Category Archives: World of Warcraft

My Slackening Pace in the Broken Isles

I made it through the main quest lines of Stormheim over the weekend.  It actually seemed to go by pretty quickly, with a diversion into hell for a bit.

The management explaining how we were not leaving

The management explaining how we were not leaving

Finishing the main quest lines got me the achievement which I assume will count towards unlocking flying in the Broken Isles at some future date.

Another off the list

Another off the list

That wrapped up my initial clockwise run through the initial four zones of WoW Legion.

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

That still leaves me with Suramar and the Broken Shore to tackle… I guess… and whatever else the expansion offers at level 110.  But, while I have been enjoying the quest lines and such, I haven’t been feeling any real drive to finish them up.  I could have finished up Stormheim a couple weeks back had I a mind to do so.  I was finishing up Highmountain about three weeks back.

I was even starting to fall off when it game to those last couple of shipyard missions from the Draenor garrison.  I let almost all of last week go by without even logging in to do that or collect hexweave for bags.  Again, I got back to it over the weekend, and even got two of the final three achievements I was shooting for.

Earned me the title "Captain"

Earned me the title “Captain”

Meanwhile, I still have a pile of level 100 characters that haven’t really done much of anything.  Vikund is 110, but there are five more characters sitting around PLUS there is that level 100 boost that I have yet to use.  I have not dove into Legion the way I did into Warlords of Draenor, though the design of Legion seems to be as much to blame as anything when it comes to alts.

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

So, I started down the path that I often follow when the main thread of the game isn’t holding me.  I started looking for something from past releases that I missed which I could go back and work on for a bit.  I ran down the now very long list of faction reputations in my character sheet, looking for somebody I could bump up to exalted.

Deep down I found that I still had a number of factions still available for work from the Burning Crusade era.  Honor Hold was deep into revered, so I decided to start with that.  I think I had been working on that previously, then lost interest and went elsewhere.  To get that running meant heading to Outland to run Shattered Halls.  Being just a five person instance, that went pretty quickly.  I did not get a ton of faction from it, but enough that I only need a couple more runs to hit revered.

That having gone quickly, I looked at what else was on the list and came upon the Violet Eye faction, which was barely into friendly territory.  I had to go look that faction up and found that to boost it you had to go run through Karazhan.  Over at WoW Head the comments said that a full run through the old raid instance was worth about 10K faction for a full clear, which sounded good.  It wouldn’t take that many runs to boost up the Violet Eye then.

Of course the trick is that you have to actually find your way through Karazhan to do this.

I never went to Karazhan back in the day, and can only recall going there once… maybe during Cataclysm… and getting pretty thoroughly lost. (We also tried to go visit at one point in the distant past, but found you needed a key back then.)  Or, not lost, because I always ended up back at the front door, but unable to move find my way beyond the first couple of areas.

If you have been there, you know that Karazhan is a large, sprawling raid instance, the sort of “just got carried away” thing that Blizzard just doesn’t do much anymore.

Anyway, with nothing else on my list to do and no ops running in New Eden, I headed to Karazhan to start exploring.

The last time I went there were no in-instance maps, which probably explains my lack of progress.  There are now maps in the instance, and while they don’t exactly hold you by the hand and direct you forward, you at least get a hint as to where connections to other areas might be as well as getting the various bosses marked on the map.

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

And so I have managed to stumble through the place, exploring, killing large groups of mobs for faction, collecting items for transmog (Maybe something from Burning Crusade looks good?), and occasionally getting a surprise drop.

A pet! I didn't even know about that.

A pet! I didn’t even know about that.

So that has given me something to do, though because it is a raid I cannot log in and run through every night.  The lockout timer keeps me away for a few days.  I’ll be finished with Honor Hold rep much more quickly.

However, I did wonder if I was going be able to finish my Violet Eye faction run.  A change is coming next week, one that features Karazhan.

Recycling content is generally good

Recycling content is generally good

In the past changes to old instances, such as Onyxia, have meant that the old versions have gone away.  The patch notes I have seen for the public test realm seem to indicate that this will not be the case with Karazhan, the the update will just add an additional instance that will take place within the old raid zone.  But it isn’t clear to me how that will affect just walking in the front door of the place once 7.1 hits.

Anyway, I will have at least one more chance to run through it this weekend based on my current timer.  And while I wait for the timer to run down, Hallow’s End is upon us again so I can take the daily run at trying to get the mount drop.  Maybe this year I will get lucky!

World of Warcraft Reported to be Sitting at 10.1 Million Subscribers

About two months back, when Activision Blizzard announced their Q2 2016 results, I was speculating that they might be anxious to start talking about subscription numbers after vowing to not report on them about a year back.


That was an easy thing to vow when the game had bottomed out after the Draenor exodus, hitting subscriber numbers not seen since 2005.  But with the last quarterly report things were starting to look rosy again with the Legion expansion coming up, Blizzard was beating around the bush, trying to say how wonderful things were going without actually bringing out the number that would prove it.  Sure, the Legion expansion sold well on day one, but how many subscribers were there in the game?

Well, somebody couldn’t hold their tongue… somebody being Tom Chilton.  According to a report over at PvP Live, he said, in an interview with the Polish gaming magazine Pixel… well… the following:

Pixel: You guys reached your peak by capturing 12 million users. By the end of 2015 it was only 5.5 million, and after that Blizzard stopped providing statistics. Can we ask, about how many users currently have a paid subscription?

Chilton: As we speak, it’s about 10.1 million. It’s hard to say what future will bring. We have an internal competition in form of Overwatch, but it’s possible we will reach 12 million once again. The potential is there as there are over 100 million registered accounts.

Pixel is apparently a magazine is of the old school print variety, so no link to the original source in Polish, but translations have been popping up on Reddit and forums like NeoGAF. [Edit: Picture of the Polish text.]

So there it is, out in the open again, a subscriber number.  Another data point in the cycle of life that is MMORPGs.

Did Tom Chilton get advance clearance to talk about that number?  The man has blurted out some unfortunate things in the past that have come back to haunt the company, things like equating garrisons to housing and such.  Ah well.

And what does that number mean.  Blizzard’s partner in China recently changed over from an hourly to a monthly subscription model.  Did that change how the count was done?  Is it more accurate or less?

Finally, if he did get the okay, is this how it will be going forward, with Blizzard?  Are they going to tell us about peaks but go silent when it comes to valleys in the subscriber wave?

Hat tip to Liore for sending this my way.

Addendum: Blizzard denies everything.

“Our policy for almost a year now is that we do not talk about subscriber numbers,” said the Blizzard spokesperson. “And Tom did not do that with this publication.”

September in Review

The Site

I finally got around to tinkering with the MMO Blog feed on the side bar, something I proposed to do a couple of months back.  My operating suspicion, given the sporadic reliability of the feed over the last ten months and my attempts to fix the problem via other vectors, was that some individual feed was screwing things up for everybody else.  As it stood, the old feed was drawing from a bucket in Feedly that contained nearly 200 blogs.

Top of the list... not sure why CZ is at the very top...

Top of the list… not sure why CZ is at the very top…

The idea was to have a lot of blogs in there so that even irregular writers would get their turn on the side bar.  A lovely idea, but when nobody is showing up on the side bar for what seemed like 18 out of every 24 hours, not a viable one.  So I created a new category in Feedly and routed it via IFTTT to Pinboard, where it gets turned into an RSS feed that I can display via a side bar widget.

I then moved just ten of the blogs from the original category to the new one, a set of the “regulars” from the neighborhood, put the widget in the side bar (moving the old one down to the bottom, just to compare reliability), and watched it grow.

That seems to have made the feed more reliable.  Since then I have been slowly adding a few blogs at a time, so that the count is up to 30 at this point. (You can tell when I add somebody because their last few posts suddenly show up at the top of the list.)  I will probably cap it out at 50 or so, rather than push things to the point where it breaks again and then have to dial back to find the culprit.

Also, I thought this month would have the lowest page view count since 2008… recent charts in the anniversary post will give you that scale… and then I posted twice about World of Warcraft this week and pulled out of that dive.  Now I am no further back than 2009.  Go me.

There is your blogging lesson of the month; if you want to be popular, post about WoW.

One Year Ago

The blog turned nine years old.

Some survey said it could guess my age based on my video game preferences.

World of Warships officially went live after its open beta.

As part of the Heart of Thorns expansion, the Guild Wars 2 base game went completely free.

Also on the free front, WildStar went free to play, bowing to the realities of the current MMORPG market.

In World of Warcraft, the ability to fly was finally unlocked in Draenor… provided you had all the achievements.

In Diablo III I was looking at the whole season thing.

Lord British was on again with some quotes, allowing that Blizzard could do some things well… like Diablo.  But he was more on about sandbox games, like his upcoming Shroud of the Avatar, because sandbox games generate news headlines.  His example was EVE Online, though it wasn’t clear to me that SotA was going to get the same sort of coverage.

In Minecraft I was making friends with the zombie pigmen and using a utility to see a map of our world.  I needed that map as we were all out exploring.  Aaron was kicking of our transit hub in the roof of the nether and I was ruining Xydd’s neighborhood.  Meanwhile, our hosting service was going out of business.

On the Daybreak front I was reflecting on the status of EverQuest Next five years after it had been announced.  There were expansion plans for EverQuest and EverQuest IIThe Ruins of Kunark expansion was unlocked on the Ragefire progression server while the vote for the Desert of Flames expansion was up on the Stormhold server.  Daybreak also killed off enforced raid rotation on Ragefire, having “fixed” the underlying issue finally. There was talk of the new server names for the coming server consolidation in EverQuest II.  I am not sure I liked the results.

In EVE Online I was happy, in the age of Fozzie sov, that towers still gave kill mails.  Even CCP seemed to think that maybe blowing things up was better than sov wands.  They were also considering going back to bigger expansions, putting less emphasis on the monthly updates.  The monthly updates still had names for the moment… the Vanguard monthly update for example… but that would go by the end of the year.

Asher Elias started off his podcast and led us off to a fight with Ron Mexxico, who was one of his early guests, and brought us to Cloud Ring in Fozzie Claws.

The monthly EVE Online blog banter… which seems to have died off recently… wanted to know what we would do were we put in charge of the development of New Eden.

Finally, I was reflecting a bit on lifetime subscriptions and noting Asheron’s Call downtime, Lord of the Rings Online server transfers, the Drunder server in EverQuest II, and Windows 10 in one of my Friday bullet point posts.

Five Years Ago

I did the great survey of blogs that had, at one time or another, included this site in their blog roll over the last five years.  Only 28% of them were still up and active.  There was also the five year anniversary post and all that it entailed.

I implied that Tobold’s mother a llama.  This had NOTHING to do with him not having a blog roll.

I was totally going to resist Steam selling me Rift for cheap.  That didn’t work, and I ended up playing for about a year or so.

Star Trek Online announced it was going free to play, though I couldn’t imagine how it wasn’t already.

In LOTRO, the Rise of Isengard expansion came out and I almost didn’t notice.  Which was odd, because we were kind of playing LOTRO still.

The Goons were going to wreck the EVE economy by blowing up high sec ice miners.  Another vast Goon conspiracy.  I was being nostalgic for my earlier days in EVE.

GameSpy had a post about re-imagining Diablo as a first person perspective game, which was met with much derision.  Me, I liked the idea and even had suggestions for further topics in that vein to explore.  Meanwhile, Diablo III was pushed out to the middle of 2012.

In other Blizzard news, the Official World of Warcraft Magazine went belly up after just five issues.  And then there was a drop in WoW subscribers.  They lost 600,000 players, though I wasn’t one of them… yet.  Good thing they never lost more than that…

I was still playing Need for Speed: World pretty regularly.  I was filming police chases, avoiding police chases, and buying the squarest ride in the game.

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, the retro experience was made complete by “guilds behaving badly” when it came to contested content.  Some GMs came up with unorthodox ways to resolve conflicts.  Somewhere along the way I got my SOE Authenticator, which I never use.

ArenaNet said something about private GuildWars 2 PvP servers.  I wonder how that would play today?

EA/BioWare gave us a release date for SWTOR at last, so I could start fretting about pre-orders and grace periods.  While I wasn’t in beta yet, BioWare was asking how I was enjoying it.

There was no word about life on Planet Michael.

And, finally, I was wondering how 9/11, which took place just a couple months before the birth of my daughter, would influence her view of the world relative to my own.  This was triggered by her trip to New York, where she visited the Nintendo Store.

Ten Years Ago

We are now officially at the point where I can just link back to old posts for this section.  I will still include the occasional outside item that I missed back then, or things that became meaningful in the context of the blog as time moved on.  Or just stuff that seems interesting.  Have to keep these sharp for when the “Twenty Years Ago” section becomes a thing!

There was the first post.  I still haven’t covered all of the topics I promised 10 years back.

After that I was straight into the EverQuest nostalgia, an oft recurring topic here.  The Serpent’s Spine expansion came out for the game.  I would get to that in a bit.

LEGO Star Wars II – The Original Trilogy launched, setting the casual path for future Traveller’s Tales LEGO based games.  My daughter and I would later play this on the Wii, but that was still out in the future.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, the first core Pokemon RPG titles for the Nintendo DS platform shipped in Japan.  They wouldn’t reach US shores for another six months.  Again, another series that would show up here as time moved on.

Green Monster Games, later 38 Studios, was unveiled to the public by founder Curt Schilling with R. A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane as part of the creative team.

I was into EVE Online, which I began playing just about two weeks before I started the blog.  My first post about it concerned the tutorial, then I went on to my impressions.  I already had EVEMon up and running, because you cannot play EVE Online without it.  And, while I was hardly aware of it, the first titan had been built in New Eden.

I was musing about games slated for the future, including Star Trek Online and Lord of the Rings Online I had reservations about both.

I kicked off my old school gaming reminiscences with a post about Stellar Emperor as it was back in 1986.  That was 30 years ago.  Damn continuous motion of time.

The instance group formed up for adventures in Azeroth.

I wrote the first “Month in Review” post.  I am not sure WHY I decided to do that, but it became a thing as here I am doing the 101st such post a decade later. (About four years ago I decided month in review should have its own category, so I went back and edited each and every last one to put them all in that category.  Fortunately, being a once a month thing, it was easy to figure out if I missed any or not.)

I also wrote something about Saga of Ryzom in that month in review post, which might be the one of the few times I ever wrote anything about it.

But the smartest thing I probably did in that first month was link out to Brent at VirginWorlds in a post, which got him to notice my brand new blog, which kind of got me into the club pretty quickly as well as getting me my first comment.

Featured Sites of the Month

[none – I forgot]

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Pre-Ordering WoW Legion at a Discount
  3. Legion So Far…
  4. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  5. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  6. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  7. CCP and the Elephant in the Room
  8. A Decade Under the Influence of Online Games
  9. CCP Has a Plan for EVE Online Free to Play
  10. WoW Legion? There’s an App for That!
  11. Delve Conquest Complete
  12. Honest Game Trailers – Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney

Search Terms of the Month

how to get listed in Yahoo News
[Pretty easy, pay them money. Half of their “news” is just ads.]

pokemon go what mean you have4 attempts left before locked out

“lucy bradshaw””piss people off”
[To be fair, she didn’t make that last version of SimCity on her own.]

why do they say tosh is clown shoes
[I got nothing, but I am blaming Tesh for you getting here.]

h1z2 wymagania
[At first glance that seems obscene, but it turns out to be Polish.]

Spam Comment of the Month

Whether gamers sell a Pokemon Go account or World of Warcraft character, they are in danger of being audited by the IRS.
[I am sure the IRS is all over that like green on Ben Franklin’s ass.]

EVE Online

There was a deployment to Querious with Reavers which was cut short as our list of goals was largely accomplished without fighting.  Groups seemed eager to move further away from the Imperium.  So it was more a month of tinkering and PvE for me.  I kill Blood Raiders, ran Purity of the Throne sites, tried to figure out PI, and generally boosted my cash reserves.

Pokemon Go

The wife and I continue to play this.  My daughter is so past it though, and it annoys here when we talk about it.

Current end of month stats:

  • Level: 18 (+7)
  • Pokedex status: 61 (+22) caught, 63 (+23) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Ghastly
  • Current buddy: Bulbasaur


Our Minecraft server has been pretty dead this past month, though I only know this since I actually played for a bit.  I have a blog post in progress about the game, but not the one you want.  Also, considering another resource consuming, scenery marring grand construction project.  After months of war, final defeat, moving to and then conquering a new region, having a quiet month wasn’t a bad thing.

World of Warcraft

The first full month of WoW Legion has now gone by.  I have a character at level cap, I have one zone left to run through, and then all the things that come after that.  I have enjoyed it so far, the zones are good, the quests are high quality, the usual characters and references are about, but I haven’t been overly enthusiastic for it or chomping at the bit to play.  I think that is just me.

Coming Up

As noted, I have been doing a couple of things in Minecraft I may write about.  There is also an update coming that will include llamas, because of course it will.

In doing the ten year anniversary post I dredged up a bunch of old topics I might want to go back and revisit after so much time has passed.  I try to not simply write stuff, hit post, and forget about it.  I like to go back and re-read posts and see how my views may have changed.

EVE Vegas is coming up at the end of the month and I will be attending.  More details on that later.  There is a war going on in New Eden of some interest, even if we’re not directly involved.  And the CSM 11 Summit meeting notes got released today, so maybe there will be something in those to dissect.

On WoW I will begin my assault on Stormheim and probably continue making hexweave bags.

I suppose we will hear more about the upcoming EverQuest and EverQuest II expansions.

And that is all I can see given my own limited horizons.  What else is coming in October?

Meanwhile Back in the Garrison

Despite being critical of the so-called “game play” of garrison missions and Blizzard having nerfed garrison gold farming back to the stone age with the 7.0 patch back in early August, I still hit garrisons with Vikund and several alts every day.

Why am I doing this?

Well, there is still that garrison shipyard achievement I want, “Master of the Seas,” so I will have the title “Captain.”

I will be called "Captain" before this is done

The current score is 19 out of 25 required

The naval bonus missions are the rare ones, so I check in daily to see if one has popped up, then run some missions anyway (including the one for 400 oil) because I might as well get the “Fleet Commander” achievement while I am there.

But mainly I have been going back for garrison resources.

After the 7.0 patch, Blizzard took away gold as a reward for many things… though you can still get occasional ilevel 655 or 670 items from missions that are worth… but boosted the garrison resource output.  I imagine that this is to help alts and others showing up in the post-Draenor era build their garrisons.

So all those follows with the extreme scavenger trait that I optimized for in order to boost gold returns on mission, they now return piles of garrison resources instead.

That is a pile of resources

That is a pile of resources for three resource missions

The salvage yard now hands out garrison resources with each box or bag you open as well.

I am taking all of those garrison resources to the vendor at the trading post, which I have built on several of my alt garrisons as well, and but supplies for my tail who then turns them into hexweave bags.

Making bags

Making bags

I save some of them for the auction house when the price is good, but my main goal is to outfit all of my characters, inventory and bank, with 30 slot bags.  I figured that I might as well put all of those alts hanging about in their garrisons waiting for their turn in the Broken Isles to use.

It is funny, at times, to see the array of bags that my characters have.  There are plenty of 16 slot mageweave bags, along with a fair number of the old school, no-bind, 16 slot traveler’s backpack.  I remember when getting one of those as a drop was a big deal.

There are bags that were quest rewards and bag that were drops from old raids that I ran back and did once I was high enough level to solo them.

I even have the Haris Pilton “Gigantique” from back in the Burning Crusade era.  A 22 slot bag for 1,200 gold, a time when both 22 slots and 1,200 gold seemed like a lot.  I did not, however, bother to buy the so-called “Portable Hole” bag from Haris Pilton, a Wrath of the Lich King era addition to her stock.  It wasn’t because it was too expensive, though you can get a 30-slot hexweave bag for less these days, but because nearly seven years back it simply annoyed me that Blizzard decided to use that name for what is otherwise a rather modest sized bag.

I’ve looked in a portable hole before, it holds more than 24 slots worth of stuff.

Legion So Far…

So far I would say that I like the WoW Legion expansion.  The whole thing feels, in many ways, like a reaction to the Warlords of Draenor expansion.

For example, there are still missions and followers, but there only a few of each, and they are much more focused on helping you, as opposed to the way things were in Draenor, where garrison missions were a self-perpetuating system.  There you ran missions to gain resources to run more missions, you gathered more followers in order to run more missions so you could gather more followers.  You geared yourself up and fattened your wallet, all while never leaving your garrison.  In WoW Legion you have to actually keep playing in the world to earn resources to have your followers do anything.

Likewise, crafting professions, which were made completely trivial in Draenor are now… well… I am not sure how to characterize them now.  I think, as an engineer, I have made one item so far as part of the quest line for the professions.  I’ve completed a number of mining related upgrade quests.  And I finally got the sixth cooking recipe that finished up the initial quest there.

Maybe that is the theme of WoW Legion; Quest all the Things!  Though I may not be far enough in to make that determination yet, the trend seems to be holding.  And questing works for me.

I have been… slow… in getting into the Broken Isles.  After mucking about a bit, trying to decide which character to get into the expansion first, I settled on my Paladin and started working through the zones in a clockwise fashion.

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

So far I have worked my way through Azsuna and Val’Sharah, getting both the exploration and questing achievements for both, and am almost done with the quest line in Highmountain. (Though I have a ways to go on the exploration achievement.)

Almost a month into the expansion, that isn’t very far… though by going more slowly I may have arrived at level 100 at about the same time I might have had I been playing more diligently thanks to always having blue bar exp as I went.   That was how that was supposed to work right, back in the day?  A way to keep slackers like me from falling too far behind or some such.

Anyway, yesterday I finally made it to level 110 with Vikund, my first character at the new level cap.

Somewhere in Highmountain

Somewhere in Highmountain

I still have all of Stormheim ahead with him, and then Suramar and Broken Shore and world quests and the artifact weapon to manage and all of that.  Lots to do.  I can see why people are saying that this is, perhaps, not an alt-happy expansion so far.  Of course, wait until flying gets unlocked and all your follow-on characters can just zip through the air.  That tune might change then.

Of course, this being Blizzard, there have been the usual staples of every expansion.  I have slaughter the local fauna with the Nesingwary.  I have helped out D.E.T.H.A. yet again.

Playing with murlocs

Playing with murlocs

The artifact weapon thing has been fine so far.  At least that is one equipment slot I don’t have to worry about updating, even if every ret pally in the order hall has an Ashbringer of one color or another.  I was a little crestfallen when the experience required to upgrade it went from a steadily increasing tempo… 750, 800, 1000… to a 6.8x jump.

Last level: 1,000 Next level: 6,840

Last level: 1,000 Next level: 6,840

That pretty much killed off any forward progress there.  It takes a lot of ~150 upgrade hits… never mind the low impact of all those 10-25 boosts you find in the field… to get anywhere.  I am hoping that I am just lagging behind somewhere and that better bumps will be available at some point.

But overall I am happy enough, if not overly enthusiastic.  Lots left to do, and with the usual two year expansion cycle unlikely to change, it is probably good to be a month in and still have a lot of content ahead.

Of course, I could probably do with a bit less of being pestered by Khadgar.  If his servant or his upgraded servant chasing me all over wasn’t enough, Now I have his disembodied head following me around trying to get me to take a quest when I am just back in town to clear out bags and take care of a few things.

Not creepy at all

Not creepy at all

Yeah, I know, take the damn quest and he’ll go away… only then I’ll forget about it in my quest log.  I’ve been trained by various games to take quests only when I am ready to do them, lest I kick off some event for which I do not have time.

At least I am not poor.  The plan to replace the garrison mission income in Draenor seems to be to make gray trash loot worth a lot more.  My auto-sell addon rings up hundreds of gold every time I stop at a vendor after question for a while.

So that is where I stand in the Broken Isles so far.  No exactly unbridled enthusiasm, but happy enough with things overall.


Up All Night in Leuthilspar

Syl wrote about day/night cycles in MMOs a couple of weeks months years back.  Clearing of the drafts fodler here, as you might guess. Of course, one aspect of that is how long such a cycle should be.  At one end of the spectrum is World of Warcraft, where Azeroth turns on a literal 24 hour cycle, and server time is in-game time.

EVE Online also runs on a real-world 24 hour clock, though I am not sure that a day/night cycle makes much sense there.  It is always night in space, right?

Anyway, in Azeroth that means if you are like me… I live in the US Pacific time zone but play on a server in the Easter time zone, 3 hours ahead of me… you might spend most of your time in WoW playing at night.

Not that night is all that big of a deal in WoW.  Every single instance group screen shot has been taken during the night cycle and most of the time you couldn’t tell it was night.

The lair of Lockmaw

This is night. Stars in the sky.

There is, as Syl noted, a nice sunset period if you are on at the right time, and likely a similarly pleasant sunrise, though I’ve never seen that.  I’ve been online when it has happened, I was just deep in Uldaman at the time.

Other games have a much shorter cycle.  In EverQuest you passed through the day/night routine every 72 minutes if I recall right, 3 minutes per in-game hour.  That could leave you running around in the dark a few times in a single long play session.

Scarecrows in West Karana

Night, when the Scarecrows come out in West Karana

And at the extreme end is Minecraft, which has a 20 minute day/night cycle, which means if you play for an hour… and who plays Minecraft for just an hour when you’re into something… you will spend half that time in daylight and the rest in the dusk, night, and dawn portion of the cycle, during which time the night life will be coming for you.

Coming to get me...

Coming to get me…

Of course, the Minecraft example brings up what is probably the key question when it comes to a day/night cycle; should it have impact on game play?

In World of Warcraft there is almost no impact on game play.  As noted, you can barely tell it is night as the moon over Azeroth apparently reflects 80-90% of the sun’s luminosity during the night time hours.  And I am hedging by even using the word “almost” there, because something in the back of my brain believes there was a “night only” spawn at some point.  But that could be me.

At the other end of spectrum is Minecraft, which isn’t an MMO but is MMO enough for this discussion, where the transition from day to night changes game play dramatically.  It actually gets dark out, so lighting matters.  But even more so, as noted above, things come out at night.  Bad things.  Things that seek to kill you or blow you up.  So you either hunker down and wait out the night… or sleep if you’re alone on your server… or get out there and fight the encroaching zombie/skeleton/creeper menace.

Maybe that is an extreme example.

But I do hear calls now and again for not only a day/night cycle in MMORPGs, but that the cycle should impact game play, that night should be different than day, and that NPCs should behave in a way attuned to the cycle of the world and their lives.  They should go to bed at night.

That last bit… that is one of those things that always sounds better in theory that it does in reality.  And I say that as somebody who has lived a bit of that as reality in an online game.

Back we go again, back through the mists of time, back to TorilMUD and the days of text, triggers, and ANSI color characters as a substitute for graphics.

All text, all the time

All text, all the time

I’ve written about TorilMUD many times before, and specifically about the hardship of the elves of Evermeet, stuck until recently in their own little corner of the game until level 20 with few zone choices and not much in the way of gear available.  The sorrow of the eldar is never ending and all that, as my Leuthilspar Tales series has illustrated.

But we did have one advantage there on Evermeet, and especially in the city of Leuthilspar.  For the most part elves don’t seem to need any sleep.  Shops were open all night long and even the city gates, which the guards closed and locked at sunset, could be passed through after hours if you spoke the right word. (It was “peace.”)

The rest of the world however…

It was a sure sign that a player was fresh through the elf gate and in Waterdeep for the first time when, locked outside of town, they would stand there saying things like “peace” and “please” and whatnot trying to get the gates to unlock so they could pass through.

And imagine to confusion in the a poor elf’s eyes when a vendor in town suddenly announced they were shutting up their shop for the night and wouldn’t be serving customers until the morning.

Outside of Leuthilspar, shops had business hours!

The vendors wouldn’t go away… though I think one in Baldur’s Gate used to move into another room… they would just stand there as usual.  However, when you attempted to interact with them, they would announce that they were closed and admonish the player to come back later.

In a way, it sounds quaintly archaic in today’s world.  But TorilMUD, measuring from its predecessor Sojourn MUD, is past the 20 year mark as well.  It was a simpler time and a different audience in an era when game devs sometimes felt the user ought to conform to a much more rigid set of rules.

I couldn’t imagine a MMORPG today putting something like that in place.  But TorilMUD was smaller than even the most niche MMORPGs we’ve seen.  I would guess that maybe 10K people created accounts on the game over its lifetime.  During its peak it could get a couple hundred people online at the same time, which was considered quite the crowd.  In that sort of small, self-selecting environment, you can set different rules.

And the vendors didn’t just have hours, but would also only deal in specific goods at times.

But, at least the day/night cycle was short.  The ration was one real life minute to one in-game hour, so a day went by in just 24 minutes.  Not as fast as Minecraft, but close.

Anyway, such were the was of the past.  How niche would a game today have to be to get away with that sort of thing?