Tag Archives: Anniversary

No. I’d Rather Kill Rats.

In keeping with the anniversary theme of this year, and dipping once again into the Computer Gaming World archive.  I give you the ad that ran in the December 2004 issue, which hit news stands and mail boxes in November.

Computer Gaming World Issue 245 – December 2004

A two-page spread isn’t so bad.  Since I am working from a scan, ads spread across two pages don’t line up unless I leave an appropriate gap.  That is a decent screen shot to capture a bit of the game.  It feels like it is in Stranglethorn Vale maybe?  I’m sure somebody will know where it is set.  I’m not sure there is such a dragon there abouts, but maybe there was at one time.

The only fly in the ointment was that the ad was way back on pages 78-79.  That’s the back half of the magazine, the cheap seats.  Diablo II didn’t have to put up with anything that far back in the magazine.  That position placed it lower in precedence than the horrible Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude ad, another Vivendi title, which got the opening pages, and the IGE.com gold seller ad, which holds the back cover.

I suppose at least it was a few pages ahead of the Saga of Ryzom ad.

You might get a sense of how tentative the launch date for WoW actually was from this ad.  Placement of ad copy has to happen a couple months in advance.  So when this ad suggests that you sign up for the beta, it means that likely back in August or so they were really not feeling firm about November.

Again, as I have said in the past, CGW isn’t any sort of definitive measure.  It wasn’t the biggest video game magazine out there.  But it was scrappy and it jumped on big titles to sell copies.  And on the cover of that issue was EverQuest II.  You can see that cover, and download a .pdf of the whole thing, here.

Anyway, happy fifteenth anniversary to World of Warcraft!  I didn’t get around to playing until early March 2005.  When WoW launched I was with Jeff Green, wading into post-cataclysm Norrath wondering if the lighting that was EverQuest might strike twice.

Also, you can totally kill rats in Azeroth if you want.  Sure, that quest in the tram station just has you charm them, but with the implication that they were to be turned into kebabs, which I find to be something of a distinction without a difference.  And the fact that they went hard on the bear, boar, wolf quest kill quests doesn’t exactly represent a leap in the genre.

Where they really innovated was in the realm of poop and outhouse related quests.  Why don’t we have a trailer about that?  Where is my poop parade?

Oh, and today also marks the 25th anniversary since the launch of the Warcraft franchise.

Warcraft has been a thing for almost half my lifetime.

The Thirteenth Floor

Another year has come and gone and here we are at thirteen.

This car does not stop at that floor

Thirteen is an unlucky number to some, but it has always been a bit of a talisman in our family, something of an attraction rather than an aversion.  I went skydiving with a friend on Friday the 13th, picking that day specifically for the unlucky connotation.  In the end though, it is just a number, something that passes by fleetingly, unless you’re 13 years old.  I’ve never been more miserable in my life than when I was 13, an age that seemed to last forever.

Now my blog is thirteen.  I hope it isn’t as bad off as I was at that age.

For those new to the site… how did you end up here… this is an annual tradition.  If you’re a glutton for punishment, there are twelve past entries to review.

I used to do cute themes for this post.  Years five and six are probably the best efforts for that, while I think eight is where I get the most philosophical.  That is where I said I would stop blogging at the ten year mark.  But here I am.  There are days when I am just so very tired that I can barely crank out the 2,000 words that make up the core of the post like this.  Cute pictures and the philosophy of the internet just aren’t in me anymore.

But on we go, as we do every year, for a look behind the curtain at the numbers and such that inform about this blog.

Base Statistics

The same thing every year, looking at how the various needled moved over the last dozen months.

Days since launch: 4,748 (+365)
Posts total: 5,215 (+420)
Total Words: 3,967,279 (not including this post)
Average words per post: 761.18
Post Likes: 9,521
Average posts per day: 1.098 (+0.05)
Comments: 32,451 (+1,670)
Average comments per post: 6.22 (-0.20)
Average comments per day: 6.83 (-0.18)
Spam comments: 1,482,548 (+32,607)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 438 (+4)
Average spam comments per day: 312.24 (-18.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 45.6 (-1)
Comments written by me: 6,430 or 19.8%
Images uploaded: 14,575 (+1,432)
Space used by images: 603.7MB 1.2 GB of my 3 GB allocation (33%, up 100%)
Blog Followers: 1,701 (+209)
Twitter Followers: 743 (+14)
Tumblr Followers: 33 (+7)
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 7

Much more after the cut, if you feel like looking at a lot of charts, lists, and numbers.  Actual page view numbers are available.

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Reflections on the Eve of the 20 Year EverQuest Anniversary

I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, so sue me if I go too fast
But life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last

-Prince, 1999

What to say, here at the 20 year mark of the game?  There is so much emotion and history all packed around the game, the way it has changed, how the company has treated it, how the players have held onto it, and where it stood in the context of the different times along its twenty year life.

EverQuest stuff I have about the house

I’ve told the tale many times before how hearing about EverQuest through the people playing TorilMUD, some of whom were developing EQ.  I’ve mentioned passing up on the beta.  And I’ve recounted how, on March 16, 1999 I stopped by Fry’s on the way home, picked up a copy, got home, installed it, and was instantly hooked.

It was like no other game I had ever played.  The heavy influence of TorilMUD was clear to me, but that added just a touch of familiarity to help seal the deal.  But EQ was different all the same.  In having to adapt to a 3D world, much had to change.  And it was the open world, the misty edge of Qeynos hill, the far reaches of the Karanas, the dangers of Blackburrow, the sewers under Qeynos, and the fact that the place was full of other people that made it new and different.

But here we are at the 20 year mark and I decided to dig around to see if I could come up with something new to add to what I may have written before.  The blog has been around long enough that I have posts for the eighth, tenth, thirteenth, fifteenth, and other anniversaries.

A splash screen of expansion splash screens at 17 years

Me dispensing a few words about Norrath on March 16th is about as reliable as the Queen’s Christmas Message.

Honestly, for a game I have barely played very much over the life of the blog… save for that burst of activity around the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server back in 2010… I have a lot of posts about it.  It was, at the last accounting, the fourth most common category on the blog, and it doesn’t even get a boost in its count from the month in review posts.

Chart celebrating 15 years

Anyway, I hit upon the idea of maybe dredging up some context for the time around the game’s launch.  After all, in my brain one of the great divides in the world is before/after the launch of EverQuest.  In its way, it changed everything.

Remembering my Computer Gaming World time capsule post from late last year, I got it in my mind to go check out the March 1999 edition of the magazine. EverCrack is what they called it back then and they couldn’t open up servers fast enough for a stretch.  It had 200K players before the year was out.  It must have been a big deal, right?

The archive site was up and running so off I went.

There was nothing on the cover of the March 1999 edition, but it must have gotten a mention inside, right?  Or maybe not.  The .pdf archives are scans of the magazine, not text, so I couldn’t do a search for the name, but there was naught to be seen.  Even the Pipeline section, which tracked the game release schedule didn’t have an entry for EverQuest. (But Duke Nukem Forever was listed, with TBD as a target.)

Well, in the magazine business the date on the cover generally represented the expiration date, so a March edition might represent copy from January or early February at the latest.  So I went to April and May.

Nothing there.  No mention.  Not even ads. (There is an advertiser index at the end of each issue at least.)  Come June there had been enough lead time that EverQuest starts to show up in the listings of the mail order software ads at the back end of the magazine.

And it wasn’t as though their audience hadn’t heard about online games.  The sporadic user popularity poll (in going through the archive it felt like a few different people put CGW together so things appear or disappear from one month to the next) had Ultima Online and Merdidian 59 on the list in April of 1999.

April 1999 RPG Chart

It wasn’t until later in the year that EverQuest started to get mentioned, though in one issue they refer to the company running it as Sony, Verant, and 989 Studios in three different places.  Things were complicated before it all got rolled up as SOE.  There is a column in September 1999 issue (spurred by a mention of the topic in Time magazine) about the sale of virtual goods.  There is even a Brad McQuaid quote in that about virtual worlds.

EverQuest doesn’t even get a mention on a CGW cover until June of 2000 (EverQuest Expansion!) and doesn’t rate its own cover until the December of 2001 issue, to coincide with the Shadows of Luclin expansion.

Firiona Vie in all her mounted glory?

By that point the game was past 400K subscriptions and was the king of the still fresh MMORPG genre.  Certainly SOE didn’t buy their way into that coverage, as there still wasn’t an ad for EverQuest in the magazine.

But the real irony here is which game got the CGW cover the month before.

World of Warcraft hype three years early

That’s right, more than two and a half years after EverQuest launched and more than three years before it would launch, World of Warcraft was the cover choice for the magazine.

I realize that CGW wasn’t the be-all end-all of computer gaming magazines.  PC Gamer managed to get an EverQuest review in by June of 1999.  MetaCritic has some other early reviews noted, so there was some traction, though not as much as you might imagine.  But the CGW archive is handy and looking at the covers and reviews, they were clearly keen to cover anything that might be popular.  There are a lot of familiar games in those pages.

But it is a reminder that EverQuest wasn’t the hot property at launch that some part of my brain thinks it was.  That popularity came later.  While I remember going to Fry’s to buy it the day it launched, I cannot remember how I knew that was the day.  I was aware of it through the TorilMUD connection, so maybe that was it.  And its growth over the first few months was very much a word of mouth affair.  I played on the first night, then came into the office to tell some co-workers that they had to get this game.  They then spread it to other friends.  Eventually it came around and I would run into people and find that they were playing already.

A Nine Year Timeline for EQ

After a while the game started bubbling up other places, it started being called EverCrack, virtual worlds and virtual economies started to be a topic of discussion, and songs about lost corpses started to make their way around the web.

1999 EverQuest Trivia

It was different for later games from SOE.  You can see PlanetSide mentioned on that EverQuest cover.  Star Wars Galaxies started getting mentions in CGW well before its launch.  And come the EverQuest II launch in 2004, there is a scantily clad Antonia Bayle on the cover of the December edition, along with a six page ad spread inside (plus another two page marketing co-op ad from nVidia and a two page spread for Star Wars Galaxies).

EverQuest II on the cover of CGW – December 2004 Issue

Jeff Green was in there with coverage of the game titled The Once and Future King.

If only.

By that point MMORPGs (and gold sellers) were well represented in the CGW ads, with Dark Age of Camelot, Saga of Ryzom, The Matrix Online, City of Heroes, and a little game called World of Warcraft all represented.  There is some irony in how the magazine’s focus turned around, with WoW getting a cover before EQ, then EQII dominating the launch cycle coverage against WoW.

But SOE arrived there, with the assumed natural heir to dominance in the MMORPG genre, because of the way EverQuest took off.  EverQuest and Norrath are the natural foundation of the house that Smed built.  EverQuest remains viable and expanding 20 years later because of what it sparked in so many people back when it launched.

Ultima Online came first, EverQuest II looks better, World of Warcraft took the crown, but nothing so far has sunk what EverQuest started back then.

Maybe some parties were meant to last.

And speaking of lasting, this also happens to be post number 5,000 on the blog.  It seems fitting that it should coincide with the EverQuest anniversary.

Others on the topic of 20 years (I’ll be returning to that first link in another post):

Daybreak Prepares for the Coming EverQuest 20 Year Anniversary

The often quiet Daybreak has surfaced to address the coming EverQuest 20th anniversary.  That’s right, EverQuest turns 20 this coming March 16th.

In a producer’s letter from Executive Producer Holly “Windstalker” Longdale… I hadn’t seen anything from her is so long that I wasn’t sure she was still with Daybreak… laid out some general expectations about what the company has planned.

Original Box Art

In game the letter says that there will be “brand new land, raids, and rares with a story about preserving our past, and it’s free.”  That is something for the regulars, the people who still congregate to play on the live servers.

For the extended fan base, which includes those of us lapsed Norrathians, who like to watch from a distance but who haven’t played the live game with any serious intent for years, there are a couple of new progression servers planned.

Progression servers are the SOE/Daybreak specialty and have proven quite popular when given the attention they deserve.  But Daybreak knows they cannot just roll out the same old thing every time, so these two new servers will be variations on the usual theme.

While the rules have not been revealed yet, one will be targeted as “hardcore” and the other “ultra-casual.”  Sign me up for the latter I guess.  I’ll be interested to see the rule set for both.  And both servers will launch on March 16th to coincide with the 20 year anniversary.

Starting then will keep them far enough from the impending launch of WoW Classic, slated for this summer, which I suspect will own the retro server market for some time.

And maybe with two servers launching on the same day there won’t be a huge queue.  Or maybe there will be.  I’d take it as a good sign for the franchise if there was one.

In addition to that, the producer’s letter says that a real life fan event is possibly in the works.

We’re working on pulling together an EQ fan event so we can hang out with you, our honored guests.

There are no details, and the tentative nature of that statement means it might not pan out.  But if it does, it will likely happen over the summer.  More details are promised come March.

In addition, Daybreak is asking for player submissions of short videos, 20 seconds or less, about how EverQuest changed your life or 15 second videos of your main character in game, to be included as part of an a 20th anniversary album that Daybreak will put out on Facebook this year.  If that interests you, you can submit your video via this page.

It has been a long time since EverQuest launched.  It was a very different world back in 1999.

There is no sign or word about the predicted end of content for the game, something that came about as a rumor back around the beginning of May last year. (After one of those layoffs.)  That some of what was stated has come to pass lends those rumors credence.  But things can change.  And  I wouldn’t expect to hear anything about that before the anniversary, lest it mar the event.  So we’ll hear more about what Daybreak has in store soon I hope.

Meanwhile, Bhagpuss has his own look at the producer’s letter and the coming 20th anniversary events.

World of Warcraft 14th Anniversary Celebration

We are past the middle of the month which puts us into the time when Blizzard starts celebrating the anniversary of the launch of World of Warcraft.  While the official launch date wasn’t until November 23, 2004, Blizz likes to start early, so things were already under way last week.

Anniversary Time

There is, of course, the usual “being there” achievement for logging in, as well as an email waiting for you with a gift.

Here we are again

The package contains some timewarped badges, the sort you get from doing timewalking dungeons, along with the usual WoW logo buff token which, following the usual pattern, provides a 14% boost to experience and reputation gain when active.

The token cometh

Timewalking seems to be the theme of the event, which I guess is totally appropriate for an anniversary event.  There are some quests that send you off to do some timewalking dungeons, which are set for The Burning Crusade era.

There is a new toy available from the timewalking vendor, some goggles that turns all friendly players and NPCs into Corgis.  And they’re all good dogs Brent.

I spent my tokens on some armor upgrades, since everything at the vendor was better than what I was wearing.  Maybe that will get me ready to actually do a few timewalking dungeons.

EverQuest II Launches Chaos Descending and Celebrates Another Anniversary

The regular pattern of annual autumnal launches for EverQuest II expansions fits in nicely with the history of the game as they tend to hit pretty close to the original launch date, so you get some new content and a celebration of the history of the game all at once.

And so it goes this year, with today being the launch date for Chaos Descending, the fifteenth full expansion for EQII, and that doesn’t include the various adventure packs that SOE and Daybreak have tried now and again.

Chaos Descending the Library Staircase

While I wrote a bit about the expansion before, along with the various purchasing options, the bullet point summary from Daybreak is:

  • New Adventure Quests
  • New Signature Tradeskill Quests
  • New Signature Adventure Quests
  • New Achievements
  • New Zones
    • One Quest and Services Zone (Myrist)
    • 4 Outdoor Zones (Doomfire, Vegarlson, Eryslai, Detroxxulous)
    • 4 Dungeon Themes (Doomfire, Vegarlson, Eryslai, Awuidor)
    • 13 Solo Instances
    • 12 Heroic Instances
    • 7 Raid Instances
    • 1 Contested Raid Dungeon
  • Mount Equipment Feature
  • Mount Equipment Bundle
  • New Mercenary Equipment

That is a pretty nice chunk of new content being delivered, and on par with what the combined EverQuest & EverQuest II team delivers annually.  There is none of this “every other year” talk for expansions, and they still deliver a sizable mid-year update along the way as well.  They might be the hardest working team in the genre.

In addition, EverQuest II just celebrated its 14th anniversary last week.  The official launch date was November 9, 2004, with the Europeans getting their launch two days later, on the 11th.  And the anniversary brings out the Hero’s Festival for players in Qeynos and Freeport.

No Firiona Vie on EQII boxes

But wait, there’s more!

While the game launched on November 9th, my own anniversary with the game actually falls on November 13th.  That is when SOE, no doubt expecting the same rush for servers that they experienced with the EverQuest launch back in 1999, rolled out their second wave of servers for US players.  So on that date the Crushbone server went up and and what ended up being our guild, a mix of players from EverQuest and TorilMUD, started making plans for how we were going to attack post-cataclysm Norrath.  We were the Knights of the Cataclysm.

Our day two guild on Crushbone… I left in 2005 and came back in 2006

And so began a year of playing… and fighting with… the new game as both we and the in-game systems evolved.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

It was a strange time.  I have fond memories of it, though I am sure I have blocked out many of the problems and irritations that plagued the game back at launch.

Well, I can certainly recall some of them.  I could go on about crafting, no off-line selling at the broker, locked encounters, dupe bugs, experience debt, five minute buffs, the tiny quest log, having only four character slots, guild leveling, mounts, the experiments with risky boat travel, and that graphical processing bug in Qeynos Harbor that made you machine slow to a crawl as you came and went from using the bell positioned out at the end of the dock.

So yeah, if I remember all of those right off the top of my head then there were probably a lot more I’ve forgotten.

But it was still exciting and new and probably all the more so since I had stopped playing EverQuest actively a couple years before, only popping in to visit now and again, so there was very much a new to MMOs again aspect to it.  And having Meclin along, who had skipped EQ so was really in his first MMO experience made it a pretty special time.

Meclin swinging for gnoll necks… original gnoll models

And the game looked good.  Well, it looked better than EverQuest in any case, if you could run it with the graphics settings turned up enough to appreciate it.  I recall tales of people coming for EverQuest and finding the system requirements for the new game so onerous that they had to turn down the settings to the point that they couldn’t see the faces on character models.

I think this was called “future proofing” or some such, but it seems to sacrifice the necessary today in favor of a theoretical tomorrow.

Fortunately I had a decent rig… a big purple Alienware box with an okay nVidia card in it… so I could appreciate some of the graphical quality of the game.  I couldn’t go full settings, but enough to get a decent screen shot.

The catacombs under Qeynos back in the day…

It was also an awkward time for video cards, with the horrible, power hungry nVidia 6800 GT series ruling the roost and burning out motherboards and power supplies in the name of graphical fidelity.  The 6800 design stayed around for ages, being continuously improved as time went along.  I never went for the initial mode due to its horrible reputation, but had a couple of the follow-on 8800 GT boards (LOTRO burned out two of those), then a GTS 250 and a GTS 450, both of which had their roots in the old 6800.  At the time though I stayed with the more reliable 6600 GT and then an ATi 800XL.

It is amazing the amount of little details that lurk in my brain and yet I still can’t remember somebody’s name ten seconds after they’ve been introduced to me.  And I’d have to check the settings to tell you which video card I have installed now.

So it is something of a triple, the 15th expansion drops, the game celebrating its 14th year, and I celebrating my 14th anniversary of joining the game.  Though, if I look at my character, it actually puts me in line for the 15th anniversary present in another ten days.  I wonder what we’ll get.

SOE gave me time

Of course, the timing is all off as well.  Last month I was playing and writing about EverQuest II.  Now LOTRO has captured my fickle heart with its Legendary server.  Still, I might have a post or two left in me this year about Norrath.

The Dozens

We have now arrived at the twelve year mark of the blog.  In looking for a title, The Dozens sprang to mind one evening and I thought it was a theme I could run with.  I would just replace the usual array of category titles with self-deprecating insults about the deficiencies of the blog.  Things like, “Your blogging is so weak, you only get accidental traffic from Google” or “You ramble so much that when you post around the house you post all the way around the house.”

Only, you know, actually funny.

That was back in February or so.  I created the placeholder post, scheduled it so I wouldn’t accidentally publish it, then went on to do almost nothing with it until about a week ago.

So here I am an all I have to show for that title is a stock photo of eggs.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

WordPress.com has access to a library of free stock photos and that is literally the best I could come up with for the word “dozen.”  And I am not even sure what that green braided cord is.  Some sort of vegan whip maybe?

Seriously, this sort of post looms over me at times, in part because I’ve done a credible job on occasion with this anniversary thing.  I mean, go back and look at years five or six. (Cue linking to past efforts!)

Year six was pretty cute.  But where I am I lately?  Elf?  Is that all I’ve got?  And now a stock photo of a dozen eggs?  And WP.com didn’t even pop my anniversary achievement in time for this post, so I had to mock up my own.

Pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing

Anyway, I am as half-assed in this as I am in so many things, so maybe I should just move on to some numbers.  Numbers are good.  I can hide in numbers.

Base Statistics

Days since launch: 4,383 (+365)
Posts total: 4,794 (+378)
Total Words: 3,537,779 (not including this post)
Average words per post: 738.11
Post Likes: 6,765
Average posts per day: 1.093 (-0.04)
Comments: 30,781 (+1,366)
Average comments per post: 6.42 (-0.24)
Average comments per day: 7.01 (-0.31)
Spam comments: 1,449,941 (+73,796)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 434 (+10)
Average spam comments per day: 330.8 (-11.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 47.2 (+2)
Comments written by me: 4,198 or 13.7% (+0.6%)
Images uploaded: 13,143 (+1,379)
Space used by images: 603.7MB of my 3 GB allocation (20%, up 11%)
Blog Followers: 1,492 (+152)
Twitter Followers: 729 (+7)
Tumblr Followers: 26 (+4)
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 7 (+1)

I have at least kept up with my goal of posting every weekday… and then some.  I am actually up 24 posts over last year which puts me over the one a day mark again.

Comments were down quite sharply in the first half of the year.  The inertia of past years and a rather active August kept the average up, but the comments per post from January to June dropped in half over the previous years.  I suspect that I didn’t write much controversial or stunning during that period, but it was still a pretty sharp fall off.

Anyway, those are the basic stats.  After the cut there are a lot more bits of data about the blog, some you may have seen in past years along with a few new items this year.

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