Tag Archives: Anarchy Online

A Glimpse of Anarchy

I wrote my 2018 MMO outlook post a few days in advance, as I tend to do with those sorts of end-of-year posts.  They lend themselves to stewing in the drafts folder for a while.  I think I only had 5 choices on the first draft.

So I had already been thinking about those titles for a bit, enough so that when I was sitting around on New Years Day I decided to poke my nose into one of them, a day before the post even went live.  I picked Anarchy Online for my pre-post peek, a game which has since stayed near the top of the poll results.

Anarchy Online is Loading…

I went to the web site for the game, made an account, downloaded the client, and got stuck into things.

As a pre-WoW MMORPG outside of the fantasy genre, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  I can’t even recall having ever seen a screen shot from the game before I logged in.  And back in 2001 the conventions for even the simplest things… like how hot bars ought to work… were not yet set in stone.

Still, the first steps seemed familiar, as character creation hasn’t changed too much since A Bard’s Tale back in the 80s.  First up was race… or I guess breed in the case of AO.

Can I achieve best of breed?

I opted for the Solitus… the ones on the right… simply because they were the most human looking of the choices.  The others struck me as bordering on space elves, save for the space troll on the other end.

Then there was the bit of character customization.

Where I make myself look like a space elf anyway

That is some old school level of polygon count right there.  I think my head has as many facets as that old marmot model in WoW… which is still in game.

Then came the tough choice, that of which vocation to follow.  In fantasy your classes tend to shake out into three or four standard categories.  But what can one say of the future when the possibilities are limited only to the imagination?  And there was quite a list from which to choose.

Which path will you choose?

I could probably guess well enough at what a Trader or a Soldier or a Martial Artist or a Doctor might do, and even a Shade, or an Enforcer, or an Engineer hinted at what they might hold in store, but what is the Metaphysicist play style like, how does a Bureaucrat gain levels, and what is it that a Keeper keeps?

So I tabbed out and used Google to search on the best class for a new player and got Adventurer as the top result, so I went with that.

In search of adventure!

The description seemed to paint it as the jack of all trades class, so why not.  From there it was just a matter of giving my character a name and getting into the world.

With a game this old though, one expects that getting a reasonable name might be a chore, and doubly so when the game has had a free to play option for so long.  So I decided to let the name generator come up with some options for me.  Let it do the work.

The first name it rolled up was Sammy, which seemed suspiciously likely to have been taken.  But still, it was offering it to me, why not take it.

You will not be Sammy

However, when I tried to take the name it popped a window saying that the name have already been taken or was reserved.

I gave it another try, just in case that was a one-off error.  This time it threw up Bred as an option and, not unlike that time I threw up bread after a party, the results were not the best.

Nor will you be Bred

A pity, thinking that being Bred after choosing my breed was amusing.  Anyway, a couple more tries made it clear that the name generator does not in any way vet the availability of names it offers up, making its utility for a game of this age somewhat dubious.

So I put in one of my standard names, Tistann, which was accepted right away.  Go me.  Then it was off to my new life in the off world colonies on Rubi-Ka.

Behold the many splendors of Rubi-Ka

That splash screen belies what came next.  Rather than a glorious future on a modern new planet I was transported back nearly 20 years in time when polygon counts were low, UI design consisted of throwing windows about at random, and 1024×768 was deemed a large enough screen resolution for anybody’s needs.

Seriously, I went into the settings and told it how large my screen was and turned up all the other settings… or both of the other settings really.

No, I have a BIG screen… well, big for 2001…

But as you can see, all the screen shots are 1024×768 and the world is dark, grim, and full of the sharp edges of polygons.  Welcome to history.

Meanwhile, there wasn’t much of a tutorial.

Shift plus Click equals?

That is about all I saw, and I couldn’t get it to do anything, so I was left to the occasional pop-up tip and my own imagination as to how to proceed.

Of course, the first thing I had to do was figure out how to take screen shots.

Ironically, my first screen shot

And then I had to figure out where the game actually stored them, which was a bit more challenging.

I pottered around a bit with the UI.  I like that you can move almost every piece of it at need, though it does seem crowded in that resolution.  Still, it is better than 1999 EverQuest with its little square window view of the world in the middle of the UI.

I tried equipping the two melee weapons in my inventory and then attacking one of the many malfunctioning cleaning robots in the area, the obvious newbie fodder, but that did not go well and I died.

I then swapped to the two pistols they gave me and plinked away at a cleaning robot at range, which went better.  It was still a near run thing, but I lived and managed my first kill.  Something seemed amiss though, so I started digging through the skills.  This does seem to be a skill based game and there are lots of skills.

Skills to pay the bills… and kill the mobs…

I put points into ranged weapons and some defensive items.  I wasn’t sure how useful some skills would be, but I had a lot of skill points, so why not spend them?

Ducking explosions and thrown objects seems like an odd combo

With some shooting skill I was able to shoot up malfunctioning cleaning robots with abandon, boosting myself up quickly to level two.  I moved on a bit and took out a few more and a garbage flea, which got me up to level three.  High on that success I went after bigger game.

My attempts to take on the Cleanmeister Intelligence Robot… is that a named boss NPC… however did not go well.

The war on automation continues

I pulled back and the Cleanmeister let me go.  I settled down to rest and heal in the time honored tradition of the era, only to walk away from my desk then come back to find another garbage flea, no doubt avenging a fallen comrade, had slain me.  Oh well.

That was enough of a preview, so I logged out. (Though I did go back in later to take a few of these screen shots.)  While the summary sounds like I spent about five minutes with the game, that all transpired over the course of a few hours.

It was an interesting glimpse back into the past and, while I am sure Funcom has updated a lot since the game launched, it still feels very much like a game of its era.

At this point I am not saying that Anarchy Online will be my eventual pick to play seriously for a at least a month later this year, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.

Meanwhile, if you want to read about another game from my list, Jeromai has an excellent post up about a return to A Tale in the Desert.  Another game that looks to be still a part of the time from which it came.

My 2018 MMO Outlook – Mining for Old Gold

Here we are again, a common refrain at the top of these annual posts, but what else have I got going for me?  This will at least be the last of the annual posts for quite a while.

Last month I posted my review of my annual MMO outlook and found that I had played nothing on the list.  That was in part because most of the list didn’t ship, but also because I just reverted to the mean and played what I always play, which is WoW, EQII, and EVE.

So this year I am going to eschew the looking forward aspect of my annual post.  Let’s face it, there isn’t that much coming that both interests me AND is likely to ship in 2018.

I am going to, here at the start of the new year, buckle down and commit to playing a new MMO in 2018, but only one that is new to me.  There are plenty of old MMORPGs still knocking around, classics of the genre, storied in their time, that I have never touched.

I will spend at least a month playing one of these titles seriously and blogging about it, because that it the point of the exercise to a certain extent, so that old timers can come by and mock my ignorance and tell me how things were back in the good old days and all of that.

So here is the list I am mulling over with some pros and cons as I see them from the outside.  Each game has some minor claim to fame in my mind, has come up occasionally, and is more than ten years old.

1RuneScape

A re-tread from my last year’s list and a bit of a cheat since I have actually spent a few minutes playing this.  But it is an old title, having launched back in 2001

Pros:  I have, in fact, tried it so know that I can get it running, create a character, and play.

Cons: Was not in love with the camera and controls.  Also, as it has been modernized so much that I wonder if I should go play the “old school” version of it.

2 – Ultima Online

Hard to leave this one off the list seeing that it was the first of the big wave of popular titles in the MMORPG genre.

Pros: Really getting to the old school thing, might be a free to play option soon.

Cons: Isometric, third party camera view always seemed odd to me in screen shots.  Might indirectly lead me into giving money to EA.

3 – Dark Age of Camelot

I had some friends who left EverQuest back in the day and found it a pretty decent time.  At that point I was living in a house with spotty internet at best so wasn’t keen to invest in it.  But now connectivity is no problem.

Pros:  It was supposed to take the “suck” out of MMORPGs and also has some sort of free plan.

Cons: It is really a realm vs. realm sort of game as I understand it.  Am I ready for old school PvP?  Also, as above, some of this money goes to EA, which does not please me.

4 – Anarchy Online

The original MMO launch disaster movie and one of the early free to play titles by necessity.

Pros: It is one on the list that isn’t fantasy based and Funcom is talking about rolling a new server.

Cons: The stories about it might be true and most MMORPGs are fantasy for a reason.

5 – Silkroad Online

Token Asian MMORPG?  There were some people in an old guild that went off to play it and reported having a decent time.  It is old-ish, and still around.

Pros:  7th century Chinese theme, a bit different, free to play, and has survived this long.

Cons: PvP-centric, grindy to get you to pay, everything else on this list has survived even longer, and I might be thinking of a different game when it comes to where those old guild mates went.

6 – Maple Story

Why wouldn’t I put a 2D side scrolling MMORPG on the list?  Another one of those “been around for freakin’ ever” titles that I have never tried.

Pros: Low system requirements… hell, there was a single player Facebook version of the game at one point… free and it has lasted this long.

Cons: Browser based 2D side scrolling MMORPG might be warning enough, right?

7 – Entopia Universe

Unbridled virtual capitalism where some guy bought a moon and then resold it and because rich or something… the details are kind of vague.

Pros: Very much free, storied, and still around.

Cons: Very much designed to make you spend money and I am not sure what the real objective of the game is besides the Burnsian “make more money!”

8 – A Tale in the Desert

A non-combat, social MMO that resets to a new “telling” of the tale every so often, one of those games that gets mentions a lot but rarely by anybody actually playing it.

Pros: The first 24 hours are free.

Cons: Social might be a problem for me going in solo, especially since the current “telling” has been going on for over two year now, so I might feel late to the party.  Also, after the first 24 hours you have to subscribe.

So that is a list of eight possibilities.  I won’t be jumping straight into any of them.  This will likely be a spring-to-summer sort of event.  That means if I am missing some vital option from the list you can chime in via comments or the poll below using the “other” field.  Otherwise take a moment to pick which one of the above might be the most worthwhile venture.

If there isn’t a poll above this line AdBlock may have eaten it.  It happens.

I won’t say I’ll follow the will of the respondents, but if one title seems to be leading the pack substantially I will give that some weight.  Also, a bit of trivia; I had previously made tags for every game on the list above.  I suppose that says something, though I am not sure what, besides that I have mentioned them all here at some time before.

And, of course, if you want to see how this sort of post has played out in the past, you can check out attempts from past years:

Does PLEX Work Anywhere Besides EVE Online?

CCP introduced PLEX, the Pilot License EXtension item that could be bought for real world cash and sold on the in-game market of EVE Online or consumed to extended your EVE subscription by 30 days a little over five years ago.

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

It was very much an experimental move by CCP who proceeded with caution.  As you can see from the five year old screen shot above, when introduced, PLEX was stuck in the station in which you claimed it.  CCP didn’t want it becoming a loss mail item on day one.  Later, when it became clear that players were going to accept PLEX as a thing, CCP loosened up its restrictions on PLEX… and hilarity ensued, with the first major loss being 74 PLEX in a Kestrel.

PLEX has had quite an impact on EVE Online. It has been a major tool in the war against illicit RMT for the in-game currency, ISK, by giving players a legitimate way to effectively buy ISK.

It has become a major indicator of the health of the in-game market.  I think people mostly track Catalyst hulls, tritanium, and PLEX these days. (just kidding)

It has been opened up so that you can use it to enable other services or currencies.  You can use PLEX to enable the training queue for a second character on your account or convert it to Aurum to buy clothes at the New Eden Exchange. (Need more/better hats!)

It has allowed some players to play for “free,” where “free” means exchanging time for ISK and then ISK for PLEX. (If you think anybody is actually playing for free, please go read up on the time value of money.)

Through the simple math conversion (Real World Money to PLEX, PLEX to ISK) it has given people a dubious way to assign real world value to losses sustained in EVE Online, so now every huge battle report that makes the headlines at the BBC must include an obligatory dollar amount which gives people the false impression that you buy ships in the game for real world money or some similar nonsense.

(I am kind of disappointed that Edward Castronova, who spent so much time writing about the EverQuest economy, never spent much time writing about EVE Online where things have gotten at least a little closer to his virtual economy vision.)

And, of course, PLEX loss is a staple of loss mail porn as people unwittingly, to be charitable, try to transport billions of ISK in PLEX in ships that cost a million ISK or less.  Of course, every PLEX destroyed during such a loss is a win for CCP as that is a promise for 30 days of game time they do no longer have to honor.

I think we can safely declare PLEX a success.  Certainly, CCP has not suffered from having it, and the game has continued to grow since its introduction.

Success, of course, attracts imitation.  Since then a number of PLEX-like items have popped up in other MMOs.  We have:

  • KronoEverQuest & EverQuest I and maybe other titles.
  • CREDDWildStar
  • GRACEAnarchy Online
  • DUELDarkfall
  • REX – Rift
  • APEX – ArcheAge

Did I miss any?

The thing is, I have no real sens of how well the various PLEX-like currencies have worked in these other games which, even if they have a comparable player base to EVE Online… and you would need a lot of smoke and mirrors to make Darkfall or Anarchy Online appear to have a tenth of the subscriptions… they do not have the single, unified market of EVE, being chopped up into distinct servers, each with their own economy.

I have been peeking at the Krono market as I have been playing EverQuest II lately.  There seem to be about two dozen on the market at any given time, with the low end hovering around 3,000 platinum coins for one Krono.

I currently have 300 platinum coins, and feel quite well off for having that much.  But I am also playing a level 70 character and remember the days when earning your first platinum coin was a big deal and having 300 gold coins made me feel quite well off.

At 3,000 plat, the market seems somewhat static.  The number of Krono for sale does not fluctuate much from day to day, so I have to wonder how much traffic there really is. (Though, granted, the trade channel is where you go if you want to sell something RIGHT NOW, but it is also so spammy that I tend to keep it off.)  And I am on the Freeport server, which is one of the high population servers, somewhere behind Antonia Bayle, where all the cool kids used to hang out, and Splitpaw in activity, so what I see on my server might not reflect what is happening on other servers.

But my gut is that Krono hasn’t had the impact on Norrath that PLEX has had on New Eden.  And with WildStar having problems keeping people subscribed, I am not sure there is a comparable case to EVE Online when it comes to PLEX… yet.

Because suddenly World of Warcraft hove onto the scene.  Last week Baishok put up a post about things coming to Azeroth in the new year which included this entry half way down the post, between garrison improvements and heirloom storage, under the innocuous heading of “New Ways to Play.”

We’re exploring the possibility of giving players a way to buy tradable game-time tokens for the purpose of exchanging them in-game with other players for gold. Our current thought on this is that it would give players a way to use their surplus gold to cover some of their subscription cost, while giving players who might have less play time an option for acquiring gold from other players through a legit and secure system. A few other online games offer a similar option, and players have suggested that they’d be interested in seeing something along those lines in WoW. We agree it could be a good fit for the game, and we look forward to any feedback you have as we continue to look into this feature.

Everybody paying attention immediately saw this for what it was, PLEX comes to World of Warcraft.  This was met by various levels of excitement of despair, depending on various rational or irrational points of view and analogies.

Ages ago I wrote a post wondering if the World of Warcraft in-game economy could support something like PLEX in the way that the EVE Online economy has shown in can.

On the plus side, World of Warcraft does have a more vibrant economy than most of its peers.  There is a lot of gold floating around looking for places to be spent, given the number of alliance choppers I have seen running around since they went up for sale.  With the unification of economies across Horde and Alliance on servers, there are no more economic ghettos where one faction hugely outweighs the other.

Finally, here is a game that has an illicit RMT problem of epic proportions and which really needs a legitimate way for people to buy gold since it has become crystal clear over the years that people are going to buy gold no matter how many horror stories you tell them about account hacking and credit card fraud.

Plus, once you’re selling level 90 characters, what other taboo is there left to transgress?

On the down side, even with economies unified on servers, and across servers when it comes to the co-joined, merged in all but name servers, there are still a hundred or more individual economies to look at.  Servers that had 8 hour queues when Warlords of Draenor dropped might fare differently than servers that never even got to a medium population load on opening night.

And then there is Blizzard’s tentative nature.  World of Warcraft is the goose that lays golden eggs, quarter after quarter, and they are justifiably nervous about screwing that up.  So, even after having had five years to look at how PLEX has worked out in EVE Online, two years to observe Krono over at SOE, and having run their own “cash to item to gold” experiment with the guardian cub three years back, Blizzard is still “exploring the possibility” of the whole idea.

I know I mock SOE from time to time for jumping into ideas with both feet before they have thought things through… and then being forced to adapt and change in front of a live studio audience.  But here we are at the other end of the spectrum, where Blizz probably has all the data they are ever really going to get and they are out there being coy about the whole thing.

Yes, this could just be a trial balloon to see if the people who actually pay attention to these things explode at the idea.  And yes, the whole real money auction house plan in Diablo III, which worked out so badly in the end, does loom over this, a point many people in the forum thread are quick to compare this to.  However, I would argue that the RMAH in Diablo III, which allowed people to buy in-game gear directly for real world money and, more importantly I think, allowed people to cash out and walk away with real money profits, was a different and beast altogether and lead to problems people were calling out during beta.  Furthermore, even the in-game gold auction house was a serious problem, leaving real money aside,  Blizzard didn’t just close of the RMAH, they closed down both sides because both sides were killing the game.  The auction house as a whole was the problem, not just the real money aspect.

World of Warcraft, on the other hand, has existed with an auction house for a decade at this point.

None of which gets around to answering the question in the title.  I really have no concrete feel for how something like PLEX does affect a game aside from EVE, which remains unique in many ways in the MMORPG ecosystem.

I don’t think a PLEX-like item is a done deal for WoW either.  Blizzard is very cautious about its main source of revenue and, as we saw over the last year, would rather sit and do nothing than do something that might go wrong.  Add in the stink left over from Diablo III and my gut says it is only even odds that Blizzard will adopt something like this in 2015.  We certainly won’t see it until the summer if they do.  But that timing might make it a good hedge against another content drought.  People might stay subscribed longer if they could just pay for their subscription out of the giant pile of gold they have accumulated in their garrison.

Do you think PLEX-like items in other games are working out?  Do you think something like that will work in WoW?

Others on the idea of a PLEX-like item in WoW:

PLEX and its new Daughter, GRACE

I do not pay much attention to Anarchy Online.  Well, I don’t pay it any mind at all, really aside from the occasional industry lore aspects around things like rocky starts (“nearly unplayable” -GameSpy) and longevity. (It turned 13 just about a month back.)

AnarchyOnlineLogo

But some people do still pay attention to it.  There was a post up over at Massively announcing that the game had announced a new aspect to their subscription plan.

Called GRACE, for Grid Access Credit Extension, it is an in-game item that can be traded or sold between players that, once redeemed, turns into 30 days of game subscription time.  There is a FAQ.

Basically, this the AO version of EVE Online PLEX.

This is PLEX

No longer this cheap in Jita

PLEX itself has been live in EVE Online for just about five years at this point, where it has been a success thanks in large part to the in-game economy which is all pervasive in New Eden.  There are a lot of aspects of the game you can avoid, but if you want to play you are going to be part of the economy.

The economy is such a big deal in EVE that I was curious if MMOs with much more optional or fragmented economies could really make something like PLEX work.  World of Warcraft, with its large player base and need for gold sinks, seemed like it might be able to, even with the economy sliced up into three markets on hundreds of different servers.  And Blizzard dipped their toe in the water… sort of… with the kitten economy idea.  But they haven’t done much since.

It was left to Sony Online Entertainment to give the PLEX idea a try in the fantasy realm, introducing Krono to EverQuest II about two years back and then expanding it to their other games.

All About Krono

All About Krono

I really have no idea how Krono has worked out.  They still have Krono as an option, even after the big consolidation of game subscriptions into the new All Access plan back in April, but I have never seen more than a couple on the market when I have bothered to check, and the prices seemed wildly different on different servers, so I cannot tell if they just don’t get used or if they are so popular that they sell out quickly to the platinum barons of Norrath.  And the fact that the game is free to play complicates things.

Moving on, earlier this year we had two new MMOs announcing that they were all-in on monthly subscriptions.  First, The Elder Scrolls Online made its position clear, and then WildStar joined the subscription only parade as well.  But their business model also included something called CREDD, which is how they spell PLEX on Nexus I gather.  Because it was that PLEX model again, an in-game item worth game time, which Carbine seemed to be using as a loophole to claim some sort of free to play status since, technically, after you bought the game, you could find a way to play for free if you earned enough in-game money to buy CREDD.

In Carbine’s world, you can play for free so long as they get paid.  But to their credit, I don’t think they have overplayed their definition of free to play… yet.

My first thought when they announced their business model, including the CREDD bit, was whether or not it had worked for SOE by that point.  That seemed like a reasonable question.  Yes, a shiny new game sporting a subscription-only model with a brand new, out of the box in-game economy might not be the best parallel, what else was I going to compare it too?

The question is still unanswered at this point as far as I am concerned.  The idea works in EVE, but I couldn’t tell you if it was worthwhile elsewhere.

And now Funcom is throwing its hat in the ring with Anarchy Online, which doesn’t help my understanding at all, because I am not even sure what their business model is.  I think it is mostly subscriptions, but they have had this short-term “Free Play” option that shows you ads in game since… what… 2004?  So does that make it free to play?  And how many people even play?  The late Game Data site tracked them as peaking at 60K subscriptions just after launch, dropping down to 10K by 2006, but nothing after that.

So who is out there playing Anarchy Online?  What do you think GRACE going to do for the game, if anything?

Or, for that matter, how about CREDD in WildStar or Krono in SOE games?

Scoring My 2009 MMORPG Progdictionations

The time has come to account for my January 1st predictions.

The real problem with me and predictions is that I set out to make a series of outrageous and humorous stabs at the future, but part way into it I get all reasonable and conservative and start making predictions that sound likely… or reasonable.

Not that I am any more accurate when I get conservative and reasonable.

On January 1st I made 15 predictions for the MMORPG market for 2009.  Below are the results.  I am going to assign each prediction a possible score of 10 points, with partial credit available.  How many points out of 150 will I get?

I am not going to paste in all the original predictions as it would make the post very long, plus I have a cold which has not put me in the mood to perform any more work that I absolutely have to.  But they are all right here if you want to see them in their original glory.

1 – Private Citizen British

This one was fulfilled before I managed to post it.  He wants to get back into fantasy gaming, but nothing came of it in 2009.  He did not, however, use the word “vision.”  7 out of 10 points.

2 – Bartle’s Test

Dr. Bartle was on the money with this one by extolling the virtues of Stranglethorn Vale from the aspect of zone design.  As expected, more than a few disagreed on that, STV being one of the more complained about zones in the game.  Dr. Bartle stood his ground however; he meant what he said and he said what he meant.  Not a huge controversy, but enough for my needs.  8 out of 10 points.

3 – Age of Anarchy

Funcom did not, as I predicted, merge Anarchy Online and Age of Conan into a single game with two different front end clients.  More is the pity, since Age of Conan seems to need some sort of boost these days.  0 out of 10 points.

4 – EverQuesting

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Underfoot,” and did not include any of the features I speculated about.  And it was only available as a digital download.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 2 points out of 10 on that alone.

5 – Call Your Agency

Of the three games Sony has been talking about, only Free Realms saw the light of day in 2009, which was one more than I thought would.  On the other hand, there is still no PS3 version of Free Realms.  So I am going to give myself partial credit on Free Realms, since I said that PS3 development would be holding up the launch and they decided to go without it.

We have not heard, officially or in rumors, that PS3 is what is holding up The Agency or DC Universe Online, so only partial credit there as well.  3 out of 10.

6 – Elves of the Burning Sea

Flying Lab Software did not attempt to boost their subscription rate by re-skinning Pirates of the Burning Sea with fantasy creatures, so 0 out of 10 points.  I should not let my own LEGO fantasies influence my predictions.

7 – LEGO Dalaran

Nobody built Dalaran out of LEGO bricks… yet, 0 out of 10 points.

8 – Station Cash Balance of Payments

I predicted that any game that did not get a Station Cash store was pretty much marked for closure.  The Matrix Online was the first to go.  Planetside is down to one server and Star Wars Galaxies isn’t making any headlines of late.  I am going to give myself 5 out of 10 on that one because I think Planetside will be gone when The Agency shows up.  And as for SWG…

9 – Star Wars Galaxies to Take A Bio

I predicted that we would find out this year that Lucas was only going to sanction one Star Wars themed MMORPG and that SWG was going to lose out of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I still think this is going to happen, so maybe I’ll roll it into the 2010 predictions.  But for 2009, 0 out of 10.

10 – Dawn of Darkfall

Darkfall did ship, but did not ship with the full list of promised features intact.  They suffered through launch issues like most MMOs, with things like skill exploits being closed off as time went along.  And they do appear to be walking the tightrope between PvP and other activities well for the time being.  You can argue amongst yourselves as to whether it is the second coming of Ultima Online or EVE Online in plate armor, but I’m taking 8 out of 10 points.

11 – Hero’s Slumber

Darkfall’s launch handed the MMORPG vaporware crown to Hero’s Journey which did not, as I predicted, ship in 2009.  That fact, however, was not the source of that much snarkiness that I could see, so 8 out of 10 points.

12 – Blizzard is Smarter Than You

I predict for Blizzard in 2009:

  • WoW Content patches – check
  • No WoW expansion – check
  • StarCraft II shipping – nope
  • StarCraft II and Diablo III news that will lead to whining – check
  • Info about their next MMO – nope

6 out of 10 points.

13 – The New Guys

Red 5 Studios, Carbine Studios, and 38 Studios provided practically no details about what they are working on.

On the other hand, I also said that nothing they announced would set the MMORPG market on fire.  Certainly saying little or nothing qualifies.  A point for that.

And MetaPlace looks unlikely to become a talent incubator for the next generation at this point.

1 out of 10 points.

14 – Heroes and Champions

This was a silly and complex set of predictions, all built in parody of NCSoft West President David Reid saying last year that Tabula Rasa was here to stay shortly before they announced it was being shut down.

Key predictions –

  • City of Heroes will shut down after David Reid announces things are going well – nope
  • Champions Online will launch in the Fall of 2009 – check (okay, Sept. 1 isn’t quite fall, but close)
  • David Reid will lose his job at NCSoft – check

6 out of 10 points.

15 – Tobolderized

No Toboldipedia or Toboldwiki created this year.  I blame Tobold’s summer break.

0 out of 10 points.

Results

The final count gives me 46 points out of 150, or 30.67% which, while abysmal, still beats last year’s 22%.

I think the Tobold predictions are dragging me down.  I may have to jettison him for 2010… or come up with something more plausible.

Now I just have to come up with some predictions for 2010!  Though right now, what I really want to predict is an over-the-counter decongestant that really works.  Stupid cold.

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Seeds of Destruction,” and did not include any of t

he features I speculated about.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 3 points out of 10 on that alone.

Mail Bag: Anarchy Online?

A reader named Ramon wrote in:

I was wondering if you have any opinion on Anarchy Online? I don’t see you mentioning it, but your articles are always very well balanced so it would be great to hear your opinion if you’ve played AO for any extent of time.

I recently made a free (froob) account after having had a character at launch for a month, and it looks like a totally different game today. Is it worth re-reviewing?

They’re also making a new graphics engine (DX9-capable) and that’s supposed to lure new players into AO. Wonder if it works.

I have no actual experience with Anarchy Online.  To me AO is just the default example of “how not to launch an MMO,” and “the game Funcom screwed up before Age of Conan.”  And while those are actually opinions, they are not very helpful ones.

The game itself is still live 7 years after launch, which must mean somebody is playing it and that it is making money.

Does anybody have some insight into Anarchy Online and what sort of game it is today?

I know that Van Hemlock poked his nose back into the game about 18 months back, but other than that, I do not know of any blogs or other dedicated coverage of the game.

Who is the Anarchy Online expert around here?