A Vision of Norrath at Daybreak

…because the Everquest franchise is our lifeblood and we treat it with the respect it deserves.

EQN has the largest development team at SOE. It is going to be more than ok.

John Smedley, on Twitter (one and two), post layoff.

The web sites are all still flavored “Sony Online Entertainment,” and I haven’t even seen an official logo yet for Daybreak Games Company, but the wheels of the Columbus Nova Prime acquisition continue to grind forward.

The week before last we had the “straight from the acquisition playbook” layoffs when DGC shed those it saw as redundant, low performers, or possible trouble makers when it came to their plans.  None of those who were let go had anything bad to say about DGC, but a good severance package can have that effect.  I don’t know if Columbus Nova Prime when full EA in the fine print, telling people they would want their money back if they said anything negative about Daybreak, but I wouldn’t count that out.  Not that I expected negativity.  The first day there is generally too much shock and dealing with the business at hand, and later, if you’ve left friends behind, you don’t want to shit all over them.

With that settled for the moment, DGC had to turn around and reassure the customer base, and especially those customers who are invested in the company and who are paying the bills for just about everything, which is the Norrath fan base.  Smed himself seems to spend all his time and energy on everything besides Norrath.  I think he may have said more about EVE Online in the last few years than he has about straight up, old school, made the whole company possible, EverQuest.

H1Z1 isn’t making any money yet, Dragon’s Prophet seems dubious as a cash cow, PlanetSide 2 is finally carrying its own weight, and DC Universe Online appears to be doing well on the PlayStation, but I wonder how much of that money flows back to SOE and how much stays behind to bolster PlayStation Plus revenues.

So, from the outside, it feels like Norrath is still paying the bills.  Michael Zenke came back from talking with Smed some years back with the impression that EverQuest was so cheap to operate on a day-to-day basis that it might literally hold out until the last subscriber walks away.  Throwing away the cash cow, or letting it starve, seems like a bad play.  And when the layoffs seemed to be focused primarily around people working on Norrath related projects, some of the vocal members of the fan base were clearly running scared and talking about swearing off any form of EverQuest before the place ended up a stagnant backwater.  So something had to be done.

That something was live streams.

I will say right now that I hate live streams for developer updates.  They are fine for a special announcement or some such… SOE Live or BlizzCon level events are okay… but as a method for delivering more mundane updates or plans, I really don’t like them.  They involve too much personality and not enough detail and you end up with half-considered statements that people will glom onto, like Tom Chilton saying that he felt Warlords of Draenor was further along back at BlizzCon in 2013 than Mists of Pandaria was when it was announced at BlizzCon.  That practically became “Draenor by February!” in some corners.   Plus, I must admit, I am old and grumpy and actively resent a developer group making me sit and watch something for an half an hour to glean maybe five minutes worth of actual details if I am lucky.

So I skipped what I could on that front and have depended on the MMO focused gaming media to deliver tidbits about what transpired.

Most of the coverage was about EverQuest Next, as that is the future of Norrath on which any number of former, but never again, EverQuest and EverQuest II players have pinned their hopes on.

Firiona Vie makes it to 2013

Still looking at this picture of EverQuest Next vision…

On the interesting side of things, there is apparently some hedging as to whether or not EverQuest Next will be free to play, or at least free to play in the current SOE model.  I suspect that might be wishful thinking, because unless Daybreak really has something new and different that can command a box price or a mandatory subscription, they might do themselves more harm than good going that route.  And my confidence in Daybreak being able to recognize a good idea from a bad one, given their track record, is pretty low.  But I couldn’t tell you if, in the long term, F2P has been the salvation that has been claimed on the Norrath front.

Then there is EverQuest Next on consoles.  Given what Smed has been preaching since the acquisition has been announced, that feels more likely an outcome than not.  The question then becomes one of balance… as in how many PC players will stop playing the game when they find a clunky UI designed to be used with a gamepad?  There is going to have to be a lot of XBox and PlayStation interest to counteract shitting all over the main fanbase if we end up with a DCUO interface.

And then there is the question of what EverQuest Next will be now that Daybreak has cut its ties with Storybricks.

I refuse to go full Tobold here and declare that this move means that EverQuest Next is likely to be a boring old WoW clone.  On the break with Storybricks, Senior Producer Terry Michaels said,

We made the decision that it was in the best interest of the game to take that work in-house. They did a lot of work for us and we’ll be utilizing that. It’s not like that work is lost.

So I am not sure you can make the logic-defying leap and declare that EverQuest Next is going to be completely 2007 or whatever in makeup because of this change, at least not without a supporting argument along the lines of “SOE is lying to us again” or some evidence that they are, indeed, trashing all the code related to Storybricks’ involvement.  Of course, bringing all of that work in-house isn’t likely to make EverQuest Next appear in the “near future” as was recently mentioned.

Anyway, that is the meat of what I saw over the weekend, which really wasn’t all that much, as the game is still out in the future.  I am sure I missed some details on the EverQuest Next front, I’m just not sure they matter until the game is an actual thing on Steam access at a minimum.

I had to go to a more a dedicated site, the ever alert EQ2 Wire, to find out what was going on when it came to news from the EverQuest II stream.  That appeared to be much more focused on simply reassuring the fan base that EverQuest II was still a going concern.

This treasure... you cannot have it

Is there still treasure in post-cataclysm Norrath?

The core of that seemed to be that updates and events and what not would continue on as before along with an acknowledgement around some pathological desire in the fan base to have a duck mount.

Then there was the EverQuest stream, which as far as I can tell, no MMO news site even bothered to dig into, so I had to actually go listen to that video once it was up on YouTube. (I put the video in the background because people sitting around talking wasn’t exactly adding to the flow of information.)

There the talk started off with some of the diminished team introducing themselves, and a statement that Holly Longdale was taking over as executive producer, putting her in charge of both EQ and EQII.  There was mention of new updates coming up in the next couple of months, including a new loot system and some vague statements about this year’s expansion, so I suppose that isn’t totally out the window, along with some minor talk about what they want to add to the game going forward, including making the UI better.

The biggest part of that whole stream for me was the mention of continuing to do things that work well with EverQuest, including progression servers.  There wasn’t anything concrete about how they want to do them going forward or what form they would take, but they were definitely on record that they want to do them again, which is great.  I thought we had kissed that idea good-bye forever once free to play hit everywhere.

Timeline stuck in time

So many expansions to unlock

For a game that has such nostalgia value for so many people, the whole progression server idea has always been a winner, delivering a lot of bang for the buck for bother players and the company.  There are a lot of players who will jump on board, even if it is subscription only, to have a “Day one, everybody level 1, lets go camp bandits!” experience.  It would just be nice if Daybreak could actually really run with the idea and promote it and keep people interested.  My past experience has been that progression servers get attention for about five minutes on the front page and then never get mentioned again, while in the forums, the most common company presence is SOE-MOD-04, the harbinger of locked threads.  The Fippy Darkpaw progression server just passed the four year mark last week and I still can only find updates about it when Daybreak screws something up.

Anyway, those are my notes from the weekend on the Norrathian front at Daybreak. (I will also say that the new company name is just the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to post titles.)

A few other blogs are writing a bit about these topics as well, including:

And the beat goes on.

Notes from the Field in Azeroth

Unlike some people, I usually prefer to keep my posts on a single topic.  But some days I have a couple of topics that don’t feel like they rank a post on their own, so they have to share.  So some tidbits about World of Warcraft.

Pet Battles to Level Cap!

So in about three weeks of focusing on pet battles with a level 95 character, I now have another level 100 character.

Level 100 with a victory

Level 100 with a victory

The pity is that in that fly through he barely accumulated any garrison resources, so he’ll be stuck doing that for a while to upgrade his garrison.

Of course, having gone on and on about pet battles for a week and having shown it to be a viable leveling strategy, I have gotten some questions in the guild about how to get into pet battles.  Everybody else seems to have level 1 pets, which just gets the “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” response out of me.

However, it looks like Patch 6.1 is going to change that.  After that hits, level 100 characters who have upgraded their garrison to tier 3 will get an item in the mail that will boost a pet to level 25.  Insta-levels again.

My daughter was especially keen on that.  I told her she had best use it on the Molten Corgi or the Terrible Turnip, as both have skills akin to the Pokemon False Swipe attack, which will never reduce your foe below 1 hit point.  I favor the Terrible Turnip, since the Molten Corgi’s skill has a four turn cool-down on it.  But if you only have one, you go with what you’ve got.

Patch 6.1 is Nearly Here!

Speaking of Patch 6.1, it will be arriving on Tuesday the 24th.  Blizzard announced that the other day and the launcher has started pre-downloading the data.

There are a lot of new and interesting things coming with the patch.   I am not sure Twitter integration is a huge thrill… oh how we suffered when Rift launched and everybody linked their accounts to Twitter and bombarded the world with every little achievement… but I’ll still hook it up to my “gonna spam you” Twitter account.

The heirloom consolidation though, that does interest me quite a bit, if only because I think I have totally lost track of all the heirlooms I have collected over the last few years.  I know that there are some heirlooms from Argent Tournament that are socked away somewhere.  I like that I will be able to check out a copy of an item on as many characters as I need.  I may soon have an army of alts I never play so equipped!

Now they just need a tabard organizer.

Eye on the Horde

I have been watching my daughter play her main character, which is a Horde Pandaran monk, and that has given me a desire to see the Horde side of the story in Draenor… and Pandaria… and Northrend… and, honestly, Outland.  I have a collection of horde characters, but the highest level is in the low 60s.

Anyway, while I am in no way done with my alliance characters yet, doing the Horde tour is on my list of things to do again.  That sounds like another project to run through when the inevitable group hiatus comes during the summer.  But the first question I considered was which character.  The heirloom update will make equipping him easy.  If I don’t have the right heirlooms now, I will once a few more Darkmoon Faires roll by.

I do want a character in a guild, if only for the perks.  That sort of lets out most of my Horde characters.  Our guild on Lightninghoof was stolen from us.  No more “friend of a friend of a friend” invites to our group guilds any more.  All our characters now have these blank tabards.  On Garona, our temp guild moved servers, while on Thrall I do not think we ever got around to forming one.

Anyway, my eyes landed on the Orc hunter I still have on Eldre’Thalas.  I have had him for a while.

Mounted up on his new wolf mount!

Mounted up on his then new wolf mount!

He is level 42, he hit level 40 back in October of 2007, and he still has a quiver equipped and it still has arrows in it for his crossbow.  I almost hate to sell those.  But he’ll have a set of heirloom gear to replace that.  I also wonder if I should change his profession.  He has the whole leatherworker/skinner thing going on right now.  That will allow him to make himself some armor.  But I almost want to switch him to Engineer right away so he can make his own item level 630 gun in Draenor.  Plan for the future!  We’ll see about that.

But the best thing he has is ownership of a Horde guild dating back to 2006, back when you needed an annoying amount of signatures in order to create one.

Tumult the Guild

Tumult the Guild

He has to earn rep with the guild, but at least he doesn’t have to level it up in order to get the perks.  So perhaps, come the summer, I will return to my old Orc hunter.

To All The Ships I’ve Flown Before…

BattleClinic.com, which you may know from their involvement with the EVE Mon utility, has been undergoing a serious revamp of their site.  It has been under way for a while now.  I got a note from them months back asking if they could use screen shots from EVE Online Pictures, to which I answered in the affirmative.

But the big site changes have finally been revealed… which I didn’t notice until Rixx Javix did a post about a new feature, ships used.

I actually think that the “ships used” information was in the old version of the site.  Something in the back of my brain believes that it was there.  But it wasn’t as accessible and I do not think it showed as much detail.  Or maybe I am totally wrong.  Memory.

And technically it is not ships you’ve flow, just ships you were flying that were involved in combat where they appeared on a kill mail, either having contributed to a kill or having been the victim.  I’d like to see a stat on which ships I have spent the most time flying in space, especially since I fly in the “space priest” logistics role a lot of the time.  But a list is a list and any long time reader knows I love me a list.

So what ships have I been flying while whoring on kill mails by pressing F1 in CFC blob fleets since December 2011?  Here are the top 10, plus one.

1. Drake – 395 kills / 12 losses

Oh my trusty old Drake.  I have half a dozen of them sitting around still in various null sec stations just waiting for my old favorite ship to return to its place in the sun.

Me and my lag causing friends at 319-3D

Unleash the Drake-en!

It was a fortuitous set of circumstances that made Drake Fleet a prime CFC doctrine shortly after I arrived in null sec.  I couldn’t shoot guns or lasers for shit, but I have max shield and missiles skills and Battlecruiser V when it came time for Drake Fleet.

Those were happy times.  Null sec combat was all new to me and scooting about the battlefield in a swarm of MWD Drakes like a school of fish, Scimitars weaving around us while we spewed missiles and dodged foes was a real highlight in my career.  The first big fleet engagement where I kind of knew what was going on was in a Drake at EWN-2U back in 2012.  Time dilation was a new thing back then.

2. Megathron – 166 Kills / 2 Losses

Mainstay of the war in Fountain, the primay weapon of Baltec Fleet, one of the two doctrines that got rolled up once we found that the doctrines we started the war with were not working out.  This was the ship I flew into some of the more memorable fights of the war, including Z9PP-H, 3WE-KY, and 6VDT-H.

The "How To" of Baltec Fleet

The “How To” of Baltec Fleet

The Megathron hasn’t seen as much action since Fountain.  First it was replaced by the Dominix to exploit drone assist, then the Apocalypse came along and the Megathron was phased out.  Still, the ship was immortalized in the Boat’s Oddity video, and I bet Baltec1 is still flying one in every fleet no matter what the actual doctrine.  Never not Mega.

3. Harpy – 143 Kills / 2 Losses

Harpy fleet has been an ongoing frigate doctrine in the CFC for a while.  I tend to resist flying frigates.  It used to be a matter of not wanting to lose a 40 million ISK clone in a 20 million ISK ship, but now CCP has fixed that.  But I found Harpy roams to be enjoyable.

EVE Online Curse Deployment

A Harpy down in Curse

The doctrine started when we were deployed on and off to Curse.  I probably have more Harpies sitting around in hangars than any other ship besides the Drake.  I need to go on more Harpy fleets.

4. Apocalypse – 93 Kills / 1 Loss

After drone assist was scaled back from “game breaking” to merely “overwhelming” we moved back to the Baltec Fleet doctrine.  However, while you could still fly Megathrons, we were all encouraged to pick up an Apocalypse.  I did not need more than a small push in that direction.  I had been training up lasers in the hope that one day they would be useful, so once I wrapped that up I immediately moved into the Apoc.  I wanted to shoot colored beams of light dammit!

Long range beams

Apocs with lasers hot

I used to carry every damn crystal type I could find and I pretty quickly became “that guy” in Baltec fleet firing a different color laser from everybody else (I am pretty sure the red beams in that picture above is me) or multiple colors because what the hell.  Red and green on Christmas, mustard and ketchup because I was eating a hamburger.  I had a good time with that.  The doctrine has since fallen into disuse, but I still have a couple Apocs, and a large supply of crystals, sitting around.

5. Ishtar – 64 Kills / 0 Losses

Drones are still pretty strong, so Ishtars and Dominixes are back in fashion, to the point that the game is mockingly called Ishtars Online some nights of the week.  This is also a Reaver doctrine fit, which is where I have flown it.  Most of my kills are towers, though there was that carrier we got at the end of our first deployment.  Due to a general shortage of logi pilots, I only flew the Ishtar on that one deployment, swapping out for a Basilisk since then.

6. Caracal – 39 Kills / 6 Losses

There have been a number of tries to get a good Caracal doctrine going from time to time.  I always join in because they aren’t too expensive and I have all the skills.  Caracals were a doctrine at the start of the war in Fountain and we lost them in droves until we stopped using them.  I think I have lost every single one I ever owned in null.

7. Dominix – 27 Kills / 1 Loss

The post Fountain doctrine with drone assist.  I was in something of a slack period when Domis were the main thing.  I went on a few ops with a Domi, but it isn’t really a special ship to me.  Or it wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the fact that I am on six titan kill mails with a Domi from the fight at B-R5RB.  I still have that particular neut fit Domi, still parked in the station in that system with a jump clone should I ever wish to retrieve it.  A pity that N3 owns the system again.  I have a Basilisk stranded out there as well.

8. Hurricane – 25 Kills / 1 Loss

One of the ships I bought early on when I was trying to be a good soldier and follow orders to have one ship for every doctrine on hand at all times or some such.  It was a “Digi-cane,” which belonged to a doctrine that was already out by the time I bought it.  I used to use in for Homeland Defense ops and I flew it to BWF-ZZ in a Boat fleet that bagged a dozen Raiden capital ships.  I think I have an “insta-cane” in a hangar somewhere, which I bought seconds before they got nerfed.

9. Maelstrom – 21 Kills / 0 Losses

This was the prime doctrine when I joined the CFC, just before Drake Fleet showed up.  Big, slow to move, slow to align, and slow to shoot, the key to the doctrine was to have everybody fire at once to cause an overwhelming spike in damage that would blow the hostile ship off the field with a single volley.

10. Scimitar – 18 Kills / 2 Losses

Given how many times I have flow logi, I am actually surprised to see that I have only lost two Scimitars.  I guess a debt is owed to our logi anchors who appear to have kept us out of the line of fire and aligned to get the hell out of Dodge when things go wrong.  Plus it is a swift ship.  And, as you can see, even a space priest isn’t above loading a couple of combat drones in order to whore on kills.

Special Mention – Basilisk – 13 Kills / 3 Losses

The ship in 11th place and the one I have been flying for the most part for the last six months.  Ugly and awkward in that way that only Caldari ships can manage, it is once again proof that logi isn’t above carrying a combat drone or two in order to get a few hits in.  I don’t mind playing logi.  It is what I mostly do these days.  But I like to get something on the kill board at least once a month just some my corp knows I’m still alive.  Lord knows I barely talk to them and I almost never fly with them, so I try to keep up my end by paying my monthly dues, getting a few kills, and clicking on participation links.

Cap chaining in Immensea... Caroline's Star visible

It is all about the Basi… and cap chaining

So that is the list, my top 10+1.  Of course, the kills and losses are in no way an indicator of any capability on my own part.  Even a scrub like me can keep a “green” kill board because of the way kills and losses are counted.

And, of course, this is just the BattleClinic accounting of my ships and kills.  My totals at ZKillboard and EVE-Kill are different, though I do wonder why my BattleClinic totals are as far off as they are from the other two.  ZKillboard and EVE-Kill differ by a mere dozen kills while BattleClinic is a good 20% shy of those total.

Nebula Online – Running an MMO with No Visible Means of Support

No free-to-play limitations, no cash shop and no hidden costs – not even a monthly sub. Relax and play!

-Nebula Online Kickstarter Tag Line

I don’t really want to pick on anybody’s Kickstarter project, but sometimes they just raise questions that I then want to write about.  I appease my inner self-critic by telling myself that at least I am giving them a bit more visibility.

NebulaOnline

Anyway, there is the Nebula Online Kickstarter campaign.  They have 29 days to go on a 45 day funding run, want $130,000 (though in Canadian Loonies as opposed to trusty greenbacks) and haven’t even managed to garner 10% of their total in the first two weeks, which anybody who has followed my commentary on Kickstarter campaigns before knows does not bode well for success.  If you bring in less than 25% of your goal in the first 24 hours, you probably haven’t built enough support for your campaign in advance.  Their daily data looks bad right now.

The game itself is billed as “an old school hardcore Sci-Fi MMORPG,” and sounds a lot like a more ambitious EVE Online with maybe a bit of Elite:Dangerous sprinkled in for leavening.  But I have to say that space is suddenly becoming a crowded market of late, which probably isn’t helping them much.  Star Citizen looks to be grabbing the lion’s share of uncommitted money on the space game development front.

And the team… well… looking at their bios, they all really like MMOs, they just haven’t actually made one yet.  Yeah, they are doing the whole thing on Unity, which will give them a leg up in many areas, but going full on MMO is going to be a learning experience for them.

None of which makes the project particularly post worthy here.  I am sure I could find a new campaign every week that looked as starry eyed optimistic as Nebula Online.

No, the bit that sparked my interest was the quote at the top, which is a tag line for the project.

They plan to finance this whole thing based entirely on box sales.

Yes, I know, the “Buy” category in the whole range of “to Play” options is the new favorite option of the mob.  GuildWars 2 falls into “Buy to Play,” as does The Secret WorldThe Elder Scrolls Online is heading that way in a month and the new hotness that is Crowfall is talking about that as well.

The thing is, while those games are all in the B2P column, they all have optional revenue streams.  I could not think of an MMORPG … at least something I would call an MMORPG, which includes a persistent world and all that DikuMUD / EverQuest baggage, and not a lobby game like World of Tanks or League of Legends or Diablo III… that has made a go of it without some follow on plan to pay the bills as the years go by.  A cash shop with a special currency, an “optional” subscription (your definition of optional may vary), content or expansions, PLEX-like items in game, or just a straight up ability to buy in-game items from the web site.

There always seems to be something on the recurring revenue front to keep paying the bills after box sales eventually taper off.

So, of all the aspects of Nebula Online, I find this to be the most dubious, the idea that they will be able to keep a game… a real MMORPG… up and running on box sales alone.  It doesn’t make logical sense in my view of the world, which is abetted by the fact that I cannot think of another similar game making a go of it with that particular model.

But then, it is no longer 2004, back when it seemed like a mere mortal could know all you needed to know about the field of MMORPGs.  Today there is so much going on that I sometimes find it difficult to keep up with the games I am actually playing (thanks CCP “every five weeks” expansion schedule), much less what in the hell is going on in the wider market.

Has somebody else been successful… for whatever definition of success you care to pick… with a “box sales only” business model for an MMORPG?  Has somebody managed to keep the lights on for an extended time with only that revenue stream?

Behold Tiamat!

This is not a TorilMUD or Forgotten Realms post.

This post goes nowhere near Baator, just a couple exits past the Astral Plane, home of the five headed queen of evil dragons and eternal foe of Bahamut.

No, this is about EVE Online.  Today CCP is launching their second EVE expansion of 2015 and… I am not sure I have digested what we got from Proteus just five weeks back.  But hey, more stuffs!  So welcome Tiamat!

Tiamat in a picture

Tiamat in a picture

And what does Tiamat hold for us?  Well, we have a new ship, the second of the Tech III destroyers announced way back at EVE Vegas.  This is the Minmatar version, the Svipul, a ship that has had an interesting life.

Fuck center of gravity!

Fuck your archaic center of gravity notions!

The first thing people wanted to know was how to pronounce that name.  I think it got settled down to something like “Swee-pull,” which almost rhymes with “Weeble,” which is amusing because it looks like the drive placement on that ship will make it wobble.  As to HOW people will actually say it on coms… well, people can’t get Scimitar or Rokh or Chimera right most of the time, so I expect to hear some interesting variations.  Or I expect it once the ship becomes more than just an expensive new shiny and finds its role in New Eden.  Call it 18 months before the ship’s name is being regularly mangled in voice coms.

Then there are the Drifters who, if there were any musical justice in New Eden, would fly around in rifters.

Say "Borg." Go on, I dare you.  Say it to my face.

Say “Borg.” Go on, I dare you. Say it to my face.

But they don’t.  They appear to fly ominously smooth ships with a hint of manta ray in their design philosophy.   They join the Circadian Seekers in wandering New Eden… I think… I have to admit I really wasn’t paying attention when they got announced.  Anyway, there are also mysterious structures involved that continue the CCP belief that such encounters in space should be called “dungeons.”  Seriously, I thought they got over that a few years back.  But no, it is right there in the patch notes.  Anyway, the Drifters have arrived and they have already killed a carrier.

CCP is also revamping corporation tools which is one of those “why has it taken you this long to get around to this?” sorts of things.  If you have ever formed and run a guild in any MMO, doing the same thing in EVE by starting a corporation… will possibly drive you insane.

I know, I know, you don’t really need a degree in systems analysis and organizational management to configure a corp in EVE, but it sure feels like it the first time you open up that window and try to configure roles.

Possibly the most sensible role set I have ever seen

Possibly the most sensible role set I have ever seen

It is like so many things in EVE, mind boggling when you first look at it, not so bad once you have figured out how it works and the odd idiosyncrasies.

And, if I read things right, NONE of that is changing.  The learning curve remains intact.  But you can now have 5,000 people in mailing lists and “Add rich, colorful text and hyperlinking to your corporation details.”  So go team!

There are some updates to graphics and lighting.  Structures got an update pass.  Light will now reflect off of things, so if you’re near a large, well lit gas giant, your ship should be lit from the reflection.  That should make for some better lit screen shots out in the dark depths of null sec.  Also, there is now a lens flare slide, so you can set just how much New Eden should feel like a J.J. Abrams movie.

There is also a pass at projectile weapon balancing, another round of module tiericide to confuse me, and upgrades to sound.  EVE has sound!  Well, it has music at least, and no expansion would be complete without its own theme.  It feels a little generic techno, but it works as part of the New Eden mix I guess.

Anyway, CCP has announced that Tiamat has been successfully deployed.  Thanks to my location, updates generally happen while I am asleep.  Here are the various posts related to the release which, if true to CCPs current plans, don’t tell you everything.

Coming up next, Scylla on March 24th.

My WoW Addon Overview

Back when I first really got into World of Warcraft, I dove into the who addon thing pretty heavily.  The UI at the time was even less flexible than it is now (though I am sure that isn’t saying much for some) and there were so many options and things to be improved and so on.  I filled my plate to overflowing at the addon smorgasbord.  I even had addons for things like WoW Census to help them get play counts.  You can go hog wild with addons and end up with a very different looking version of the game.

Not the stock UI

Hey, I know where that is!

(screen shot of the Ultimate Raid & Leveling UI pack)

And then the reality of addons began to hit.  Some of them were buggy or leaked memory or conflicted with other addons.  There was the usual nightmare of patch day when everybody needed to update their addons, whether or not they broke due to some change.  Finally, long term support for addons has always been a bit dodgy.   Somebody who was enthusiastic addon developer one day was likely just to walk away from their projects the moment they stopped playing WoW.

Addons became a pain, which wasn’t helped when Blizzard made it clear that you couldn’t charge for addons or solicit donations for them in-game.

Around the time of that big quest tracker addon I changed my tune on the whole addon thing.  I was going to be an addon minimalist.  By that point Blizzard had improved the game enough, often by incorporating the functionality of some popular addons directly into the game (to the annoyance of some) that I did not feel like I needed as many addons.

I cut my addon count down to the bare minimum.  I think at one point I only ran Auctioneer, because knowing the market value of things is too useful, and one damage meter or another, just to keep myself aware of how I was doing.  In addition, I limited the potential pool of addons to those supported by Curse, since they make updating easy.

Over the years since then, my addon count has crept up slowly.  I have added and remove some, but the really useful ones persist.  So my count as of today is 8 addons.  They are:

Auctioneer – This is my market tracking addon of choice, and probably my one absolutely essential addon.  There are other options in this category, but I have stuck with this one out of habit as much as anything else.

GTFO – I picked this up when I did the LFR’s in Pandaria to ensure that I wouldn’t be “that guy” standing in the fire or what not.  It basically plays audio alerts when you are standing in the fire, ooze, or other zone of impact so you know to get out.  Very helpful as a melee DPS player where your view of the world is often restricted when standing next to a giant boss.  Probably less necessary when ranged, but still nice.  Several people in our weekly group run this, including Earl who runs the sound through his speakers and Skype through his headset, so I can hear when he is standing in the fire during a fight.

Master Plan – Makes garrison missions more manageable, lets you assign the optimum followers on your team to a given mission, lets you complete all outstanding missions with a single click.  Not absolutely indispensable, but I would want to try and run five garrisons without it.

PetBattle Teams – Suggested by several people and mentioned in my post last week about pet battles, this really helps to overcome the limitations of the pet battle interface.  I am not sure I could really be serious about pet battles in any way without running this addon.

Pet Tracker – I may have mentioned this in passing last week as well, this fills addon in a few more of the blanks when it comes to pet battles.  It lets me know in a battle if any of the pets I am facing would be an upgrade over what I have already caught, including if I do not yet have a given pet.  It also gives a readout in each zone of available pets, which ones I have left to catch, the quality break down of those pets in my collection, and where any uncaught pets might be found in the zone.  This is all stuff I could look up on the web, so not indispensable, but still very nice to have.

My Rare Finder – Also just Rare Finder, I picked this one up one night when we were out hunting rares as a group.  It just puts them on your map so you know where to look for them.  Great if you are obsessing about rares, but I feel like I could remove this one.

Recount – What looks to be the most popular damage meter on Curse.  Certainly, at 64 million downloads, a lot of people have tried it.  Mostly used to just see how I am doing.  I never throw numbers around these days.

Tiffy’s Junk Seller – This isn’t even up on Curse anymore, so I might need a replacement some day.  This was somebody’s addon test project, and it basically sells all of the gray quality items in your bags when you open up the vendor interface, listing out what it sold and how much it totaled up to in the chat window.  Almost essential in WoW, where bag space is at a premium on any character I play regularly.

And that is my list.  It is probably a very short list compared to some, and no doubt extravagant compared to others.  I have had other addons around at times.  I used to run Gatherer until Warlords of Draenor put all my gathering needs in my garrisons.  When I play as a healer I run Healium, though I haven’t done the healing thing for a while.  I also was running an addon that would show the X,Y coordinates of positions on the map, but it broke with 6.0 and I haven’t really needed it in Draenor, so I haven’t bothered replacing it.

What is your view on addons?  The minimalist approach like mine, where I am always trying to pare them down?  Do you go full bore in changing things up?  Or do you ignore them altogether?