Tag Archives: Anniversary

A Decade of Internet Spaceship Pictures

It is probably a good thing that I only track my other blog here in five year increments rather than the sort of yearly posts I do for this site.  Eventually though time flies past and suddenly you’ve been posting pictures of pretend spaceships on the internet for a decade and you wonder how it happened.

In short, EVE Online Pictures turns ten years old today.

The original banner for the blog

A bunch has happened since I posted at the five year anniversary, and yet things still feel very much the same in some ways.  The graphics of EVE Online have evolved and improved.  A picture from today looks different from a picture from five years ago which looks different still from pictures taken a decade back.

At some point I had to change up the theme on the site, as I had to do on this site, because WP.com was breaking things for older themes.  EVE Online Pictures now uses the Piano Black theme.  Also, unlike TAGN, it has ads all over it.  Over time WP.com has gone from “your visitors may see some ads” to “we’re going to get ads all over your shit” when it comes to free blogs.

Here I pay not to have ads.  Over there I have been less inclined to pay, mostly because the site gets so little traffic anyway.  Its main benefit to me is counting as a fan site so I get one of my accounts comped by CCP.  So the accountant in the back of my brain is reluctant to give away any of the economic upside of that blog by plunking down $48 a year just to have no ads.

You get other features with the basic plan, but none of them interest me.  For example, after ten years at the same address, getting a new domain name seems like a very bad idea.

If somebody could convince me that no ads and a new domain name would double my traffic… I still wouldn’t be interested.  You’ll know why when I get into the numbers.

The story of how the blog came to be… more dubious ideas… was covered five years back.  I’ll link to that post again in case you are interested.  But basically for the last ten years I have put up 2 or 3 pictures a week, every week, with occasional bursts of more pictures (during the Fountain War I put up a picture a day for two months) and a video now and then on the weekend.  The current schedule is a post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Basic Statistics

Days since launch: 3,652
Posts total: 1,507 (up 927)
Average posts per day: 0.41 (up 0.09)
Comments:  201 (up 36)
Average comments per post: 0.13 (down 0.15)
Average comments per day:  0.055 (down 0.045)
Spam comments:  35,371 (up 6073)
Average spam comments per day:  9.68 (down by 3.29)
Comment signal to noise ratio:  1 to 176 (up 35)
Images uploaded:  1,418 (up 859)
Space used by images: 447 MB of my 3 GB allocation (up 204 MB)

What do those numbers say about EVE Online Pictures?

Well, first is that I do not get very comments at all, with just 36 comments being posted in the last five years.  Even spam comments have been down during that period.  I also have a lot of space left to upload more screen shots.  My early worry was that I would run out of space.  Not something I needed to give much mind to I guess.

Some Numbers

I’ll put the big chart up front, as I did five years ago, so you can see exactly how much traffic the EVE Online Pictures blog gets.  First, the total page view numbers.

EVE Online Pictures Total Page Views by Month

And then the daily averages.

EVE Online Pictures Average Daily Page Views by Month

You can click on either of those charts to see them full size.

Overall, you can see that traffic volume there is nothing to write home about.  If you go to the TAGN eleven year anniversary post you will see that almost every year this blog gets more traffic than EVE Online Pictures has had in its ten years of existence.

There are a few reasons for that, not least of which is that the site gets far fewer posts.  And the posts themselves are just pictures.  People can see the pictures without bothering to click through to the site if they follow me via a number of syndication channels.

Unlike this blog however, traffic at EVE Online Pictures is not in decline.  There was a significant drop in early 2013 when Google changed how they did image searches.  You can see that hit to traffic in February 2013.  But after that it is pretty steady, holding at about 30K page views a year.

Demographics

As I noted, the language barrier isn’t as big a deal when you have a blog that is mostly pictures.

EVE Online Pictures traffic sources

Countries with large English speaking populations are still represented, but I do get a lot more Russians there than I do here.  Well, at least as a percentage of the total visitors.

Incoming

Who sends traffic to EVE Online Pictures?

  1. Google
  2. EVE Bloggers
  3. Total EVE
  4. TAGN
  5. Twitter
  6. EVE Online Forums
  7. WP.com dashboard
  8. Der Held von New Eden
  9. Reddit
  10. Facebook
  11. WP.com Reader
  12. Massively (not Massively OP, the old AOL site)
  13. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
  14. EVE Online Community site
  15. Google Reader

Of course, Google is at the top of the list, and its total is well over three times the traffic all other sites have ever sent me combined.  Such is the power of the Page Rank.  You can see why people freak out when Google makes any sort of change to their search algorithms.  Anybody who drops off the first page of results suffers a percipience drop in traffic.

EVE bloggers, in its various forms, has provided a decent amount of traffic over the years.

Total EVE has the site in there because I bribed somebody to include it in the EVE Blog Pack list.  I think it has a legit place on that list.  It is all about EVE OnlineTotal EVE hasn’t been around as long as EVE Bloggers so it isn’t higher up the list, but it matches or exceeds EVE Bloggers most days of the week.

Then of course, I send traffic there from this site.  This post will add a bit to that I bet.

For a brief flicker of time the official forums used to send traffic to the blog.  One of the community team discovered the site via Twitter and began including a link to a picture now and then in the regular This Week in EVE post.   And then, as that was ramping up, CCP cut most of their community team and that regular post fell by the wayside.

The WP.com dashboard is people clicking on their stats page wondering what this site is that is sending them some traffic.  I have a lot of EVE Online blogs and a set of news and informational feeds in the side bar of EVE Online Pictures.

Then there is Der Held von New Eden, literally the only blog I know of out there, aside from this one, that links to EVE Online Pictures.  No love for a long time fixture of the community.  At least screen shots know no language barrier.

Once in a while somebody a link gets posted to Reddit.  Actually, looking at the number of page views I would change that to just once.

As with this blog, every EVE Online Pictures post gets piped to the Wilhelm Arcturus account on Facebook where pretty much only my mother sees them.

Old school Massively, several years gone at this point, still holds a spot on the list because they linked back to the site to acknowledge a screen shot they used.  Massively OP isn’t anywhere on the list.

Kirith Kodachi doesn’t have a blog roll, but he must have linked to me at some point.

The EVE Online community site is basically CCP’s list of EVE Online fan sites.

And then there is Google Reader, a blast from the past.  It will be five years gone this coming July.

Outgoing

Honestly, the site doesn’t send much traffic anywhere.  I would be surprised if anybody noticed that they were getting traffic from the EVE Online Pictures.  For the most part it is the rare post that even has a link out.

Occasionally somebody will click on something in the side bar where I have a list of EVE Online related sites and EVE Online related news feeds from CCP and key third party sites.  But for the most part people land on the site, look at some pictures, then leave without a trace.

In that scenario, the sites that do get clicks now and again are:

  1. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  2. EVE Monkey
  3. EVE Online Ships
  4. West Karana
  5. OmbEVE (defunct)
  6. Jester’s Trek
  7. EVElopedia (defunct)
  8. EVE Null Sec Influence
  9. EVE Kill (defunct)
  10. EVE Online Forums
  11. The Mittani dot com (changed to INN)
  12. DOTLAN EVE Online Maps
  13. EVE Online community sites
  14. EVE Bloggers
  15. EVE Tanking (defunct)

The inertia of time.  A third of the sites on that list are gone or no longer at that address.

Of course I am the biggest beneficiary, and why not?  If I post screen shots from a big fight I will sometimes link back to a related post here for further info.

EVE Monkey, West Karana, OmbEVE, and Jester’s Trek all had links out to the for pictures they posted.  Those sites aren’t gone, but they are dormant.

And the rest are people actually clicking on the side bar I guess.  All told those listed add up to just over 5,500 clicks, which is about three a month over the last decade.  Not a significant source of web traffic for anybody.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. B-R5RB Infographic
  2. Space Cockroach
  3. Sansha Battle Station
  4. Asteroid Mining Station
  5. The Maze Complex
  6. Myrmidon
  7. Raven and Rokh
  8. New Asteroids
  9. Rifter
  10. Angel Cartel Battleship Opens Fire
  11. Ragnarok Jumping in with the Fleet
  12. Cormorant Classic
  13. The Mighty Rorqual Transitions
  14. Caldari Jump Gate
  15. New Cladari Jump Gate Model

The B-R5RB infographic is the biggest draw by far, the one thing that Google still finds on the site when people search.  Of course, somebody else made that.  The top five are all the results of Google, as is number eight on the list.  General interest in asteroids and asteroid mining tricks people to coming here.

After that the rest of the list were linked on some other site or in a forum post.

For the most part a post gets traffic the week it is posted and never gets another click after that.

Most Used Categories

For the site I tried to set up categories for what I felt would be logical ways to divide up pictures at a higher level.  I went with the four empires and then some specific items, ending up with 24 categories over the years.  I suppose I could have gone with ship classes or something else, but this is what I started with and some times it is better to carry on consistently how you started out rather than trying to change horses mid-stream.

  1. Caldari
  2. Amarr
  3. Gallente
  4. Minmatar
  5. Space Station
  6. Planet (also used for moons)
  7. Space Objects
  8. Explosions
  9. Contest Entries
  10. Citadel
  11. ORE
  12. Classic Graphics
  13. Ringed Planet
  14. Drones
  15. YouTube Video

Ships identified as Caldari are the most common on the site, the category having been used 492 times, followed by Amarr at 479, then Gallente at 373, and finally Minmatar at 355.  I think that split mostly reflects my starting off as Caldari back in 2006, so a lot of early pictures were focused on those ships. (Or the Guristas versions thereof.)

Explosions is probably the best tag, followed by Ringed Planets, while Classic Graphics is a interesting look at the past.  Of course, when I created that category there were only “new” and “classic” graphics.  Since then there have been a number of revisions to how things are rendered as well as ship models, so I suppose the concept of “classic” has been somewhat diluted.  But in the context of the site it means the way the game looked when I showed up.

I excluded one category from the list.  Every post has the category “EVE Online” attached.  Tags and categories are powerful things at WP.com and one of the things you can do with them is make an RSS feed of a category or tag.  If you have a WP.com blog and you write about EVE Online, you should definitely use the “EVE Online” as a tag or category. (Here is the feed for EVE Online category or tagged posts at WP.com.)  For heaven’s sake, don’t use just “EVE,” you don’t want to know what else gets lumped in that feed.

Most Used Tags

Tags are a lot more whimsically applied.  They include the specific type of ship in the picture (and are mostly correct) or the system or some detail in the shot like Caroline’s Star.  But mostly it is ship types.  And there are a lot of ship types in the game, which probably explains why I have 450 different tags.

  1. Drake
  2. Megathron
  3. Jump Gate
  4. Apocalypse
  5. Revelation
  6. Archon
  7. Avatar
  8. Naglfar
  9. Erebus
  10. Tengu
  11. Maelstrom
  12. Dominix
  13. Hurricane
  14. Typhoon
  15. Ragnarok

Of course the missile spewing doorstop that is the Drake tops the list.  I flew it a lot before I went to null sec and then it was a doctrine ship for over a year once I got there.

Likewise the Megathron was a doctrine ship during the Fountain War.

Jump Gates… they are in a lot of shots because that is where fleets tend to bunch up and where fights often happen.  And then there are titans.  When I got to null sec I took a lot of screen shots of titans because I had never seen any before.  I still take lots of screen shots of them.

The Future

I plan to carry on as I have.  Three pictures a week isn’t an onerous level of effort.  It is easily worth doing given that it nets me a free account. (CCP still makes money off of me though, I have two other Omega accounts at the moment and I have been known to buy PLEX to get SKINs from the New Eden store.)

My posting process is pretty straightforward.  I tend to sit down for a bit on a weekend and go through pictures, queuing up posts for weeks ahead of time.

The only tricky bit is to try to include some variety in the pictures posted… I try not to post several pictures in a row from the same battle or of the same ship type… and to not repost the same screen shot.  I’ve only done that a few times over the course of the blog, but I have caught myself thinking “that looks like a good shot to post!” only to find that I already post that weeks or months earlier.

I am also picky about posting things that give a view of things that people might not see every day.  That tends to mean lots of titans.  If I gave up on my own personal rules about repetition and just started posting every decent screen shot I took, I could probably post a picture every day for the next couple of years without repeat.

Overall, a decade in, I am happy with the site.  It never took off or became nearly as popular as this blog, but it has been steady over the years and is now something of a time capsule of EVE Online visuals over the last decade. (And earlier, since I drew from older pictures at times.)

Probably the only regret is that I have hung on to the same 1600×1200 monitor over the life of the blog so far, so all the screen shots are that size.  I did recently upgrade to a slightly larger monitor, so at some future date when my current queue runs down, screen shots will start appearing in 1920×1200 resolution.

So, after about 2,500 words, I will invite you to come visit the site if you like internet spaceship pictures.  New posts are syndicated out to the following sites:

  • Tumblr (I need a better theme here)
  • Twitter (I do say things here occasionally)
  • Facebook (Pretty much just blog posts from both my sites)

I guess I need an Instagram account as well.  Maybe some day.

Or if you don’t care for any of those, you can just go to the EVE Online Pictures site directly and use the Page Down key to scroll through all 1,500 pictures thanks to the infinite scroll option of the theme I use.  We’ll see how things look again in another five years.

Fifteen Years of New Eden

EVE Online is fifteen years old today.  It launched on May 6, 2003.

It feels kind of strange, thinking about that.

I thought of myself at the time as having arrived late to the party when I first logged in back in 2006.  MMOs were still kind of new then.  WoW and EQII were coming up on two years old while EverQuest seemed positively ancient at seven years.  I played all three of those early on, the Norrath pair at launch and WoW a few months after, but still during the initial population surge when everybody was still new.

I know from experience that there is clearly a fresh happy fun time when a game is new and everybody is just discovering the world and the social dynamics are still in flux and groups and organizations were still coalescing and, aside from those who were in beta, there wasn’t a generation of old hands to look down on you.  Everybody is equal when they’re all standing out in front of Qeynos or Freeport at level 1.

EVE Online was already three years old when I decided to go take a look.  I think we were pretty sure even back then that after a few years MMOs hit a state of decline.  EverQuest seemed to be some sort of unlikely outsider, having peaked four years in.  And even the hugely popular WoW seemed like it might taper off.  So EVE Online… in that moment I could have easily been convinced I was going in to take a peek before if faded away.

Still, I created my character in August of 2006, not much past the three year anniversary of the launch.  That pre-dates the start of this blog by a couple of weeks, and the blog will be twelve years old come September.  So things turned out, but it wasn’t clear to me that it would go this way.

Arriving in the game I found that starting late came with a big penalty.  Due to the way skill points accrue I would be forever behind anybody who started ahead of me.  Also, advancement via skill points was simply a waiting game.  I had to buy and train skills, some of which took days and weeks to complete, before I could use a given ship or module.

EVE as I found it

And the game itself seemed to want to do me in.  The tutorial was a good example of what happens when somebody who knows how to do everything tries to write a document to teach somebody who knows nothing.  There were a lot of assumptions and unexplained terminology.

And, through the tutorial and sent off to my first agent… located at Jita 4-4, which is where all Caldari pilots were sent after the tutorial, which is my theory as to why Jita 4-4 became the trade hub of New Eden… I was handed the mission Worlds Collide which I attempted to do in my civilian module fit Ibis.

That did not end well.  I logged off after I was obliterated and it was questionable if I would ever log back in at that moment.

But I did.  And I trained up a bit and mined for some ore to make some ISK.  I also tried courier delivery, leading to my first ever null sec loss as I auto-piloted my way into Pure Blind.  That kill mail is lost now, no longer visible as neither zKillboard nor my in-game profile go back that far.  But it was another set back. (Though auto pilot wasn’t so bad back then, since there was no warp to zero yet.)

Still, I found something compelling about the game.  I managed to finish Worlds Collide by doing it in a destroyer.  Missions after that were less difficult.

Out with my Cormorant

I ran Avenge a Fallen Comrade dozens of times.  It seemed to be in heavy rotation.  When missions got tedious I left the game, but came back a few months later.

Shooting the final structure, look at that UI… square targeting markers

I got on track to master mining and rolled up my first alt account within a year of starting the game.  I went from mining in an Osprey to a Hulk.

Space was different back in 2007

I kept running missions as well.  I kept training up.  I did manufacturing.  I did tech II invention.  I gave up on all of that and played the market to make my first billion, and then my second.

All the while the game expanded.  New things were added, old things refined, mistakes were made and left to linger for ages before being corrected.

I came and went, playing for stretches then taking breaks.  I read the news about things going on in other parts of the game.  Null sec was a mystery to me.  And then in late 2011 I finally moved out there and saw a whole different aspect of the game.

And now I sit here and the game is fifteen years old and I am coming up on my twelfth anniversary.  As it turns out MMOs can last a long time.  EverQuest is 19 now at is still set to get another expansion this fall.

A dozen years into EVE Online I still have moments of awe just looking out into space and the scale of things, our tiny ships and stations in a huge universe.

Cormorant Docking – Trails On

CCP has some gifts for players on capsuleer day. Today seemed like the right day for that, but I guess we get to redeem them tomorrow.

Things also seem a bit more subdued when compare to the 10 year party.

Anyway, we shall see how things shape up.  The twenty year mark is now just five years off.  That would be quite a milestone, but a lot of things can happen between now and then.

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.

Continue reading

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:

 

LOTRO – The War of the Ring as an Eight Year Long Quagmire

Lord of the Rings Online officially went live eight years ago today.  I had been in the late beta, but made sure to note the first day that it was officially a going concern back in 2007.

Yahoo Headline 2007

Yahoo Headline 2007

Of course, one of the ongoing jokes about the game is how long it has take it to move through the story relative to how long the events in the books were reported to take.  Even allowed a generous spread of dates, say from when Gandalf warns Frodo to get out of the Shire (April 11, 3018 TA, or five months before Frodo gets off his ass and goes… hobbits…) through to when Sam Gamgee arrives back from the Grey Havens (October 6, 3021 TA) after Frodo and Bilbo depart Middle-earth, still only comes up to three and a half years.  The old LOTRO news site A Casual Stroll to Mordor came by its name honestly,

It wasn’t so bad at first.  The game only took about a year longer to get to The Mines of Moria than it took the fellowship to get through to the other side, though that still put the expansion out longer than it took to Frodo to throw down Sauron, celebrate with the new king, meander back to The Shire, fight the last battle, and start complaining about his PTSD.

But here we are, eight years in, and still in The Two Towers, with Minas Tirith still over the horizon.  I like to try to imagine the story playing out over a longer stretch, the war of the ring as an ongoing quagmire, though it requires both sides to move at a pretty lethargic pace.  Vast armies slow to form then lumbering about at a snails pace as Frodo… I don’t know what Frodo is up to.  He and Sam seem to have found something to do.

Anyway, Turbine’s vision of Middle-earth is still here to explore.  Things do not look promising, at least if you were holding out hope against hope of seeing Mount Doom or the gates of Mordor.  The look forward into 2015 seemed rather modest, and then we had all those tales of woe about Turbine itself leak.  But we are also unlikely to see as ambitious an attempt to recreate Middle-earth any time soon, so enjoy it while we have it.