A new update landed in New World yesterday, along with some changes that did not particularly surprise me.
Lots of fire, but how do you draw fellowship?
There is a FAQ about seasons and passes that goes into the objective details, starting with “What is the season pass?” To which they give the reply:
The Season Pass introduces new ways for players to earn meaningful rewards, just by playing New World. Players will earn Season XP, level up, and unlock rewards as they progress through their seasonal activities. Our goal with seasons is to consistently provide something fresh for every type of player.
I think many of us are familiar with seasons in one form or another. WoW, Diablo III, and Pokemon Go all have their forms of seasons, as a way to reset… especially for PvP… and to recharge or give people another chance to start fresh.
A season pass however, that is another thing altogether, a paid entry into content that real AAA level games… titles like Call of Duty or Forza Horizon or any number of other titles… sell up front to cover coming DLC and other special in-game items.
So as soon as I saw those words I knew money was in the mix.
But that isn’t going to get me at all worked up, though I am sure somebody somewhere is even now muttering the words “cash grab” or something like it.
Part of it is that if you read the details, you will see that there is indeed a paid track for these season passes, but that there is also a free track. You get better stuff if you pay, and if they’ve done it right it will be stuff that their biggest fans will feel they just need to get, but you have an option and you can probably ignore that person who has moved on to muttering “pay to win” or something like it.
I am personally not to worried about it, though that is in part because my investment in the game is pretty low. I still think they made a lot… A LOT… of very avoidable mistakes that anybody with experience in the liver service games industry… or even just software with live customers in some cases… should have seen coming from a mile away. Nor have they corrected all of them. But I’m not here to police every video game. I have other things to play and, while our group enjoyed its time in New World, I am not sure there is much enthusiasm for a return.
I am also not worried about it because the game is also facing an economic reality. They have long since spent all the money our $40 box purchases brought in… and if they haven’t spent it Amazon has allocated it elsewhere, like into shareholder pockets… so they need some ongoing revenue to help sustain the game. You would be surprised how expensive even “maintenance mode” is in a live service environment, and the New World team is actively developing new content. And it seems to be working initially.
And as a change, a significant change, in their business plan, looking for revenue beyond cosmetic items in the game shop, so it feels worth noting. A year from now, or five years from now, this might be the inflection point, the change where everything started getting better for the game… or worse. We shall see.
And then, even as I was finishing this up, word started going around that Amazon was laying off some people from the Amazon Games group. That is what happens when revenue isn’t high enough… or when tech companies are afraid of a recession so they try to lay enough people off to turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. One of those.
Did I mention 2022 was kind of a crappy year around our house? Nothing tragic happened. Nobody died and the house didn’t burn down or anything. Instead it was just a wearing down of the spirit as one dumb thing after another happened. It was a year of reacting to problems.
2022 is what we get
This resulted in me spending about 33% less time in 2022 playing video games, at least as tracked by ManicTime, the app I use to spy on my computer time.
ManicTime – For your app time tracking needs
And things started with me being laid off at the end of 2021, which probably boosted my time played in January, because you can only spend so much time on the job search before you are crippled with anxiety because the job you got a decade ago with a Business degree now lists a Master Degree in Computer Science as the preferred education. This is how HR aids and abets the bottom line, by inflating required qualifications so the company can complain that there are not enough qualified candidates so they need more H1B visas please.
But I digress. Job searching is a part time thing, but once you have a new job then the work of figuring things out is just beginning. So the new job starts in April, then my mom falls and has to come and live with us over the summer and I spend a lot of my free time trying to figure out her finances (still not there yet) and getting her into assisted living, so October is about when I come up for air from that… and then the holidays hit but I don’t have enough vacation banked up to lounge about, otherwise November and December would have been the high points of the year, as they have been in past years. The last two weeks of December are traditionally a very big gaming time for me.
Time spent playing games in 2022
So quite a year.
And what did I play? ManicTime tracked 21 titles played on my PC, broken out as follows:
WoW Classic – 29.02%
Valheim – 18.70%
EVE Online – 16.62%
Lost Ark – 9.44%
EverQuest II – 7.04%
Minecraft – 4.39%
Stellaris – 3.42%
Pokemon Shining Pearl – 3.03%
New World – 2.49%
Combat Mission: Red Thunder – 1.50%
Solasta – 1.23%
RimWorld – 1.22%
FreeCiv – 0.35%
Raft – 0.33%
LEGO Star Wars – 0.25%
Diablo Immortal – 0.24%
World of Warcraft – 0.22%
V Rising – 0.20%
EverQuest – 0.17%
LOTRO – 0.09%
World of Tanks – 0.05%
For those more visually oriented, I have a pie chart, which breaks out the top ten, with a slice to cover everything else.
Games played in 2022 pie chart
96% of my tracked gaming time consisted of those ten games, so it seems pretty safe to focus on them.
Now, for purposes of tracking, when I played things is almost as important as how much I played… at least to me, and all the more so given that first chart. So I am finally down to the usual chart that breaks out the top ten titles by when I played them in 2022.
2022 in gaming for me
EVE Online is the usual all year title. It may only be in third place on the percentages, but it is a title I did go in and play every month. I am on a kill mail and have at least one fleet participation credit for each month.
WoW Classic in 2022 really translates into Wrath of the Lich King Classic, along with the pre-patch to get ready for it. We tired of Outland well before we got very far, but once Wrath was looming we were back in business. We hopped into Outland to get our characters and a few alts to level 68 to be ready for Northrend. It is the most played title for me, though it covers a bit less than half of the year.
Then there was Valheim, which we went back to try again with a fresh world in order to see what had changed since we last played. That was a pretty focused play time, but Valheim is very good at that. With the release of the Mistlands biome I got our world back online, but we’re still pretty tied up with Wrath, so it might be a while before we seek a foothold there.
Lost Ark was where we landed after New World. That went okay for a bit. It was fun, but kind of silly and not really our thing.
EverQuest II was me playing the Visions of Vertovia expansion, which wore out once I got to the end game stuff and needed to get on the gear and skill upgrade grind to be able to managed any further content.
Minecraft was an attempt to fill the void after we reached the end of the plains biome. But after all the work we did in that world my daughter and I started back in the day, I feel like I might have worn out Minecraft. It always feels like I am redoing things I’ve already done.
Stellaris and Forza Horizon 4, both titles I want to go back and play, were there because I had lots of time over the holidays and into January, and then reality began to sink in a little more firmly.
Pokemon Shining Pearl, the remake that my daughter and I had been waiting for, saw quite a bit of play around the Holidays… and is the one item on the list that ManicTime doesn’t track. But the Switch gives you some play time numbers and Pokemon games themselves always have a timer for how long you’ve played. That was good fun, until I beat the main game, after which I fell off the title. I wasn’t going to catch ’em all.
New World was the end of our stint there. They’ve since merged servers and removed our company and what not to the extent that I am not sure we’ll ever return. It is go back to that mess or go back to queues on a fresh start server… until those servers die and get merged again.
Finally there is Combat Mission: Red Thunder, which was an attempt to relive a bit of my gaming from 20 years ago. It isn’t Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin, but it was okay.
So that was what I played. I am not going to go as deep into charts as Belghast, but I have a summary of sorts. Maybe at some point I’ll try and wrap up a five year view.
And what does the new year look like? What do I think I will play in 2023?
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Those all seem safe since I am literally playing them already. LEGO Star Wars… we’ll see how far I get with that one.
Those feel like things I might get into. My daughter got me Pokemon for Xmas, RimWorld has the Biotech expansion to explore, and Dwarf Fortress is finally available in a comprehensible form on Steam. I should try it.
I think I will be in for that, if it ships this year.
Things I will want to play, but probably won’t:
Forza Horizon 4/5
Lord of the Rings Online
Most of my Steam library
It just seems to work out that way. I have a limited amount of time and a hierarchy or titles I am in the mood to play.
Not saying they are bad games, but my own mood isn’t there for them. I’m sour on New World and, in something of an odd twist, the previous expansions have put me off of both retail WoW and EQII for now. And I think I covered Minecraft above.
But, in the end, my ability to predict what I will end up playing is somewhat limited. I have a whole history of these post and my looking forward statements about what I might play have often not aligned with the reality at the end of the year… to the point that I stopped writing a separate forecasting post.
2021 – Combined summary and predictions into one post
2020 – Combined summary and predictions into one post
We are back once again for another review of some really bad predictions I made at the start of the year. I have engaged in an almost annual experiment in proving how wrong I can be about the future for a good fourteen years now.
2022 – Predictions… and we’ll see how those went below.
While we are still a good two weeks shy of the new year in my book, if it hasn’t come to pass by December 15th, it probably isn’t going to happen. So it is time to see how off base I was.
As usual, I will score by giving myself 10 points for each correct prediction, with partial credit available… because I often write rambling predictions with multiple points of contact.
Looking back at the questions from the start of the year… well, I seemed to be in something of a mood, especially about EVE Online. Though not without reason on that front. After declaring an “age of prosperity” they went and announced a plan to keep the economy strangled going forward. “Prosperity” was nowhere in the cards they were dealing out. But I was also moody about a few other companies.
Anyway, let’s get to the scoring.
1 – Activision-Blizzard will drop “Blizzard” from the Corporate Name
I backed myself into this one, having made a declaration about this in August of 2021, when it seemed as though the company could sink no lower in its scandal ridden tales. It seemed like they had run the name through enough mud that it might be time to go back to Silicone & Synapse.
But it did not come to pass.
Now, I could make excuses about how the Microsoft acquisition, which showed up less than three weeks after my predictions, locked everything in place, so no major name change was likely to occur… but, in hindsight, no name change was likely to happen either way. When you have Bobby Kotick at the helm, Blizzard would have to work a lot harder to eclipse the stink on him.
2 – No WoW Expansion in 2022
Man, I was not on a hot streak for 2022 was I?
Okay, this one did not look that outrageous a year ago. Blizzard seemed to be in disorder, Shadowlands was flailing about without content updates, and there was some word about retooling their approach. It seemed likely that they wouldn’t get out an expansion this year.
But they managed it. The jury is still out on Dragonflight… I mean, I loved Shadowlands for about a month, before I found the quick trip to level cap meant and endless endgame treadmill… but it launched at the end of November and is still running along. I haven’t seen the traditional glowing “current expansion exceeds all past expansions” press release about any sales metric yet.
In the end though, even if it dies in a month, they still shipped an expansion. Zero points.
3 – The Arthas Hail Mary
I’m going to have to quote this one, just to avoid having to recount it point by point.
Wrath of the Lich King Classic will be announced to great fanfare. This will be the big 2022 announcement for the WoW franchise, and it will be as stale as you expect. While I love the whole retro server scene, and WotLK as well, there is a reason that Daybreak doesn’t put out a press release every time an EverQuest progression server unlocks a new expansion. And it will be tainted by the same things that hurt Burning Crusade Classic, like a special deluxe package with a horrendous mount to single you out for ridicule. It will be more popular than whatever is going on with Shadowlands, an admittedly low hurdle, but it won’t launch until Q4 so we won’t see any financial impact during the 2022 calendar year.
I mean, sure, Wrath Classic, big fanfare… but Dragonflight was probably the bigger announcement, if only because it was new and unexpected. We all had no doubt Wrath Classic was going to show. It also made it into Q3, just barely. But it counts.
It did, however, get the ugly mount that singles you out and it was sure as hell more popular than Shadowlands this year.
I am going to give myself 4 points for this one.
4 – Immortality is Overrated
Okay, I am getting a little better as we go along here.
Diablo: Immortal will finally ship in time for summer… after all, NetEase is the one doing the work here. It will get a lot of hype from the company because WoW Classic and Hearthstone updates can only carry so much water for them. It will be briefly popular, because we do in fact all have phones, combining as it will everything Blizzard promised (something like Diablo) and everything fans feared (cash shop from hell), but the Q3 2022 financials will only mention it in passing.
I mean, isn’t that pretty much what happened, right down to shipping in time for summer?
You can split hairs on that one, but I am giving myself the full 10 points. I rarely get this close to the mark.
5 – Activision Will Settle with the State of California
Okay, after that riding high on that last one I am brought low again. I, not for the last time I am sure, invoke the Microsoft acquisition to explain this away. Zero points.
6 – Bobby Kotick Will Remain in Charge at Activision
And, just to switch things around, the Microsoft acquisition pretty much made this a lock. Not that I thought Bobby was going anywhere otherwise. He has set himself up to suckle at the company’s teat, sucking down a huge amount of cash while he runs an entertainment sweat shop. Why would he step away from that? 10 points.
7 – Enad Global 7 will Announce Marvel Universe Online
Oh EG7, you had such a potential winner here. Even the hint of this project got the company more press than it had seen in a decade.
Massively OP declared Blizzard’s problems with its NetEase contract the biggest MMO company blunder, but when we measure the potential upside lost relative to the size of the company, this one dwarfs the NetEase deal.
Sometimes I need a gimme. H1Z1 is Schrodinger’s battle royale, neither dead nor alive.
9 – LOTRO Old and New
I was predicting a split in the product, with a new branch to support the console plans that EG7 kept talking about. But we didn’t get anything really about the whole console thing. I suspect the tepid response to Amazon’s Rings of Power, which was supposed to ignite more Tolkien interest, might be on the list of reasons.
10 – Nothing New in Norrath
EverQuest and EverQuest II rolled on as before, and no new Norrath titles were launched, announced, or even hinted at. Kind of a gimme. But I need all the help I can get.
11 – Ji Ham Confirmed as CEO of Enad Global 7
This is a complicated one. Technically I think Ji Ham is still “acting” CEO of EG7. His linked in profile still has “interim” on display.
On the other hand, the Daybreak team completed their reverse acquisition and now pretty much run EG7, so the idea that he is going to be asked to step down from the position seems pretty silly.
I am going to give myself 4 points because he is the CEO and they aren’t going to replace him.
12 – CCP will Circle the Wagons to Defend Against Player Feedback
Yes and no. CCP management certainly came into the new year saying they knew better and would do whatever they wanted. But push back from players got them to declare against crypto in EVE Online (for now), and they eventually began to relent on some of the things dragging down the New Eden economy, like capitals and battleships being too expensive to bother producing and the stranglehold on minerals… things that were pointed out as problems the day they were announced.
The economy is still not perfect, but things are at least better now… a year later than they could have been… should have been… but better. I’m giving myself 2 points for the beginning of the year.
13 – New Eden Economic Times
This is basically part 2 of the previous item, only more about the in-game economy. CCP eventually relented on many things that players had been complaining about since they were introduced, so I feel like I would be double dipping if I gave myself more that zero points.
14 – New World on Consoles Announcement
Sorry, no. They spent most of 2022 trying to fix the game so people would play it again. Their expansion saw a brief spike, but fresh start servers are really what brought people back because they could at least play on worlds that had not been screwed up economically by the company’s bumbling management of the game for the first few months. Zero points.
15 – New World Store Update
None of these things came to pass. Zero points.
16 – Crypto Mania will Continue and yet Yield Nothing of Value
I mean, unless you can assign value to schadenfreude I guess. 10 points.
17 – Metaversary Rhymes
Part two, the whole crypto metaverse idea of being able to bring your car from Mario Kart into Forza or whatever. It didn’t go anywhere either. 10 points.
18 – Non-Fungible Fiascos
My ongoing bets against crypto seemed solid, but my guesses as to which company’s we beshit their games with it… well, this was the list:
Black Desert Online
Final Fantasy XIV
Wild Card: Some Gamigo Title
None did however… which, given the talk a year ago, means crypto must have really taken a dump in 2022. I was never happier to get zero points.
19 – Chapter and Metaverse
I was predicting that Zuckerberg’s own personal metaverse, Horizon Worlds, would gain no traction. They were making managers force their employees to log in. Hell, it was all they could do to announce legs… and even then they didn’t show the actual in-game legs, but specially rendered ones on the virtual Zucks. 10 points.
20 – A Better Metaplace
Raph and Playable Worlds did not deliver anything in 2022. Zero points.
21 – Non Starters
My usual gimme list of games that won’t ship. Basically 10 points for free.
These are bonus, usually outrageous guesses for some additional points.
The first guess was that CCP would get fed up with players electing the CSM and just appoint their own council, the way Blizzard did. Like I said, I was in a bad mood. That did not come to pass, so zero points of extra credit there.
Meanwhile, I also guessed that Blizzard would get bored of their own WoW Player Council, thank everybody for their service after a year, and forget about the whole thing. While the WPC has been a giant nothing burger so far as I can tell, I just went to check its special forum and it still exists. So zero points of extra credit there as well.
The Final Score
I had a total of 210 possible points for my main predictions. From my scoring above, I managed to get a total of 90 points. That gives me a nearly 43% success rate, which is far better than I have done in some past years. I guess the lesson here is always bet against crypto.
That is all I have. Another year down. Now I have to decide what I will do for 2023. Predictions? Questions? Demands? Something else? I have two weeks to figure it out.
It is Veterans Day here in the US, though it was Armistice Day at one point because my grandparents used to call it that. It is a day set aside to honor those who served in the armed force, which includes my brother, who managed to serve in both the army and the navy. There is a story in that, but it his to tell.
For the first time I can remember I get the day off. Most companies in the US give you the day off after Thanksgiving and if you ask them about Veterans Day HR will tell you that the former is a stand in for the latter.
Anyway, I will probably spend much of the day looking for a car to buy… another story in that I might get around to telling. In the mean, there are a few small items I want to cover.
Over the past few months, we’ve been evaluating the current state of Crowfall. One of the biggest challenges has been the sheer amount of development effort required to build new campaigns and keep the game running daily. In order to refocus our efforts from live operations to development, we have decided to take the Crowfall live service offline for the time being.
On November 22, 2022, at 11 AM CST Crowfall will go dark, and the game servers will be unavailable. Until the service goes offline, take this time to try out all of the cool buildings, mounts, and emotes for free in the Crowfall store.
We’re going to use this time to map out the future of the game. We have yet to determine what that looks like, but we are investing in and rethinking every part of the game – from the core technology and tools to art, design, and gameplay. Nothing is off the table.
We’ll share the plan with the community as it shapes up.
It is not impossible it will comeback better and find success. Some titles do come back. Multiple times, if you count Hellgate: London. But it is a rare thing.
But the real win seems to have been the fresh start servers they launched, letting players get that new New World world smell in their nostrils, boosting concurrent player counts on Steam beyond the 100K mark for the first time in almost a year. That is still well shy of the 900K peaks of launch, but is much better than the doldrums that the game has been in for most of its run so far.
I have always said that half of the draw of retro servers of the sort we see with EverQuest or WoW Classic is the chance to start anew in a fresh world.
EverQuest II Anniversary Mount
I mentioned the EQII 18th anniversary already this week, but it was only after I had written and posted that I got the email about a special mount for players as part of the celebration. The… uh… Stomposaurus Thunderstrider is available for all players for 1 silver from vendors in various cities. I got mine out in the Frostfang Sea… or New Halas… or whatever that place it.
The recruit a friend option in EVE Online will get the friends who click on your link a quick 1 million skill points, a non-trivial amount when you’re just starting out. But what if they made their account and forgot to click the link? CCP has added retroactive recruitment.
When somebody clicks on your link and lands on the account creation page, there is now an “Already Have An Account?” option at the bottom of the form that lets you just log in and collect the reward… so long as you have not been recruited previously.
one meeelllion skill points
I have five accounts and, as it turns out, four of them were never recruited, so I just added 4 million skill points to the New Eden ecosystem. I was even able to cross-recruit between two accounts. What a country!
WoW Character Stories
Blizzard has been trying to build up hype for the upcoming World of Warcraft Dragonflight expansion and its own 18th anniversary in a number of ways. One them is on Twitter.
Yes, Twitter is a spectacular dumpster fire as Elon Musk… very much the Tech Trump these days… careens from one bad move to the next. However, the site is still up and running and honestly probably more popular at the moment due to the complete debacle unfolding as people discuss it on the site. It is as if the passengers on the Titanic suddenly began discussing and debating maritime safety regulations, the effects of hypothermia on the human body, and the correct method of filling and deploying lifeboats, with great vigor.
But I digress. If you tweet at the @Warcraft account with your WoW Character name, server, and region, along with the hashtag #WarcraftStory, a bot will reply to you with an image and a little tale about your character. So I did it with Vikund, my main of mains, and got this.
Vikund, pet battler
The algorithm it uses will draw from the database the most rare or outstanding of your achievements… based on a list of possible options… and throw that back at you. So, pet battles were my main thing on retail I guess.
And if you don’t like the result, you can try again and it will go down the list. So I went again and got this instead.
Vikund and his dungeon achievements
I feel like 116 is both a big and a small number. Dissatisfied with that, I rolled again and got this.
Vikund the raider? Yeah, right!
I am pretty sure my raiding prowess is made up by maybe half a dozen LFR runs over the years and then farming old raids solo for specific pet, mount, and transmog drops. It that even a thing anymore with the level squish?
I tried doing the story thing with alts, but since pet battles are shared across accounts, the first thing I got back was the same as my first one with Vikund. And subsequent stories were all pretty disappointing. But, still, it is a neat little gimmick.
Happy Halloween for those of you who indulge… and, uh, welcome to another Monday to those who do not.
I kept the daily posting streak going another month. I just have to make it to Christmas to break into four digits. Otherwise it wasn’t a very eventful October for the blog. WP.com didn’t break anything. No posts got any particular special attention. Just another month of blogging.
One Year Ago
In a bit of irony I unleashed ads on the site in order to pay for the premium WordPress.com plan, otherwise they would be unleashing ads on the site. But at least I am getting some of the money now I guess.
Facebook changes its name to Meta and Mark Zuckerberg announced they were going all-in on the idea of a VR based online metaverse. John Carmack had some issues with the plan.
The then still in early access H1Z1 had King of the Kill removed from its name, reverting back to just H1Z1. This was due to as-yet-still-unrealized plans by Daybreak to bring the game to China where they couldn’t have “kill” in the name. They have since changed their mind and renamed the game again. It is now H1Z1: Battle Royale, or maybe Z1 Battle Royale. It is honestly hard to tell/care at this point.
As the month headed towards its end CCP released the Lifeblood expansion for EVE Online which changed moon mining, upgraded The Agency, and added a bunch of PvE content. There was also a joke about lighting farts to be made.
However, following EVE Vegas, where VR was heavily emphasized, and the Lifeblood expansion, CCP had a round of layoffs and effectively stopped developing for VR. Among teams hit hard was the community team.
Lord of the Rings Onlinelaunched the Rider of Rohan expansion. I eventually picked it up for Turbine Points… or LOTRO Points… or whatever. I haven’t actually played through it yet.
In EVE Online we got the Retribution expansion that updated all that crime watch stuff. At least visible timers ended up being cool.
EVE-Kill was looking for donations to keep everybody’s then-favorite kill board up and running. It has since died, so I guess that didn’t work out in the long run. Also in that post, there was a new EVE site up called The Mittani dot com (worst name ever), something about sound in EVE Online (who knew?), and the dawn of miner bumping. This is why I hate those bullet point posts one, five, and ten years later.
I was complaining about games (or, in my 30+ year old example, a game master) that try to impose their story on your character. I don’t mind being a part of the overall story, but my characters have their own stories and motivations and I do not like it when games put their own words in my character’s mouth.
In EVE Online I finally finished my training and was actually flying a Hulk! Being mining focused, I went out and calculated which asteroids were the most profitable to mine. Veldspar rated surprisingly high. I was also calculating the cost of producing light missiles, probably the only time I really used a spreadsheet for EVE Online. “Spreadsheets in Space” is a lie.
I also figured out that with 120 billion ISK and a year of training, I could fly a Titan, but I couldn’t fire the main weapon system.
Blizzard made its first big cut in the amount of experience needed to get to level 60 in World of Warcraft. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
lotro virtue farm
[I never saw that crop as a farmer]
wizardry online characters
[Probably long gone by now]
why does wintergrasp have a back door
can thin clients play pc games
[Web games I suppose]
porn customized games
[Admission that we all have our own flavor of porn?]
Game Time from Manic Time
As I mentioned last month, a patch of ManicTime broke the ability to report summaries, at least for free accounts, so now it just groups by executable, which means WoW and WoW Classic end up the same on the summary list, even though they are broken out in the daily reports.
WoW Classic – 93.73%
EVE Online – 4.61%
World of Warcraft – 1.21%
New World – 0.45%
Fortunately, I didn’t play much beyond my core titles this month, so I was able to break them out even with this change. But if I ever start playing both classic and retail WoW it will be a chore.
It was a quiet month in New Eden. We started off with a Reavers deployment to some NPC null sec space with an eye towards getting mixed up in some conflicts up north. But then very little came of it. People were busy and targets of opportunity were rare. So I mostly kept my PI going and logged in to collect the seasonal rewards.
I did log into New World a couple of times as I noted during the month, just to see how things were playing out. I didn’t feel any real compulsion to jump back into the game… Wrath Classic is the top of my list right now… and any return of the group might have been thwarted due to the fact that Ula’s house went missing in the server consolidations and there is no reimbursement for that right now. That was most of her in-game cash taken, not something that will inspire a return.
We made some friends at the park while out playing, so I have some xp incoming from ongoing friend gift exchange milestones. It looks like level 43 might be within reach next month.
Level: 42 (93% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 740 (+7) caught, 757 (+6) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 20 of 25
Pokemon I want: Pachirisu
Current buddy: Golisopod (just because he looks cool)
World of Warcraft
I did not spend a lot of time in WoW this month. I logged in before the pre-patch to take a few tries at getting the Headless Horseman’s mount… and failed to get it yet again. Every year since 2008 and no mount. Then I went in after the pre-patch and didn’t know how to play my character and couldn’t read the tiny new UI and didn’t want to invest the time to figure it out because I had better things to do.
As the time break above indicates, here is where I spent most of my gaming time. We have the group playing together. We even managed to finish the first dungeon, Utgarde Keep. And then I have alts to work on, so lots of asynchronous game play options. It is happy times in WoW Classic right now.
I missed a weekend on the bike this month. My routine has become to ride in the morning on the weekend, but I had to travel one weekend this month. I had also hit a stride previously where I was riding well beyond my minimum goal, but I have fallen back to just hitting that number and stopping. Not a great month for exercise.
Level – 16 (+0)
Distanced cycled – 1,301 1,244 miles (+57 miles)
Elevation climbed – 51,640 (+1,988 feet)
Calories burned – 41,819 (+1,587)
There are some anniversaries in the offing, with EverQuest II and World of Warcraft both hitting 18 as the month goes by.
There is the mini-expansion in Lord of the Rings Online set to launch, plus we will no doubt be getting more information about the EQ and EQII expansion launches.
And the month will end on the launch of WoW Dragonflight, which I am sure will be huge.
Outside of video games, there will be the ongoing slow motion train wreck that is Twitter under Elon Musk to watch. I expect that this will become a business school case study in how not to do a merger, but we shall see.
But my eye is most closely watching what CCP will be doing with EVE Online. They have announced or started testing quite a few interesting things. But CCP has ever been full of promise but problematic in execution. They have a big chance to break free from what I called The Year of Disappointment.
Now, I want to make clear up front, there was absolutely zero chance that I was going to suddenly become enamored with the game again and go back to the group and declare we should dump Wrath Classic and go back to New World. There will be no such surprise twist at the end of this post.
This was just a run in to see how things were playing out.
The first thing I had to do was patch up… which meant launching Steam, which itself had to patch up. I don’t launch Steam by default, so if I am not playing a title on Steam regularly it can be weeks or months between starting it up.
Fortunately I had not uninstalled New World. I we weren’t “done” with it when we stopped playing, we were just off to do something else. I had, however, disabled updates, so I turned those back on late in the evening, set it to updating, and went to bed.
Some gigabytes and hours later, I returned to my computer to launch the game. It did seem to launch a bit faster than it did when last I played, though that might be getting mixed up with my memories of Lost Ark, which was the only title I know of that took longer to launch than New World.
Then it was time for splash screens to tell me about the new update, Brimstone Sands, the holiday event, and then a message about world mergers. That last was exactly the same splash screen they were using the last few times I was in a merger.
The merger impacts explained once more
That splash screen also turned out to be… I won’t say a lie, because I doubt there was intent to deceive behind it… somewhat inaccurate.
I had no world.
Left without a home
That was a bit of a mixed blessing.
On the bright side, I was not going to be stuck on a world with a long queue, those being a thing I read about, a result of the cascade of server merges over the last nine months that left the game with only a few servers available to absorb any players returning.
Somehow my characters, both of them, fell off the merger wagon… probably when their two servers were merged together and a red flag was thrown as you’re not allowed more than one character per server. That may have changed, but at some point I would have to guess it was still in play.
On the down side of this turn of events, I had to pick a new server. I had four choices, including one the game recommended.
My server options
It was recommending Aukumea which, in hindsight, I should have chosen. But I was just running ahead to get into the game and only thought through the implication of both of my characters being with a world selection AFTER I had already selected.
I chose Camelot, because why not? El Dorado was the only one with a queue, but Camelot had a name I could remember because I figured I might have to tell the rest of our company at some point where we ought to move.
Except that the rest of the company is probably on Aukumea unless they too had characters on different worlds that ran into a merge conflict.
So I opened up into Camelot and found I was without a company, a stranger in a strange land… or a vaguely familiar land at least.
The territory control map
In fact the whole thing because very familiar over a few minutes as I figured out again how to access my inventory and look at my character details and such.
I was back in some town I knew the layout of and was able to run around and find things.
I had an alert up about being at the maximum amount of xp with my faction and needing to do something to advance to the next tier or rank or whatever. I stumbled over to the local faction representative, but he didn’t have any information for me, so I would guess that aspect of the game hasn’t been made any clearer.
But otherwise things that were mentioned here and there had been fixed or improved. I was, for example, able to access storage in other towns from the town I was in… which was a good thing as my inventory was full of crafting material, an artifact of the change early in the game when they raised the requirements for leveling up crafting dramatically.
I also fiddled around a bit with some of the cosmetics I had collected from Prime Games. There was also a new set for those showing up for the new update, one with a Roman theme.
Romanes eunt domus
And then my interest in the whole thing faded and I went off to do something else.
Time to see where all that listening got Amazon Games I suppose, as today marks the launch of the Brimstone Sands update to New World.
A year and a couple of weeks after the launch of New World Amazon Games is back with their first expansion-like update to the game.
The hallmark of the update is the Brimstone Sands zone, from which the update takes its name. Pegged as being 2.5 times the size of the Everfalls zone, it features new territory to control, new mobs to fight, a new story line, an new expedition (dungeon), a new weapon, new Heartgem abilities, and, as mentioned so prominently in the post I highlighted earlier today, new architecture.
In addition to the new zone, there is also a revamped starting experience which includes:
Optimized Quest Flow – Quest flow through zones has been optimized, with NPCs who move around with a story that takes players through each region of the game, unlocking side content to pace out the experience.
New Quest Dynamics – We’ve added a variety of new quest dynamics, from wave events to tracking and traversal challenges, puzzles in the ruins, unique interactions with the world, and dynamic events players will encounter.
Streamlined Story – We’ve revised onboarding to stay focused on the central storyline, introducing the legacy of King Arthur in Monarch’s Bluffs and a curse and famine from the sorceress Medea in Windsward. Players will still converge on the Hermit Yonas to start on the path to becoming Soulwardens, but the Yonas quests have all been consolidated in Everfall. The Hermit himself is now more mobile, while the story and quest flow vastly improved.
Zone Upgrades – We’ve also added a lot more character to the zones and settlements in Monarch’s Bluffs and Everfall, with new enemies, new major locations, and new challenges in the quests and open world.
The are also a pile of quality of life fixes:
Adjusted XP curves for multiple gameplay aspects:
Character Leveling: Greatly reduced character XP required after level 20.
140% reduction through Level 45, then 160% reduction through Level 60.
Town Projects: XP rewards have been reduced by 75%.
Faction Missions: XP rewards have been increased by 125%
Lore Notes: XP rewards have been increased by 200%.
Gathering: XP rewards have been increased by 200%.
POI Discoveries: XP rewards have been increased by 200%.
Gathering Trade Skills: XP rewards have been increased by 125%.
Corruption Portals: XP rewards have been increased by 150%.
That is actually a pretty common feature of MMO expansions, reducing the requirements needed to get to the new content.
There is also a huge list of things marked as “fixed” for this release in the patch notes.
Now the question is whether or not any of this makes the game worth returning to. I know some people have gone back… enough that the collapse of servers down to the bare minimum has come back to bite Amazon. There are long queues and, while they have handed out free server transfers, that always requires coordination with friends and guilds and what not and most people just try to stick where they are unless they have no attachment to anybody on the server.
Our group is not currently tempted, but we’re just getting into Wrath of the Lich King Classic and will probably remain there into the new year. However, it will be interesting to see how others react to the update and whether or not it gives the game the legs to be sustainable.
The title of the post from which I drew that quote is New World: What we’ve learned during our first year, and it is one of the most anodyne and self-serving posts I have ever read.
Like that post, an ad for New World
Sure, it is up on VentureBeat, which has incredibly shallow journalistic standards. Vacuous and self-serving is practically their brand when it comes to guest posts. But this post sets a new standard for vacuous.
This post made me mad.
Not hot headed, rage mad, but the cold, irritable sort of mad that comes when somebody thinks you must be some kind of idiot, that you’re such a mark that you’ll believe whatever they’re selling to the point that they aren’t even putting any effort into the sale, they’re so sure you’ll just buy it.
I don’t want to over-sell my anger. I am not on a mission here or anything. But I felt the need to note this down in order to remember it.
We can start with the quote I chose, which is the most quotable bit of text in the whole thing and really the theme of the post, how much they are listening.
And with a post focused on how well they listen, how much fun it is to listen, you might think it would be filled with example of their listening prowess… and you would be wrong.
It isn’t devoid of examples. The post goes early on to mention how the game changed from a crafting/survival game to a full fledged MMO based on feedback. That is actually a solid example of some sort of listening, though the post-launch experience tends to argue for the fact that the team didn’t know what they were getting into. As I noted before launch, they went from possibly being a big-league Valheim with server rentals to pay the bills to another MMO.
They sold a lot of boxes, but I am not sure that counts as a win in the long term.
Then he quickly goes into the easy wins that were based on feedback.
Things like easier leveling, accessing inventory while running, removing orbs (keys), low-cost fast travel, increased run speed and many more have all come about based on player feedback.
I never experienced half of those during the months we played (no listening then) and the other half were being asked for in beta and took a long time to get into the game, and all of them were pretty trivial to implement.
The lesson doesn’t seem to be “we listen” but “eventually we listened when things were going badly and we needed some quick wins.”
Then there is the third example of listening, which is in the big finish section of the post under the heading Adapt and Improve where it is explained that people thought the architecture in towns was too monotonous. This was the bit that the author said kept bothering him. So they added some buildings that were not of the same style.
That was the closer, the point on which the whole post landed in the end; buildings were too same-y. And that was where my anger began to seethe.
What a waste of an opportunity. What a way to demonstrate the lack of listening. What a whole bunch of nothing.
Now, I didn’t expect somebody from the team would come out and remind people that they went from 900K people online trying to play the game (and largely failing due to server queues) to 20K six months later, or that their attempts at fixing game and economy breaking exploits either caused more problems than they solved or rewarded the exploiters and punished the rest of the game, or that as the game population collapsed that they merged servers so quickly that returning to the game is a chore.
But I did kind of expect that a post about listening would include a bit more concrete evidence of actual listening.
Oh well, making me happy clearly wasn’t the point of the post.
No, with their new Brimstone Sands update launching today, this was a puff piece to cast the illusion that everything is (and always was) fine and dandy and problem free in New World because they did all that listening.
I am sure those that are coming back will enjoy the new architectural options.
My character is still broke, stuck behind a pile of grind, and on some server somewhere behind a long queue. Any desire to return is overwhelmed by that and the memory of how little the company actually did listen when they were making bone headed changes to the game.
I know we already have some MMORPGs that are over 20 years old. EverQuest turned 23 earlier this year, Lineage hit 24 last week, and Ultima Online has its 25th anniversary celebrations coming up soon. Even Anarchy Online has managed to shamble past its 21st birthday.
Welcome indeed… we’ve been here a quarter century
But we’re getting past the point where that first generation of financially successful MMORPGs have passed two decades and are rapidly coming up on the next generation, the successors that tried to learn and adapt what was learned from the first titles to cross the 100K player mark.
We are now about a half a year away from EVE Online turning 20. This coming November World of Warcraft and EverQuest II will hit the 18 year mark. And after that pair hits 20 we’ll see some long surviving title like Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online hitting 20.
I was just going on yesterday about 16 years being kind of a long time in the life of a person, a significant portion of their lifetime experience. Hell, part of the reality of this blog is not so much that it has been around for 16 years, but that I have been writing about and playing the same half dozen games for most of the time I have been writing it.
What does 20 years mean in a genre that is only 25-50 years old, depending on where you want to mark the starting point? If you subscribe to the notion that video games are for kids, what does it mean when you have a set of titles that are old enough to be considered adults?
MMORPGs kind of broke the mold when it came to video game development. You used to make a game, ship it, maybe do a couple of patches and maybe an expansion if the game was a big freaking deal, then you moved on to the next title. In the end, selling boxes was the goal. You might rework the same game… how many annual Madden titles have we had after all, or Call of Duty, or even Wizardry if you want to go back to my youth… but you shipped the game and started on the next one.
MMORPGs though, they just keep going. Or some of them do. There are, of course, some bodies along the side of the road to 20. Some less successful titles were thrown overboard to keep various companies afloat and their senior execs in lemon scented moist towelettes or whatever.
But for a set of titles, if they hit a certain critical mass of core players and establish just the right amount of social bonds, they seem to be able to go on forever.
Yeah, sure, they are past their peak. There aren’t 250K players in Ultima Online anymore, or 400K in Dark Age of Camelot, or 500K in EVE Online, or 550K in EverQuest, or 12 million in World or Warcraft, or however many in whatever other aging titles you care to mention. Their prime is in the past. But they managed to hold onto enough players to remain viable, even profitable. Very profitable, in some cases. EG7 is never going to let go of EverQuest if it keeps up, nor will Blizzard ever abandon WoW, which still pays most of the bills even in its decline. The only thing that will kill them is gross mismanagement… and even WoW seems to be able to handle that. (EVE Online though, that remains a test case for management that wants a different game.)
Even if new content is out of the question, there are always events and special servers and a host of tricks and enticements to keep people playing and paying.
It used to be Mark Jacob’s gig to go on about how the market for MMORPGs was vast beyond anybody’s measure. (A quote of one of the many times he said something like that.) But I do wonder what it means to have a market where the old competitors, rich in content, history, and memories, are hanging about as the occasional new entry shows up and tries to compete.
I’ve gone on about the peril of the market for new entries, and the thing isn’t unassailable if you’ve learned the right lessons from the past. Go see how Lost Ark has been doing, a title that had its act together, versus New World, an entry in the genre that seemed determined to forget every lesson ever learned.
I do not have any deep insight or huge conclusion to wind up this post with. It is just something that occurred to me as I was tidying up yesterday’s post about my blog turning 16 and how its fortunes have tracked along with some of the games I’ve written about. I’m past my peak as a blogger as well, but enough of you show up and drop a comment now and then to keep me going… and enough comment spam bots land to load up ads to pay the bills.
One of the other things the Steam Summer Sale tends to spark in me is a review of my gaming so far in the year. One thing that happened in the first half of 2022 was that a new title took over as my most played game on Steam.
My Steam top ten titles
I think Civilization V has been at the top of the list since I made my current Steam account back in 2010… and I did that because you had to have a Steam account to play. I was kind of against Steam back then, but have clearly softened on it as an option over the years.
Now, however, Valheim has taken over the top spot, managing to do so in less than 18 months. That says something about me or Valheim or both I suppose.
Anyway, Valheim got there by being my most played title so far in 2022 as measured by ManicTime. Out of time spent gaming on my PC, this is how my play percentages break out.
Valheim – 30.97%
Lost Ark – 15.80%
EVE Online – 15.70%
EverQuest II – 11.78%
Stellaris – 5.72%
Pokemon Pearl – 5.07%
New World – 4.10%
Minecraft – 4.45%
CM Red Thunder – 2.52%
RimWorld – 2.04%
FreeCiv – 0.59%
Diablo Immortal – 0.39%
V Rising – 0.34%
EverQuest – 0.28%
LOTRO – 0.16%
World of Tanks – 0.09%
After Valheim we have Lost Ark and EVE Online pretty much neck in neck for play time. I think Lost Ark got the advantage just because it takes so long to load.
Finally in double digits is EQII where I was playing the Visions of Vetrovia expansion.
Down in single digits, after some single player stuff was the end of our run at New World. I am not even sure what server I am on now. There has been some talk about Amazon fixing some of the issues, but I am not sure there is a lot of desire to return there any time soon.
Then there is Minecraft, which has gotten a bit of a boost since The Wild update hit. Below RimWorld are titles that have not been touched all that much.
So what will the back half of the year look like? Valheim is at the top of the list, but unless we get the update for the Mistlands, there isn’t much to do but muck about and build things. Lost Ark and New World are unlikely to grow in play time, and EverQuest II, I left that unsatisfied with the last expansion. That might need a break for another expansion or two before I find it on my list again.
EVE Online, of course, is going to carry on for now. And Minecraft, which we only started playing in June, looks like it could keep going.
Solasta is something we just picked up this past week, and it has potential.
And then there is the coming of Wrath of the Lich King Classic. It looks to be a couple months away at this point, and we’re not really chomping at the bit for it right now… but give it some time and we might be primed to go back to Northrend.