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Remembering Warhammer Online December 18, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Warhammer Online.
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4 comments

Well, today is the day.

As was announced back in September, Warhammer Online is slated to go off-line today.  I gave some thought to returning to the game for one last look, especially when Mythic said they were letting people back in for free.  However, various changes to the account system at EA over the years since I last played rendered my account unusable.  There would be no return to game for me, no joining in the last countdown, no final farewell as a mass of pixels and database entries faded into memory.

So, instead, I thought I would collect together a list of posts from the time frame when I was actually playing the game.

The instance group in Warhammer

The instance group in Warhammer

No speculation.  No beta posts.  Just what I wrote from the time the head start came online to when I let my account lapse.  That totals up to 18 posts in just over two months .

  1. WAR Goes Live! Sept. 14, 2008
  2. WAR Unleashed Sept. 19, 2008
  3. Not Enough Tanks in Nordenwatch Sept. 22, 2008
  4. WAR on Gold Sellers Sept. 23, 2008
  5. Tips About Tips Sept. 29, 2008
  6. Some Tips are Lies Sept. 30, 2008
  7. The Failure of The Surge? Sept. 30, 2008
  8. Dwarf Collector’s Edition Head Oct. 1, 2008
  9. The Instance Group Goes To WAR Oct. 2, 2008
  10. Chicken as Chicken Oct. 4, 2008
  11. Five WAR Quest Log Gripes Oct.  7, 2008
  12. Ride of the Twilight Dandies Oct. 9, 2008
  13. Wanted: Order Players – Bounties Paid Oct. 10, 2008
  14. The Siege of Mandred’s Hold Oct. 16, 2008
  15. New Classes, Alts, and Grinds Oct. 20, 2008
  16. Screw Job in the Altdorf Sewers Oct. 23, 2008
  17. The Storming of Stonetroll Keep Oct. 30, 2008
  18. WAR’s Trumpet Fades Nov. 19, 2008

There are, of course, a lot of other posts here on the blog that mention Warhammer Online.  If you go to the categories list on the side bar, you will see I have 93 posts tagged for the game. They range from predictions to discussion pre-release to the age of recriminations after most fled the game to EA Louse to occasional notes as to what was going on with the game, including an unsuccessful attempt to turn the assets into a MOBA.

There were various attempts to lure people back into the game, from free offers to Mac client support to opening up tier 1 as free to play.  But the magic was gone.  The game lingered only as long as it was contractually required to.  That requirement runs out today and there will be no such game available tomorrow.

And so the game is reduced to memory.  We talked about, argued over, defended, blamed, and went around and around on this game, not because it was what it was, but because it wasn’t what we hoped it would be.

Somewhere along the line in the last five years I managed to lose the directory with screen shots from the game.  After the cut, you will find pretty much all I have left… uploaded to the blog… condensed into a single gallery.

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Warhammer Online – The Final WAAAGH is on Us! November 2, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Warhammer Online.
11 comments

I mentioned previously that EA has announced Warhammer Online will be closing down on December 18th of this year.

I did approve of their stance on elves...

What is engraved on that blade?

As part of the run up (or down) to that terminal date, the WAR team has convinced somebody at EA to allow them to let everybody play for free for the last month and a half.  And by “everybody,” they mean everybody who ever had an account in good standing, which I gather meant that you were a paid subscriber.  From the official site:

A Parting Gift
Posted by From the Devs | 2013 Nov 02 04:00 -0400 GMT

Greetings Warhammer players,

Effective immediately we will be turning off the ability to apply one month subscriptions and game time codes to Warhammer Online accounts and removing the ability to open new Warhammer Online accounts.

To give Warhammer Online a proper sendoff we are opening the game to anyone free of charge that has or had an account in good standing starting October 31st, 2013.  We will be adding new NPC’s to the game in order to power up your characters as well as other unique experiences for everyone to enjoy as we say goodbye to Warhammer Online over the next few weeks.  So please join us and help say goodbye to Warhammer Online in one last big WAAAGH!

See you soon!

Warhammer Team

So there it is.  Anybody who played now has the ability to go back for one last look at the game before it closes down for good.

If you can remember your account details.

I have been tempted to go back for a look myself, nostalgia hound that I am, but I cannot for the life of me remember anything about my login or password.  That was five years ago and I am not quite certain what I had for lunch yesterday.

Anyway, if you can remember your account, then enjoy your shot at nostalgia.  Meanwhile, back to my stack of notes from 2008.

Hat tip: Omali at MMO Fallout

Addendum:

I actually figured out my account login fairly quickly and managed to coax the system into sending me a password reset.  After the password reset I was able to log into the account management tab, though I was forced to associate the account with some other EA account that shared the same email address.  Once in I was able to verify that it was, in fact, the correct account.  It had been created in August 2008.  It showed the following features:

All that CE stuff...

All that CE stuff…

And the account showed as active, so everything looked good.  I downloaded the client installer, ran that, and attempted to log in.

And the client refused to accept the very same credentials that logged me into the account management site.

So, if nothing else, the WAR team seems to be successfully replicating some of the 2008 Warhammer Online experience I vaguely remember.  Ah well…

NBI – To All The Guilds I’ve Loved Before… October 22, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, TorilMUD, Warhammer Online, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
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6 comments

Doone’s Permanent Floating New Blogger Initiative II has been up and running for a while now.  It has forums and goals and things to do and participants and all that.

Not the official logo

Not the official logo

And while I signed up as some sort of sponsor, I have so far completely failed to anything very sponsorly.

Of course, I was a bit glib the first time around as well.  In part that is because I have trouble swallowing some of the advice people throw out for bloggers.  And, also, because I have trouble taking myself seriously in this regard.  So while I came up with some bits and pieces of things that worked for me, my only real advice is to be the blog you want to read.  If you look at your blog and cannot answer the question, “Would I read this if it was written by some stranger?” then you might be doing it wrong.

Anyway, I thought it was about time to earn my so-called keep as a sponsor .  Doone has a couple of blogging activities for the month, including something called a “Talk Back Challenge” that appears to be an attempt get a few people tackling the same subject.  One of them happens to be about Guilds in MMOs.

Guilds: What For? What functions to guilds serve in games and what kind do you prefer? You can talk about your experiences in guilds, what attracts you to them, and their role in the games you play.

A broad enough topic, which has been taken on over at Casual Aggro, The Cynic Dialogs, and Away From Game.  And now at Inventory Full.

Rather than going about this by describing what I think guilds should be about and such, I thought I would do a bit of research to see what guilds I am still in (or which still influence me since I have left) and try, from that, to derive some indication as to what a guild appears to actually mean to me.

Because this is just a list of guilds with a few comments, I will hide this after a cut so as not to make the front page a mile long.

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Warhammer Online to Shut Down in December September 19, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Warhammer Online.
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8 comments

And so the announcement has come.  Back in June suspicions were raised when they stopped letting people buy subscription time in six month increments.  But now the hammer… the Warhammer… has fallen.

I’m sure those links to the official site will be dead inside of a year as EA attempts to erase all existence of the game, so here is the simple quote from the site.

Greetings Warhammer Online Subscribers,

We here at Mythic have built an amazing relationship working with Games Workshop creating and running Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning over the last 8 years. Unfortunately, as with all licensing deals they do eventually  come to end and on December 18th, 2013 we will no longer be operating Warhammer Online. As such we will no longer be selling 3 month game time codes or have the ability to auto renew your accounts for 3 months as of September 18th, 2013. If you would like to read some additional thoughts from one of WAR’s Producer please check out http://www.warhammeronline.com/.  From all of us here at Mythic we thank you again for your dedication and support over the last five years.

If you have any questions please feel free contact us via email at support@warhammeronline.com.

Waaagh!

Warhammer Team

And that brings up a good deal of mixed emotions for me.

There was some good in WAR.  It officially went live five years ago today (though there was a five day head-start for pre-orders), and our regular group was primed and ready to go.

I did approve of their stance on elves...

I approved of their stance on elves…

We had some fun battles.  The world looked good.  I feel a bit nostalgic for the place now and again, disappointed that I did not explore it more.  There were some new things, some incremental changes that were picked up by the genre.  Public quests, for example, have found their way into other games.

But there were a lot of things weighing the game down.  In an attempt to be a WoW-beating “all things to all people” it ended up being “just okay” in many ways.  Much time was spent developing an uninspired quest driven PvE game.  Small group instanced content started off bad.  And some of the “innovations” were anything but good, thankfully never seeing the light of day in any other game.  The information in the Tome of Knowledge wasn’t a bad thing, but trying to force disparate information into a single window size/format was surely one of the more misbegotten concepts the game tried to introduce.

Most developers agree, the quest log should be mapped to "L"

And don’t even get me started here…

All of which ended up being a distraction from what should have been the core focus of the game, the keep battles and group PvP that let you fight over control of the world.

Warhammer Online was perhaps the last MMO to be expected to “beat WoW.”  There was a lot of hype and a lot of enthusiasm over how big this game would be.

But not in your lifetime, elf

But not in your lifetime, elf

But subscriptions failed to materialize in the numbers publicly predicted.  It sold (or was that “shipped?”) a million boxes but only ended up with 300K subscribers.  Public statements, like the one from Mark Jacobs about the game being in trouble if they aren’t adding servers after launch, came back to haunt the game.  The war on gold sellers was a bit of public theater with little payoff.  Spin hit epic levels when Mark was out bragging about how great it was that WAR added new classes without charging, seeming to forget that those classes were publicly cut from the launch, so were something we expected to get in the first place.

Mark has learned a few things since then, though maybe not as much as I hope.

Then things went from bad to worse, with billing problems, a free trial that required a credit card, layoffs, the EA Louse revelations, and the long slide into oblivion.

My own time with the game ended a few months after launch, five years ago this coming November.  The instance group had already given up.  For every good Saturday night adventure we had, there were several evenings of no fun.

The instance group in Warhammer

The instance group in Warhammer Online

And now, five years down the road Electronic Arts is finally laying the game to rest, which was only surprising in that it did not happen sooner.  I can only imagine that there were some contractual obligations with Games Workshop that kept the game going for five years, which is clearly implied in the quote at the top of the page.  It sure is a good thing that EA and BioWare learned from these mistakes. *cough*

One of the things I remember most was the sense of focus the blogging community had around Warhammer Online.  It was a big deal.  Lots of blogs were writing about it.  A whole group of blogs came into being because of it.  People who were not playing devoted time to the game.  A guild was formed, Casualties of WAR, to try and bring us all together, though it fell into the usual launch day trap.

Server Full!

Server Full!

And so the whole Warhammer Online event was something of a milestone on the blogger’s path for me, a reminder of another time filled with both good (blogging community coming together) and bad (true believers trying to shout down any criticism of the game).  It had an impact, for better or worse, that we still feel to this day.  Old timers skeptical about the hot new thing that was just announced?  Maybe they remember how that WAR hype paid off.  It was an event that was felt community wide.

In that spirit, I will link out to other blogs that are also pondering Warhammer Online today.  We can go out as we came in.

I will add more as they appear.  And I am sure I will have a bit more to say on the final day.

Meanwhile, I do wonder what this means for Dark Age of Camelot.  There is no license fee for the IP as there is with Warhammer Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic, so the overhead must be lower.  But EA is not good about keeping stuff around once they feel the money has been made.  They like to move on to the next box to sell.  That is clearly the business model they understand.  And when the boxes stop selling, online support is quickly retired.

Likewise, there is Ultima Online.  What is next on the list for EA?

Tidbits from EVE, WAR, and PlanetSide 2 February 28, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, PlanetSide 2, Warhammer Online.
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11 comments

One of thosen informational time stamp post.

New EVE Online Milestone

CCP apparently told Massively (oh, there is an official press release now too) that they passed the 500K subscription mark, which puts them into the range of EverQuest at its peak, just before the launch of World of Warcraft.  Certainly the total players online has been up when I have been logged in, hitting close to 60K during the weekends. (The record is currently 63,170 online at once.)  The longer term numbers show an uptick as well.

Not bad for a game that started off badly.  The game has come a long way in a decade.

Early Raven in Combat

Early Raven in Combat

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much

(Early game pictures from this CCP forum post.)

Also not bad for a studio predicted to go bankrupt… well, by one person at least.

Yeah, I’m not letting that one go yet.  Financial reports do not lie, but people projecting their internal wishes about games they dislike…

Warhammer Online Trail of Tears – MOBA Edition

Meanwhile, the Warhammer Online team cannot seem to catch a break.  While League of Legends roams the internet landscape as possibly the biggest online game ever, and certainly one of the few with what seems like a license to print money, EA/Mythic’s attempt to take Warhammer Online assets to create their own MOBA game, Wrath of Heroes, seems to have fallen flat.

EA has announced that the game, still in beta, is closing up shop because it did not meet its financial goals.  I love how we use the word “beta” in the 21st century.  Oh, and if you spent any money on it… well… no refunds.  How about a couple of drink vouchers and a free month of Warhammer Online?

My own feelings remain mixed on the original game.  There was a lot in it that I liked… but there was also a lot there that turned me away.

Most developers agree, the quest log should be mapped to "L"

And not all of it was this trivial

In the end, I simply stopped logging in about two months after launch, which is the real sign of whether or not a game has grabbed me.  I can kid myself, but I won’t log into a game I am not enjoying.

PlanetSide 2 Bot Thoughts

I haven’t logged into PlanetSide 2 lately, but I still keep an eye on the news.  And one thing that keeps popping up is the proliferation of aimbots, unauthorized add-ons that make sure you are shooting to kill every time you pull the trigger.  This gives the user/cheater a huge advantage in the game.

Smed has been quite vocal about how they are working to fight aimbots, including banning the accounts of anybody caught using one.

But in this war, SOE is fighting without all the tools it once had.  With a free to play game that is free to download, does an account ban keep a player out of the game any longer than it takes him to create a new account and maybe grab an updated version of his aimbot?

How do you fight the aimbot blight under those circumstances?

You cannot just ban IP addresses, as a lot of people do not have a fixed IP address.

You might be able to tag the client so that it won’t log in again if an account using it has been banned.  That would at least make cheaters have to download a fresh copy.  A minor inconvenience for anybody with a faster internet pipe than mine… and most people seem to have faster pipes than min.

In response to all of that, it sounds like SOE might be lawyering up to go after the sites that are creating… and selling… the bots.  Certainly there are EULA and DMCA aspects to exploit as well as making money on an SOE game.

But does that have any real chance of success?  Will that do anything more than slow down the aim-bot menace?

In the end, will SOE just have to include auto-aim, a built-in aim assist… or aimbot… which some console shooters use to overcome the problems of aiming with the analog stick, and just nerf accuracy to simply remove the viability of aimbots in PlanetSide 2?

I know that mouse aiming is the long established norm on the PC platform and can be a skill differentiator.  Should we give that up in order to make teamwork and tactics even more important?

An Indictment of Something… February 5, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Warhammer Online.
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2 comments

…and remains one of the top 10 highest Metacritic-rated MMOs.

Mark Jacobs, in reference to Warhammer Online

Mark Jacobs is talking to the press again because he and his new(-ish) company, City State Entertainment, have a new MMO under way; one with some familiar sounding features.

The Emerald City Logo

The Emerald City Logo

Of course, this means he needs to answer the ever present questions around how this new MMO will relate to his two previous ventures, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online.

He is candid, as usual, about how these two past games are influencing his current venture.  And he is up front about the problems with Warhammer Online.  From the interview:

Nobody was more disappointed in WAR than I was. At launch, it had lots of wonderful things in it, but it also had way too many bugs, balance, and leveling issues, and of course, crashes in Tier 4. It was my worst nightmare come true, and as I’ve stated before…

And yet there is that quote at the top.  That really caught my eye.

There is that list of reviews on Metacritic.  Look at them.  There are 18 reviews that gave the game a score of 90 or more, including two that gave it 100.  And since the game has stagnated since, never shipping an expansion, that is what you see when you look at Metacritic for reviews.

It rates higher than any MMO I have played for more than a couple of months, save World of Warcraft… which really brings up the question of how MMOs should be reviewed.  Clearly the ” spent a few hours in beta and read the press release” method leads to erratic results, though sometimes that seems to get it right if the issues are obvious enough… or if the publisher doesn’t have enough advertising clout.

As for the new MMO title and its Kickstarter financing plans, I am currently in the “tell me when it actually ships” column.

Turning the City State Entertainment team from March on Oz, a pretty but pedestrian iOS Plants vs. Zombies knock-off, to a full fledged MMO seems like a pretty big leap to me.  Doubly so when Mark himself describes the group as:

…a small, independent team of very dedicated and hard-working guys and gals, many of whom had never worked in the games industry before.

We shall see.

The 2013 List – This Time it is Goals January 4, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, EVE Online, Rift, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Vanguard SOH, Warhammer Online, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
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9 comments

At the beginning of every year I write a post about the upcoming 12 months.  Sometimes it is silly predictions.  Sometimes my predictions are even correct, but not very often.  I have made demands.  I have asked questions.  Here is the story so far:

Now it is time for the 2013 version of my yearly post.

2013

This year I think I am going to set goals, which is just another way of drawing some marks in the sand to measure what happened when the year finally comes to a close.

1- Finish Rift

Well, finish Rift for a specific definition of “finish.”  MMOs are designed to never truly be finishable and Rift, with all its possible class builds, especially so.

In this case, it means hitting the level cap and running all of the five person instances with my main character, Hillmar, and the rest of the regular group.  And, just to put another parameter in the mix, I would like to see this happen before the inevitable Summer hiatus when we head out for vacations and other distractions.

2- Find a new goal in EVE

2012 was about learning to live in null sec and flying in large fleet operations.  There were large wars going on throughout most of the year and I flew all over null sec in fleet ops.  Now, however, things have quieted down.  There was no “Winter Break War” as there was last year and the prospect of any big conflict seems pretty remote right now.  We have been effectively ordered to not do anything that might result in the CFC having to deal with any more sovereignty.

Which puts me out of a job.

So I am in training mode with a little bit of ratting and selling now and again.  That can be lucrative, but it is also dull, as is mining.  (Though I hear from Gaff that with the new NPC AI, he has to actually tank all his mining ships as the rats now change targets.   And they pop drones without mercy, making drones pretty much useless for mission running and the like. So mining is dull AND annoying now!)

There are some things I could train up.  There are a few decent guides on planetary interaction out there, if I wanted to add that do my EVE resume.  There are some player skills I could work on, like scanning.  I am hopeless at scanning at the moment and, historically, every time I make an effort to figure it out, CCP changes how it works.

But as for what would essentially be a new vocation in EVE, I do not have a plan… or even a general direction.  It might be time to go back to that chart.

3- Get to Tier IX in World of Tanks

This is something of a vague goal, as I do not really have my eye on any specific Tier IX tank in WoT.  For now the Soviet heavy tanks seem to be my favorites, followed by the German tank destroyers.  But who knows, I might be mad for French self propelled guns or get the itch to nip about the field of battle in one of those Cromwells.  And then there is the Chinese tank line coming along soon.  Or so they say.

Anyway, barring any dramatic need to start up on another branch of the tree, Tier IX ought to be an obtainable goal even with my somewhat sporadic play schedule.  I just need some focus.

Good luck on that.

4- Finish that Second Instance Group Video

Almost a year back I put together a video about the first year of the regular instance group in World of Warcraft.  Fun stuff.  I like to go back and watch that video now and again.  Not quite as emotionally evocative as Sayonara Norrath, but a lot closer to home.

Originally I was going to make a video about our whole experience, but that was a huge project, so I cut it back to just the first year with the idea that I would do one for each of our six… headed into seven… years.

But while the first year was a good plan (for me at least) as it gets our origin, how do you distinguish it from year two, three, four, and so on?  So I decided I needed another specific subject.

I chose our time in Wrath of the Lich King for the next video.  I even started in on the long job of reviewing and editing pictures.  WotLK was the pinnacle of the instance group in WoW, where we finally got our act together.  It was also our downfall, the last happy time in WoW.  We got good at the game only to find that it isn’t that much fun when you are good.  When you are a random, badly equipped group running comedy specs in the wrong roles, every boss kill is a major victory.  When you are geared appropriately, using the right spec, and playing your role correctly, it starts to become a matter of just figuring out the gimmick for any given boss.

Archaedas was exaltation.  By the time we hit King Ymiron, he was just another boss on the long list.

Still, those were good times and set a standard of effort and fun that Cataclysm couldn’t match.  And it was a nice, discreet time frame.  We were there the day the expansion launched through to finishing off the last instance.

Piece of cake to put it together, right?

Except I cannot find the right music.  I need that to inspire me.  Earl’s rendition of Eleanor Rigby, with its twangy sounds and great mix of nostalgia and irony (all the lonely people indeed!) really moved me to finish the first video.  But I have not found the right music to get me excited to finish this video yet.  What will capture Northrend and the instance group, our travels, our defeats, and our victories?

So really my goal is really to find the right music.  We shall see if I can get there.

5- Retry an MMO That Didn’t Stick

There are a number of MMOs out there which I have tried and let drop after some effort.  For one reason or another the games just did not hold my attention or otherwise compel me to keep moving forward.

There are a number of options for this goal.  Possibilities include Vanguard, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Star Trek Online, Runes of Magic, Warhammer Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and probably a few more I have forgotten.  Pirates of the Burning Sea maybe!

The trick here of course is to find a game where whatever made me stop playing has either been changed/fixed or was something that I have since changed my mind about.  And that, in turn, is something of a function of the time that has passed since I last played the game.

SWTOR, for example, is just a year gone by, and I did not like blaster combat or having dialog forced on my character. The former probably hasn’t changed, while the latter is the vaunted “fourth pillar” that was going to distinguish the game, so it seems like unlikely that I am going to like the game any more than I did the first time around.

At the other end of the spectrum is Vanguard, which I haven’t really played since late beta, and which I only recall as being an ugly, lagging, broken, resource hog of a game that was clearly not ready for prime time.  Six years down the road it is possible they may have addressed some of those issues.

6- Scout for the Next Instance Group Game

With the downfall of WoW as our default game, it has become an ongoing task to scout for the next game we might try.  We are currently settled in Rift, but since the first goal on my list is to “finish” Rift before the Summer hiatus, it seems likely that we will need something new come the end of vacation.

As always, the usual parameters are in place.  It must have content that caters to groups of five or six people.  It has to work for a variety of play time budgets. (Some of us will play all week long, others will only play on group night.)  It has to have content that we can enjoy in our standard “three hours on a Saturday night” parameter.   And it has to be something that we can all buy into.

There are a lot of options out there, even discounting things some of us have already played.  I think that, as a group, we might find a month or two of fun in PlanetSide 2.  Four of us would probably find Need for Speed: World or World of Tanks good fun, but I am not sure about all five.  And there are candidates from both the previous and the next goal that are possibilities.  Picking one though and getting everybody to download and commit, that can be a challenge.

7- Book My Autumn Nostalgia Tour Early

Every autumn I get the urge to go back and play some game from my past.  Sometimes it is EverQuest or TorilMUD.  This past year is was EverQuest II.  And given my long time attachment to the games, you can probably put WoW and Lord of the Rings Online on the list of potential candidates.

The thing is, the urge tends to hit me rather suddenly and I run off, play for the requisite month or so solo, then the urge tapers off and I am pretty much done. (Pro Tip: Always subscribe month-to-month for nostalgia based events.)

But while this is often fun, it is usually a lot more fun if I can get Gaff or Potshot in on the tour.  Nostalgia is a meal best served family style or some such.  So if I can just peer into the future and maybe decide on my target, we can get together on the plan and have a great time.  The thing is, which game?  Do I book a room in old Qeynos for the rainy season, or is the Forsaken Inn a more likely holiday spot?

8- Blog Stuff

Often when I look at the future, I will tack on something about “playing more and writing less.”  Over time though, this has increasingly looked like nonsense.  Writing here on the blog is clearly part of the process of playing games… or at least online games… for me.  The writing, the remembering, the picking of screen shots, and the clicking of the “publish” button are all part of the package.

So my goal for the blog is pretty much “stay the course.”  And maybe find a new theme.  Though I have been saying that for about six years and I am still using the same WordPress theme that I had on day one.

So those are my goals for 2013.  Not very exciting.  We shall see how they play out.

How does 2013 look to you?  And any ideas for music for that video?

SWTOR – Two Years After EA Louse October 12, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online.
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20 comments

You remember EA Louse, right?

He was the guy who wrote the tell-all post about the failure of Warhammer Online?  If not, well, you missed it.  At least in its original habitat.  The blog was shut down for violating terms of service, though you can read the original post here.

More is the pity, since it had something approaching the most epically self destructive comment sections… nearly 1,500 comments long… that I have ever seen.  It even had some great throw backs to past events.

The main focus of the post was why Warhammer Online failed and it included the usual aspects you find in most of these stories; unrealistic goals, out of touch and lying management, a dramatically over optimistic public spokesperson, and bad marketing.  The only likely suspect to be exonerated was Mark Jacobs, who was described as being too heads down trying to fix things, though that sounds like a leadership sin as well.

None of that was very controversial by the time EA Louse posted it.  Warhammer Online was a year old and had come and gone as far as the mainstream MMO market was concerned.  If that had been the sole focus of the post, it would not have seen so many comments.

But EA Louse took some time out from his Warhammer Online reminiscences to go after BioWare and Star Wars: The Old Republic, a product which had at that point been in the public eye for more than two years, and was still about a year from being launched.

Rehashing the past is easy, predicting the future though….

Anyway, thanks to the magic of the internet, I still have his original post. (And all of the comments. RSS feed local save for the win!)  And this is what EA Louse had to say about SWTOR:

And Bioware? Don’t make me laugh. They’ve spent more money making the Old Republic than James Cameron spent on Avatar. Shit you not. More than $ 300 million! Can you believe that?

And you know what they’re most proud of? This is the kicker. They are most proud of the sound. No seriously. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That’s the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas,they’re panicking , and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they can’t keep pushing back launch.

Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too…

This, of course, drove the BioWare/SWTOR fanboys absolutely insane.  This was the fire that fed the comments section, as a lot of people were (and remain) very emotionally invested in SWTOR.  They called bullshit, grabbed torches and pitchforks, and created an epic comment thread of bile and hate.

That is all history.  But here we are, about 10 months after SWTOR launched.

Yes, it did not make the clearly hubristic numbers initially set out as subscription number goals, and the subscription numbers they did get started dropping after the first quarter.  Then after only a few months and some layoffs, EA was claiming that SWTOR was not an important title to their lineup as people seemed to think.  Which, along with the whole conversion to free to play, starts to sound like things have, at a minimum, have not gone as planned.  And then key players at BioWare started jumping ship.

But it isn’t dead yet.  And they are talking about regular updates.

Still, that is a lot of money spent.  And you can just bet that LucasArts gets their cut every month, which no doubt is part of the overhead that made the 500K subscriber mark the line in the sand for profitability. (Then again, SWG remained viable while never hitting the 500K mark, and SOE was always adding to the game.  So does SWTOR face more overhead or simply more greed?)

So here we are, two years after that post.  Has EA Louse and his view of SWTOR been vindicated by history?

Struck from the List… January 4, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, Runes of Magic, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online.
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With the new year comes some feeling, some need to assess and reassess things.  And so it is today with the side bar of my blog.

For those viewing via remote reader or those who have never looked at it, down the right hand side there are two sections among the many categories of links titled “The Games I Play” and “The Games I Watch.”  They are so named partially so that they will sort in the order I want along the side bar.  WordPress.com only lets you have one list of links in your side bar (though you can whip up your own with a text field and some simple HTML if you really need more, but that goes beyond my ability to care about the side bar really) that can be divided into as many categories as you like.  But the categories sort alphabetically.  So I had to name them all in such a way that they would sort out correctly.

They are also named as an indication of my status vis-a-vis a given set of  games.  “The Games I Play” are the titles, usually just two, that I am actively playing.  It is easy enough to understand that.

Then there is the section “The Games I Watch,” which sounds a little odd, like they are being broadcast on TV or something.  The title was chosen for its ability to sort where I wanted it more than its clarity of message, obviously.

Games on that list are ones that I am not playing actively.  Sometimes there are games that have not even shipped yet on that list.  Diablo III is on that list right now, and it is months away at best.

Games in that section are games to which I pay attention, games which interest me, and games which I fully intend to either play when they ship, or go back and play at some point if I have already been there at some point.

And now, in the harsh light of the new year, I look at that list and I can see some entries that no longer fit the bill.

Runes of Magic

Remember back when a free to play games of any quality were a rare thing?  And there was Runes of Magic trying to bridge the gap between subscription quality and free to play access with, among other things, that $10 horse.

Back in the day, when he wasn’t on about that horse, Darren called it a WoW rip-off, which at the time, what with being free and all, seemed like a hearty endorsement to me.  So much so that, despite one of the worst installers ever, some of the instance group ran off to try the game at one point.

And it was okay.  It had the usual stuff, a few interesting twists like dual (and now triple) classing, as well as the standard “suffer or give us money” options when it came to storage and experience gain.  And gold spammers.  Many, many gold spammers.

My primary memory of RoM

But in the end, there was nothing there that really stuck with me.  We ran off to play other games.  Half the subscription MMO universe went free to play in the mean time, so that no longer suffices as an attraction.  I’ve totally forgotten my password… both of them, since there was a second login and password required to access the RMT currency, some of which I purchased at one point.

And then there is that installer.  Have they fixed that yet?  Or does somebody new still install the 2009 version of the game and then spend the next week patching?

Finally, the game is no longer interesting merely for its free to play model.  That was something worthy of note a couple years back, but not so today.

So I think it is time to admit that I am just not that interested in the game and the odds of my going back to falls somewhere between “slim” and “none.”  So it gets struck from the list.

Warhammer Online

You might be surprised that I still had Warhammer Online on my list until now.  Despite the howls of the now repentant fanbois every time I dared say anything negative about the game, there was a lot I did like about the Warhammer Online.  Our guild did have some excellent PvP battles at times, though for every good battle there were a couple of empty roll-over victories.  And then there was our first taste of a dungeon, which left nobody interested in a second.

The instance group in Warhammer

But the world itself was very well done, worthy of exploration.  And if I was complaining about the quest log, it was because I was using it a lot to run through the PvE portion of the game to see that world.  In fact, it was the idea of seeing the world that kept the game on my list.

The instance group moved on and there were other games higher on my list, but I kept thinking that at some point Mythic would change something in the game worth seeing or put out a “come back and play” offer that would get me to return.

They did have a come back and play offer at one point, ten whole free days, how generous!  But it involved giving Mythic a credit card, and that seemed like a really good way to get screwed by Mythic, given their past sloppy handling of credit card transactions.  So I didn’t try that.

Then, more than a year after launch, they made the trial version of the game, which restricted  you to a tier 1 character, unlimited.  That was interesting for some I suppose, but where I wanted to go would have put me well outside of tier 1.

They even talked about producing a Mac version of the game.  Did they think that Mac users were that desperate for an MMO?  I was tempted to try that just to see how bad it was, but never got around to it.  I don’t even know if that came to pass in the end or if it is even still supported.

In the end, no “right moment” to go back ever materialized.  Nothing compelling to me was ever offered up after launch.  And I would still have to pay a subscription fee to go back and explore, and the bar to get me to do that has only gone up in the last couple of years.

So that world will remain unexplored by me, as Warhammer Online is off the list.

Games Close to Being Struck

Star Trek Online is on the edge. I keep thinking I will go back and play.  But every time I log in, I am faced with a wave of changes similar to what Ravious described in going back to LOTRO, and I end up so mired in figuring out what to do that I end up logging off for a few more months, only to repeat the cycle again.

I logged on long enough to get this screen shot!

At some point I hope I will have enough time and desire to play, at which point I will start with a fresh character and learn it all from scratch again.  Only there are always a couple of other games I would rather play first.  Well, maybe some day.  But for now it stays on the list, if only because of that lifetime subscription I bought.  Oof.

And then there is Dunegons & Dragons Online, which I really want to like, but which is likewise always in 4th or 5th place on my to-do list.  At least it is free to play and uses the Turbine patcher which at least puts it a couple steps ahead of Runes of Magic.  But it is in jeopardy of being struck at some point.  I just never get to it.

Games On or to be Added

You might point out that I have declined to play Star Wars: The Old Republic so far post-beta.  But I will likely play the game again at some point.  There is enthusiasm for it in the instance group, and even Gaff has picked it up already.  And I do watch the news about it.  I am interested to see, for example, if torture ever comes up as an issue the way it did for WoW back with Wrath of the Lich King.  I am guessing that for most people, that ends up being a matter of “Sith will be Sith.”

I should probably add Torchlight II to the list.  I have no doubt that I will play that when it launches.

Likewise, Guild Wars 2 will probably get a slot at some point.  It is on my list to play, but I haven’t spent much time with the news or marketing build-up.  So I am not really “watching” it yet.

And the rest of the list… well, those are games I am sure I will continue to keep an eye on and poke my nose into every so often.

How about you?  Have you reassessed any games on your list, be it written down or just in your head?  Are there games you have decided that you just are never going to get back to?

Boardwalking with Van Hemlock February 4, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Vanguard SOH, Warhammer Online.
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Van Hemlock, a long time member of the Ancient Order of MMO Bloggers and once certifiably ‘leet, has lately contracted console madness. This has lead to drastic changes, such as the renaming of his blog to Consoling Gamers, where MMOs definitely come in third place, and of course yammering on about console gaming all the time, with his partner in crime Jon, on their podcast.

Once a symbol of quality MMO something or other

But Van Hemlock has not forsaken MMOs completely it seems.

He has recently started up a new series of MMO related posts called Boardwalking where he visits the forums of various MMOs and reports back on the key issues that seem to be driving discussions.

So far he has tackled the forums for:

This series of posts has been both interesting and amusing as he has stuck to his guns and reported on the top non-stickied issues in each of these forums.

Hopefully the intrepid Van Hemlock will keep up his Board Walkabout and continue to visit where most sane people fear to tread.