Honest Game Trailers – Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney

Over the years I have seen bits and pieces of Phoenix Wright… games on the store shelves, a reference in here and there, somebody inevitably cosplaying as him at Fanime every year… but I never really got what the series was about.  Now, thanks to Honest Game Trailers, I guess I do… and I sort of want to try playing it.  We’ll see.

Friday Bullet Points – STO, SuperData, Legends of Norrath, and EVE Online

It is another Friday where I have some topics rattling around that I want to mention but am not really keen to make full posts about.  And so we return to bullet points… the format of which seems to have moved away from actual bullet points over the last few posts.

STO on Consoles

Start Trek Online never did much for me, but it does keep chugging along as the title made the jump to consoles last week.

Never not final frontier

Never not final frontier

Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios have brought the six year old game to PlayStation 4 and XBox One, updating the control scheme for the consoles so that players can enjoy all those episodes of content, some console exclusives, and the joy of lock boxes, from the comfort of their family room.  I am mildly surprised at the move.

The Ghost of Legends of Norrath

And speaking of lock boxes, the late SOE/Daybreak collectable card game Legends of Norrath may have gone west back in August, but the spirit of its loot cards carries on, haunting the cash shop.  Loot cards from the second season of the game… which must put them from about 2008 I would guess… will be available from the Daybreak Store in simulated foil packs that prevent you from knowing what you’re going to get until you’ve paid for it.  This was done previously for season one of the game.  While I am sure there is some hard core completionist out there looking to complete their collection, I couldn’t begin to tell you what any season had to offer, so for me this isn’t even a pig in a poke, but mystery wrapped in an enigma and listed in the cash shop.

SuperData July Numbers

I just like the SuperData charts every month. (June’s here)  A single chart by itself can be dubious, but a series of charts created using even flawed data gathering methodologies can provide unintended insights.

SuperData Sez - July 2016

SuperData Sez – July 2016

I don’t have any such insights yet, but there is the chart.  More of the same, with Pokemon Go making its debut at the top of the mobile chart.  We’ll see what the August chart looks like soon enough, once it shows up on the SuperData Blog.

EVE Omega Rewards

With the coming of the very New Eden flavor of Free to Play this November, some of the usual parts of the transition parade have made their appearances, including a bonus package to remind current subscribers that they are indeed special snowflakes and of great value to the company.  There is even a special ship, the Society of Conscious Thought destroyer the Sunesis, the name of which I expect to be mangled on coms should we ever see one in space.

The Sunesis looks a bit flimsy

The Sunesis looks a bit flimsy

However, in order to get any of that bonus pack you have to have an account subscribed and in good standing by 23:59 UTC on September 16, 2016.  Considering that today is the 16th and that this post is going live at 17:15 UTC, that doesn’t leave you much time to get on the spaceship gravy train.

EVE Vegas

EVE Vegas is coming at the end of October and I am on board to attend.  The list of announced speakers include Dave Andrews of Just for Crits who is going to be giving a talk about EVE Online bloggers and streams as we glare at him, daring him to call us out.  Also, he used to work for SOE, so I have a few, “Seriously, WTF?” questions for him.  Might have to wait until drinks have been flowing for a bit at the Saturday night party.

Vegas baby!

Vegas baby!

The event is not that far off, to the point that I ought to be encouraging people to buy their tickets NOW before they sell out, but it sounds like tickets are still available in quantity.  I think the dates chosen, October 28-30… the weekend before Halloween, which falls on a Monday this year… was perhaps sub-optimal, as people often have plans for that and, of course, it is a party weekend in Vegas so cheap rooms and discount flights are sparse.  On the bright side, this is probably one weekend where any cosplay will totally not stand out.

More information about the event is available at the official EVE Vegas site.

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?

Delve Conquest Complete

The return to peace time life and normlacy continues in the south as we wrapped up the conquest of Delve.  The map now shows all sovereignty in our hands.

Delve - September 14, 2016

Delve – September 14, 2016

Along the way to pacifying Delve, the Imperium picked up a new alliance, with Brother’s in Arms joining us and getting a constellation in the region.

Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms

The only system not held by the Imperium now, aside from NPC space, is 9GNS-2, which is held by United Systems of Aridia (USA), a member of the coalition that holds Period Basis with whom we have a non-agression pact.  Aside from that, and a couple of stations that are still in the freeport state, Delve is done.  We just have to wait for the sovereignty indexes to rise to install the jump bridge network and we will be set.

One item of note that came up recently is that the sovereignty index numbers displayed over at DOTLAN EVE Maps are not necessarily correct.  I gather from a ping that went out that they are being calculated based off of the date/time of when the TCU was dropped… how it worked in Dominion sovereignty… but with Fozzie Sov it is now the Infrastructure Hub drop time that determine the sov index.  So there a lot of those numbers are wrong. (Especially for systems with no ihub installed.)

That just means more work and more things to keep track of for GSOL, the infrastructure team that places all the towers, installs upgrades, keeps things fueled, and all of that.

And, just in case GSOL was not busy enough already, there were also some operations going on in Querious.

While not interested in conquering the whole region, the Imperium has decided to take what is called “Fake Querious,” a stretch of systems that are flagged as part of the region, but which only connect to Delve.  You cannot get to those systems via gates without going through Delve, so that is our Alsace I suppose, if you want a horrible historical metaphor.

Querious - September 14, 2016

Querious – September 14, 2016

And, were that not enough to keep GSOL busy, the Reavers deployed to the other end of Querious for what was planned to be a long term operation to take moons of value in the region.  We took a couple of systems just to stage from, liberated the station at ED-L9T, a location of legend from a past deployment, to free up any supplies left behind, entosised some things, shot some things, but generally didn’t have to do much as the locals, as Asher put it, folded like ironing boards.

I had my alt just entosis stuff at random some times...

I had my alt just entosis stuff at random some times…

Those that didn’t just get the hell out of Dodge with the dissolution of the Querious Fight Club seemed happy enough to sell us prime locations for a bit of ISK and a short count to let them get away.  Instead of getting fights we added revenue assets to the coalition which, as noted, GSOL has to run around to setup and maintain.

So that deployment was over much sooner that expected, leaving me time to start getting adjusted to life in the south.

As I said in the previous post, it doesn’t seem quite like home to me yet.  The system names are all foreign to me and I have to have click on systems that get mentioned in the intel channel to see how far away they are in order to tell if I should be worried about a couple of Svipuls on the loose.  Are they next door or on the other side of the region?  Something that will just take time to get a feel for.

I am also figuring out the logistics of living down south.  Back up in Deklein and Tribute I never worried about hauling anything in and out of null sec.  The proximity to Jita meant that shipping was cheap and quick.  Down in Delve though… Jita is a long way away, the prices have tripled, and the schedules are less reliable.

There are some alternatives.  Amarr is closer and therefore cheaper to haul from, though the market there isn’t as robust as Jita.  I can also get things back down to below the rates in the north if I don’t mind hauling stuff across high sec to a waypoint on the delivery run.

Of course, once I have gotten things that far, the question becomes, “Why not just haul it myself?”  I had a Deep Space Transport loaded with supplies, including a module refit for my ratting Ishtar sitting on the edge of low sec and said, “What the hell.” and just went.  Why wait when you can get same day delivery on your own?  All you have to do is simply not get blown up!

Mastodon on the way

Mastodon on the way

My decision was influenced by my past experiences in low sec… no warp disruption bubbles means getting away from anything by an overwhelming camp is reasonably likely… and the fact that we have the start of a jump bridge network already up and running in Delve.  So all I had to do was get into Delve and I could bypass most of the danger there.

My old friend the jump portal array

My old friend the jump portal array

That got me to the main staging system in Delve, where I dropped off some of my stuff.  But I still had to get the Ishtar fit out to where our Fortizar was so I could help keep ADMs high in our home constellation while making ISK.

Fortunately, that is within jump range of a carrier, so I loaded my good into the Archon and then… needed a cyno.  I had to log on my alt, give him a cyno ship, and have him fly out to the destination to light it, which slowed things down a bit, but wasn’t a high risk operation.  Things are pretty quiet in Delve.

Soon enough I was able to jump my carrier out to my destination and refit the Ishtar.  The old Guristas fit sort-of worked.  It could manage a hub, but I had to be careful not to get in over my head or things would go south quickly.  The new recommended Ishtar fit however, it works brilliantly.

Ishtar dodging beams at a Blood Raiders hub

Ishtar dodging beams at a Blood Raiders hub

I was tempted to go with the Rattlesnake fit that SynCaine mentioned in his post.  There is nothing like feeling secure in a tanky battleship, plus Caldari supremacy and all that.  But I already had the Ishtar, and while the module refit was extensive, going from a shield to an armor tank, it was still cheaper than even the Rattlesnake hull.  Plus the Ishtar is a drone loving machine.  I fly in circles around my MTU while the drones go do all the work.  I just watch the intel channel and listen to a podcast while watching the scenery.

Floating Stonehenge, with lasers

Floating Stonehenge, with lasers

So we continue to settle in down south.  I keep looking at the map on DOTLAN, hoping to remember the names of systems.  And life in New Eden goes on.

The YC118.8 Update Lands in New Eden

It is patch day again in New Eden, as EVE Online gets its eighth update for 2016/YC118.

This month’s update seems largely focused on graphical updates for ships.

There were some mechanics updates.  For capitals, high angle weapons got a balance pass focused in fitting aspects… CPU and power grid.

Mining barges also got some mechanics changes along with a revamp of their graphics, though I think function was following form here.  A lot of the tweaks seem wrapped around the move to have all barges and exhumers have two mining laser hard points, rendering some of the changes from the 2012 revamp… which effectively gave all of the ships the base output of three strip miners, even if they had only one or two hard points… obsolete.  I also suspect that there is some desire to make the models easier to develop skins for, but that might just be my cynicism showing through again. [Addendum: Hey, look, skins now available 24 hours after the patch! Cynicism wins again!]

The YC119 Model Year Skiff and Procurer

The YC119 Model Year Skiff and Procurer

I was happy with the Procurer hull as it was, but I suppose it won’t be all that radically different now.

Rock crushing in a Procurer

What is now the OLD Procurer

(Note to self: Buy a second strip miner for that hull.)

Then there is a batch of six frigate hulls which got a graphical revamp, but no changes to mechanics.  The changed hulls are

  • Slasher / Claw / Stiletto
  • Maulus / Maulus Navy Issue / Keres
  • Executioner / Crusader / Malediction
  • Bantam / Kirin
  • Probe / Cheetah
  • Griffin / Griffin Navy Issue / Kitsune

There is always a bit of peril in doing a graphical rework of such old-line ships.  You never know what bit really called out to people in the design.  Frills and asymmetry have been missed in the passed, for example.

While it is hard to really tell how the models look given the CCP provided screen shots, the Bantam, Executioner, Maulus, and Probe models seem to hearken back to their predecessors enough that I think they will be generally accepted.  The two that changed most dramatically were the Slasher and Griffin hulls.

My gut response to the Slasher is positive.  It looks slim and lethal and much less like something from Ikea that you clip to the top of a door to use as a coat peg.

The Griffin though… it has gone from a slender, somewhat space-squid like model to what I can only see as some sort of armored space pig .  I’ll have to wait until I see it in person I guess.

That seems to be it for the ship side of the show.

In addition to all of that, the YC118.8 patch also heralds the launch of the Amarr Purity of the Throne PvE event.  Those white ship skins look/sound interesting, and will be available for most Amarr ships. (No Apostle?) The plug for the event reads:

I draws closer, there are those who consider her ascension to the Golden Throne of Holy Amarr both unjust and improper, based on archaic views that call the purity of her Udorian heritage into question.

With the might of the Imperial Armed Forces at her heel, and both the Ministry of Internal Order and Theology Council ratifying the views of the Purity of the Throne movement as heretical, bounties have been placed on the heads of their members.

The Empire is encouraging capsuleers across the cluster to strip the heretics of their colors, and wear them in support of the ascension of Catiz I to her rightful place as the leader of the Amarr Empire.

Catiz I will ascend to the Amarr throne on the 27th of the month.  I am sure nothing will happen to interrupt that.

Then there are the usual range of fixes and tweaks that come with every patch.  Further details can be found in the Patch Notes and on the EVE Updates page.  The update has been reported as successfully deployed, so we all just need to patch up and log in.

And, of course, no update is done until a song has been provided.

 

A Decade Under the Influence of Online Games

Here we are, ten years and more than four thousand posts later, and I am still notably bad at online games.  But I persist.

Being there achievement, blogging version

Being there achievement, blogging version

The title is actually wrong, but I couldn’t come up with a better one.  I can prove I have been playing online games for 30 years.  I even have physical artifacts from the era.  Hell of a year for games… and movies.  I’ve merely been blogging about them for the last decade.

Anyway, for those keen to review past attempts at anniversary posts, here is the list:

I actually did a lot of work on those posts around years five and six.

Base Statistics

An attempt to quantify what I have done here in the last twelve months.  The change over last year’s totals are noted in parentheses.

Days since launch: 3,653 (+366)
Posts total: 4,075 (+368)
Average posts per day: 1.11 (-0.02)
Comments: 27,959 (+2,401)
Average comments per post: 6.86 (-0.04)
Average comments per day: 7.65  (-0.15)
Spam comments: 1,312,165 (+34,173)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 408
Average spam comments per day: 359.2 (-29.6)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 46.9 (-3.1)
Comments written by me: 3,531 or 7.9%
Images uploaded:  10,416 (+1157)
Space used by images: 2.3 GB of my 3 GB allocation (78%, up 8%)

I continue to post about once a day, but all other metrics remain in decline.  Even spam comments were just one third of what they were last year.  What does it mean when even spam bots are tiring of your blog?

Then I go over to Feedly and look at the stats for the blogs feed and is says crazy things like this:

9,000? That cannot be right!

Seriously, it says this

9,000 followers can’t be right… hell, even 9 stories a week is optimistic.  The stats from the blog say 7 tops.

Meanwhile, the site (noted down below) that sent me the MOST referral traffic shows up with this number.

Being on the CSM doesn't help on Feedly I guess...

Being on the CSM doesn’t help on Feedly I guess…

So there went logic out the window I guess.

The next highest number I could find in my feeds was this:

WoW, really not as popular as me it seems...

WoW, really not as popular as me it seems…

I call shenanigans on the whole thing, unless my site is just a magnet for people addicted to RSS feeds and daily-ish posts.

Life on the internet.  Anyway, those are the basic numbers.  More detailed nonsense is available after the cut… unless you’re reading via RSS, in which case it is all there in your reader of choice, because I love you right back RSS junkies.

Continue reading

Hero’s Song Returns to Crowdfund Again

You might remember Hero’s Song, the John Smedley/Pixelmage Games project in development, which launched a rather poorly thought out Kickstarter back in January of this year.  The flaws in the campaign were manifold, and by the time I wrote a list of them up the campaign had been cancelled.

Hero's must face turmoil, it is what makes them heroes, right?

Hero’s must face turmoil, it is what makes them heroes, right?

The team found other funding and carried on development of Hero’s Song, which is currently described as:

Hero’s Song is an open world rogue-like fantasy game done in a beautiful 2D pixel art style. Create epic fantasy worlds uniquely shaped by your choices, the power of the gods, and thousands of years of history. Become a legendary hero in a dangerous and mysterious world of magic and monsters. Explore endless dungeons and ancient cities in long forgotten lands in search of knowledge, treasure and the power of the gods!

Well, as the title of the post says, Pixelmage is back with a new crowdfunding effort.

This time around they the goals are more modest, the pledge tiers are better, the details are expansive, Smed isn’t using the word “hardcore” all over the place, and there is a somewhat more realistic timeline for the project.

Dates quoted for truth... again

Dates quoted for truth… again

I still think that schedule is optimistic, but more than 25 years in software development has made that my knee jerk reaction to any schedule I suppose.  Still, it is better than the last one (shown in this post), which had launch in October of this year… so I was right in calling it out on optimism that time at least.

Also different this time around is the platform they chose to run their campaign.  Rather than going with the perennial favorite, Kickstarter, PixelMage chose to go with Indiegogo.

The choice of Indiegogo gives them at least one advantage; there is no minimum threshold to allow them to collect some money.  Unlike with Kickstarter, where you have to make your goal to get paid, even if PixelMage does not make it $200,000 stated target, they get to keep any money pledged at the end of the campaign.

If you pledge it, they get it

If you pledge it, they get it

There are, however, some downsides.

First of all, while Indiegogo isn’t exactly unknown, it still isn’t Kickstarter.  Kickstarter is more famous and, I suspect, more trusted when it comes to giving them payment information.  I mean, Kickstarter has been around a while, to the point that the verb “to kickstart” has practically acquired a new meaning largely associated with them.

NOT the official drink of Kickstarter

Verb also used for motorcycles and energy drinks, which is pretty powerful

The second downside, for me at least, stems from one of the advantages, the fact that PixelMage gets the money pledged even if they do not make their stated goal.

I mean, that is GREAT… for PixelMage.  But how great is it for those pledging money?  If a company says they need a given amount to complete a project, and they only get, say, 25% of that amount, what does that mean to those who kicked in?

Now, in the case of PixelMage, I suspect that, at worst, it will mean some delay in the schedule.  I have no doubt they will deliver the game whether they make their goal or not.  But, in general, I guess I have become accustomed to the Kickstarter method where you only get your funding if you can raise the amount of money you said you needed for the project.  There is a certain logic to that.

Finally, as something an adjunct to the previous item, the lack of a hard “must meet” funding goal also takes a bit of the edge off of the campaign.  Not having an “all or nothing” goal mutes any sense of urgency.  Let’s look at where the campaign stands today, a couple of days in:

September 9, 2016 - Morning status

September 9, 2016 – Morning status

The campaign is 23% of the way to its goal… which seems to be okay.

I have to say that among its disadvantages, Indiegogo doesn’t have the range of external trend and activity tracking tools that Kickstarter does, and also seems to be a bit coy with things like the actual end date.

Anyway, Hero’s Song seems to have made my rule-of-thumb metric for campaigns, which is that if you haven’t hit 20% of your goal in the first 48 hours, you aren’t going to make it.  However, they are going to get that money whether or not they get to $200,000.  The goal is just a line in the sand, more of a “we’d like” rather than a do-or-die proposition.  You can’t really call for a last minute surge if they are short of their goal because they are still going to get something.  And even the stretch goals seem like you might get them anyway, so why throw money down now?

Races and housing

Races and housing

But that might just be me.  I am ever the cynic and/or critic.

Then again, Bree over at Massively OP put it this way in the comments of a post over there:

They get the money even if they don’t get to the soft target. They are plainly using Indiegogo as a preorder system and publicity stunt; there’s no way the “we need 200k more” thing is legit (plus they really want more than that for the hardcore housing feature).

And I think I am a cynic!  The again, there is the “Smed factor” I mentioned when the Kickstarter campaign was going.  He has a lot of history and not everybody likes him.

Anyway, the Indiegogo campaign is on and running for… a month… again, end date on that?  You can check it out here if you are interested, pledge if you want to pre-order and get a T-shirt (or limit Smed’s diet), or wait until it hits Steam about this time next year. (My needlessly pessimistic prediction there.)

Or you can go to the PixelMage site and read up about the project itself.