Tag Archives: Anniversary

Elf

No, I am not trying to trigger Syp.  Well, not just that anyway.

Any elf will do for our purposes…

Back in high school, a distance through time more easily measured in decades than years at this point, I took German as my foreign language.  I think the primary outcome of three years of the language is that my writing in English improved greatly.  One of those side-effects, you have to examine your own language in order to learn another one.

I think my greatest achievement in German was reading Catch-22 in the language, something that took me most of a summer, a copy in English, and my German-English dictionary.  Other than that, I retain very little of the language.  Enough to annoy my mother-in-law (who is German), catch the occasional bit of dialog in a movie, appreciate The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers slightly more, get that joke about the German novel where the last two chapters are nothing but verbs, and make a poor joke from a post title.

Anyway, the German word for “eleven” is “elf,” something endlessly amusing to a 13 year old boy, an age I have never fully ceased to be.  The title is a joke because I write about fantasy MMORPGs now and again… less lately than before… where the elf is a staple, and yet relevant because this is one of those anniversary posts… my eleventh.

The Annual WP.com achievement

I am clearly out of clever titles and amusing intros at this point.  Remember that anniversary post that was full of Soviet propaganda?  Or the one grounded in Winnie the Pooh?  Now I am hanging my hat on the fact that the German word for eleven is a mythical creature in English.  It’s all I’ve got, and I’m not even going to run with it.  I’m going to just break in the usual statistics for a bit and hope I can come up with something new to say before we get to the end of the post.

For those interested in some of my better attempts at anniversary posts, here is the list:

And from that we might as well get stuck into this.

Base Statistics

In which I 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: 4,018 (+365)
Posts total: 4,416 (+341)
Average posts per day: 1.097 (-0.013)
Comments: 29,415 (+1,456)
Average comments per post: 6.66  (-0.2)
Average comments per day: 7.32  (-0.33)
Spam comments: 1,376,145 (+63,980)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 424
Average spam comments per day: 342.5 (-16.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 47.2 (+0.2)
Comments written by me: 3,873 or 13.1%
Images uploaded:  10,416 11,764 (+1,348)
Space used by images: 270MB of my 3 GB allocation (9%, down 69%)
Blog Followers: 1,340
Twitter Followers: 722
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 6 (one twice)

This is the first year of the blog where I wrote less than one post per day, hitting the publish button 24 fewer times in the last year than the year before.  That is about a month of weekday posts I did not do.  See the effect of MMO malaise?  Because, seriously, I didn’t take any long vacations or suffering from debilitating illness over the previous twelve months.  I just wrote less, something that generally happens when I am just not interested in a given topic, which in this case is my MMO hobby.

Still, the average over the full life of the blog is over a post a day.  And even 333 is more than a post every weekday, the goal for which I strive.  That would only net me about 260 posts so, while no Stakhanovite, I have exceeded my posting norm.  Not bad for an eleven year long streak.

With posts down, comments were also down, both overall… simply fewer comments than last year… and as a percentage of posts… people commented less per post.  My comments, as a percentage of the total, was up.  Probably me talking to myself.

One oddity in the stats above is the amount of space used by my uploaded images, which dropped precipitously since last year’s post.  For some reason WordPress.com reset my allocation last year.  Maybe it was a happy anniversary gesture.  Maybe it was a bug.  I suspect that nothing good will come of it and that some day I will log in and find every screen shot from 2006 through 2016 missing, having been deleted by some automated process.  But for now they survive.

Anyway, that is the basic gist of what happened here over the last year.  The remainder of the post is after the cut to keep the long list of mostly meaningless words and statistics from overwhelming the from page.  See you on the other side, should you choose to go there… or if you are looking at this in an RSS reader.

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EVE Online Turns 14

May 6th has rolled around again and our favorite internet spaceship games turns another year older.  It has been 14 years since the game launched back in 2003 and a lot has changed along the way.  The game itself has changed and looks much different today, as old screen shots show. (Image below from this gallery of 2004 screen shots.)

War Drive Active… to the future!

And the world outside of the game has changed dramatically as well.  Back in 2003 EverQuest was the top MMORPG with 550,000 subscribers, while the following things didn’t really exits yet:

  • World of Warcraft
  • Second Life
  • Facebook
  • Orkut (Google’s first run at a social media site)
  • MySpace (didn’t show up until August 2003)
  • Twitter
  • Imgur (where those screen shots are hosted)
  • Smart phones
  • This blog
  • Tobold’s blog
  • WordPress.com, where this blog is hosted

What was even happening back then?  We were apparently hanging out on Friendster and GeoCities and maybe had heard about LinkedIn, which launched the day before EVE Online.

Also, I had a 2 year old child and was facing the prospect of turning 40 soon.  Now I’m past 50 and the child wants to learn to drive.  Oy!

Anyway, in the grand tradition of the game, CCP has a little something for capsuleers who play the game.  The full details are posted, but this is what you get on each account:

  • 1x Capsule YC119 Capsuleer Day SKIN
  • 1x Festival Launcher
  • 200x Barium Firework
  • 200x Copper Firework
  • 200x Sodium Firework

I am glad they keep giving us new festival launchers.  Every time we have a fleet doctrine with an empty high slot I slap one on there and inevitably lose the ship and the launcher with it.

The SKIN is nifty.  You don’t see capsules running around in my part of space… not for very long anyway.  But if you are without a ship you can go around with a sharp looking red and white paint scheme.

14th Anniversary capsule SKIN

You have until May 23rd to log in and redeem your gifts.  And even Alpha clone accounts get them.  I checked and redeemed them on my own Alpha account.  Another year down and a decade and a half of the game is just around the corner, a mere 364 days away.

EverQuest Turns Eighteen

The date has come again where I tell you I still have that receipt from Fry’s for a copy of EverQuest dated March 16, 1999 and reminisce for a bit about the good old days and what a revelation an open, 3D world was back in 1999 and how far the game has come and how amazing that here, eighteen years later the game is still live and viable and getting updates and expansions.  I think you will find similar posts just about every March 16th (or 17th if I was lazy) over the life of the blog.  Ten years ago today there was a post here on the blog about EverQuest turning 8.

And there is nothing wrong with that.  Why shouldn’t I celebrate something that clearly left a mark on my life?  The EverQuest team is celebrating as well.

They can now buy cigarettes and vote

There are all sorts of things going on in old Norrath, with new events, bonus experience, and the return of old anniversary favorites.

You can even get a free level 85 boosted character between now and March 31.

Being level 85 makes you heroic by default

The offer is good for any account that has ever played EverQuest or any new account that is an All Access subscriber.

There is also a new Producer’s letter up that, among other things, promises a new Progression server called Agnarr that will stop unlocking content at Lost Dungeons of Norrath and simply stay there.  There is also an explicit statement that there will be an EQ expansion this year, as though we would doubt that at this point.

All good stuff for a game that continues to defy expectations and carry on despite its age.

1999 EverQuest Trivia from 2011… the level cap is 100 now

But the anniversary also brings up some questions as well.  A lot of MMORPGs have come and gone during the game’s run, and it is purported to still be one of the most popular/highly populated games at Daybreak.  This leads me to wonder how long can EverQuest last?  How long will it keep getting updates?  What combo of critical mass and notoriety does an MMO need to hit to achieve this sort of longevity?

I have failed to answer those questions before, though not for a lack of trying from time to time, starting with a post back in 2007 when I wondered how many more expansions the game would get.  This was at the time when the EQ team moved from two expansions a year to just one.  I guessed two or three.  So very wrong.  Currently Daybreak summarizes the game’s features as:

  • Experience 18 years of continuous development including 21 expansions of amazing content
  • Build your character through 100 levels of power
  • More than 500 zones to explore
  • Choose from 16 unique races and 16 distinct classes
  • Thousands of Alternate Abilities available to further customize your character
  • More than 50,000 items to earn and collect
  • Hire and control unique mercenaries to aid you in your heroic adventures
  • A robust in-game marketplace containing potions, weapons, armor, and mounts
  • Solo, Group and Raid across continents filled with perilous dungeons, eerie crypts, floating landscapes, and underwater adventures
  • Participate in several seasonal and holiday events throughout the year

Anyway, another year passes and Norrath still seems to be going strong.  Same time next year?

My past anniversary posts, just to keep track:

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.

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Nine is a Magic Number

Yes, I was testing you… it’s nine. And that’s a magic number

-Dewey Finn, School of Rock, misquoting Schoolhouse Rock

However the magic being referenced here is mostly a product of stubbornness or persistence or force of habit as opposed to anything that one would find amazing or entertaining.

Also, references to my childhood

Also, reference to my childhood

Yes, here we are again, another anniversary, the ninth time through this sort of post.  If I were married to the blog, something my wife might suggest was the case at times, Hallmark would be suggesting I buy it something of pottery or willow or perhaps leather if you prefer the modern view.  Instead all it is getting is words, just like every year.

But just to keep on the video game theme, WordPress.com even popped up an achievement for me at 17:05 UTC, which I guess is when I clicked the create button nine years back.

WP9YearAchievement

“Good blogging” is making something of an assumption there I suppose, but I appreciate the sentiment I guess.

Meanwhile, past runs through this sort of post for those who just need to know what came before.

I think I have settled down into a pretty regular pattern at this point.  I went well out of my way with some stats in the early years, in part because they were easy to derive with only a year or two of data to sift through.  Now I just present what is close to hand and hope for the best.

Base Statistics

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

Days since launch: 3,287 (+365)
Posts total: 3,707 (+360)
Average posts per day: 1.13 (-0.02)
Comments: 25,558 (+2,346)
Average comments per post: 6.9 (+0.0)
Average comments per day: 7.8  (-0.1)
Spam comments: 1,277,992 (+104,525)
Average spam comments per day: 388.8 (-12.8)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 50 (-0.6)
Comments written by me: 2,994 or 11.7%
Images uploaded:  9,259 (+1244)
Space used by images: 2.1 GB of my 3 GB allocation (70%)

Eventually we’re going to need a bigger boat or something for all the picture I upload.

Further stats, summaries, a mildly off-the-rails semi-rant, and a forward looking statement are hidden below because I seem to be going on and on this year.  ~4,000 words after the cut for those interested in such things.

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Twelve Years a Clone

EVE Online turns twelve years old today, which is a ripe old age for an MMO.  By the time a decade rolls by for a lot of games in the MMO genre they have often been superseded by a sequel (Guild Wars), have become niche interests for a nostalgic few (Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot), have been put into maintenance-only mode (Asheron’s Call), have become a small fan supported project to tinker with (Meridian 59, Saga of Ryzom), or have been just shut down outright (do I need a list?).

I remember a time when the idea of closing down an MMO seemed strange.  I’ve since been cured of that delusion.

And even many of those that have avoided completely falling off of the mainstream of MMOs for more than a decade feel their age.  EverQuest, which turned 16 back in March, is still a viable money maker for Daybreak, but it really feels old when you play.  Meanwhile, the big ten year anniversary plan for World of Warcraft, the undisputed leader of the MMO free world (or something), was to try to recapture 2007 by returning to Draenor.

Yeah, when you bring in a BILLION dollars of revenue annually, you tend to be shy about making radical changes to game play.  Even with all they have done the game still feels mostly like it did back in 2005 when I first started playing.  The details have changed, but the look and feel remains.

And then there is EVE Online, which still feels like it is finding its way to something, still bringing the game forward to what it should be, still making mistakes and then fixing them… though the fixing part is relatively new.  CCP itself views almost the first nine years of the game as the preliminaries to what they are trying to do now.

The Phases of CCP

The Phases of CCP – Mistakes made, but the jury is still out on lessons learned I think…

I wasn’t there for the early, early days of the game.  No beta, no crude early graphics for me.

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much, the UI though…

I first heard about EVE Online back when the first bloom of EverQuest II had faded and we faced the first great exodus from our guild.  People who left… and who bothered to leave a forwarding address… were mostly headed either off to World of Warcraft or back to EverQuest.  But one old TorilMUD player, whose name escapes me now, said he was off to a game called EVE Online.  That was the first time I had heard the game mentioned.  He said something about spaceships, but I never followed up on it.  I was still committed to EQII, the game having not hit its low point for me yet.

EVE Online did not come up again in my world until more than a year later, when I started listening to the VirginWorlds podcast.  Brent (who I just saw in EVE Online on Monday night, so he lives still and might even be MMO-ing as well) mentioned EVE Online and its unique nature, problems, and challenges frequently, as did Ryan and Gary from the Massively Online Gamer podcast. (And Ryan ended up working for CCP at one point, so we just keep closing the loop here.)

That talk got me to actually try the game, which looked like this when I started in August 2006.  Witness me foundering in the long gone tutorial of the day.  And then my first post-tutorial mission was “Worlds Collide!”  Not really viable in an Ibis.  But I persisted… for a while.

EVE as I found it

EVE as I found it… I meant to upload the one with the UI on…

The game didn’t stick for more than a few months.  I left… and then like so many EVE players, I came back and did something different.  Then I got bored with that and left again.  Then I came back and found something else.  What to do in EVE Online is a pretty open question.  There is a myriad of different paths and you can mix and match or alter any of them to fit your mood.

And the paths can be very different.  Rixx Javix and I both theoretically fly in harms way in potentially hostile space expecting to get shot at on the far side of every gate.  But his game is bizarro world different than mine.  For example, he goes on about warp core stabilizers all the time and those aren’t even a thing in my world, while my fear of warp disruption bubbles doesn’t play into his low sec view of the game.

Sometimes these different aspects of the game can be hilarious.  I have seen long time, hardcore null sec vets get nervous flying into empire space.  They don’t know the rules.  Being in high sec with all those damn neutrals makes a null vet very nervous.   Plus you can’t just shoot people without consequence.

And here, at the twelve year mark, long after most viable MMOs seem to have plateaued and hit a formula that keeps its core happy and subscribed… regular content heavy expansions, with more levels, more dungeons, more raids, more shiny things… CCP is proposing radical changes to the way things work in my part of space.

Going through a phase

Heading to Phase 2

I poured out twelve hundred words yesterday about how I have to pack up and move a bunch of crap across a couple regions because the updates coming next month are going to change how the world works in null sec.  If I had been writing about doing that much lifting and carrying in a game like WoW, I probably would have been annoyed.  But moving crap is part of EVE, as I said at the top of that post, and if you cannot accept that is part of what makes the game what it is… well, it might not be for you.

But beyond just accepting that as the way things are in New Eden, I am actually excited about what it portends.  When the next update drops, it will be a new world in null sec… a new, chaotic, probably broken, likely full of exploits new world… but a new world none the less, which will bring its own forms of excitement and comedy and bitching and drudgery.  CCP will be both praised and cursed, often in the same breath.  Then we’ll all figure it out, the most egregious problems will be addressed, and a new dynamic will be born.

EVE Online is a strange mix of the traditional MMO values, which is often heavy on nostalgia and incremental improvements and N+1 changes, and its own sort of chaotic ability to shake things up, piss people off, and still keep going.

So here we are at year twelve and CCP is still… well… figuring things out, for lack of a better phrase.  And, as happens on these occasions, CCP has some gifts for those currently subscribed, something that always makes a few people angry.

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain, then triggers them

The implants that CCP is giving out, which I won’t use because my ship will get blown up, I will get podded, and I will lose them, apparently crashed the market and I who needs another jacket… unless you’re some sort of space roleplay dress up freak.  Who is that over the top?  Hrmm… Amarr Victor I guess.

So happy twelfth birthday to New Eden.  Things have changed a lot over the years.

Rifter and Harpy in warp

More recent Rifter and Harpy hulls warping off

I look forward to seeing how the game continues to evolve.

Avoiding Guild Wars for a Decade

Guild Wars occupies a strange spot in my gaming history.

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words...

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words…

It came along ten years ago this week… something I only noticed when another bloggers mentioned the anniversary… at a point in time when the future of MMOs seemed golden.

EverQuest had brought a lot of players into the genre in a way that no MMO or proto-MMO before it had.  It confirmed that there was a bigger audience out there than was suspected, and that audience would pay to play.  Other games came on the scene like Dark Age of Camelot and Star Wars Galaxies that were clearly differentiated for EQ.  It seemed like we would have all sorts of unique choices when it came to MMOs going forward.

Meanwhile, EverQuest II and World of Warcraft had both launched the previous November (we hit my 10 year anniversary with WoW last month and I totally forgot) but, while WoW was clearly taking off, we were not yet at a point where “must make a WoW clone!!!” was the dominating developer thoughts.

The market was also small, at least when it came to the number of titles.  It felt like you could realistically know something about all the major titles on the market as well as those under development.  The whole VirginWorlds podcast era was predicated on the idea that you could talk about the MMO market segment in detail in a weekly one hour or less session and pretty much cover all they key players.

At the time I was just back into the MMO thing, having quit EQ and the genre back before Planes of Power launched.  As noted in the relevant anniversary post, Gaff got me to play EverQuest II at launch.

By the time Guild Wars launched in 2005 I had given WoW a try and wasn’t really thrilled, something I mentioned to a co-worker who had played EverQuest over lunch.  A surprising (to me) number of my co-workers ended up playing EverQuest.  This particular one had also burned out on EQ and was somewhat reluctant to get in on the subscription MMO level grind again.  It wasn’t that he hadn’t enjoyed some, or even most of his time in Norrath.  It was just that feeling you get when you’re too busy to use something you’re paying for.

He told me the game he had his eye on was Guild Wars.

He was keen on the MMO, or MMO-like, multi-player experience without the whole monthly fee.  Buy the box and you’re done, like a REAL video game.  That is what made it stand out among the so-called third generation MMOs. (And this ignores the whole Guild Wars isn’t an MMO thing, which I can’t even begin to address.  As with H1Z1, the company simply saying it isn’t an MMO doesn’t make it so.  The definition is both complex and situational in my mind, but there is also a certain amount of “quacks like a duck” in there as well.)

He was kind of our scout into this game.  He picked it up at launch and I would go by and ask him about it now and again.  He talked about the character models and the way cities were shared but that zones or content was all instanced and the skill system where you were limited to the number of active skills you had.

And the graphics.  He was effusive about the environment.  Most people with whom I have spoken to about the game over the years have praised that aspect.

At the time though I was fully committed to EQII, a game that had been changing and evolving… and breaking now and again… since launch.  Too much to keep up with there to start a new MMO-like game.

Then we all defected to WoW and the focus was on Azeroth.  Then I started EVE Online for a bit, then the blog started, then there was the instance group and so forth.  Somewhere in there I entered the VirginWorlds sphere of influence and would listen to Brent and sometimes co-host Brenden talk about other MMOs, which got me both more interested and more aware of the wider genre which, as noted above, seemed like a thing a single person could know about.

And Guild Wars was a common topic.  Brent and Brendan would talk about it, Van Hemlock was big on it, there were other former bloggers keen on the game, so it was always part of the mix.  Eventually I bought a copy.  I know this because the box is still sitting in my bookshelf.

MMO Boxes on my shelf

MMO Boxes on my shelf

At some point in the past I dumped a bunch of boxes but, for whatever reasons, I chose to keep these particular ones.  The EverQuest and the EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark CD jewel cases are on the far left, while the original EverQuest manual is next to A Theory of Fun on the right.

And you can see there isn’t just one, there are TWO Guild Wars boxes.

Yet I cannot recall ever really playing the game.

I remember taking a couple of runs at it.  I found exactly FOUR screen shots from Guild Wars after sifting though my hard drives that indicated that I made at least two characters, one male and one female, at some point.  I think that might have been after a podcast discussion where somebody was effusive about the female character models in the game.

Sexy or Sexualized?

Sexy or Sexualized?

I also recall at one point trying to get a group together in Guild Wars with Potshot and Ula during one of the hiatus periods of the WoW group.  I have a distinct memory of us in a small town with very pretty and detailed flowers… and being unable to jump over an ankle-high obstacle… but little else.  Something didn’t click because we clearly did not stick with it.  I did not even make a blog post about it.  I have literally written more about games I never played myself, like LEGO Universe, or games that never launched in the US, like KartRider, or games that never even existed, like Planet Michael, than about Guild Wars.  I have certainly written more about games the instance group has tried and dropped.  Runes of Magic has gotten many more words than Guild Wars, for example.

This might be my first Guild Wars post in more than eight and a half years.  And despite having been aware of the game since before launch, I have very little to say about it.

Meanwhile the landscape of the MMO market has changed.  The golden age ended, for me at least, with the crash of Warhammer Online, which killed the idea of being both popular and different from WoW. After that the tomb was sealed when the idea of another mass market subscription MMO, the now cringe-inducing idea of a WoW-beater, was laid to rest when Star Wars: The Old Republic went free to play.  Now we talk about niche games and funding and variations on business models and funding and fanciful ideas about developer independence and funding and cash shops and what went wrong back in the day and how it is all Blizzard’s fault.

And yet Guild Wars is still there, which is kind of amazing given the propensity NCsoft has for shutting down games that simply are not making enough money.  It has been overshadowed by Guild Wars 2 (which I can actually remember playing still!) and is never going to see any further expansions or content updates, yet it still abides.

Anyway, it has been ten years.  Happy anniversary!

Other places writing about Guild Wars at age ten: