back into the elemental planes.  A lucky guess if ever there was one.

As with EverQuest II, the older game will see gear up and catch up events before the expansion arrives.  In addition the previous expansion, Ring of Scale, will be half price until pre-orders for the new expansion goes live.  After pre-orders for The Burning Lands are available you will no longer be able to get the collector’s or premium editions of the older expansion, so if you want all the bennies that come with either of those now is the time to act.

And so it goes, with the turning of the leaves and a new autumn we get another new EverQuest expansion.

And What of the EVE Online Store?

Since the announcement of the acquisition of CCP by Black Desert Online creator Pearl Abyss a few weeks back there has been a stream of speculation as to what this will mean for EVE Online, good or bad.

The two logos together in space

There has been more than a fair share of panic that New Eden is going to become some sort of pay to win hellhole like Black Desert Online with special cash shop ships or gold ammo or whatever.  I am dubious that Pearl Abyss would jump right on that, and not just because CCP spent most of their AMA forum thread repeating that there were no drastic changes planned.  It would simply be dumb to to make that sort of changes to the game as it would be a quick way to kill it.  Unless CCP has something else worth $425 million, that would be a very bad way to treat their investment.

But if the panic over the downside has been overstated, it is in part because the possible upside of the acquisition lacks a direct, tangible win.  How will things be better if CCP’s primary message is that things are not changing?

My own take has been that the acquisition should/could allow CCP to focus more on EVE Online, the most valuable asset the company owns.  Without having to worry about making that next product they won’t have to keep diverting time and resources into what has largely been a waste of money sine they bought White Wolf back in 2006.

Being part of Pearl Abyss puts CCP in an ecosystem where EVE Online doesn’t have to pay all the bills and gives them the support to develop the IP of New Eden for other games.  Players win by virtue of EVE Online getting more of CCP’s attention.

Again, while positive sounding, that is a pretty nebulous stance.

Others have take this a step further and started pointing at things on which they feel CCP ought to focus.  More than 15 years in EVE Online is a big game with a lot of neglected features.

Over at Massively OP their EVE Evolved column decided to pick a couple of items that CCP ought to work on and I couldn’t disagree more with the proposed focus, and all the more so because the article’s alleged point is monetization.  Neither ideas is a money maker.

One was walking in stations, a feature I’ve beaten to death here.  The problem the feature has now is the same problem it has always had, which is that if you bring in avatars you then have to create game play to justify them.  Otherwise it is just a huge waste of time and money that would cost much more than even the most optimistic revenue estimates you could make while keeping a straight face.  If you’re going to build what would essentially be a new game you might as well go all out and actually build a new game rather than trying to stick it in New Eden.  Fortunately CCP has learned its lesson on that and said in that AMA that walking in stations was not going to return.

Me, only you can’t change my mind

The other was a bit more subtle, an idea that superficially seems to have merit, but which falls apart if explored.  That is improving or expanding the EVE Online store.  I’m not talking about the in-game store, but the web storefront that sells real world items.

The EVE Online store has long been a bone of contention and has gone through many iterations over the years, with significant gaps where there wasn’t a store at all.  But the long running consistent complaint has been pretty simple; why the hell can’t I buy some decent EVE Online merchandise?

Right now it is a semi-generic store, but you can at least buy a black EVE Online logo T-shirt or hoodie or a coffee mug along with a few other items.

The Current EVE Gear Shop

But the article over at Massively envisions a grand expansion.  It calls for better apparel, posters, ship models, and whatever.  It is a refrain we have heard over the years.  We want to buy cool stuff about EVE Online.

Except, not really.

Sure, our theoretical selves, enthusiastic about the game, are keen to throw money at EVE Online stuff.  But the real, practical, looking at the prices and having to open the wallet and get out the credit card selves?  Not so much.  Yes, there is always somebody willing to shell out for a thousand dollar floating Nyx model, but there aren’t enough people for CCP to ramp up production and keep some in stock to ship.  Those battleship models CCP made back in the day?

Everybody loved them, but not many people loved them enough to drop $125 on them.  I am pretty sure CCP took a bath on those and I seem to recall them giving them away for various events down the road. (Though now I see a few on eBay for $300 each, so maybe I should have invested.)

The reality is that for a company the size of CCP, the gear store is marketing and not a business.  I cringe every time I hear somebody say, “CCP could make so much money if they only sold…” about the online store.  No, they won’t make money.  They’ll be lucky if they break even.  The quantities are simply too small relative to the prices we’re willing to pay.

Yes, if you’re Blizzard or Riot or even Valve and have a super popular game companies like Jinx will pay you for the license to print shirts and such.  The market for some properties is big enough that third parties can pay to use the IP, do the work, and make money at it.

But EVE Online is not one of those properties.  Jinx worked with CCP in 2009, back when EVE Online was still a bit of a rising star, then declined to renew after 2011.  When pros like Jinx drop you, that is a pretty big hint that you aren’t in a league to make money on T-shirts with your IP.

I realize that this is mostly opinion on my part, but I think it is opinion backed up by some reasonable evidence.  And I’ll throw some more on top of that.

Find a game of comparable size/player base/popularity as EVE Online that has a better online merchandise store.

As I said, the big dogs are covered.  Blizzard licenses out to Jinx and others, while Riot and Valve have their own store.  But down at the CCP level things get kind of thin.

SOE used to have a store with some dubious merch.

It’s like they never saw Beavis & Butt-head

But since the dawn of the Daybreak era that has all fallen by the wayside.

Back about when EVE Online was working with Jinx Turbine managed to get a LOTRO coffee mug and mouse pad in the WB online store, but that seemed to be about their peak.

And then… hrmm… in digging around, that was about all I could find.  Barring unlicensed third parties at places like Red Bubble, there isn’t a lot of merch available from game companies like CCP.  We might, in this as in many things, be holding CCP to an unreasonable standard when we’re actually better off than other games.

Anyway, if you have any evidence to the contrary I’d be glad to hear it, but I think we might have the best EVE Online store we’re likely to get… and it is never going to be a profit center for CCP.

Time Capsule – Computer Gaming World October 2003

I ran across this while I was working on upcoming Month in Review posts.  If I have a block of time I will sometimes knock out a couple of those long in advance.  Well, I’ll knock out the part I can do ahead of time, the looking back sections covering a year, five years, and ten years ago on the blog.  That is the most important part of each month’s review post, at least to me.

The review section is primarily about what I was posting back in the day.  However, I have started adding in addition information for context of the time, usually in the form of launches or closures.  Those will sometimes fall further back in time, being 15, 20, or more years ago.

As I was tracking something down that came up in 2003 for a “15 years ago” entry I ended up on a website that has an archive of issues of Computer Gaming World in .pdf format.

I started digging through the site, scanning various years.  Computer Gaming World, which later became Games for Windows Magazine, stopped publishing back in 2008, having run for 27 year.  During its run it covered a lot of computer gaming history.

You can find the archive at http://www.cgwmuseum.org/ .  Or you could find it there.  At some point between Thursday night and Saturday the site went down.  When I went back to continue looking I was greeted with error messages about the site having gone missing.

The transitory nature of the internet is one of its major frustrations.  Things change or disappear and data goes missing.

Unless, of course, the Internet Archive is backing the site up.

Fortunately I was able to find everything that went missing backed up and waiting for me and I was able to return to this gem from October 2003.

Computer Gaming World October 2003 cover

Just for openers there is a preview of World of Warcraft from more than a year before its launch.

There is also the CGW review of Star Wars Galaxies, something which will annoy the purists I am sure.

And while those are worth the price of admission, there are just so many little things in the issue that are interesting to see.  There are, of course, the ads.  So many great ads.

For SOE fans there are ads for the EverQuest Evolution, a roll-up pack of EverQuest expansions, the EverQuest Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion featuring the all new “dungeon crawl” experience, and Lords of EverQuest, the Norrath based RTS.

There are many other things worth seeing.  Half-Life 2 was the top pre-order. (And EverQuest Evolved was on the top releases.)

And then there is the Pipeline section that has a list of upcoming releases with planned launch dates.  Included on that list:

  • EverQuest II – Q4 2003
  • Total Annihilation 2 – Q4 2003
  • World of Warcraft – Feb 2004
  • The Matrix Online – Q4 2004
  • GuildWars – Q4 2004

Good times.

Anyway, if you have time to roll though video game nostalgia, you could find worse places to wallow.

Addendum: If you go back a month, to September 2003, you can find their EVE Online review.  They liked the music and space graphics, but the UI… it sums up like this:

Two stars is all