As regular readers will know, on the last day of each month there is a Month in Review posts. This came about pretty much by accident when I was looking for a post back at the end of September 2006 and it has carried on ever since.
That very first review post had entries about the site, the games I was playing (EVE Online, World of Warcraft, and Saga of Ryzom of all things), and what was coming. From that humble post a series currently 175 long has sprung.
The categories have expanded and changed over the years. Some things have gone… I no longer call out blogs that put me on their blog roll because nobody makes new blogs these days… and others have arrived, with game time tracking being the most recent.
The posts have also grown in size. That first review was just 500 words. These days the often go on for five times that length and link out to old posts in a manner that one might characterize as excessive.
In the end these posts have become something of an exercise in nostalgia for me. The joy of having nearly 15 years of work to look back upon. But I do wonder at times what others think of this monthly post, so today I have a poll.
The question is, which sections of the month in review you read or find interesting, if any. If you skip it, just click the “none” option. Otherwise, it is a multiple choice poll, so you can click all the boxes… though don’t do that, because one of the boxes is “none.”
For whatever reason the embedded poll feature won’t let me do a multiple select poll today, so I guess pick you favorite section. My plans thwarted as usual. The comments are there if you have a bone to pick about a particular section.
As usual, ad blockers or other security measures might keep the poll from appearing, but there should be a poll above this sentence.
Of course, this is also an opportune time to bring up something I ought to have in the monthly post, or ought to do away with. I make no guarantees… these posts have evolved somewhat organically to reflect what I want them to be… but sometimes fresh insight can be instructive.
My initial gut reaction to this timeline was that it has to be wrong. That launch date is way too soon for Blizzard. I have no doubt that we will be getting The Burning Crusade Classic, and it seems like a slam dunk than we will get it in 2021. But in May? Not going to happen.
A lot of the responses I have seen in support of this timeline seem to revolve around the technical feasibility of it. Could it be done? Could Blizzard get it together and launch in that time frame.
I think they could. They have no doubt been working on it for ages now. The popularity and success of WoW Classic no doubt cemented the resources to carry forward with it.
Instead, my main objection to the timeline is Blizzard and its past behavior. Going from an announcement to beta to pre-patch to launch in about ten weeks… eight weeks really, since the pre-patch kicks off the opening of the black gate event, so they’re committed by then… seems uncharacteristically quick for the company. That would be a positively hasty run by the standards of the company.
I don’t think people get how cautious Blizzard can be. A lot of criticism was directed at WoW Classic due to the time it took to launch when people compared it to the comings and goings of pirate WoW servers. If some randos on the internet can stand up a server quickly, why can’t Blizzard? This blindly ignores how Blizz is a company that expects you to pay for a game, and you won’t pay if it breaks or falls over under load. Blizz could no doubt put up a prototype server even more quickly, but would it stand up to the strains required of an official server?
Remember how many people piled into WoW Classic? There will be a comparable surge when this come out.
Blizzard will want to run beta for a while, testing out specific functions of the expansion in classic form. I firmly believe that will take more than the eight weeks this timeline allows.
Then they will want to to some load tests. We’ll all be invited to pile onto a server to make sure that the new stuff still works. We might get that in May, with a re-run of it again likely in June.
There is also the question as to how TBC Classic will be handled. Surveys have gone out asking if people want fresh servers as transfer targets of to have their WoW Classic servers expanded to include TBC or some other option. The server matrix for WoW Classic was relatively easy; PvP or PvE, with RP as a side order. With TBC we might get fresh servers as transfer targets, upgraded WoW Classic servers, fresh start TBC servers, or some other combo. Blizzard will try to make the maximum number of people happy, and as they were surveying people still late last month, it doesn’t seem like that has been decided. They will likely have a plan by BlizzConline, but that is still another set of systems they’ll want to test.
My instincts, such that they are, says a realistic timeline for The Burning Crusade Classic would look more like this:
Announcement: BlizzConline – Feb 19, 2021
Beta opens: On announcement or soon thereafter
Server load tests: May/June 2021
Server reservations for users: July 2021
Pre-launch events on WoW Classic servers: mid/late July 2021
Launch: August 2021
But I am a registered pessimist and didn’t think Blizzard would ever be convinced to make WoW Classic in the first place.
So I will make a poll and let you tell me when you think it will launch.
There is a poll above this line which your adblock or other security measures might block.
We will probably get an answer in February as to the plan, until then we can speculate.
This post isn’t about the current state of affairs in the real world, though feel free to steal the title for your own post about the dystopian nightmare we’re living in currently.
No, this is a follow up to a poll I ran… a few months back at this point.
I did a post about The State of Voice in 2020 back in early March about voice software used during gaming, a follow up on a couple of past posts on this topic, which concluded with the traditional poll to get a sense of which voice software people were favoring these days.
The results were a lopsided victory for Discord.
When asked to specify their primary voice software package, there was no contest.
147 Responses to “What is your primary voice application?”
The Other responses were “Google Hangouts” and “Whatever someone else says we should use.”
Compare that to the results of the poll I conducted in 2012:
Of course, neither poll is scientific and only represent the demographic of “people who read this blog and whose ad block software even allows the poll to be visible,” so isn’t provably reflective of the actual distribution of voice software usage out in the wild.
It is also impacted by, and reflective of, the downturn in traffic my blog has seen since that 2012 poll was taken, which happened around the my peak of popularity, such that it was. So only 147 people responded in 2020, while 2012 saw exactly (!) twice as many responses, clocking in with 294.
And yet, the lopsided win for Discord still says something. Discord is easy, cheap, and works. When the instance group got back together for WoW Classic we went straight to Discord as our platform of choice.
Yes, that was, in part, because I already had an account. But we all had Skype accounts as well, that being our preferred voice software back in the day, and Google Hangouts were a possibility as well, being the choice of the one-time Friday Night Strategy Game group.
Discord was just easy, has persistent group chat as well as voice, and has mobile clients as well. I pay for a monthly channel boost subscription, which is supposed to get us better voice quality among other things, but we didn’t have any problem before I did that.
A Discord server basically gives us so many options over the alternatives that it just seemed like the obvious choice.
The second poll question asked which voice software options people used regularly. It was a multiple select poll, so you could click on as many as you felt applied. The results for that were… odd.
Responses to “What voice apps do you use regularly?”
The Other responses were, with one vote each:
Nothing regularly but not nothing ever
Discord was still on top, but did not get as many votes as it did in the first poll.
There are a few possible explanations for this. Some people may have only votes on the first poll. Some may have felt that the second poll implied “aside from your primary” chosen in the first. And some people may have only voted in the second poll, feeling that they did not have a primary. Some combo of those, plus whatever else, may be in play here.
And it does show, again, a move away from what were the traditional voice hosting platforms back in the day, Ventrilo and TeamSpeak, at least in the “reads this blog and votes on polls” demographic.
Ventrilo – 207 / 27%
TeamSpeak – 177 / 23%
Game Integrated – 115 / 15%
Mumble – 108 / 14%
Skype – 87 / 12%
Console Voice System (Xbox 360/PS3) – 40 / 5%
I still never use voice – 14 / 2%
Other – 8 / 1%
roger wilco 3
Tin cans and string 1
Steam Integrated, Cellphone, Smoke signals 1
But I will start to use voice for the first time when SOEmote starts. 1
I think I can spot the Bhagpuss answers in the “other” field on a couple of these.
So Discord “wins” I suppose. I am still not sure about their business model. They gave up the idea of competing with Steam as a game selling platform a while back. But the proliferation of Discord servers… is there any sizable company or group that doesn’t have at least a few dedicated to it… seems to indicate that they have the attention of a lot of people.
Anyway, that is my little report on the state of voice in gaming right now. We’ll see if I get back to it in another five years or so and who will be dominant at that point.
The purpose of the WoW Token, and other like items such as EVE Online’s PLEX or Daybreak’s Krono or Anarchy Online’s GRACE, is to fight illicit RMT, which has all sorts of fraud and theft issues associated with it, by giving players a legitimate way to buy in-game currency that both gives the developer a cut of the money and doesn’t dump currency into the economy. The company is merely the agent between players trading the in-game currency for subscription time. It is RMT, but “good” RMT so far as the developer is concerned.
That Blizzard and CCP and other companies have done this, and kept up with it over time, must mean that it is working for them somehow. If nothing else, it is another revenue stream in a world where a monthly subscription is often a barrier for players. Whether it has made a serious dent in illicit RMT I cannot tell, though it was interesting that some gold sellers seemed to revive with the coming of WoW Classic, where you cannot sell a token for gold.
And, of course, it isn’t any sort of panacea that will save a game. WildStar built its plan initial business plan on their CREDD idea and that didn’t save it from going free to play then shutting down.
In WoW the idea itself took a while to grab players, at least in North America.
North American Prices – Apr 2015 to Apr 2020
When it launched at a starting price of 30,000 gold per token there were some people who declared that now was the time to jump in, that there was nowhere to go but up!
And then the price dropped immediately, landing below 20,000 gold in the first month. It revived eventually, getting back over 30,000 in September, then starting to really climb come 2017 and peaking in 2018. But there was an initial stretch there where it wasn’t all that attractive relative to illicit RMT. Over the five years:
Avg Price – 109,057
Median Price – 117,552
Max Price – 238,572 on Jan 31, 2018
Min Price – 18,296 on May 3, 2015
Current Price – ~120,000 as I write this
The NA start was in some small contrast to the EU token prices, which started at 35,000 two weeks later and only went down a bit before beginning a fairly steady rise. I am sure that says something about the two markets, though I am not sure what.
European Prices – Apr 2015 to Apr 2020
Avg Price – 173,225
Median Price – 180,158
Max Price – 401,827 on May 17, 2018
Min Price – 30,352 on Apr 25, 2015
Current Price – ~180,000 as I write this
Still, even though the token prices vary, the pattern of the prices over time looks remarkably similar when charted. And no doubt they probably ought to in reaction to outside events, like when you were able to buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 with WoW Tokens, which accounts for that peak price in 2018.
I am curious as to how people feel the advent of WoW Tokens have affected the game over the last half decade.
I, personally, have been only somewhat attached to the game over the last five years, playing it to see the game but not getting that deeply invested in it. I have been a casual WoW player during that time for certain, and it was only the advent of WoW Classic that got me really back to Blizzard.
I have purchased two WoW Tokens. My daughter pleaded for one so she could buy some RP gear for her RP guild when the price was around 100,000 gold and I bought one for myself one day when I was logged in and saw the price was around 220,000 gold and thought I might never see that price again. But then the game sort of rains gold on you these days… going back to get flying in Battle for Azeroth I was shocked at how much gold I was given for random things when in WoW Classic I am grubbing for silver coins still… so I have earned more gold since just playing than I bought. (Mostly during Legion.)
My closest experience with something like WoW Tokens has been PLEX in EVE Online.
There I don’t buy it to activate game time but just to get a ship SKIN now and then. But I’ve seen people who get pretty caught up in the idea of “PLEXing” their accounts every month, which becomes a mania with some people. People who “crab” a lot… mine or run anomalies for ISK… are often suspected of being in it for RMT purposes. And they often are, but not for illicit RMT and supplying ISK sellers and such. They need to make the ISK to buy the PLEX in order to pay for their subscription.
The big nerf that hit last week with the Surgical Strike update will break the game for some people because they are invested in super carrier ratting… super carriers were pretty much invulnerable up until last week as they could kill small groups of subcaps and could survive to be rescued from larger groups… and with the changes they won’t be able to PLEX their accounts.
Azeroth is a lot different than New Eden however. I know people who obsess about earning gold in WoW, but I am not aware if it has reached that level.
So how do you feel about WoW Tokens five years in? I’m okay with them, but I am also out of the loop enough to not see or care much about the impact they might be having. I’ll even put in a poll here.
If you cannot see the poll above this line… well, your web browser and ad block settings are keeping you secure. I cannot argue with that, but you don’t get to vote unless you use the browser on your phone or something.
The latter has nice charts on their front page, while the former wouldn’t let me see any of their charts even with ad block off and security down.
Seriously, I am looking at the ads but they still won’t show the charts
The latter site pointedly makes reference to this if you have ad block on. But the former has all the historical data available as a .csv file, which I was able to download, so I have to give them credit for that.
There is also data for the WoW Token markets in Taiwan, Korea, and China, but I did not dive into those as there are different dynamics in play there that I am even less aware of.
Every once in a while the topic of voice chat with games comes up. This time Skronk mentioned it. And with that I wondered if it was time for another post about. It was time in 2007 and again in 2012 and I think it is time again now.
I am always interested in voice, first because I work in a related industry and there is overlap in tech and people and second because my online gaming history extends back to a point where voice was not an option. When I was playing Stellar Emperor back in 1986, I could be on the one phone line logged in or talking to somebody, but not both at once. So I have seen things evolve from there to using the phone system at the office for comms (back when IT would allow such things on the corporate network) to early voice software like Roger Wilco, to the hosted comms era when any decent guild or clan rented a TeamSpeak or Ventrilo server, to the time of Skype and game integrated voice, through to today.
Ventrilo (which I typo’d on in the poll, which is totally on brand for me) was the top dog back in 2007, though it was early in the history of the blog so the pool of results wasn’t very big. It was also the dawn of the game integrated voice using Vivox, so game integration was not that widely available (EVE Online, LOTRO, and DDO had it by then, but SOE games and WoW were a ways off still) which probably hurt its responses.
Skype was already four years old by then, but had added 5 person conferencing with the need of a server, so it was the voice platform of choice for the instance group back in the day.
There was also a mention in the comments of voice quality comparisons between Ventrilo and Team Speak, the two big dogs at the time. I am not sure if that is even a concern in 2020, but it was one back in the day.
This being the peak era of the blog, the poll got 294 responses. In 2012 readership was still using Ventrilo and TeamSpeak, with Mumble not far behind, all server based voice platform solutions. Skype also had some users, while game integrated seemed to have come along. I think by this point it was part of WoW and fairly easy to use.
The second poll asked which voice applications people ever used. It allowed multiple selections and gave the following results:
Ventrilo – 207 / 27%
TeamSpeak – 177 / 23%
Game Integrated – 115 / 15%
Mumble – 108 / 14%
Skype – 87 / 12%
Console Voice System (Xbox 360/PS3) – 40 / 5%
I still never use voice – 14 / 2%
Other – 8 / 1%
roger wilco 2
Tin cans and string 1
Roger Wilco 1
Steam Integrated, Cellphone, Smoke signals 1
But I will start to use voice for the first time when SOEmote starts. 1
A lot more people used game integrated voice at least as a secondary options it seemed. I was using Mumble for EVE Online, it being the Goonswarm platform. Skype was still the choice of the instance group. Google hangouts were a thing, and we even used that for our epic Civilization V game.
Also, I love the comment about SOEmote. I am sure that must have been Bhagpuss.
Which brings us to today, about seven years further down the road. Things have changed some. Microsoft bought Skype and made it progressively worse.
Some games dropped integrated voice options. EVE Online dropped the option as part of their March update two years back as part of their clearing of decks for the 64-bit conversion. That got us the new chat server architecture which has had so much trouble over the last two years that CCP is probably glad they ditched voice and the complications that would have come with it. (Though only 0.4% of players used it, so maybe nobody would have noticed.)
And a new player has come along in the form of Discord.
This is pretty much what prompted this post. Yes, there are some other additional players out there like Slack, but Discord feels a bit like a game changer. I first gave it a shot with the 2018 Blaugust and have stuck around with it ever since. It is light, easy to use, easy to manage, and has voice integrated… and is free. So when the instance group reformed for WoW Classic we didn’t bother trying to remember our Skype login credential, heading straight for Discord.
The only other voice app I use is Mumble, which remains the Goonswarm comms choice.
So I suppose a new decade means it is time for a new poll or two. So here, now, in 2020, what is your primary voice application? (Choose one)
And, just to emulated the 2012 poll, which voice applications do you use on a regular basis? (Choose all that apply)
This being the security age of the web, the two polls above may not appear if your ad blocker is on or if you have Firefox set to defensive mode.
The blog being back down in the 2007 range of popularity, I do not expect there will be a huge turnout. But I will be interested to see how people respond.
I am especially interested if you use game integrated voice. If you have a moment to pop into the comments and mention the related game or games you use it with, that would be great.
My answers are Mumble for the primary, because I am on it for every EVE Online fleet op, and Mumble and Discord for the regular basis response.
I feel like I am a bit ahead of the game here. In the last few months people have been writing blog posts, myself included, about what Blizzard should after WoW Classic. Blizz can’t just stop at vanilla, can they?
The Classic Background
But I have been watching debates rage over how classic servers or progression should be handled for about a decade over in the EverQuest forums. Remember, SOE put out the first EverQuest progression server back in 2007. That was just eight years after the game launched, proving once again that it takes Blizzard twice as long to do everything I suppose.
So I had to chuckle a bit when Kaylriene suggested this might be unknown territory in his post the other day. Unknown only if you focus solely on WoW I suppose.
Now, granted, what Blizzard is attempting to do is way above and beyond what SOE/Daybreak have ever attempted, which is to create an authentic 2006 experience. This has set expectations which means that they won’t be able to half-ass their way through adding additional expansions. And I think that they must, at some point, go that route. Again, given the EverQuest experiences with this over the last decade, an authentic revisit to some of these old expansions is worth as much in subscriptions as another new expansion.
The problem is that the WoW audience is not a unified group. No MMO audience is. And this progression/nostalgia idea tends to sort people out into a few different categories which I have noticed and noted over the years. They are:
These are the people who are not interested in progression. In fact, they’re complaining that WoW Classic is coming in at version 1.12. They are the ones arguing about what vanilla WoW really was. They don’t want a 2006 version of the game, they want the November 23, 2004 version. They want all the warts and issues of the first day of the game. No looting bug, no deal! And they sure as hell don’t want any expansions. They want the game to stay right there, locked in time.
The Progression Raiders
These have been the key drivers for EverQuest, and will likely have a notable role with WoW Classic. These are the old raiding groups that get back together to race to level cap in order to be world first/server first to take down bosses, farm raids for gear, and advance to the final boss in any expansion. They want a specific phase to last only as long as it takes them to bring down the boss and farm for enough gear to move on. They are always pushing for a faster unlock pace.
The Nostalgia Tourists
These are the people who want to relive the good old days, but are not too concerned with total authenticity or wearing the launch day hair shirt. I am mostly in this group. I want to take my time going through the content, so I am not in a hurry to see the next expansion show up. However, I still want the game to advance eventually.
The Fresh Starters
Bhagpuss first identified this group to me. There is a group of players out there just loves that fresh server smell, running out into the newbie zone with a mass of low level players, and just enjoying the spectacle of a new world coming alive. They just shows up again and again at every new special server launch, hang out for a while, get to a point where they are done, then wait for the next one. If nothing else, an easy crowd to please, and their subscription dollars spend just the same as everybody else’s.
The Cult of PvP
This is sort of a sub-group, since people here usually identify with one of the other groups as well. But they just want you to know that PvP is the most important thing and the biggest draw and that if you just focused on PvP everybody would be happy and the servers would overflow. When this hasn’t panned out in the past, at least in Norrath, the PvP response has always been that not enough focus was spent on PvP.
The Live Purists
These people want all the other groups to just shut up. They are all about the live game and see any diversion into nostalgia servers as players and resources stolen from their game. J. Allen Brack is their patron saint and they will repeat ad nauseum that nobody wants this and it is all a waste of time and the servers will be dead in three months and so on and so forth.
And they are not totally wrong. There is always some impact on the live game player base, and development time can be a bit of a zero sum game. There are only so many people on the team and hours in the day.
Then there are The Outsiders, who are not really a direct faction, but who wander into the picture now and again. They are generally noticeable for being against the game overall, retro, live, or whatever, but still insisting that their voice be heard. They can be random passers by who just drop a line and move on, or they can be the die hards who show up to bad mouth various games any time they are mentioned anywhere on the internet. You know who I am talking about.
They occasionally make temporary common cause with one group. Right now they fit in with the Live Purists because they are loudly predicting failure for WoW Classic. But often seem to just be at war with them all.
None of these groups forms a majority, and the boundaries between them can be pretty soft at times, with the PvP group something of an overlay on a couple of the other groups. Depending on the circumstances, various groups will be natural allies or opponents.
If the topic is whether or not there should be nostalgia servers, it will be everybody versus the Live Purists.
When it comes to content, the Classicists tend to be at war with the other pro-nostalgia groups.
Content pacing, and suddenly the Progression Raiders are the loudest voice, and more often than not get what they want over the objections of the other groups.
When things are taking too long or when the server launch is way in the rear view mirror, the Fresh Starters start asking for the next server.
And the Cult of PvP remains consistent in its demands for focus to be on PvP ahead of everything else.
I have not seen anything so far to indicate that World of Warcraft and WoW Classic will end up being any different. The question is really just how soon Blizzard gets going on creating an unlock, advancement, or progression system to allow people to move forward beyond vanilla.
Until then, the Classicists sort of get what they want, even if it isn’t the exact right version.
Which group are you in?
(The poll above may not appear if you have Firefox set to extra protective mode)
Of course, there is an “other” option if I have missed a group.
In which we may again tread into how the seasons are measured.
A little over a month back Trion World’s put out their producer’s letter for Rift in which they were explicitly eyeing the seemingly evergreen fields of video game nostalgia with a mind towards making a few bucks on the idea. Leave it to Trion to jump on the nostalgia bandwagon only after Blizzard began lumbering in that direction with WoW Classic. We may not be in Azeroth anymore, but the influence of that world can always be felt across the genre.
Anyway, the plan was for something called Rift Prime, a nostalgia server set to follow the well trod path that EverQuest has been going down with increasing frequency over the last decade. As with the well honed EverQuest model, the basic plan put forward back then would be a server with vanilla content (with some adjustment to the easier to access dials and switches to make the current state of play seem a bit more retro) that would unlock expansion content over time, and which would be available only to subscribers… excuse me, patrons… which would allow Trion to remove much of the cash shop gimmickry that otherwise pays the bills on the standard live servers. All of this, and some other vague statements, were slated to become reality in “Spring of 2018” according to the producer’s letter.
While you may have noticed the rising tide of sarcasm up to this point, let me assure you I was, and remain, in full approval of this idea. While I’d be interest to know whether the idea of Blizzard soon taking up every last seat on the nostalgia bus or the building backlash against lockboxes might have set Trion on this path, that is mostly idle curiosity. That it is happening is the the real thing, the coin of the realm, and I am on board with it.
And spring seemed like a good time frame for me last month. I was still enamored with Azeroth and pet battles and what not, and expected to remain so for another few months or so before tiring of it. The launch could have been quite a while coming, as late as the front half of June, as we will recall from the Landmark Spring launch that came about on June 10, 2016. Massively OP tried to make that something to complain about, but in the northern hemisphere summer is generally accepted to start on the solstice, not on June 1st. A cabal of astrophysicists and calendar makers have made this a thing. Trion just had to get there between March 20 and June 21st.
I know that seems more than a bit pedantic, especially in California where is can get “spring-ish” in February, but I have been trained by years of working in software that an estimate like “spring” generally means as far into spring as you can get away with… like June 10th… the same way that “the middle of the month” means any day save the first or the last of a given month and “in a future release” means a point in time somewhere before the heat death of the universe. Nothing is ever early.
This mattered to me because, as noted, I am still invested in WoW right now and I hate to dump a game I am enjoying for some new variable. A bird in the hand is worth a pig in a poke and all that. And few things can rain on playing another MMO than currently having fun playing WoW.
My first though was, “Oh, hey, that’s my birthday.” I’m not sure if that is a sign or not.
Anyway, I am as ready as I can be I suppose. After the producer’s letter I went and got the Glyph launcher, now considerably more trim since it let go of its Steam aspirations, figured out my login credentials, downloaded and patched Rift, then actually logged in. So I am ready on that front. I still need to buy my way into patron status… subscribe… to get access to Rift Prime, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
But do I want to play?
As mentioned, still being invested in WoW is an issue. I’m on the downside of the usual WoW high and, while not ready to walk away just this minute, it wouldn’t be a tragedy if I did. It might be better if I walked off still hungry for a bit more Azeroth.
Meanwhile, to get in on day one of a new server can be a special thing in and of itself. And Rift’s world, or at least the initial content from launch, was made up of a set of very well designed zones that I really enjoyed the first time through… and the second and the third and the fourth time. So I am good there.
RIFT Prime will not be an exact copy of launch RIFT, and certain features that were added to RIFT to expand gameplay or improve quality of life will be available from day one. These include: Dimensions, Looking for Group, Looking for Raid, current Warfronts, and Wardrobes.
Instant adventures is off the table however. That’s okay, IA was something of a “keep people busy while we get some new content out” sort of thing.
The server will also have level scaling for zones, so if you wander into a lower level zone you haven’t finished up, you’ll be scaled down to the level of the content. No running about one-shotting everything. Good as well.
There will be a cash shop, but it won’t offer gear or bags or lockboxes for the RMT currency. There will just be cosmetics, mounts, and services available. However, if you already have Rift Credits on your account… I have a bunch left from the F2P transition… you won’t be able to use them. There will be special Prime Credits for this server, though when the server closes any Prime Credits you have will become normal Rift Credits.
The FAQ says that they expect the server to run for at least a year, which after so much exposure to the mighty mountain of expansion unlocks that come with an EverQuest retro server, seems like a very short time horizon. but Rift just doesn’t have that much to unlock.
And maybe a year is good. Honestly, I am not interested in going into Storm Legion or beyond, the zone design there being the antithesis of the what I enjoyed about the launch zones. So that would leave me playing for a few months before wandering off. I don’t need a server to last more than a year to get what I am looking for. And if it is a success, the shorter duration will likely lead to more such servers.
And, of course, Trion is selling a special Rift Primogenitor Pack in their web store for $30, which gets you the following:
30 days of Patron access for the purchaser
2 voucher codes for 15 days of Patron access each (30 days total). Invite your friends to play, apply it to your alts or use the time yourself!
A mount out of the ordinary: Armored White War Tiger
A title exclusive to Prime players: Primogenitor
Cloak of the Void
A new Prime portrait frame
Essentially, if you buy it all just for yourself, you’re getting two months of Patron access for about the same price as two months of Patron access, with a few goodies thrown in to sweeten the deal.
So I am leaning in favor of this. I am not totally sold, but I have two weeks to decide. And since I am crashing from my typing binge, I’ll close with a poll about this:
There is a poll above this line which, if you don’t see it, might have been eaten by ad block or Firefox or Russian troll bots.
Here we are again, a common refrain at the top of these annual posts, but what else have I got going for me? This will at least be the last of the annual posts for quite a while.
Last month I posted my review of my annual MMO outlook and found that I had played nothing on the list. That was in part because most of the list didn’t ship, but also because I just reverted to the mean and played what I always play, which is WoW, EQII, and EVE.
So this year I am going to eschew the looking forward aspect of my annual post. Let’s face it, there isn’t that much coming that both interests me AND is likely to ship in 2018.
I am going to, here at the start of the new year, buckle down and commit to playing a new MMO in 2018, but only one that is new to me. There are plenty of old MMORPGs still knocking around, classics of the genre, storied in their time, that I have never touched.
I will spend at least a month playing one of these titles seriously and blogging about it, because that it the point of the exercise to a certain extent, so that old timers can come by and mock my ignorance and tell me how things were back in the good old days and all of that.
So here is the list I am mulling over with some pros and cons as I see them from the outside. Each game has some minor claim to fame in my mind, has come up occasionally, and is more than ten years old.
I had some friends who left EverQuest back in the day and found it a pretty decent time. At that point I was living in a house with spotty internet at best so wasn’t keen to invest in it. But now connectivity is no problem.
Pros: It was supposed to take the “suck” out of MMORPGs and also has some sort of free plan.
Cons: It is really a realm vs. realm sort of game as I understand it. Am I ready for old school PvP? Also, as above, some of this money goes to EA, which does not please me.
A non-combat, social MMO that resets to a new “telling” of the tale every so often, one of those games that gets mentions a lot but rarely by anybody actually playing it.
Pros: The first 24 hours are free.
Cons: Social might be a problem for me going in solo, especially since the current “telling” has been going on for over two year now, so I might feel late to the party. Also, after the first 24 hours you have to subscribe.
So that is a list of eight possibilities. I won’t be jumping straight into any of them. This will likely be a spring-to-summer sort of event. That means if I am missing some vital option from the list you can chime in via comments or the poll below using the “other” field. Otherwise take a moment to pick which one of the above might be the most worthwhile venture.
If there isn’t a poll above this line AdBlock may have eaten it. It happens.
I won’t say I’ll follow the will of the respondents, but if one title seems to be leading the pack substantially I will give that some weight. Also, a bit of trivia; I had previously made tags for every game on the list above. I suppose that says something, though I am not sure what, besides that I have mentioned them all here at some time before.
And, of course, if you want to see how this sort of post has played out in the past, you can check out attempts from past years:
It is that time of the year again and BlizzCon looms, just a few days off. I am now in the midst of my internal monologue BlizzCon Virtual Ticket debate.
Virtual Ticket Decision Time
The Blizzard watching portion of online gaming journalists seem to think it is pretty much a lock that the next World of Warcraft expansion will be announced on Friday. If that is the case, then I definitely want the Virtual Ticket. As I have said before, there is often as much in the way people say things as the text they are speaking.
I have found, in years past, the quick transcriptions and summaries of video game journalists to not only fail to deliver the “feel” of a presentation but to occasionally boarder on near deceitfulness, albeit unintentional, when passing on information.
A problem of journalism in all areas of the press. I used to swear at the local paper because every story I had first hand knowledge of would invariably contain errors in material fact.
Anyway, if there is to be an announcement about the next WoW expansion, I want to get the Virtual Ticket so I can watch and re-watch key presentations.
And certainly such an announcement seems likely, if only because of historical precedent. Every other BlizzCon tends to be an expansion announcement, with the off year being the year the expansion ships. The only exception this decade has been WoW Legion, and they had to announce that before BlizzCon in 2015 because Blizzard so badly fumbled content pacing for Warlords of Draenor that they needed some good news to off-set the record loss of subscribers they had to announce just two days before. (They subsequently stopped talking about subscription numbers, except for that Tom Chilton slip.) They didn’t even have the cinematic set to go, a standard part of past announcements, which I found indicative of their haste to find good news to spread.
So aside from that exception, BlizzCon on odd numbered years seems to be a pretty likely time to hear about the next bi-annual-ish expansion.
The problem is that there hasn’t been the usual smoking gun. Nobody who has been dumpster diving in the game assets has found a map of a new area or splash screen with a new name, just some sporadic items that could be part of a new expansion, but might not be. And it is awfully early for Blizzard to be putting assets into the live game files for something that is likely to be at least a year off. That makes me think all of that speculation is just finding the black cat in the dark room that isn’t there.
Meanwhile, Blizzard itself hasn’t screwed up and accidentally posted the new expansion page on their site early again or had somebody on the team leaking information, the usual harbingers of an expansion announcement. Of course, the week is still young. There is time yet.
And the BlizzCon schedule itself doesn’t exactly scream “expansion coming!” with extra WoW sessions with vague titles.
The kick-off of the BlizzCon 2017 schedule
Yes, after the opening keynote the next thing on the big stage is an hour of WoW, but aside from pride of place, that isn’t much different than the Overwatch or Hearthstone panels on the main stage. (Well, Hearthstone doesn’t get a full hour because even *I* can tell you “what’s next” there, more card packs to buy lest you fall behind the meta.)
So while logic and my gut both agree that an expansion announcement is highly likely, but I haven’t seen anything yet that guarantees it.
And, without that announcement and the subsequent discussions wallowing in what details Blizz cares to share, is there anything else I want out of BlizzCon?
Overwatch – I don’t play it, so any announcement there has naught to do with me.
Hearthstone – Play it occasionally, very casually, with the free cards, so the inevitable new card pack announcement isn’t going to mean anything beyond being beaten by newer and more powerful decks.
Heroes of the Storm – Hahahaha!
StarCraft – I don’t care so much about StarCraft II and we already got the remastered version of the original StarCraftearlier this year, so not much for me there.
Diablo – Blizzard has said there won’t be anything for the Diablo franchise. The schedule only shows two presentations, one about visual effects and one about community. There is no “what’s next” panel. Last year was the 20th anniversary, which got us a special event, and we got the necromancer mini-pack earlier this year, so unless they have news about that Diablo II remaster that came up back in 2015 (along with the StarCraft remaster which, as noted, we got!) it would be hard to come up with something that would interest me much.
So what do you think? Expansion announcement or not? Sounds like an excuse for a poll.
There is a poll above this line, which might get eaten by AdBlock. I pay not to have ads here, so blocking them is mildly futile I suppose.
As I said above, I am inclined to believe there will be an expansion announcement, not only because of past history, but also because I am not sure how WoW goes forward for another year without one. How could they NOT have an expansion announcement? But one might also ask how they could let some past expansions molder for as long as a year with no updates.
I will probably get the Virtual Ticket.
But if there isn’t an announcement, will there be anything else worthwhile?
We got all sorts of new information about the upcoming Nintendo Switch console yesterday including price ($300), launch date (March 3rd), region locking (none), and that you can pre-order RIGHT NOW!
And of course there will be Mario Kart
Every gaming news sight worth that title has some sort of story up about Nintendo’s new console today, with more to follow as demos commence. This is the moment we have been waiting for since the initial announcement back in October.
I have to admit I like the Switch on paper at least. I like the size, the light weight design, the mobility, and the built-in screen that makes it a portable. The latter is important in a one TV household.
Oddly, one feature that drew my attention is the ability to take a screen shot of game play. As a blogger who charts his gaming journey through his writing, the ability to set a scene with a screen shot rather than the MS Paint that are my words has direct appeal. Not sure that is a tipping point level feature, but it is interesting.
And then there is the price. $300 seems like a good compromise price. I think at $250 it would be a no-brainer purchase for people and that at the $350 mark that was rumored just before the announcement the Switch started to creep too close to XBox and PS4 territory so that you might have to start considering is games exclusive to the Switch would be worth the commitment. But at $300 it is just far enough away that it can fall into the impulse purchase zone for some.
On the flip side, I am not really a console gamer. We got a Wii back in 2007 and I picked up a PlayStation 3 in 2011 after the prices had gone way down. The Wii got a LOT of play at our house. My daughter and I used to play games on the Wii every weekend for hours and hours.
However, my daughter was 5 years old when we got the Wii and would wake me up early on Saturday morning so we could start playing. Now she is 15, I am not sure she has seen a Saturday morning before 10am lately, and if she wants me to do anything with her on the weekend it is to teach her to drive so she can get her license in a year.
Meanwhile the PlayStation 3 has been mostly a video playing device since we bought it. My daughter did enjoy Little Big Planet, but after that wore off it has been more about Netflix and Amazon Prime. We could replace it with a Roku box if it wasn’t for the fact that it is also our Blu-Ray player.
And the last console I owned before those two was a SEGA Genesis back in 1992. And the console before that was an Atari 2600 way back in 1977. I’ve been a PC gamer since 1983 and online since 1986. I never had a NES or a SNES or an N64, so lack any Mario nostalgia. My Nintendo franchise of choice is Pokemon, which probably explains why we have more DS series handhelds (2x DS Lite, 1x DSi, 1x DSi XL, 2x 3DS XL) sitting around the house than the count of living room consoles systems I have ever owned.
So for me, while I like the idea of the Switch, I haven’t seen anything compelling that makes me want to run out and pre-order today. $300 isn’t a bad price, but that same $300 would go a long ways towards replacing my 14 year old Dell 1600×1200 monitor with something bigger and better, which would have a much greater impact on my gaming… and would probably also require me to upgrade my video card.
That is where I stand. I like the Switch. At this point in time, if I was going to buy a living room console, the Switch would be a serious contender. But there isn’t enough there yet to make it an automatic purchase. It seems fresher than the Sony and Microsoft offerings, but it isn’t as magical as the Wii seemed back in 2006.
How about you and the Switch? Any interest? Time for a poll?
If the poll above doesn’t appear for you, there are always the comments below.